“For those of you who knew Radha, I am sure you share in my sorrow,” Thakor wrote. “He was a prolific scholar, a brilliant mind and a passionate educator.” Also, he was a devoted father and husband we will remember for his kindness, the interim dean said.
Radha joined the Olin community 2006 as a member of the finance faculty. He steadily rose in esteem and responsibility, finally serving as the academic director of Olin’s Mumbai-based Executive MBA program in partnership with IIT-Bombay.
“As a scholar, Radha was exceptional, and I was privileged to coauthor several research papers with him,” Thakor wrote in a tribute on the Olin Blog the day Gopalan died.
“His research into corporate finance, corporate governance, emerging market financial systems, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, entrepreneurial finance and household finance has been widely cited. Indeed, Google Scholar notes nearly 4,000 citations in his career, more than half just since 2017.”
You can read Thakor’s full tribute to Gopalan here.
When St. Louis City SC takes the field for its home opener Saturday, March 4, Major League Soccer (MLS)’s newest expansion team will celebrate many firsts that will have a game-changing effect not just on soccer, but on professional sports as a whole, said Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
For starters, City SC is the first female majority-owned team in the MLS. Additionally, Purina — the team’s kit (aka, jersey) partner — also is female-led.
“To get a professional sports team, you need three things: You need a wealthy ownership group, local fans and corporate partnerships, and you need a brand-new venue that will impress the league. St. Louis had all three of those things, and we also had a female-led ownership group with the Taylor family — that really set our bid apart from the dozens of other cities that wanted into Major League Soccer,” Rishe said.
“The organization should be proud of this achievement, and the city should lean into it. Who knows what kind of amplified effects this could have across the league?”
City SC is also the first in the league to have its entire operation in one physical footprint. CityPark, located at Market and 22nd streets in downtown St. Louis, is home to the club’s main pitch, three practice pitches, headquarters (coming summer 2023) and merchandise store as well as the Washington University Orthopedics High Performance Center.
“No other majority soccer team in the country can say that — it’s a real point of pride for the team. Having all of the operations on one campus will lead to a lot of efficiencies. Players can get treatment if they need it next door to where they practice. And executives can stop by the training center, check stock in the merchandising center or run over to the main stadium to check on operations quickly. Having everything in one place will make it more attractive for this club to recruit employees in the future,” Rishe said.
When it comes to game days, CityPark will deliver an experience that is second to none, Rishe said. The club promises to offer the best matchday menu in sports, featuring dozens of local restaurateurs, including Steve’s Hot Dogs and Balkan Treat Box — a level of locally based food sources that is unheard of, he said.
“Couple that with the technology that they’re planning on introducing, making the customer experience faster and more seamless with a lot of grab-and-go, automated concessions so fans do not have to waste time standing in line,” he said. “I think that’s going to be something that will be copycatted across all professional sports.”
Fans can also be proud of City SC’s commitment to sustainability, which includes a pledge to make CityPark a zero-waste stadium, Rishe added.
Breaking records before first kickoff
St. Louis is known as America’s first soccer capital, so perhaps it’s no surprise that City SC is shattering league records before they even take the field for their first game.
“St. Louis soccer fans were clearly ready to welcome a professional team to town. The team received more than 60,000 deposits for season tickets in a stadium that seats just 22,500,” Rishe said.
“And the team’s inaugural kit broke league sales records over a 30-day period before the design was even revealed,” he added. “Undoubtedly, the league will be looking for ways to copycat the team’s success and boost revenues throughout the league.”
Boom for local economy, jobs
Industry-leading gameday experience, top-of-the-line technology and a commitment to sustainability are certainly points of pride for the team and fans. But you don’t have to be a soccer fan to be excited about what the new team has to offer for the community as a whole, Rishe said.
When sports economists talk about economic impact generated by a team or venue, they generally focus on dollars coming into the community from out of town, Rishe explained. Visitors for home games and special events — like the World Cup or youth sporting tournaments — bring new dollars to the community that are a huge boost to the local hospitality industry.
‘I think what the soccer team can take great pride in already is how they’ve changed the look and feel of the western side of downtown St. Louis. They have extended the liveliness and the economic viability of a section of downtown that was previously blighted.’
“The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the teams nationwide that generates the most economic impact because a large percentage of their fan base comes from outside the St. Louis market,” Rishe said. “While it’s unlikely SC will bring in as many visitors as the Cardinals, the new MLS team is already having a positive economic impact on the region.
“I think what the soccer team can take great pride in already is how they’ve changed the look and feel of the western side of downtown St. Louis. They have extended the liveliness and the economic viability of a section of downtown that was previously blighted,” Rishe said.
