Alistair Macaulay

Alistair Macaulay

Please introduce yourself and what you are currently doing

I am the Biegun-Warburg Junior Research Fellow in Economics at St Anne’s. I’m also affiliated with the Department of Economics.
I’m a macroeconomist, and I teach Core Macroeconomics and Quantitative Economics to second year undergraduates.

When did you join St Anne’s and how have you found your time at the College?

I joined the College in October 2020, so my experiences of College life have largely taken place from my living room! Learning to operate entirely virtually has been a challenge, but I’ve found my colleagues and students to be incredibly supportive and energetic. While we’ve got quite good at teaching online now, I’m very much looking forward to a return to more in-person interaction. There are so many people at St Anne’s I haven’t had chance to meet!

What is your favourite place in Oxford?

The walk along the edge of Port Meadow up to the Perch is wonderful.

What is your specialist subject and how did you become interested in this area?

In lots of situations, it takes time and effort to collect and absorb the information needed to make good decisions. My research focuses on the macroeconomic implications of the way households behave in the face of these difficulties. In particular, I study how households adjust the amount and type of information they process as their circumstances change, and how those adjustments affect booms, recessions, and macroeconomic policy.

I got interested in this during my MPhil, when I studied previous theoretical work in which the depth of recessions was closely linked to household predictions of their own future job prospects. That’s a difficult thing to predict! I have since looked at when savers do more (or less) research before choosing their savings products, and how much attention people pay when central banks try and communicate with them.

What is your advice for any others looking to pursue academia?

Talk to people! I think it’s easy for academia to become a lonely pursuit, so try and guard against spending weeks not engaging with others. I’ve found even a half-hour conversation with a visiting seminar speaker, or a quick coffee with a PhD student, can push my work forward substantially. Plus it’s just more fun if you’re talking to people.

What is your favourite way to relax?

Being kept mostly at home for the last year has really made me appreciate our little garden. I’m still not a very competent gardener, but I really enjoy pottering around doing bits of gardening, then settling in to my deck chair with a book.