Economics

The Department of Economics offers programs in both the College of Arts and Sciences—economics, business economics and entrepreneurial studies—and the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

The inaugural Student-Managed Investment Fund class.

The inaugural Student-Managed Investment Fund class.

Zhiguang (Gerald) Wang, associate professor of economics, talks about the accomplishments of the Student-Managed Investment Fund Club and class.

“The Investment Club has been around since 2011 and has about 50 to 60 members. Students do not need to be enrolled in the class to join the club or participate in its events. I use the club as a way to educate students about capital markets, stocks and investments.

“The club initially provided the talent to form this class. Last year was the first year our investment fund class was offered. Before that, I had a trial run using the club to test what I planned to teach.

“The class has a fund of $65,000, which the students run—with my guidance—as portfolio managers. Students with more experience are classified as senior analysts, while junior analysts are less prepared. Together, these class members manage the fund.

“I am the faculty adviser for the Investment Club and instructor of the actual course. I oversee activities, provide guidance and consider myself to be a risk manager. The students make decisions by themselves after analyzing stocks and potential investments. After researching some different stock options, they present them to the class and the whole 14-person class votes on whether to purchase a stock and at what price. Once the decision is made, I, as trader, go to the market and buy and sell using the real money account held by the SDSU Foundation.

“The SDSU Foundation gave us an investment policy stipulating how the profits will be shared. The profits will be used for scholarships that benefit students and to keep the club running.

“Our first-semester class was able to achieve the goal we set, which was to follow the benchmark of the S&P Index, 500 of the largest public trading stocks. We hoped to outperform the market that S&P had set. This is very hard, and we would largely follow what the S&P Index had set. We would, however, conduct research and then deviate from certain sectors’ weighting that the students felt we needed to do.

“Two students from our Investment Club presented the class’ investments from last year to a panel of Wall Street judges. In the end, we won the competition. It was a memorable time for us because it was our first time attending.

“For those who hope to become involved in the class, they should join the Investment Club and network with the students. The Investment Club is a good place for students to learn about personal finance and investments.”

By Kelly Morrison, agricultural communication senior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Photo by Zhiguang (Gerald) Wang

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Nine students and one faculty adviser attended the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (G.A.M.E.) VII Forum in New York City.

South Dakota State University’s investment fund team won the portfolio competition at the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (G.A.M.E.) VII Forum in New York City. Justin Price is from Brookings.

“The award for winning the competition was a trophy that included the Wall Street Bull and the Bear. It was by far the coolest trophy I have received to date. Nine students and one faculty adviser attended the event held in New York City.

“We won the award for having superior investment performance in relation to our Student-Managed Investment Fund. The fund had a total return of 13 percent versus the benchmark (S&P 500) of 11.9 percent. In addition, our Sharpe ratio was near 1.9. Our Sharpe ratio was better than the benchmark’s for the last five to 10 years of about 1.5. The higher the Sharpe ratio, the more an investor is compensated for the risk he or she takes on. This is what we believe allowed us to win the competition.

“The accomplishment was great and still is. I never suspected that we would win the competition. I believe winning has enhanced my ambition to become a successful businessman and investor. I currently am in the process of looking for jobs in Wall Street. I think Chad Te Slaa and I have become a little more popular in the economics department.

“My advice for students is that they should simply get started. Investing and business can seem complex, but it is actually easy. It is simply doing what you understand and sticking to it … a circle of competence.

“In addition, I would urge students to practice trading and learning about investing by joining the SDSU Investment Club. The Investment Club offers students the chance to invest $100,000 in paper (fake) money as a trading competition to simulate investment trading or learning. “Students should also read books on businessmen and women and study different styles of investing. I prefer value investing and some prefer technical analysis … either could work, but it’s important to understand what you are good at.”

By Emily Meyer, a senior agricultural communication major from Orient
Photo by Nikita Medvedev

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Chad Te Slaa is from Harrisburg

“For our portfolio, we picked 23 companies in total and filled out paperwork to send to the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum, a worldwide competition. There are two different components that go with the competition. First, people came in and talked to us from Wall Street and presented their viewpoints and strategies. The next part of the competition is where the competition sponsors evaluate each portfolio of a student-managed investment fund, also known as the core portfolio. Out of 160 schools participating, we ended up in first place.

