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Dunaway Lecture

Robert M. Townsend

Elizabeth & James Killian Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

will present

Measurement, Analysis, and Design of Financial Systems
in Developing Economies

Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
105 South Kedzie Hall, MSU



In this talk, Professor Townsend describes an approach to analysis of financial systems in developing economies, and to regulation and payments/liquidity policy, based on first principles. Theory with data can be used in a policy algorithm to assess allocations and institutions, allowing obstacles to trade. Specific applications include optimal design of P2P lending and market place exchanges: the number and type of financial platforms, the contracts to be traded there, and requisite information flows. A second application concerns micro-founded models which allow us to think about, and resolve problems associated with payments systems including policy towards e‑money and liquidity.


Professor Townsend is a theorist, macroeconomist, and development economist who analyzes the role and impact of economic organization and financial systems through applied general equilibrium models, contract theory and the use of micro data.  Professor Townsend is known for his seminal work on costly state verification, the revelation principle, optimal multi-period contracts, decentralization of economies with private information, models of money with spatially separated agents, forecasting the forecasts of others, and insurance and credit in developing countries. Townsend is also a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economics.

He is the author of Financial Structure and Economic Organization (1990), The Medieval Village Economy (1993), Households as Corporate Firms (2010) with Krislert Samphantharak, Financial Systems in Developing Economies (2011), Chronicles from the Field (2013) with Sombat Sakuntasathien and Rob Jordan, and numerous professional articles in leading journals.


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Michigan State University Department of Economics