A day in the life of an Economist – Mieke Welvaert

As economist Paul Krugman once succulently put it: “economists are people too” [1].  At Infometrics we are a team of unique economists that come from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise.  Over the coming months we are going to be running a series of newsletter articles that will take the form of interviews with each of our economists.

Economics is sometimes perceived as a dry topic – a perception we hope to dispel by providing a glimpse into a day in the life of an economist, as well as a rundown of the exciting projects our economists are working on, and what the future holds.

Infometrics has evolved dramatically over the past 5 years. Macroeconomic forecasting has always been at the core of our business, but more recently Infometrics has expanded and diversified into more industry-specific and regional analysis, and specialised consulting work.  Our economists bring together a wide range of interests, all of which dove-tail together to enrich our understanding of New Zealand’s unique economic mix.

The first economist we will be introducing in this series is Mieke Welvaert, who has a particular interest in the property markets…

Bio – Mieke Welvaert

Studied at: Victoria University of Wellington (BA and BCom: Economics, finance, and geography)

Resides in: Wellington

Jacqui: What constitutes a ‘typical’ day?

Mieke: I wake up and walk down to the harbour for a swim.  There’s a group of people that go every morning.  I’m hoping to keep it up through the winter, without a wetsuit if I can! After that I head to work, catch up on what might have happened overnight economics-wise overseas (macrodigest.com!) and then I really start. 

Day-to-day work really varies here.  I could be building databases, writing updates for clients on house prices or migration, or talking to the media.  In a nutshell, work-life involves a lot of excel spreadsheets and communicating with clients.

JC: What are you currently working on?

MW: A consulting project evaluating factors affecting long-term trends in the property market.  I’m excited about it because I get to look into how global warming might affect where people are going to build.

JC: What was the biggest or most challenging project you have worked on at Infometrics?

MW: You said “or”, does that mean I have to pick?

Most challenging: We produce forecasts three times a year and I was a lot more involved in the March round.  It was a big step up getting into more of the model development for both the economic and transport forecasts.  It was great to delve into the nuts and bolts of forecasts as now I have a better framework for discussing trends with clients.

Biggest: I wrote a detailed evaluation on regional trends in building consents last year. We had a lot of people request the piece, which was awesome.  People are increasingly interested in getting compositional break-downs of information these days, which is great, because we do that well!

JC: You’ve studied a broad range of subjects, where do you see yourself heading?

MW: I enjoy the steep part of the learning curve, so hope to be continually in that space – which is what life at Infometrics is like. It’s dynamic.  We’re always looking for ways in which we can improve what we do, and this changes, because clients’ needs change.

JC: How have you added value or helped a client?

MW: Today? I put together some data for a client on non-residential construction.  We also had a bit of a chat about our forecasting processes because this particular client wants to look at construction forecasts for specific building types.

JC: What do you do when not at Infometrics?

MW: Swim, knit, bake, hang out with friends, call my dad (self-reminder here), my flatmates have Netflix which makes going home and watching TV way too easy, but it’s not so bad because we hang out and catch up on politics (I’ve learnt so much since moving in!).

JC: What is an intriguing fact about you?

MW: I’m half Belgian, so have an incredibly high tolerance for sugar. And I bake. A lot.

JC: Thanks Mieke. We look forward to reading more about your work (and sampling some baking) in future.

 

[1] http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/nobelguide_eco.pdf

 

 

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