2017: My student and collaborator Olivia Quek got a great postdoctoral position at Waseda University, which in the field of economics is one of the strongest in Japan. On January 18 she defended her Ph.D. thesis at the University of Tokyo. Her main advisor was Yasuyuki Sawada, the next Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank.

She also won a 2.5 million yen JSPS grant for support of her research.

Olivia's job market paper resolves an economic puzzle related to the rice market in the Philippines. Prices of rice in the Philippines have major welfare implications, given that in some regions, households spend 75% of their income on food, and rice accounts for the most important fraction of their food expenditure. Olivia, in collaboration with myself, builds a model that surprisingly accurately matches the data on rice trade flows in the Philippines and points to the importance of infrastructure development for making this staple food cheaper to the consumers.

Photo caption: Olivia (left) meets with a rice trader in Laguna province of the Philippines to discuss the economic structure of the rice market.