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HSE Campus in PermNews“I have a wish to prepare academic researchers in economics in Perm branch of HSE”

“I have a wish to prepare academic researchers in economics in Perm branch of HSE”

Evgeniy Ozhegov, Senior Lecturer of department of Economics and Finance, junior research fellow of the Group for Applied Markets and Enterprises Studies (GAMES), NRU HSE-Perm, is one of those pushing the science forward. Evgeniy is included in candidate pool of NRU HSE, recently he defended candidate thesis in economics. He teaches courses on econometrics and microeconometrics, game theory, consumers’ behavior theory for the students of Perm campus of NRU HSE, teaches to write graduation thesis. Besides, Evgeniy runs the students’ econometrics club, organizes the work of GAMES seminars and takes part in development of many scientific and applied studies.

How is teaching combined with research activities? Should studies be applied? And what does inspire a scientist? Evgeniy told about this and about many other things in his interview to HSE-Perm site.

- Evgeniy, how did it happen that you became a lecturer? You planned your academic career consciously during your studies?

- It seems to me that first years students do not realize in full what they will do in the future. When I was a 3rd year student (Perm State National Research University), I started working in an IT-company. But in some moment I understood that I like to make scientific researches more. Of course, in business I also faced interesting tasks, but they were dictated “from above”, by somebody else. And when you study something interesting to yourself – it encourages you.

When I was a 5th year student, I was invited to speak at a scientific seminar of the Laboratory at our department. Dmitry B. Potapov (Deputy Director of NRU HSE-Perm) attended this seminar. This is how we got acquainted. We have similar areas of expertise, so our cooperation started. Later Dmitry offered me to work at HSE – to teach and to make studies. I agreed. 

- What is closer to you – teaching or science?

- You know, these spheres complement each other. When we decide who will teach and which courses, we proceed from the lecturer’s areas of expertise. If you are interested in the area that you teach, students see it, and the “give back” will be more. On the whole, teaching and science are interconnected areas. We try to give our students everything we know.

- What are your areas of expertise?

- At the moment it is the study of consumers’ behaviour in different markets. During the last three years the study of mortgage borrowers was my basic project. I wrote my thesis on this topic. But I think that this area is already closed for me.

Students make me passionate about new areas of research – real estate market, cultural products market. This is what I’m doing simultaneously now.

- What attracted you in the topic of mortgage banking?

- It may be said that it happened by chance. When I was entering a postgraduate training program, I had a research project connected with mortgage. The project assumed the studying of interesting economic effects based on “good” data. I was interested in this research, and I started this project.

- How did the defense of your candidate thesis pass? Was it difficult?

- Rather, it was difficult to get an admission to the thesis defense. The fact is that there is a lot of formal obligations: you have to publish a certain number of articles (it takes much time), you have to pass qualifying examinations for the Candidate degree – these are English, philosophy and in the selected specialty. Philosophy is the most difficult (laughing). It took me approximately one year to write my thesis.

- Is there a practical application of your thesis?

- Banks can use the results of my study to make the design of mortgage programs. The study was carried out based on the data of Housing Mortgage Lending Agency – it is a state structure which develops mortgage programs for at-risk groups of borrowers. The main purpose of the work was to show that borrowers are heterogeneous in their preferences. There are categories of borrowers that cannot get mortgage in commercial banks. It is necessary to develop separate mortgage products for them. It is the result to which HMLA came in some moment. They needed an empiric confirmation of this hypothesis. We made it. My colleague Agatha Lozinskaya presented the results of credit risk assessment in HMLA of Moscow. The company was satisfied with the study results.

- It turns out that the work must be based on the things which are clear in themselves?

- The best study is the one which confirms intuition. If a study is counter to intuition, one will have to prove in details why we received such unexpected results. If it confirms the hypothesis we have – it means that we did our job well.

- What was your specialty in the postgraduate training program?

- My specialty was “Mathematical and instrumental methods in economics”, school of theoretical economics (department of microeconomic analysis), NRU HSE (Moscow). My scientific supervisor was Mark Levin, head of the department.

- Beside econometrics you teach game theory. What attracted you in this subject?

- When I started working at HSE, professors of Russian economic school came here and taught different further education courses for lecturers. Game theory was read by Sergey Izmalkov. Game theory studies the problems of agents’ rational behavior, it can be applied to a large number of tasks, for example, to the model of subjects behaviour – in consumption tasks.

At that time it was interesting to me, and I developed such course. But interests change with time: from theoretical models I passed to those which are more empirical.

- What courses do you lead beside that?

- Two years ago I started to teach microeconometrics. This year I teach a course “Consumer’s behavior theory” from the 3rd module. And I also lead scientific and research seminar “Empirical economics”. I teach 3rd year students to develop scientific researches.

Now I develop the course line on consumers’ behaviour exploration, but I started from another side: from instruments to theoretical grounds.

- Consumer’s behaviour is one of the subjects taught by associate professor of management department Yulia Papushina. Do your scientific interests cross?

- Yes, for example, Yulia Papushina and I study Perm opera and ballet theatre from different aspects. She studies it from the spectator’s portrait aspect: who visits the theatre and what for. And my students and I now study the demand: how people react on the theatre’s price policy in respect of different plays, how they switch between price zones, to what extent they are ready to buy tickets on more expensive or cheaper seats if their favourite seats finish.

- What other studies do you carry out now?

- We now are carrying out a study with one of our graduate students, focused on sellers’ behaviour in the real estate market. We try to show the difference in behaviour between common sellers and real estate brokers.

A study on cultural economics is being carried out. We make it with our graduate student Denis Orlov (now he studies at the International Institute of Economics and Finance of NRU HSE). We studied the efficiency of sequels production in the film industry. The preprint is already published in the Journal of Cultural Economics.

Besides, the study of demand in microfinancing organizations is at the initial stage.

- What are your plans for the future? To write a doctor’s thesis?

- The candidate thesis was a kind of must, a possibility to fix current achievements. Next step is not required yet, I need to concentrate on some substantial things. Besides, there is a task to develop the block of disciplines on economics in HSE. We have a well-formed course on finance: from the 2nd to the 4th year in bachelor’s program and the master’s program. I have a wish to prepare academic researchers in economics in HSE-Perm. For that purpose it is necessary to open master’s program in economics, probably, postgraduate training program.

- You mean that the set of disciplines you have now is not enough?

- You see, those guys who study to become economists and who want to make academic career leave us. Those who want to make career in finance go to business. It is obvious that the program for these categories must be organized in a different way.

Soon – in the second part of the interview – you will learn what inspires Evgeniy Ozhegov for new research.