Econ 281: Summer Wall Street Program
Research Paper: Handout 1
1) Choosing a Topic
2) Gathering Data
The research paper that you will write this term will be a challenge. It will force you to come up with an original issue to analyze, a daunting task for professional economists! It will force you to truly understand an area of financial markets in minute detail. You will have to scrounge the library and Internet for any information, whether main or tangential, that pertains to your topic. Chances are, however, that you will enjoy it. Besides of choosing an issue that interests you, rather than having me choose one at random, you will put more effort (of your own choosing) into the project. You will also gain valuable research and writing experience, skills that will aid in college classes and in other areas of life. Finally, financial knowledge never hurts anyone – only financial ignorance does.
Let me start with a few ground rules. Two weeks past the last day of the program, no later than Friday, July 8th at 5:00pm, you will send me this project via email. It will be approximately fifteen typed pages (about 3,000 words. Don’t single-space the paper, with ¼ inch margins just so it fits on twenty pages!); this number can include graphs and tables, though it is permissible to go over twenty pages if you have included copious graph/tables. If you do not turn in the final draft of your paper by the deadline stated above, you will receive a zero, and will most definitely fail the program.
1) Choosing a topic
a) Choosing a topic can be daunting, just because the choices in subject matter are overwhelming. Banking and financial markets encompass so many aspects of our life and culture, from the mundane and highly local to international in scope. Keep in mind that I would like you to choose a topic that interests you, not a topic that you may think interests me. Some of the best projects that I have read have been on subjects about which I previously knew nothing. Here is a small sample of topics (actual student Wall Street semester papers):
The end of the NYSE Electronic Trading and the Future of Financial Markets
Dishonesty and Discrimination in Financial Markets
Playing Close to the Hedge: An Overview of Hedge Funds, Hedge Fund Failures, and Hedge Fund Regulation
Risk Aversion in Financial Markets
Capital Controls: The Development of the World’s Dominant Financial Centers
Predatory Lending and the Happy Homeowner
Deconstructing the Asian Financial Crisis and Mexican Peso Crisis
LBOs and Private Equity Groups
Overregulation in the United States Financial Markets
The Best of Both Worlds: NYSE’s Commitment to Ongoing Success
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Why It Was Needed and What It Entails
Private Equity: Angel or Barbarian
Inside the Scandal: A Closer Look at Insider Trading and Its Market Effects
Argentina: What Caused the 2003 Implosion
Market Globalization: Links between the stock markets of the U.S., Britain, and Japan
How do Hedge Funds Affect Financial Markets Insight and Analysis
International Lending and Its Effect on Sub-Saharan Africa
The effect of financial markets on global economic development (focus on India’s Grameen Bank)
The effect of financial markets on local economic development (ie: Red Bulls stadium, new Yankees stadium, etc.)
A Parasitic or Symbiotic Relationship The Federal Reserve System and Wall Street
How the Great Depression still affects America Today
Are Big Corporate Wall Street Mergers good for America
Does International Agency Lending Help or Hurt Developing Countries The World Bank under a Magnifying Glass
I will say this once: BE ORIGINAL!! (Do NOT limit yourself to one of these topics!)
Once you have chosen a topic, you need to conduct a literature search. You need to find out what other people have written on the subject. There will ALWAYS be some papers that relate to your topic, no matter how indirectly. Trust me on this one. Come talk to me if you can find no hint of useful materials.
The first step to this process is to go into an electronic database called EconLit. From an Internet browser such as Mozilla, go to the Drew Library home page (available from Drew’s main page – just choose Drew Community at the top of the page). Go to Research >> Online Resources >> Economics (under ‘Social Sciences’) >> EconLit. Then, follow the instructions in the database to conduct a search (keywords, etc.) One useful property of EconLit is that you can email the results of your search to your account. Even better, most of the journal articles that you find will be downloadable in .pdf format. It may turn out, depending on your topic, that you will not have to visit the library at all! (unless you are focusing on an issue that is more historical in nature)
Other online resources include online journal and news articles. To get to these links from the Drew Library home page, go to Research >> Online Resources >> Economics (under ‘Social Sciences’ >>
Proquest – though it contains fewer ‘real’ economics articles, there are many online business articles here, dating back to the mid-1980s. These would be good to motivate your topic, especially in the introduction.
Business Source Premier – roughly similar to Proquest, but a) it includes business journal articles, and b) it goes back to the 1960s
Lexis-Nexis Academic – contains full-text versions of articles from almost every U.S. newspaper.
One very important note: make sure that a portion of your bibliography (at least three, and preferably five or more citations) consists of articles from books and professional journals, such as the Journal of Monetary Economics or American Economic Review. I won’t accept a bibliography consisting solely of articles from Time, Newsweek and Yahoo. This is economics! You need some semblance of models, not gossip from a chat room!
You must turn in your topic proposal (which should begin with a sentence stating the facet of banking and/or financial markets you have chosen to analyze, and a one-paragraph, more detailed explanation below) by the evening of Monday, June 20.
c) Outline: Suffice to say, everyone’s paper will be quite different. Therefore, a generic outline will hardly help many of you. But I offer one anyway, so that you may get a handle on how to study your issue.
1. Introduction (state issue and why it is of importance)
2. Background (here you will want to go into the history of the subject. For example, if you are looking at how the equity market structures of the U.S. and Canada differ, you would want to talk about the creation of these institutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as how the two sets of systems have withstood financial turmoil)
3. The Issue at Hand – an explanation of the current issue
4. Policy Recommendations (or how you see the issue changing in the future, ie: the future of the U.S. equities markets)
5. Conclusion (just a wrap-up of what you have talked about in the past ten pages)
You WILL be required to analyze and discuss financial data in your project! More about this, including data sources, will be forthcoming.
Deadline (once again):
Friday, July 8 Final Version of Paper Due, by 5:00pm! No exceptions!!