Despite currently working on three different research projects, Matilde Bombardini still found some time to talk about two of her favorite topics: political economy & international trade. Originally from Italy where she graduated from the Universita di Bologna, Matilde discovered her passion for research while on exchange at the University of California Berkeley. Since then she has not stopped looking for empirical answers to all the unknowns surrounding trade. She first began her work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she completed her PhD, and now teaches graduate classes on international trade at UBC. Although being a researcher is not always an easy job, Matilde loves challenging questions and the continuous process of inquiry within the academia environment. Her work seems to be giving promising answers as The Bank of Canada recently announced Matilde Bombardini to be the next Governor’s Award recipient. This distinction recognizes outstanding young academics working at Canadian universities in areas of research relevant to the Bank.
My main two fields are Political Economy and International Trade. I have three projects going on right now. One is on the relationship between trade and pollution in China. We are looking at the effects of an expansion of exports on pollution rates and, in particular, whether the type of industries expanding conditions that effect. This project appealed to me because I was curious about the particularities and differences of the causal effect of trade and development on pollution
The second one is on financial regulation. We, my colleague Francesco Trebbi, an army of research assistants and I, are trying to figure out how the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform of 2010 is being implemented. Initially when a law is passed it has no effect until all the regulatory agencies implement that law. But through the process of implementation the text can be altered to favor particular interests. We are trying to analyze the influence that banks and other lobbying groups have on the text changes by looking at the text modifications at every stage of the implementation process. I think it is our responsibility as economists to keep track of these self-interest-based changes.
The third project is about the impact of trade on the matching between firms and workers. We are using French data to see whether being an exporting firm gives you an ince ntive to better screen your workers. I have always been interested in trying to understand how labor force composition affects trade. If you look at the existing literature you can fin d that more and more of the wage inequality in contemporary economies is explained by the fact that good firms hire good workers. This type of assorted matching tends to exacerbate wage inequality. So we are trying to see whether the presence of trade also plays a role in the difference in salaries.
You get to do something different every day. You get a question and you try to answer it. And you have the chance to pursue your own questions. Sometimes you need to solve very hard problems but that is what makes it so interesting. It is not easy to answer all the questions you formulate but you learn a lot while reading and looking for the solutions.
In Italy once you choose your faculty you can only take courses from that department. I was in economics so there was not much I could choose from afterwards. As an undergraduate I went to an exchange program in Berkley and while I was there I realized being a researcher could be challenging and fun at the same time. Transitioning from being a student to being a researcher was not easy but it has been completely worth it.
Not at all. It grew on me and it still does as I keep on doing it. The more I do it the more I enjoy it. In that sense it simply happened. I liked learning and challenging myself so the intellectual side of researching really interested me. Now I try to look at questions that are more relevant to society. In a way my research has evolved over time.
I love being surrounded by critical and intellectual individuals. I like being challenged by continuous Why? Why is this happening? I enjoy teaching and interacting with students too.