Sebastian Schmidt, European Central Bank
"At the nexus between academic research and monetary policy"
Since 2012, Sebastian Schmidt has been working as economist in the Directorate General Research at the European Central Bank (ECB). In 2012, he earned his doctorate at the Endowed Chair of Monetary Economics of Volker Wieland with a dissertation titled "Essays on Monetary and Fiscal Stabilization Policy".
What are your main tasks as economist in the Directorate General Research at the European Central Bank?
My main tasks can be grouped into three categories. First, I am expected to do original research, presenting my work at conferences and publishing it in academic journals. This part is very similar to an academic career at a University. The second responsibility is to provide research-based policy analysis and advise, for instance in the form of analytical notes, policy seminars, speaking points or contributions to official ECB publications. To give an example, last year I participated in a huge model comparison project on fiscal multipliers in the Working Group on Econometric Modelling. This group consists of representatives from the ECB and the national European central banks, so there is also a lot of interaction with colleagues from other central banks. Some of the results of this project have recently been published in an ECB Working Paper (No. 1760). Finally, the third task consists of model and tool development for policy analysis.
How did your doctorate at the IMFS prepare you for this job?
I spent about half a year at the IMFS. During that stay I was responsible for maintaining and expanding the Macroeconomic model data base which also contains a number of medium and large-scale models from central banks and other policy institutions. Hence, this allowed me to familiarize myself with these relatively complex models already before starting to work at a policy institution.
You had several offers at the job market. Why did you choose the ECB?
Due to my research focus, I was very interested to work in a research department of a central bank, that is, at the nexus between academic research and monetary policy. The Directorate General Research at the ECB is a fantastic place to pursue this goal. Within my division there are several excellent macroeconomists working on related issues. We have a lot of seminars with speakers from the top international academic institutions and a number of visiting professors that come to the ECB on a regular basis. At the same time, there is the component of contributing to important policy discussions which can be very exciting.
What would you recommend Ph.D. candidates applying at the IMFS?
If you want to continue doing research after your Ph.D. your job market paper and your research agenda are very important. So you should start relatively early to think about a topic and to choose a supervisor who is working in this area. On the job market one has to convince people who are often working in other areas of economics that one addresses an interesting question and that one is providing original insights. I recommend to interact a lot with faculty at the IMFS and Goethe University to obtain feedback and advice. Also, presenting your work at international conferences helps to advertise your work, to receive comments and to get in contact with other researchers working on similar questions.