Farewell, UCSD

3 minute read


As I have already announced on my website, I am resigning from UCSD. Today is my last day. I have been employed for 11 years, so I have bittersweet feelings for sure.

I conveyed my intention of resignation on February 20, 2024 to the department chair. Shortly after, I sent the following statement to some friends and colleagues. (The statement is slightly edited.)

Dear friends and colleagues,

Some of you may have already heard about the possibility, but today I have decided to amicably leave UCSD this summer (“Alexit”). In the fall, I will join the economics department at Emory.

I have fond memories of the department, the colleagues, and the Econolodge (or Motel California) and I will certainly miss them. However, I will be commuting to Atlanta for a while, and I have no intention of selling my house in San Diego for the foreseeable future (I will probably use it for a summer house), so there will be plenty of opportunities to hang out with you.

At UCSD, I currently have only two PhD students, who are both graduating this year, so there will be no discontinuity in advising. Regarding teaching, I have been teaching math camp (Econ 205) for almost a decade. My teaching material will be published as a textbook and I will keep the slides up-to-date here, so I hope the transition will be smooth.

Please rest assured that I am very happy with my decision. During the past few days, I couldn’t stop smiling because the market has finally revealed the fundamental value. (Although I do research on bubbles, this is not a bubble.) I think I am happiest since I got a job at UCSD 11 years ago. I recall I was visiting Providence the day before the deadline for accepting the Brown offer and the recruiting chair gave me a phone call while I was talking to a real estate agent. Thank you for hiring an unusual candidate. I thank the Theory, Behavioral, and Experimental group for accepting me with open arms despite the fact that my research is really macro and finance.

However, I also have a few concerns. In the good old days, we had lively Friday faculty seminars. There were sandwiches and coffee, the room was packed, and the faculty and students were well fed. Then the sandwiches became vegetarian only and we got malnourished. Then the sandwiches disappeared all together, we starved, and attendance plummeted. I hope you can secure funding to put sandwiches back on the table. My other concern is the increasing regulations and bureaucracy both at UC and in California. I am a classical liberal, and I put significant value on individual freedom, equality of opportunity, and competition under the rule of law. Many UC and California policies go against these principles. According to the Cato Institute, Georgia ranks 5th in economic freedom among 50 states, whereas California ranks 3rd from bottom (after New York and Hawaii).

I will be gone with the wind but I wish you all the best in making the department great again.

Regarding the fundamental value and bubble, to explain my frustration over the past years, a picture is worth a thousand words. As a classical liberal, in addition to government interventions, monopsony is also something I dislike. It is entirely possible that I am trading one monopsony with another. But it felt so good that for a brief time, I had the freedom to choose.