As part of her role as an adviser to the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Economics Professor Merih Uctum presented a report at the annual committee meeting of the New York State Assembly’s board of advisors in December.

The work entailed an intensive preparation of data collection, visualization, and presentation, and acquiring the most recent public and private information about government policies.

Some key points of Uctum’s report revealed that despite a strong performance of the economy in 2023, there are some downside risks to the growth forecast in 2024:

  • The state’s economic activity surpassed potential GDP, which also showed low unemployment levels.
  • Despite real gains in income and wealth, a lower inflation rate, and historically low unemployment, consumer confidence remains fragile, and the sentiment index is at a recession level, paralleled with even more pessimistic sentiments by professional forecasters.
  • Regarding government debt, among the country’s major trade partners, the United States has the largest increase in public debt and is forecasted to retain it in the next several years. High interest rates increase the debt burden, hence the deficit, limiting the ability of the government to stimulate the economy if needed and inviting political deadlock.
  • The share of the U.S. debt held by foreigners continues to decline, which may further push up interest rates and hurt physical investment and consumption.
  • Growth prospects in U.S. trading partners are subdued primarily due to weakness in manufacturing, suggesting a modest contribution to U.S. trade.

Uctum has taught courses at the undergraduate level on global economies, macroeconomics, money, and banking, and at the doctoral level on international macroeconomics and finance, macroeconomics, and econometrics. She is a dissertation adviser at the Ph.D. level. Her research focuses on fiscal solvency, sustainability of foreign debt, and intertemporal solvency; international portfolio flows and foreign direct investment; financial crises, exchange rates, and choice of currency regimes; and corporate profits.

Before joining Brooklyn College, she served as a research economist at the International Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Her areas of expertise include global economies and markets, their interconnections, empirical analyses of problems and issues related to this context, international indebtedness of countries and governments, financial development, and capital flows.