Professor Profile: Isabel Correia

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 Fifth Professor Profile is with Professor Isabel Correia. Isabel Correia is an economics Católica-Lisbon Alumni, holding a PhD from this University. Currently, she is a Full Professor at Católica-Lisbon and Former Head of the Economics and Research Department of the Banco de Portugal. Professor Isabel has been specializing in macroeconomics. We want to start this interview thanking our Professor Isabel Correia for her spontaneous availability for this interview. Could you shortly introduce yourself? My name is Isabel Correia. I just stepped down from being the Head of the Economics and Research Department in Banco de Portugal. I am also moving back from the bank to Catolica Lisbon SBE, after 28 years of sharing my time between these two institutions. During this whole period I was mainly a researcher in Economics, more precisely on Macroeconomics. At the same time I maintained my teaching in Catolica, and for short periods in Nova. After studying in Catolica and following the PhD program in Nova I enrolled in 1990, in its very beginning, the Banco de Portugal research group headed by Sergio Rebelo. This group offered me an amazing learning process of Economics. Jointly with Sergio we were exposed to the best Professors of the top American schools, mainly Macroeconomists. After two years I defended my PhD thesis in Catolica and I have written two articles with Sergio Rebelo and João Cesar das Neves. This was the departure point to what follows until now. What does economics mean to you? Economics is my work, excluding this last 5 years of leading the Department in Banco de Portugal. So it is the scientific area that I have chosen to contribute to very small advances of our knowledge of the society. Also understanding that this knowledge has to be disseminated picked the contents that I have being teaching to undergraduate, master and some PhD students for more than 3 decades. Economics has the very appealing feature of being a Science at the same time that is an Art: the creative choice of the best environment (model) that can be used to answer a particular question is really important! Could you simply describe your research? I have being studying topics that can help to answers of public policy without being political. This is the reason why Economics is so interesting to me: we should be able to contribute to the political agenda with the minimal interaction with the ideological debate. By discussing what is the optimal inflation rate or the best coordination between fiscal and monetary policy in economic terms we can give scientific arguments that then are constrained by political choices. What is for you the the most interesting finding? Working all this time with optimal policies the main result, or at least the most interesting to me, it is to find that we can find optimal policies that are robust to very different environments. That is that Economics should be seen very far from the perception of non-economists that points to it as the inconclusive one “by one hand and by the other hand” or the so-called Dismal Science of long time ago.

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