News & Updates

Zingale Big Idea Competition Expands to Include Track for Area Residents Seeking Business Funding

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College has introduced a new opportunity for area residents to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes by presenting their ideas for a business or nonprofit based in Crawford County.

The college’s Zingale Big Idea Competition will expand this year to include a track for non-student residents of Crawford County. This funding-request presentation contest emulates the experiences seen on the popular ABC and CNBC broadcast “Shark Tank.” As in prior years, the competition will also be open to Allegheny students and visiting college students. The competition is scheduled for April 24–25, 2020.

“When Allegheny President Hilary Link suggested that we expand the Zingale Big Idea Competition this year to include Crawford County residents, I was immediately excited by the idea and its potential for both the college and the community,” said Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Allegheny Department of Economics. “We think of the competition as ‘Shark Tank’ with a heart. Our judges not only evaluate competitors’ business plans but also provide them with constructive feedback, coaching and encouragement.”

Advance registration is required for the Zingale Big Idea Competition, and three workshops are scheduled to help participants prepare for the competition. The workshops are open to Allegheny students and community members interested in participating in the Crawford County community track.

The workshops are scheduled for 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. in the college’s Quigley Hall on:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4, Workshop No. 1:  Developing Your Big Idea (register by Feb. 3)
  • Thursday, Feb. 20, Workshop No. 2:  Financial & Marketing Plans (register by Feb. 19)
  • Tuesday, March 24, Workshop No. 3: Pitching Your Idea (register by March 23)

To register for the workshops or to receive more information, contact Sarah Holt, event co-coordinator, at sholt@allegheny.edu. Individuals who are unable to participate in the workshops should contact Holt for more information about participating in the competition.

The Zingale Big Idea Competition is supported by Lance Zingale, a 1977 Allegheny graduate, and Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Professor Helps Explore the Economics of Nutrition

Everyone thinks like an economist about food. They just don’t necessarily know it, says Amelia Finaret, assistant professor of global health studies at Allegheny College.

The economics of nutrition is not just about how much consumers spend on certain types of food, she adds. “It’s a lot broader than people think. It’s not only about finances, although that certainly is one aspect. It also involves how people make decisions about allocating scarce resources such as time, energy and land.

“The economics of nutrition combines nutrition science with the social science of nutrition — how people make tough decisions about what they’re going to eat and when and how it affects their bodies,” says Finaret.

In 2019, Finaret published an article, “Beyond Calories: The New Economics of Nutrition,” in the Annual Review of Resource Economics with co-author William A. Masters, Ph.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Department of Economics at Tufts University. The article is a review of the scholarly literature that explores fundamental aspects of human well-being and sustainable development.

Amelia Finaret at the supermarket
“The challenge is now to make a high-quality diet available to all,” says Allegheny College Professor Amelia Finaret. (Photos by Ed Mailliard)

The professors have gone through publicly available data and literature in nutrition economics to consider their implications for food policy around the world. “This is a new field,” says Finaret, “trying to help solve intractable nutrition problems in our world. There is plenty of food in the world. The issues, though, include quality of diet, avoiding contaminants and keeping the food supply safe from food-borne diseases. The challenge is now to make a high-quality diet available to all. Poor quality diets disproportionately affect the poor, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

One of the keys to improved nutrition for all will be loosening some of the constraints, including time and income, on individuals and families as they make choices about what they’re going to eat, says Finaret. There is “no one right way” to eat, she says, “because people’s preferences matter. People are doing the best they can given their circumstances. Economics is very non-judgmental. There has to be acknowledgment that there are many constraints on people’s eating decisions.”

The “Beyond Calories” article draws three main conclusions:

* Nutrition research can benefit from economic explanations of individual behavior and societal outcomes, just as economics research can benefit from nutrition science to understand the causes and consequences of dietary intake.

* That for most of history, food economics was concerned mainly with feeding people, given widespread hunger and poverty. That focus has now shifted to exploring how excess consumption is impacting health, leading to a rise in obesity and diet-related metabolic conditions, and what can be done to educate people about their diets and keeping agriculture and food production sustainable and safe.

* There is great potential for future collaboration among economists and nutritionists to make these improvements using new data and new methods to solve a wide range of diet-related problems around the world.

The factors that impact the way people make food choices are complicated and hard to measure, Finaret says.

