Dialogue with Dr. Katheryn Russ, Senior Staff Economist, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, November 2016

Dr. Russ emphasizes a point at her seminar in Blacksburg
Dr. Russ emphasizes a point at her seminar in Blacksburg

Within the Executive Office of the President, the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) provides the President with objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy. The Council is aided in this task by a small group of Senior Staff Economists brought in from leading universities and usually serving one-year revolving terms.

On November 22, 2016, ISCE partnered with the Center for Agricultural Trade (CAT) in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AAEC) to host a visit to the Blacksburg campus and Special Alumni Seminar by Dr. Katheryn Russ. Appointed in June 2015, she was completing an 18-month appointment as CEA Senior Staff Economist in the administration of President Barack Obama. Dr. Russ’s responsibilities during this period covered international macroeconomics, financial regulation, and international trade, including regional trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Dr. Russ’s campus visit and seminar gave students and faculty the opportunity to interact one-to-one with an economic analyst involved in the national policy debate about international trade at the highest level. She titled her talk “Where Research Meets Policy in International Economics” and focused on the economic issues involved in the debate over TPP, from which the United States subsequently withdrew under the administration of newly-elected President Donald Trump. Formal and informal discussion also addressed the economic policy process, and participants in this policy experiential learning process saw, among other points, the caution with which an academic analyst working at a high level of government has to address politics and policy making in a public forum—even one as removed geographically from Washington DC as the four-hour drive to Blacksburg.  

Dr. Russ was on leave at CEA from the University of California, Davis, where she is an Associate Professor of Economics, and has returned to teaching in spring 2017. She is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Dr. Russ received her Ph.D. in Economics from Johns Hopkins University (2005), a M.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech (1996) and her B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary (1994). Upon graduating from VT she served in the Peace Corps.