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Leon Moses Lecture

The Leon N. Moses Distinguished Lecture in Transportation was named in honor of Professor Emeritus Leon N. Moses for his significant contributions to the field of transportation economics and regional science and for his long and dedicated service to the Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC).

About Leon Moses

Leon N. Moses, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Northwestern University and former Director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC), passed away on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the age of 88.

Professor Moses came to Northwestern University in 1959 as an Associate Professor of Economics. He was appointed the Robert E. and Emily King Professor of Business Institutions in 1993, and has been Professor of Economics with a joint appointment to NUTC since 1963. He retired to become an Emeritus Professor in 2005. His work primarily focused on the economics of firm location and the critical role played by transport and transportation costs.

Moses held a number of positions at NUTC, including Director of Research Director of Education. From 1976 until 1980 he served as the director of NUTC. Under his leadership, NUTC gained national prominence for its several conferences exploring the prospect of transportation deregulation.

During his career at Northwestern, he also served as Chair of the Economics Department, and held a joint appointment at the J. L. Kellogg School of Management for several years. Professor Moses served on almost all major university committees while at Northwestern.

 He attended The Ohio State University where he began as a major in agriculture. He later changed to economics. Moses was discharged from the armed forces in 1945. He then returned to Ohio State in 1946 and graduated in 1947 with highest honors. Following that he enrolled in the graduate economics program at Harvard University and was awarded an MA in 1950 and a PhD in 1955. He became an Assistant Professor at Harvard after receiving his doctorate.

His colleague, Professor Ian Savage, who Leon mentored for many years, wrote a professional biography of his work for the Biographical Dictionary of American Economists, which described his substantial contributions to transportation and urban economics and to regional science.

Past Lectures

2017: Outlook for the US Economy: Is this as good as it gets?

Outlook for the US Economy: Is this as good as it gets?

Wednesday, 10/18/2017 | 7:30PM

Martin Eichenbaum
Charles Moskos Professor of Economics, Northwestern
Co-Director, Center for International Macroeconomics

2015: Convenient Flight Connections vs. Airport Congestion: Modeling the "Rolling Hub"

Convenient Flight Connections vs. Airport Congestion: Modeling the "Rolling Hub"

Tuesday, 10/27/2015 | 7:30 pm

Jan K. Brueckner
Professor of Economics
University of California, Irvine

Introduction by Ian Savage, Professor of Instruction and Associate Chair, Department of Economics, Northwestern University

Introduction Slides | Presentation Slides | Video


This talk addressed the trade-off between convenient flight connections and airport congestion, a fundamental but untreated element in the economics of hub-and-spoke networks. It was based on a continuous spatial model that illustrates this trade-off in a framework where a small gap between flight operating times raises congestion while also shortening a connecting passenger's layover time. When the passenger's cost per unit of layover time rises, the monopoly airline chooses to narrow the gap between its flights, yielding shorter layovers but more congestion. A discrete spatial model, where flights congest one another only if they operate in the same discrete period, makes this layover-cost effect discontinuous: the monopoly carrier concentrates (deconcentrates) its flights when this cost is high (low) relative to the costs of congestion. When fringe carriers are present, however, the hub carrier always concentrates its flights, either partially or fully. But the presence of a second hub carrier leads to an equilibrium mirroring the monopoly outcome: the carriers concentrate their flights in different periods when the layover cost is high and deconcentrate them otherwise. The paper also presents a welfare analysis, showing that movement from the equilibrium to the social optimum typically requires greater carrier separation.

Speaker Biography

Jan K. BruecknerJan K. Brueckner is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Irvine, and formerly taught at the University of Illinois. He received an B.A. from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Stanford University and has published over 130 scholarly articles dealing with a variety of topics in applied microeconomics. His early work on the airline industry provided some of the first economic analysis of hub-and-spoke networks. He has written more recently on international airline alliances, and other recent work deals with airport congestion, airport noise, and aviation emissions, and airline bag fees.

Brueckner was an academic affiliate at LECG, LLC, working for a number of aviation clients, and is currently an academic affiliate at Compass Lexecon. He has also consulted independently for American Airlines, United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, the Star Alliance, and US Department of Transportation.

2013: The Economics of Transportation Safety

The Economics of Transportation Safety

Tuesday, 10/29/2013 | 7:30 pm

Ian P. Savage
Associate Chair, Department of Economics; Distinguished Senior Lecturer
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University

Presentation Slides | Video 

Transportation incidents account for approximately two in every five “unintentional injury” deaths in the United States. The average annual death toll in the first decade of this century exceeded 43,000. In this lecture, Ian Savage reflects on the role of economists in understanding the “transportation safety problem” and the ways in which economic insights can mitigate the risks. While economists may have a rather subsidiary role compared with that of engineers, psychologists and physicians, the insights that economists bring help to productively frame the public debate on this controversial topic.

Questions that will be addressed include:

  • How much safety do transportation users want, given that the prevention of incidents is costly?
  • Do all users desire the same level of safety?
  • Why might the market fail to provide some or all users with the safety that they desire?
  • How are the interests of bystanders taken into account?
  • Is intervention in the safety market warranted?
  • Why are some types of interventions better than others?

The lecture highlights the considerable limitations of our knowledge, and the extensive potential for further research.

Speaker Biography

Ian SavageIan Savage has been a member of the faculty of both the Department of Economics and the Transportation Center at Northwestern University since 1986. His research has been concentrated in two areas: urban public transportation, and transportation safety. He has published widely on the economics of transit finances and operations. During the past twenty-five years, he has conducted research into the safety performance, and the effectiveness of safety regulations, in most modes of transportation with particular emphasis on the trucking and railroad industries.

2011: Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Lessons from the Long 20th Century

Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Lessons from the Long 20th Century

Tuesday, 10/25/2011

Robert J. Gordon
Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences & Professor of Economics
Northwestern University

Presentation Slides

Speaker Biography

Robert GordonRobert Gordon is one of the world's leading experts on inflation, unemployment, and productivity growth. His lecture will be a highly original questioning of the usual assumption that economic growth is a steady process that will continue forever. He will argue instead that there was virtually no economic growth between the Greeks and Romans of antiquity and around 1700 in Britain. Then came the flowering of economic growth which he will trace over the first, second, and third industrial revolutions from which the benefits have lasted from 1750 to today and perhaps another 50 years beyond. By then the pace of innovation will be dying out to be replaced by “headwinds” including the reduction in the standard of living implied by globalization, inequality, education, environment, and deficits. The talk will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about the future of the United States and its traditional leadership in the international league tables of the standard of living.

Gordon did his undergraduate work at Harvard and then attended Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. He received his Ph.D. in 1967 at M.I.T. and taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago before coming to Northwestern in 1973. He is a Fellow of the Econometrics Society, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London) and the Observatoire Français des Conjunctures Economiques (Paris), and an economic adviser to the Congressional Budget Office and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

His recent work on the rise and fall of the New Economy, the revival and “explosion” of U. S. productivity growth, the stalling of European productivity growth, and the widening of the U. S. income distribution, have been widely cited. Gordon is author of Macroeconomics, eleventh edition, which has been translated into eight languages, and of The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices, The American Business Cycle, and The Economics of New Goods.

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