SFI Community Event – The Complexity of Economics

Why is there such a gap between economic theory and the reality of our lived experience? Mainstream economics often presumes that people make rational decisions based on perfect information. These fictional decision-makers inhabit static worlds, where variables remain constant and where simple algorithms can predict the rise and fall of financial markets. Yet we all know the real world presents a much more dynamic setting.

This panel will explore the possibilities for advancing our understanding of economics through the ideas and tools of complexity science. By viewing markets as complex adaptive systems, rather than a series of unrelated transactions, complexity scientists are gaining a better understanding of emergent behaviors and changing states that characterize real-world economies. How can agent-based modeling, behavioral economics, and machine learning increase our understanding of economic systems? What are the implications of these insights for economic and investment practice? Join us to explore these questions and more.

This panel discussion, co-hosted by the Santa Fe Institute and Thornburg Investment Management features: Rob Axtell, who earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree at Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied computing, social science, and public policy. His teaching and research involves computational and mathematical modeling of social and economic processes. Specifically, he works at the intersection of multi-agent systems computer science and the social sciences, building so-called agent-based models for a variety of market and non-market phenomena. Jason Brady, President and CEO of Thornburg Investment Management. He is responsible for the company’s overall strategy and direction. He is also the head of the firm’s global fixed income investment team and a portfolio manager on several strategies, including Thornburg Investment Income Builder. Jason was named president and CEO effective January 1, 2016. He joined the firm in 2006 and was made portfolio manager and managing director in 2007. His book Income Investing: An Intelligent Approach to Profiting from Bonds, Stocks and Money Markets is a step-by-step guide to income investing. Jason holds a BA with honors in English and environmental biology from Dartmouth College, and an MBA with concentrations in analytical finance and accounting from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He is a CFA charterholder. Prior to joining Thornburg, Jason was a portfolio manager with Fortis Investments in Boston, and has held various positions at Fidelity Investments and Lehman Brothers. Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Finance and Economics at the California Institute of Technology (located in Pasadena, California), where he teaches cognitive psychology and economics. Professor Camerer earned a BA degree in quantitative studies from Johns Hopkins in 1977, and an MBA in finance (1979) and a Ph.D. in decision theory (1981, at age 22) from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Before coming to Caltech in 1994, Camerer worked at the Kellogg, Wharton, and University of Chicago business schools. He studies both behavioral and experimental economics. Katherine Collins, SFI Trustee and the first Head of Sustainable Investing at Putnam Investments and Founder of Honeybee Capital, the precursor to Honeybee Capital Foundation. After many years serving as head of research and portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, Katherine set out to re-integrate her investment philosophy with the broader world, traveling as a pilgrim and volunteer, earning her MTS degree at Harvard Divinity School, and studying biomimicry and the natural world as guides for investing in an integrated, regenerative way, beneficial to our communities and our planet. Katherine is author of The Nature of Investing, and her closest neighbors in Massachusetts are several thousand honeybees. Michael Kearns, Professor in the Computer and Information Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he holds the National Center Chair. He has secondary appointments in the Department of Economics, and in the departments of Statistics and Operations, Information, and Decisions in the Wharton School. He is the founding director of the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences and the founding co-director of Penn Engineering’s Networked and Social Systems Engineering Program. He is chief scientist of MANA Partners, a trading, technology, and asset management firm.

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