Professor Profile: Catarina Reis

Most of us come to University listen to our professors teach an interesting or a somewhat less interesting topic. However, most of us do not exactly know what our professors are doing. The goal of this Professor Profile is to show a different side of our professors. By asking four questions, we hope to provide a short overview of the person and his research.

Our third Professor Profile is with Professor and Academic Director of the Master in Economics Catarina Reis. Catarina Reis is an economics Católica Alumni and holds a PhD from MIT in Economics. She teaches the master courses Advanced Macroeconomics and Information under uncertainty. Her research focuses on optimal policy in a macroeconomic setting.

We want to start this interview thanking our Director and Professor Catarina Reis for her spontaneous availability for this interview.

Could you shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Catarina Reis, I am an assistant professor at Católica Lisbon, I have been here for 10 years and I also studied here. I did my undergraduate here at Católica, then I did my PhD at MIT and I came back straight after. From the beginning I have been very involved with the master in economics, because the year I came back was also the year the master in economics started.

What does economics mean to you?

Well economics is... All my work is about economics, but it is also about how I see reality – so I think once you become an economist it really influences every area of your life. So, it really means choosing rationally, making the best possible choices, given the information that you have.

Could you simply describe your research?

My research is on optimal taxation and some people find this a bit odd, because optimal taxes would be zero in an ideal world, but we need to collect revenues somehow, so I study how we can collect revenue while distorting the economy the least possible. You can have problems of redistribution, of incentives for labour, incentives to accumulate wealth. But at the end of the day, what you want to do is collect the revenue that the government needs to finance its expenditures, while distorting the economy the least possible. This is summarizing my work.

What is for you the the most interesting finding?

Well a lot of my work has been around the issue of optimal capital taxes, because there is a well-known result in economics that says that optimal capital taxes should be zero. And this is counter-intuitive, so I try to find changes in the models, that challenge this result. Where if you make a certain change in the model, you no longer have zero capital taxes being optimal.

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