Poor diet quality has long been the greatest avoidable cause of death and disability, first through infectious diseases, especially in childhood, and more recently with diets contributing to more adult issues with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease, the article states. “A second set of concerns about human nutrition is environmental, given that food production is the largest single contributor to natural resource use, pollution and especially carbon emissions. Climate change and other environmental factors affect food supplies, through long-term trends and more frequent extremes such as droughts and floods,” according to the article.

How much or how little people know about their nutritional needs can affect how they eat, but other practical factors also figure in those decisions, says Finaret. For instance, people may choose more unhealthy foods because they simply taste better or are quicker to consume. Or the social groups we associate with may impact our food selections. Or a lack of time to prepare meals. Then there is always the giant hand of corporate food marketing stirring up dietary preferences.

The professors’ research shows that in the United States, “healthier dietary patterns have been estimated to cost approximately $1.50 per day more than less-healthy dietary patterns.”

Through all this, the economics of nutrition tries to be nonjudgmental, says Finaret. “People can and should do what they want; it just comes down to how best to loosen the constraints that people face in making food decisions,” she says.

Finaret’s simple advice for choosing the food you consume is to 1) enjoy eating so that the first bite and the last bite (whether it is the 50th or 100th bite) is pleasurable. In other words, when what you’re eating starts to lose some of its appealing taste, it’s time to put down the fork or close the bag of pretzels; 2) develop a routine so that you don’t have to make decisions all the time, such as weekly or monthly meal plans, optimizing your time available to shop and prepare meals, and how much money you’re able to spend at the grocery store; and 3) avoid extremes — “eat a diverse diet in line with your energy needs.”

Editor’s Note
This year, Finaret and Masters will be writing a textbook, “Food Economics: From Agriculture to Nutrition and Health.” The textbook will be accessible to anyone interested in understanding the economics of food, and understanding the book will not require previous training in economics. The book is geared in particular toward pre-health and pre-nutrition professionals, who would be able to incorporate economic thinking into their professional and research lives.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Influencing Consumer Decision Making

Dr. Michael BarberaThe Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics welcomes Dr. Michael Barbera on Monday, February 3 at 12:15 pm in Quigley Auditorium.  Dr. Michael Barbera is an award-winning consumer psychologist and business strategist for Fortune 50 companies. He is a leading expert in the complex factors that drive the entire consumer decision-making process, including consumer behavior, emotion, and experience. His practice areas include social psychology, decision-making, brand management, marketing, product placement, and long-term business growth strategies.

As the chief behavioral officer at Clicksuasion Labs, Michael helps clients to better understand consumer influence and consumer behavior, both online and in person. With Michael’s help, companies build customer experiences that are more efficient, engaging, and effective. He also creates evidence-based solutions that affect both external marketing strategy and internal operations management with behavioral economics and behavioral finance.

Michael has worked with large organizations including Boeing, Microsoft, The Washington Post, John Deere, Harley Davidson, LendLease, the United States Department of Defense, and the United States Department of State. He has also worked with academic institutions including Ithaca College, Purdue University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina. Michaels’s clients have also appeared on the Billboard Top 40, ABC’s Shark Tank, Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Michael champions entrepreneurs and business leaders as a teacher, moderator, and mentor. In 2015, the White House recognized Michael for his many contributions to entrepreneurship. Michael shares research, insights, and thought leadership as a celebrated keynote speaker, host of the Clicksuasion podcast, and dynamic TEDx presenter. More than 100,000 people have seen Michael speak on four continents, and he has earned more than 250,000 views online.

The Lunchtime Learning Lecture Series provides students with opportunities to gain valuable information on topics and industries related to internships and careers. Speakers often choose one of two broad areas to discuss with students. The first is career oriented, and fits under our CBE CAREERS lunches. The second is issue oriented, and fits under our CBE IDEAS lunches. Both topics enable students to navigate and explore job options, understand the steps necessary to pursue opportunities and how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

The “Whack a Mole” Syndrome:  The Economic and Environmental Challenges of Managing Trash

Jill Boughton, President W2Worth Innovations
Jill Boughton, President
W2Worth Innovations

On January 30th, Allegheny College welcomes Jill Boughton, President of W2Worth Innovations who will share her passion for discovering new solutions to the overwhelming problems associated with waste management in the US and around the world. 

Where others see problems in solving the world’s trash dilemma, Jill, a trained chemical engineer, sees solutions, so much so that her work was recently featured in the November 2019 National Geographic in an article entitled, “Others see waste. She sees worth.”

