Economic recovery ahead?

Each month, information on employment numbers, retail sales and consumer prices makes headline news, but what do these reports tell us about economic recovery?

As a finance and economics professor, Sherry Jarrell teaches business school students the fundamentals about economics so they can develop their own opinions about what the data mean. “But they have to base their interpretations on an objective reading of the facts,” she says.

“Causality is hard to pin down, and I think that this is where most economists disagree, when they disagree: what caused what, what came first. To answer that, you have to resort to first principles of economics, and that is why I focus on teaching the framework. It is also important to note that these data are basically one-period accounting data, and as such, say very little about the future health of the economy. You have to bring a lot more information to the picture before you can make sense out of the data.”

“I love empowering students to understand all types of economics. I realized in my junior year of college that I loved economics. I was fascinated with the work of George Stigler and Sam Peltzman on regulatory economics and the organization of industry. My brother, who was then studying at the University of Chicago, informed me that these two professors taught at Chicago, so I was hooked. I was accepted to the PhD program at the University of Chicago business school and was George Stigler’s research assistant when he won the Nobel Prize in economics.”

Jarrell joined Wake Forest in 1998. An expert on the impact of mergers, LBOs and IPOs, she teaches corporate finance, strategic financial management, investments, and managerial economics.

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