The head of the federal Office of Financial Research visited the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on May 14, 2013 to recruit experts to help mitigate a U.S. financial crisis.
OFR Director Richard Berner outlined the mission to prospective partners – prolific researchers and industry veterans in finance, information systems and computer science professors, plus PhDs in those fields – in a gathering organized by Smith’s Center for Financial Policy (CFP).
"We need to fill knowledge gaps related to systemic risks and build a toolkit for financial regulation to avert another crisis or worse (than the 2008 financial meltdown),” said Berner, a White House appointee to his role that includes advising U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on domestic financial matters.
Berner said the OFR seeks to “leverage the research strengths of the UMD faculty.” He said his office is creating a "virtual research committee" to facilitate faculty members to work for the OFR without a long-term commitment and therefore, without needing to give up tenure at the university.
Berner’s role and Smith’s Center for Financial Policy both emerged from the 2008 financial crisis, suggesting an organic symmetry, said CFP director Lemma Senbet. “The massive global financial crisis triggered massive legislation in Dodd-Frank, and the heart of Dodd-Frank is establishment of the Office of Financial Research,” he noted. “Our center also came into existence in the wake of the same crisis to advance research and training to inform financial policy.”
In addition to Senbet, the following UMD-Smith faculty participated in the forum and strategy lunch, and discussed with Berner their research interests as these potentially align with the OFR agenda including: systemic risk; data science for finance; data collection, management, and analysis; and human language technologies:
- Michael Ball, associate dean for faculty and research and the Dean’s Chair in Management Science
- Gerard Hoberg, associate professor of finance
- Albert S. "Pete" Kyle, Charles E. Smith Chair Professor of Finance
- Samir Khuller, computer science professor and department chair
- Vojislav Maksimovic, Dean's Chair Professor of Finance and Chair of the Department of Finance
- Doug Oard, professor, UMD’s College of Information Studies and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
- Catherine Plaisant, associate professor of research for UMD’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab
- Louiqa Raschid, professor of information systems
- Hanan Samet, professor of computer science
- Lemma Senbet, The William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance and Director, Center for Financial Policy
- Georgios Skoulakis, assistant professor of finance
- Russ Wermers, associate professor of finance
“This collection of faculty strongly reflects the interdisciplinary focus of the OFR,” said Senbet, who recognized Raschid as an example of an interdisciplinary faculty partner for this initiative, which builds on a series of CFP initiatives for idea sharing among research leaders and policymakers.
Berner closed his visit pledging to maintain the new dialogue with the UMD researchers while the OFR organizes research and analysis and feeds it to the Financial Stability Oversight Council – also created by Dodd-Frank under the Department of the Treasury.