Get to Know Alan Clayton-Matthews
Following is a question and answer with Alan Clayton-Matthew. His full biography can be found here.
Q: What brought you to Northeastern?
A: The opportunity to work with the high-caliber faculty and staff at the University, particularly at the School of Public Policy and the Dukakis Center, was an exciting prospect. Faculty here have been doing some really interesting collaborative and cross-disciplinary research, which appeals to any of us rooted in data-driven approaches to informing the public policy debate.
Q: What are your areas of expertise?
A: Quantitative methods, econometrics, regional economic development, economic forecasting and public finance. I follow the Massachusetts economy closely, measure its performance, and predict its near-term future.
Q: That sounds pretty complicated – how do you do it?
A: Well, it’s not so much complicated as it is really time consuming! I look at tons of data from myriad information sources on current economic activity, not only locally and nationally, but also internationally. Indices that you might know about such as employment, income, and tax revenues, but also many others such as worldwide semiconductor production, and US investment in information technology, to name just a few.
Q: What courses are you teaching this semester?
A: I’m currently teaching two courses to graduate students, one Political Science course in Quantitative Techniques, and one Economics course in Applied Econometrics. I’ve been impressed with the students I’ve met so far – they are well prepared, eager, and engaged.
Q: You are also a Director of The New England Economic Project. What’s that?
A: I work with a group composed of economists, policy analysts, and business executives from academia, the private sector, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston who forecast the state economies for the New England region. We also hold semi-annual conferences on topics of importance to the regional economy.
Q: What do you do when you’re not poring over data?
A: Well, I’m a pretty avid cyclist – I bike to work each day from Needham, for example. And I play a pretty fair recorder, as well as the clarinet. I’m also active with my local church, and am involved in our partnership efforts with Santa Maria Tzeja, a small village of 1200 Mayan refugees in Guatemala. In addition to one-on-one letter exchanges with families in the village, we raise funds to support the village school, as well as other village projects. The village has pipes, but no potable water – we’re hoping that they will soon have the infrastructure in place for safe drinking water and electricity. A group of us go down to Guatemala about once a year, where my efforts are focused primarily on working with the village’s elected Improvement Committee, which identifies and prioritizes their needed public works projects. We learn much from them. The visits change the lives of the members of our church – especially the youth. It’s been terrifically rewarding for my family and me to be involved in this effort.