Jill Boughton is Founder and President of W2Worth Innovations – an organization that seeks to catalyze the use of solid waste as a resource as a means for mitigating the larger social, economic and environmental impacts caused by solid waste.   She began this adventure in 2012 upon retirement from a successful 24 year career at Procter and Gamble (P&G).    Over her career at P&G, Jill managed Product Development activities for several of P&G’s businesses, in categories ranging from Personal Health Care to Paper Products.    Her time with P&G included a seven year stint in Caracas, Venezuela, giving Jill first- hand knowledge of social/economic issues important to emerging regions.

Jill was well known within P&G for her specialty in developing and managing Disruptive Innovation portfolios.   One of the projects emerging from this work was P&G’s “Waste to Worth” program.  This program supported P&G’s long term environmental sustainability vision of having zero consumer waste entering landfills.  It specifically focused on addressing the growing issue of solid waste management in emerging markets through economic development and innovation.   Through this project, Jill has emerged as a leader in the field, specializing in objective evaluation of emerging technology and managing integration of technologies in this space.

When not in trash dumps, Jill resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, Bill Boughton.   They have two children, Jennifer and Benjamin, who have also pursued careers in science and the environment.

The Anatomy of a Recession

How close could we be to the next recession —and what should we watch for in the months ahead?

John Kutz ’83
Allegheny College Trustee
Sales Director, Legg Mason

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics will open the spring semester Lunchtime Learning lecture series by welcoming John Kutz ‘83, Sales Director for Legg Mason, who will present Anatomy of a Recession, an exploration of the important questions that can impact everyone’s financial health:

  • How close could we be to the next recession?
  • Will growth hold steady, weaken or pick up by the end of the year?
  • What factors are most important to watch to help keep people on track?

Students of all majors are encouraged to attend on Thursday to widen their appeal as potential job candidates, according to Kutz, “Your ability to understand and be able to discuss intelligently current market conditions can provide you with a competitive edge in your job or internship search.  Employers are seeking job candidates that have a grasp on capital markets and can discuss reasons for possible economic downturns and/or expansionary periods.”

Kutz will discuss capital markets and review where the US economy is relative to a possible recession.  He will introduce a Recession Risk Dashboard and discuss the 12 key variables that tend to foreshadow economic downturn.

John Kutz is a Sales Director for Legg Mason serving the Ohio Valley region. John has been in the investment industry since 1998, and he joined Legg Mason in 2011. Prior to joining Legg Mason, John spent nearly 18 years with Victory Capital Management as Managing Director, Retirement Plan Services.

John received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Allegheny College and an MBA from Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor SM (CMFC®) and a recipient of the SPARK Accredited Retirement Plan Consultant (ARPC) designation. John also was recognized by his clients as a Top DC Wholesaler through the National Association of Plan Advisors’ Top 100 DC Wholesalers list (also known as the “Wingmen”) in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019.

John and his wife, Kathy, have three children, Allison, Maggie and Tim, and they live in Kirtland Hills, OH. In his spare time, John enjoys working out, golfing and biking. John currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Allegheny College.

The Lunchtime Learning Lecture Series provides students with opportunities to gain valuable information on topics and industries related to internships and careers. Speakers often choose one of two broad areas to discuss with students. The first is career oriented, and fits under our CBE CAREERS lunches. The second is issue oriented, and fits under our CBE IDEAS lunches. Both topics enable students to navigate and explore job options, understand the steps necessary to pursue opportunities and how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

The Effect of Unconventional Monetary Policy on Credit Flows

Business & Economics Faculty SeminarsEconomics Professor Tim Bianco opened the fall semester faculty seminar series on Thursday September 26, presenting his paper, “The Effect of Unconventional Monetary Policy on Credit Flows” prepared jointly with Ana Maria Herrera, Professor of Economics, University of Kentucky. Professor Bianco presented this paper at the Ohio State University Department of Economics 29th Annual Meeting of the Midwest Econometrics Group (MEG 2019).

Their paper evaluates the quantitative effects of unconventional monetary policy in the late 2000s and early 2010s when the federal funds rate hit the zero lower bound (ZLB). They compute credit flows using Compustat data and employ a factor augmented vector autoregression to analyze unconventional monetary policy’s impact on the allocation of credit among firms. They show that the impact of unconventional monetary policy on credit reallocation was substantial, especially for long-term credit. They then inquire what groups of firms accounted for this increased credit reallocation finding that, during the ZLB, unconventional monetary policy reshuffled credit towards firms typically viewed as financially constrained: small, young, high-default and highly leveraged firms. They also show that, during the ZLB, unconventional monetary policy brought about higher credit creation for firms of relatively high investment efficiency, suggesting this policy was key to fueling future economic growth. Download the full text of paper here in .pdf format

Timothy Bianco, Ph.D.