“One hundred and sixty schools from across the world send in their student-managed investment fund portfolio, and the program sponsors look at the Sharpe return. They pick 18 schools to come to New York and present their portfolios to Wall Street financiers. We were selected to present along with 17 other schools.

“With the core portfolio, we ended up winning—which is a pretty cool deal. We went into the competition thinking that we were just a small school in South Dakota, and we were just hoping to represent the state well, and here we are the winners! It was cool experience.”

By Tayler Wolff, agricultural communications senior from Brookings

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Interim Dean Jason Zimmerman noted Kylie Walterman graduated in May 2016 with an economics major and English minor. “She is an excellent example of a student who benefited from the College of Arts and Sciences’ emphasis on proving the combination of skills that helped her find meaningful work more quickly after graduating. Her English minor taught her to collaborate, and her economics major gave her innovative skills that are in high demand by employers.” Walterman is from New Ulm, Minnesota.

“I plan on a career in economics and banking. I came to SDSU because I just felt really comfortable with the atmosphere. I also came because I was awarded a really good scholarship. I was looking at a few different schools and kind of weighing out the value for each school, and SDSU ended up being the best one.

“I was looking at business schools when I was originally looking at universities. I picked SDSU because it had a business specialization even though it was in the economics department. I ended up loving the econ classes that were required, and not really liking the business classes. So, I switched to econ. I’ve found that it really fits my interests. I love politics and I love public policy. And I find it’s a really interesting way to look at the world from a pragmatic perspective.

“I have a major in econ and a minor in English. The first and biggest love of my life is reading, and I love literature. I picked up an English minor because I wanted that passion to be part of my education. The English classes were ones that I could really just enjoy.

“My English minor has been huge. When I interviewed for the job I have now, which is as a federal banking regulator, one of their number one reasons they interviewed me is because I had an English minor. So much of what you do in the business world is report writing and presentations and actual analysis writing, which is pretty similar to literary analysis except it kind of comes off a different way in the business world so it’s helped me. It helped me get internships, it helped me be a better communicator and be a better writer. I would say, literary analysis mirrors economic analysis. They run parallel to each other and they don’t cross, but they have a lot of the same elements.

“I spent two summers and breaks as a risk manager for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. I was part of a team that went into banks to do risk-analysis exams on everything from the quality of their loans to how effective management is in their company. About 20 percent of a bank examiner’s job is writing and editing, so having those skills is essential. In fact, the FDIC requires all new hires to pass grammar and editing tests before they can even get an interview. Working with the federal government has its pros and cons. It’s been a really experience; and a great way to get my foot in the door. Having that job as an undergraduate was life-changing.

“I joke with a lot of people that I just got my master’s degree because I just wasn’t ready to be done with school yet. I’m not afraid of the real world; I just really like to learn.

“I have about six months left of work for my master’s degree in economics at State, about two semesters. I’m writing my master’s thesis on a comparative analysis of deposit insurance schemes between the European Union and the United States. After I graduate, I’m going to take up work as a federal banking regulator. I could see myself going back and getting an econ Ph.D. or maybe a law degree or public policy degree. Eventually, I’d like to go into public service.

“The impact of SDSU is huge. The value enabled me to get an undergraduate degree and now a graduate degree without accumulating any debt—which is pretty incredible. I’ve been able to connect with really great faculty. My professors invested a lot in me so I think that the people who I’ve met here and the connections I’ve made are incredible for my academics, and now for my real-world career.

“I’m not done learning. I’ve looked around at Ph.D. programs. I want to go into the workforce for a while because I need to make money, and I think I need to have actual work experience. So, I’m going to go into the workforce. But, basically, just so I can figure out which is the best degree for me to get.

“I’m definitely not done learning. There’s a saying that ‘you should learn your whole life, you should never be done learning.’ I like that one; it’s perfect.”

By Kendra Davis, agricultural communication senior from Glenville, Minnesota
Photo by Kendra Davis

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