– September 7, 2017
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Continuing AIER’s innovative approach to bridging the gap between students’ academic training and skills demanded in the workplace, we started a remote applied-economic-research course with Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) last week. The idea for this project and the results of several pilot years of collaboration are described in my working paper, on our website, and in several of my blogs. Through the past three years, we collected evidence to support the premise that experiential learning, which occurs during such a collaborative course, gives students not only content knowledge, but also confidence and intuition to gain an edge in the job market and later become leaders in the workplace.

This year, eight students from Missouri will work on the project entitled “Bitcoin: The Future of Money or Just Another Bubble?” AIER’s Max Gulker, who supervises the project, wants students to investigate whether Bitcoin can ever be a viable and widely used global currency if it trades in a fully developed market like other currencies. In his instructions to students, Max wrote: “Dollars, euros, yen and other currencies trade with exchange rates determined by the market and updated all the time. There is a large number of traders in this market, and we generally think of them as being efficient, in that significant price changes reflect new information about one or both currencies being traded. Bitcoin is also traded with a real-time market exchange rate, usually with the U.S. Dollar, but whether that market is as developed and efficient as other currencies is certainly up for debate.”

To prepare for a debate during the January term, students will investigate both sides of the Bitcoin vs. U.S. dollar exchange rate this semester. They will learn about Bitcoin and its underlying technology and analyze data on the price of Bitcoin, other global currencies, and variables about the economy. Team 1 will analyze how the price of Bitcoin responds to news about Bitcoin. Team 2 will analyze how this exchange rate responds to new developments about the U.S. dollar. Together, the teams will be able to ponder whether big changes in the price of Bitcoin are in response to new information in the market, or if they are more often driven by the views and actions of a few traders.

This kind of collaborative arrangement between an academic institution (MST) and a practitioner (AIER) represents an innovative and integrative approach to bridging the gap between undergraduate economic education and the professional world. It engages students in topical economic research and walks them through the research process, substantiating the theoretical base they established in prior courses. This exposure helps undergraduates broaden their knowledge while gaining marketable skills and practical experience, thus becoming more successful participants in the global workforce. This project also supports AIER’s mission of educating Americans on the value of personal freedom, limited government, and sound money, and of creating comprehensive programs for students to help them apply economic knowledge to their most important daily decisions.

 

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Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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