Timothy Bianco is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Allegheny College.  He earned a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Kentucky, specializing in macroeconomics. Bianco attended Bowling Green University, earning a Master of Arts in Economics (2008) and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Economics and Finance (2006). His research focuses on macroeconomics, banking and corporate finance, and international trade and finance. He served as an Economic and Research Analyst at the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank for four years, prior to joining the University of Kentucky (2013 – 2018).  He has been published in the Journal of Banking and Finance, the Handbook on Systemic Risk, the Journal of Financial Management and Analysis, and the Federal Reserve’s Economic Commentary.

Ana María Herrera, Ph.D.

Ana María Herrera is a Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky. She earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Economics at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California in San Diego. Herrera was a Repsol-YPF Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School in 2005-06 and conducts research in macroeconomics, energy economics and applied econometrics. Her work has been published in the Journal of Monetary Economics, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Applied Econometrics and the Energy Journal.

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics organizes faculty seminars to provide Allegheny College and visiting faculty the opportunities to give presentations based on their research agendas. Students, faculty and staff attend to learn more about cutting-edge research.

Allegheny Students Compete at College’s Inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College hosted its inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, with 16 teams of Allegheny students presenting personal financial budgets and investing plans. The winning teams, which together will receive $5,000 in prizes and trophies, were:

First Place (three-way tie)
• Pass/Go, Collect 200 Dollars (Sharlyne Cabral, Nicolas Marrero, Rachael Hensel and Hailey Shull)
• Just Throw it in the Bag (Daniella Clarke)
• JLZ-Fund (Jerfenson Cerda Mejia, Liam Wilby and Zachary Zoll)

Second Place (tie)
• Risky Business (Samantha Medaglia, Jacob Simmons, Bree Garcia and Ariana Villavicencio)
• The Smart Savers (Kayla McCandless, Rebecca Montgomery and Kamryn Randall)

Third Place (tie)
• Forward Thinking (Adam Cook and Devin Ho)
• Sustainable Development Goals (Maura McCampbell)

The 2019 Financial Literacy Challenge judges, from left: Donald Belt, Janine Sickafuse, Toni Frisina, Devone McLeod, Susan Wycoff and Sean Ward.

The students shared their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges evaluated the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and provided feedback to students on how they could refine and improve their plans. The judges for this year’s competition were:

  • Donald M. Belt, a 1993 Allegheny graduate and president at Hefren-Tillotson, Inc.
  • Toni Frisina, senior vice president and regional manager at Northwest Advisors (Northwest Bank)
  • Devone McLeod, a 2013 Allegheny graduate and certified financial planner at Reby Advisors
  • Janine Sickafuse, retired Allegheny accounting/economics professor
  • Sean Ward, a 1989 Allegheny graduate and partner at Blue Point Capital Partners, a global private equity firm
  • Susan Wycoff, a 1974 Allegheny graduate and retired vice president and relationship strategist at PNC Wealth Management

The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.

For more information about the Financial Literacy Challenge, visit the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics website.

Pictured Above
First-place winners of the inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge, from left: Nicolas Marrero, Sharlyne Cabral, Hailey Shull, Daniella Clarke, Liam Wilby and Jerfenson Cerda Mejia. Not pictured: Rachael Hensel and Zachary Zoll.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College to Host Inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge

Financial Literacy ChallengeForty-six Allegheny College students will participate in the college’s inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, presenting a personal financial budget and investing plan appropriate for a recent college graduate. The event, which will award $5,000 in trophies and prizes, is sponsored by the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny.

The students, representing 20 teams, will share their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges will evaluate the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and will offer feedback to students on how they can refine and improve their plans. The competition’s awards ceremony is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. in Henderson Auditorium in Quigley Hall on the Allegheny campus.

Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Economics Department, said the Financial Literacy Challenge supports a strategic goal of the Center for Business and Economics: to provide extracurricular activities to help students prepare for life beyond Allegheny. The competition also addresses a growing need to educate students about making sound financial decisions, Allison said.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently about the importance of financial management for recent college graduates,” said Allison, who is coordinating the competition with Sarah Holt from the Economics Department. “It’s an urgent national need, and from the outset, we had a high level of student interest in the Financial Literacy Challenge.”