“Over the past several decades, there has been a struggle to achieve consistent vibrancy downtown. But there’s a lot of momentum downtown, right now, especially with the new stadium.”
The new stadium also has created a ripple effect throughout the area. Already, Maggie O’Brien’s — a longtime restaurant and Irish pub across Market — has been renovated, and The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern opened inside Union Station. And more developments in the neighborhood are likely, Rishe said.
“The trickle-down effect will have a very real economic impact in the region. The new stadium will attract more out-of-town visitors, as well as more St. Louis County residents, downtown for games and events. Together, this will certainly create additional infusion of tax dollars for the city of St. Louis.”
The addition of City SC and the Battlehawks XFL team downtown also creates more job opportunities in the service sector — jobs that were hard hit during the pandemic. More visitors to the region will fuel an increase in job opportunities at neighboring businesses, too, Rishe said.
Most Americans believe the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve should be politically independent.
That makes sense. A politically driven central bank or securities regulator can lose credibility and reinforce short-term political objectives—to the harm of long-term stability.
New research, however, finds partisanship among SEC commissioners rose recently to an all-time high. Driving the rise? More-partisan commissioners replaced less-partisan ones.
Partisanship at the SEC even appears in the language of new SEC rules and commissioners’ voting behavior, according to the paper “The Partisanship of Financial Regulators.”
“The Fed and SEC have institutional features that are designed to shield them from the effects of partisanship,” said Asaf Manela, Olin associate professor of finance and a coauthor of the paper.
In recent decades, US politics have grown significantly polarized and are testing those safeguards.
The four scholars used a proven language-based approach to identify partisan phrases in Congress, such as “red tape” and “climate change,” and reviewed regulators’ usage of them. Basically, they examined whether Republican or Democratic regulators spoke like Republican or Democratic members of Congress.
They found Federal Reserve governors appeared to be “largely immune from the increased partisanship in American society.” The Fed was relatively nonpartisan throughout the research sample period of 1920-2019.
But partisanship among SEC commissioners rose to an all-time high.
The most partisan phrases suggest that Republican regulators favor less regulation than Democrats. For example, SEC Democrats emphasize investor and consumer protection, according to the paper, forthcoming in the Review of Financial Studies. SEC Republicans emphasize regulatory burdens and the unintended consequences of policy intervention.
Partisanship extends to governing
“Partisanship is not restricted to their speech but extends to their governing activity,” Manela said. “Rules are more likely to sound like the partisan language of the majority party in the regulatory body.”
In addition, partisanship at the SEC might affect commissioners’ regulatory philosophies, the study found.
“Many government entities were designed to be immune from partisan influence. The approach here can be used to evaluate whether the rise in partisanship in American society has spilled over into these entities.”
The study also documented “a dramatic increase in partisan voting behavior” at the SEC between 2006 and 2019. Dissenting activity increased substantially, and dissenting votes disproportionately occurred along party lines.
Manela said the approach of using congressional speech to examine the speech of non-congressional speech can be applied more broadly. Researchers can use the methodology to see if the US Supreme Court or state and local governments have also become more partisan.
“Many government entities were designed to be immune from partisan influence,” he noted. “The approach here can be used to evaluate whether the rise in partisanship in American society has spilled over into these entities.”
In addition to Manela, the researchers included Joseph Engelberg, University of California-San Diego; Matthew Henriksson, University of Mississippi; and Jared Williams, University of South Florida.
US data suggest groundbreaking research in many fields, including medicine, is declining. Yet the number of papers published each year has increased, with some unfortunate side effects.
“Scientists focus their attention on work that is already well-cited rather than on new ideas or ideas on the fringes of the scientific mainstream,” Baer said. “This leads to a calcification of the intellectual structure of a field, slowing down progress over time.”
Funding sources for research grants often make matters worse. The norm now in many fields: Grant proposals must provide substantial data supporting the proposed theories and hypotheses. Basically, funding agencies reward work on previously established topics.
“A journey into the exploration of the unknown has been replaced with a ticket on the Shinkansen bullet train: Destination known and always on time.”
Researchers are responding by playing it safe, Baer says. “There’s a tendency to minimize risk.” Many chase ideas that, from the outset, are likely to be publishable to ensure a constant stream of papers.
“I certainly have had my fair share of encounters with, for instance, journals who reject an idea because it is novel and does not fit the current scientific mold,” Baer said.
Baer is known for his research on creativity and innovation. He wrote the article as a follow-up to a symposium organized by the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre at the University of Copenhagen. Baer was an invited speaker with the mission of offering ideas for how to inject more creativity into scientific inquiry.
