Laura de Carvalho
Doctoral Candidate in Economics
In 2008, Brazilian Fulbright Scholar Laura de Carvalho found herself in an interesting position; she was coming to New York City to study economics during the most turbulent and dire economic crisis in recent history. She describes her reaction: "I started at The New School about a month before the financial crisis exploded. To be starting a degree in progressive—heterodox—economics right when the whole world was looking for explanations for this crisis…made me change my research focus and study macroeconomics. I've learned more than I ever expected in an effort to understand what was causing the crisis." Laura's research now focuses on analyzing exchange rate policies as a means for development in the context of global trade imbalances.
Before switching gears to focus on exchange rates, Laura had been interested in industrial development in Brazil, which was the topic of her master's thesis at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her thesis, "Diversification and Specialization: Analyzing the Process of Structural Change in Brazilian Industry in the Recent Decades," was awarded the 31st Annual Economics Prize by the Brazilian Development Bank. Laura explains, "The bank is trying to industrialize the country, and my paper concluded that, after trade liberalization occurred, Brazil started to specialize in too few industries and these industries did not involve high technological complexity. In other words, my research supports the bank's goals, so it made sense for me to receive this prize."
Earning the Economics Prize has inspired Laura to "do a great PhD dissertation." It also gives her an incentive to go back to Brazil and apply the work that she is doing at The New School to help develop her country. For now, Laura enjoys being a graduate student at The New School, living and studying in New York City. She says, "… the city is not distracting, it's enriching. You have so many opportunities to be in touch with economists and top-level researchers who either live here or come here for conferences. And there are so many cultural and fun things to do. You are always learning something." When she does return home, Laura expects to make great use of all that she has learned—in and out of the classroom—as she continues her career, either as a university professor or as an economic policy maker in a government agency.