Media Coverage

  • J-WAFS announces seven new seed grants
    Nine principal investigators from MIT will receive grants totaling over $1 million for solutions-oriented research into global food and water challenges
    June 12, 2019

    Agricultural productivity technologies for small-holder farmers; food safety solutions for everyday consumers; sustainable supply chain interventions in the palm oil industry; water purification methods filtering dangerous micropollutants from industrial and wastewater streams — these are just a few of the research-based solutions being supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT. J-WAFS is funding these and other projects through its fifth round of seed grants, providing over $1 million in funding to the MIT research community. These grants, which are funded competitively to MIT principal investigators (PIs) across all five schools at the Institute, exemplify the ambitious goals of MIT’s Institute-wide effort to address global water and food systems challenges through research and innovation. 

  • QnAs with Robert Townsend
    July 3, 2017

    Household businesses and small enterprises are a staple of villages in Thailand. In the late 1990s, Robert Townsend, an economic theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ventured into Thai villages to document household finances and sketch the ties linking family and village finances to regional and national economies. For the most part, economists had not delved into how these businesses, such as shrimp farming and silk growing, influence and react to changes in Thailand's emerging economy. Townsend’s efforts led to the Townsend Thai Project, which collects financial data from around 3,000 households every year. Elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, Townsend put forth a model of Thailand’s economy in his Inaugural Article (1), which he discussed with PNAS.

  • "This Time There Was No Keynes"
    Economic Principals
    October 11, 2015

    Journalist David Warsh reviews former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's latest book and refers to Townsend's 1979 paper, "Optimal Contracts and Competitive Markets with Costly State Verification," in his discussion.

  • Becker Friedman Institute Conference Honors Townsend's Work
    Keynote Addresses by Thomas J. Sargent, Neil Wallace
    June 12, 2015

    Former students of Robert M. Townsend honored his influence and teaching with a conference in Chicago last month titled “Theory & Measurement: Financial Systems and Economic Development.” Reflecting both Townsend’s scholarly impact and collegial style, the informal conference was notable for the high quality of the scholarship presented, a keynote address by Thomas J. Sargent, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and a commemorative lunch talk by Neil Wallace, Professor of Economics at Pennsylvania State University and Townsend’s own thesis advisor. 

  • May Conference to Honor Townsend's Impact on Development Economics
    Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago
    May 7, 2015

    To learn more about how people in developing countries thrive, Robert Townsend has built his career on empirical analysis framed by strong theoretical work. His approach made him a trailblazer among development economists. On May 21-22, students and colleagues shaped by his influence will gather in Chicago for a two-day conference honoring his legacy of scholarship.

  • Townsend Speaks at Fed Conference on Frontiers of Measuring Household Behavior
    Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
    April 27, 2015

    Townsend presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. His presentation, titled "Theory and Application of financially integrated measures of household behavior," introduced the methodology of surveying household behavior techniques. The talk was moderated by María Luengo-Prado.

  • Townsend, Kilenthong Discuss Market-Based Solution to Price Externalities
    VOX - CEPR Policy Portal
    November 9, 2014

    In the aftermath of the recent Global Crisis, models with pecuniary externalities have regained the interest of researchers as they seek policy interventions and regulations to remedy externality-induced distortions. There is a growing literature on fire sales and amplifiers where private agents undervalue net worth in a period of financial distress because they fail to internalise that net worth has positive spillovers on other agents.

  • How a Health Care Plan Quickly Lowered Infant Mortality in Thailand
    MIT News
    April 30, 2014

    A new paper, "The Great Equalizer: Health Care Access and Infant Mortality in Thailand", finds that improved hospital access lowered the infant death rate among Thailand's poor within a year. In this article, Peter Dizikes of MIT News Office, interviews Nathaniel Hendren and Robert M. Townsend, co-authors with Jonathan Gruber, to to find out more about this dramatic shift.

  • The Urban/Rural Divide is Less Divided Than You Think
    Financial Access Initiative Blog
    November 5, 2013

    This blog post by Alicia Brindisi discusses Robert M. Townsend's recent paper, "Accounting for the Poor", and explores ideas related to the lifecycle and consumption needs of the urban and rural poor.  While rural poverty is a persistent problem in Thailand and in other developing countries, Brindisi suggests that it should be addressed within the context of urbanization in order to acknowledge the interconnectedness of rural and urban populations.

  • Infrastructure Spending in Thailand: Fast Train Coming
    The Economist
    October 14, 2013

    This article explores planned large-scale infrastructure -- including high speed rail -- and stimulus spending in Thailand.  Opponents of the program have called for fiscal prudence and have questioned the amount of public debt it would require.  MIT Professor Robert M. Townsend points out, however, that average debt-to-asset ratios are low and have been decreasing since 2006, a fact which suggests that concerns about spending are overstated.

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