Nathan Szeto ’23

Laffer Associates, Nashville, TN

This summer I had the pleasure of working as an economic research assistant with Laffer Associates—an economic research firm founded by economist Arthur B. Laffer, Ph.D. whose most well-known theory is by far that of the Laffer Curve. In addition to gaining a better understanding of this particular theory, I also had the opportunity to read Laffer’s previous papers on supply-side economic theory and how it manifests itself in real macroeconomic events. While I may not have necessarily agreed with all of the ideas espoused in these papers, I nonetheless felt that reading them was valuable insofar as that they served as a platform on which I could begin to build a better opinion on tax policy in the United States.

Of course, neither I nor my employer would be content with me reading papers throughout the workday, and so I was quickly assigned various projects such as finding historical tax rates for the different categories of taxes or compiling Covid-19 mortality Picture of Nathan Szeto '23numbers by state. While this type of work may not at first sound especially exciting, I quickly realized that in addition to the data being necessary for Laffer’s research, I was developing an ability to efficiently collect data that is not only relevant, but also reliable. In addition, I learned which sources offer what information and how to navigate those sources. Again, navigating a source like a government database sounds as though it is a task that is not particularly interesting, however I have come to accept it as a skill that is broadly applicable and therefore worth pursuing.

During my time with Laffer Associates I came to better understand the process that constitutes economic research. Unfortunately, I cannot claim that my experience here has persuaded me to further pursue economic research as a career path. The primary reasons are that I found the field to be too politicized for my taste and simply did not feel especially engaged by the content of Laffer’s research papers. In addition, the type of office environment in which I carried out my internship did not suit my personality. I realized that I prefer dynamic, fast-moving workspaces that constantly provide new challenges and problems to solve. That all being said, I still enjoyed learning about the economy and more specifically financial markets, leading me to conclude that I am more suited to a career in finance, which I look forward to pursuing further.

I would like to conclude by expressing my gratitude to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and Mr. James D. Marver for making my experience with Laffer Associates possible. The ’68 Center has done a wonderful job organizing the ASIP program and keeping in touch. And of course, the ASIP program would not exist without the generosity of alumni like Mr. Marver.