Gone are the days when scientists could explore Yellowstone National Park without knowing what would come of it, Baer says. There, in the late 1960s, microbiologist Thomas Brock discovered heat-resistant bacteria in the Mushroom Spring.
Guess what? Brock’s discovery eventually led to the development of the chemical process behind today’s Covid test.
Sadly, today’s pressure to produce often means budding researchers are recruited onto preexisting projects with already defined milestones and deliverables.
Fortunately, researchers at Olin don’t face the same pressures as medical researchers. Those scientists are profoundly dependent on grant money for labs and other necessary expenses, Baer says.
“I think our approach to training doctoral students allows students to inject creativity into the research process. Erik Dane teaches a course in the PhD curriculum that tries to provide students the tools to do exactly that.”
Bullet train redesign
One strategy is to encourage early-stage scientists to immerse themselves in similar problems and the solutions they may inspire, Baer says.
Years ago, the Shinkansen bullet train created an ear-splitting sonic boom as it raced out of tunnels. A group of engineers was tasked to redesign the train to make it quieter.
One of the engineers was a bird watcher. He made a connection. Birds diving into the water to catch prey faced a similar challenge to the zooming through a tunnel. The new design of the train’s front? It was based on the shape of the Kingfisher’s beak. That bird dives at high speed from one environment, air, into another, water, with barely a splash.
Researchers should be encouraged and allowed the time to pursue topics other than those they’re actively investigating, Baer says. They should join collaborations with scientists from other domains and even disciplines who are investigating analogous problems.
‘Stay in the cloud’
For research to flourish, it’s imperative to rethink the knowledge production process to allow for the occasional detours, setbacks and dead ends, Baer says.
The bottom line: Research leaders may want to embrace the values of autonomy and novelty more courageously—and embolden early-stage researchers to do the same. Also, academic institutions should take a hard look at themselves. Do they need to increase the breathing space and time for scientists to engage in the exploration of new ideas and research avenues?
“Uri Alon, professor and systems biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, talks about the notion of the research cloud—the boundary between the known and unknown,” Baer said.
“It seems to me that we are not encouraging young scholars to stay in the research cloud long enough to truly cross over into the unknown. In fact, the notion of having one’s heads up in the cloud has a negative connotation.
“We need to encourage the next generation of scholars to stay in the cloud and tolerate the feeling of not knowing where this journey may lead.”
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Love is in the air … and on the internet, where many singles will turn to score a date. About 30% of U.S. adults—including 53% of people under 30—have used a dating site or app, according to 2022 Pew Research Center data. According to the same survey, 40% of users say online dating has made the search for a long-time partner easier.
Dating apps make no secret of their use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help users find their perfect match, although just how the algorithms work is less clear. Many of the most popular dating apps — including Tinder, Bumble, eHarmony and OKCupid — use the data you provide and your interactions within the apps to curate lists of potential matches, making the sea of fish a little bit smaller and more manageable, said Liberty Vittert, a professor of practice of data science at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
But recent reports of online dating app users employing AI to strike up conversations and flirt with matches—or worse, scam them—have some saying AI has gone too far.
Romance ‘beyond reach’ for robots
Plenty of would-be suitors—fictional and real—have sought help to woo their love interests. Who can forget “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the 19th-century play that tells the story of a man who helps his inarticulate rival win Roxanne’s heart by feeding him love poems and letters? But human romance is beyond reach, currently, for robots, Vittert said.
“Robots don’t have human emotions. We are actually a long way away from what we see in movies,” Vittert said. “They don’t work very well outside what they are programmed to do. For example, they can beat a grand master at chess, but if you then ask it to choose to play checkers instead, it can’t necessarily make that decision.”
And because the technology is so new, no one is regulating or stopping it.
“The scariest part is that we have no idea what the implications are going to be, but we do know that when the use of AI has been rushed, that there are dire consequences,” Vittert said.
For example, police relying on AI facial recognition to decide who to arrest, when the algorithm does a terrible job identifying people of color “has resulted in completely innocent individuals being jailed for up to a week,” Vittert said, “or Amazon hiring based on resumes that had the keywords ‘fraternity, male, lacrosse,’ we have already seen serious, unforeseen consequences.”
How to spot a bot
As with any dating situation—online or in person—it’s important to use caution. Avoid sharing personal information and do not respond to requests for financial help. Most importantly, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it’s not.
“Warning signs that you might be chatting with a bot versus a real person are going to be hard to tell as the AI gets better and better, but if you think it seems a little off, a little weird, not quite getting the tone—that is where you can tell,” Vittert said.
“AI can’t yet understand humor or tone, so if the responses to your humor or tone don’t seem to jive, then it’s possible you are talking to a bot.”