“Economics was an elective at my high school but it sounded boring, so I elected not to take it.”
Now a professional economist with decades of experience, published research, federal court testimony, and an econometric technique named after him in STATA, Infotech Consulting’s newest Economic Expert, Dr. Kevin Caves, didn’t start college with a plan to major in economics.
In the mid-1990s, Kevin was studying abroad in Mexico City, just when the Mexican economy was reeling from the devaluation of the peso. He witnessed the devastating consequences to the real economy–and to real people he knew personally. It was only natural to try to understand the processes giving rise to these economic disasters. This culminated in his senior thesis after returning to Haverford College: An economic model of the so-called Tequila Crisis. But how could he test it empirically?
“I was able to contact some Mexican financial regulators and, after a lot of coaxing, I got them to send me some data…This was the ‘90s, so I had to convince some Mexican bureaucrats to copy a bunch of data onto a floppy disk and mail it to some kid at a college they’d never heard of in Pennsylvania.”
The Haverford economics department agreed that the data supported Kevin’s theoretical model, allowing him to graduate with honors. After college, Kevin worked in the International Research division of the New York Federal Reserve Bank – yes, the one from Die Hard With a Vengeance, in which international criminals hatch a (truly preposterous) plot to empty the Fed’s gold vault and truck out the loot through an underground aqueduct.
“It’s the one place where you can work on Wall Street without being an investment banker or corporate attorney, which lets you actually experience New York City instead of working 90 hour weeks,” he said. “If you take the tour of the Fed’s gold vault, it’s not a particularly glamorous place; it’s a basement with a bunch of semi-rusty cell blocks and each one has a country’s label at the top of it. When there’s a transaction between two countries, they’ll get out a forklift and move the gold from one to the other. I think the Die Hard franchise wisely decided it was not sleek enough for Hollywood, so they shot most of the heist in some immaculately shiny bank set.”
As a graduate student at UCLA, Kevin’s research interests branched out beyond international economics. His thesis focused on modeling how consumer demand for cigarettes is influenced by advertising, taking into account the dynamics inherent in an addictive product; he also did research on firm-level productivity estimation. In his professional career, he’s worked on everything from pharmaceuticals to high-tech platforms to international finance to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (to name a few). And he’s continued to publish on a regular basis, finding that consulting often leads to some of the most interesting research questions.
“That’s the great thing about econometrics,” he said. “You have the tools to study almost anything–to make sense of it in surprising ways–as long as you can get your hands on some data.”
One month into his new role at Infotech Consulting, he’s already finding opportunities to do just that, and more. And the future view is expansive.
“I’m excited about applying my skills to new projects here, meeting new clients, doing new research, and just seeing what’s coming next in this industry–because there’s always something around the corner. Infotech is in a great position to capitalize on the next opportunity, whatever it is.”