The Financial Literacy Challenge has attracted Allegheny students with majors in a variety of fields, including economics, English, environmental science, history, international studies, psychology and studio art. Approximately half of the participants are enrolled this semester in a financial literacy course taught by Allison, and the other participants entered the competition as an extracurricular activity.

Allison said the student teams each spent upwards of 20 hours developing their plans for the competition. In their plans, teams outline their financial goals and the steps to achieve them, including:

  • A monthly budget
  • A brief discussion of the impact of the current state of the economy
  • An investment strategy that shows an understanding of the return characteristics of different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds
  • An asset allocation, which is the mix of stocks and bonds that fits the student’s age as well as investment objectives

Allison said he emphasizes the importance of recent graduates investing at least 10 percent of their take-home pay from the beginning of their careers.

“It’s really immaterial what they invest in, just as long as they start,” he said. “We place a pretty big emphasis on index funds, which provide the widest level of diversification. You can’t beat the market so just buy the market.”

Allison added that the Financial Literacy Challenge also benefits students by providing them with exposure to successful Allegheny alumni who are serving as its judges. The competition also presents students with an opportunity to prepare for the CFA Institute Research Challenge in Pittsburgh in February 2020, Allison said.

The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.

For more information about the Financial Literacy Challenge, visit the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics website.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Agricultural Technology, Bio-fortification & Child Nutrition in Uganda

 

“The immediate causes of malnutrition among children in Uganda and elsewhere continue to be the high disease burden as well as inadequate dietary intake. “ Dr. Rosemary Isoto

The Center for Business & Economics welcomes Dr. Rosemary Isoto on Monday, December 9 to present her paper entitled, “Agricultural Technology, Bio-fortification and Child Nutrition in Uganda.”

Despite big strides in economic growth, a general decline in poverty levels and an improvement in life expectancy at birth, Uganda continues to lag in terms of reducing child mortality and malnutrition. The immediate causes of malnutrition among children in Uganda and elsewhere continue to be the high disease burden as well as inadequate dietary intake. However, many other factors contribute to nutritional outcomes, among them, the performance of the agricultural sector.

Recent compelling study reviews reveal a number of key pathways that connect improvements in agriculture to improved nutritional outcomes. They include higher agricultural incomes, lower food prices, more nutritious on-farm production and consumption, and synergies between agriculture and nutrition and health arising from women’s empowerment. This study investigates the linkages between modern agricultural technology and child nutrition with a specific focus on production of bio-fortified food crops.

Dr. Rosemary Isoto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics (DANRE) at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

Before joining DANRE, she was a Post-doctoral fellow at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston. She received her PhD from The Ohio State University in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.

Dr. Isoto’s main research focuses on interlinkages between agriculture and nutritional intake among rural households, financing and marketing matters, issues of financing among youth, provision of extension services in a decentralized setting, gender and productivity, landfills and environmental issues among others.

She has wide knowledge on different models of credit provision in Uganda based on her own research and teaching of agricultural and agribusiness finance. She has also published extensively in journals such as Finance Review, Food Security, and Development Studies among others.

Allegheny College Faculty SeminarsFaculty Seminars are organized to provide a platform for Allegheny and visiting faculty to give presentations based on their research agenda.  Students, faculty and staff attend to learn more about cutting edge research in the field of business and economics.

Talking About Money and Taking Control: This Conversation isn’t Important – it’s Imperative

On Thursday, November 21, Gene Natali ’01 will speak on the important consequences of financial choices, particularly those made by students and young professionals.

How can we make wise financial decisions?

Join the Center for Business and Economics for lunch as Mr. Natali provides guidance on how to make better financial decisions and discover the rewards of financial freedom.

Mr. Natali is the CEO and Founder of Troutwood, a financial technology company focusing on financial empowerment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Allegheny College and an MBA with a concentration in finance from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, board member of CFA Society Pittsburgh and part-time lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2012 Mr. Natali co-authored an award-winning investment guide titled “The Missing Semester.” This guide provides practical financial advice to high school and college students and has been used in classrooms across the country. The book received the 2013 EIFLE (Excellence in Financial Literacy Education) Book of the Year award by the Institute for Financial Literacy. Mr. Natali regularly speaks in High School and College classrooms, has presented and key-noted various investment and education conferences, and has helped design and has led teacher and trustee training.

The Lunchtime Learning Speaker Series provides students with opportunities to gain valuable information on topics and industries related to internships and careers in business and economics.