Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, January 6, 2012

Bagnall analyzes banking, finance, wealth for think tank in D.C.

Allie Bagnall

Research and Analysis

IFSWF Report on Compliance with the Santiago Principles: Admirable but Flawed Transparency, August 2011, Peterson Institute for International Economics

How Fast Is the US Dollar's Share of International Reserves Declining?, June 27, 2011, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Since graduating in 2010, Allie Bagnall has been researching and analyzing sovereign wealth funds, international banking regulation, international finance, reserve accumulation and balance of payments, and other macroeconomic topics for the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.

In an article published in the Peterson Institute's blog, Real Time Economic Issues Watch, Bagnall examines the share of the U.S. dollar other nations use for their foreign exchange reserves. Looking at the International Monetary Fund's Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves. Bagnall identifies a shift toward the euro away from dollars from late 2008 to late 2010. She attributes it to the Swiss National Bank's large-scale purchases of foreign exchange and its preference for euro-denominated assets.

The Peterson Institute also published a policy brief Bagnall wrote with Edwin M. Truman. They examine a July 2011 report published by the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds that is a self-assessment of its voluntary compliance of sovereign wealth funds with the generally accepted principles and practices — called the Santiago Principles — the 21 member countries adopted in October 2008. Using a scoreboard Truman developed in 2010, Bagnall and Truman find the report somewhat exaggerates the extent of compliance with the Santiago Principles. They note that some of the funds have substantially lower rates of compliance than others, which is not reported. "However, the report is frank about many issues related to interpretation of the self-assessment's results," Bagnall and Truman say. "Ultimately, presentation may obscure some results in the IFSWF report, but we find the report credible and admirable."

As a research analyst, Bagnall supports three senior fellows at the Peterson Institute, including Truman. "I do a variety of different work based on the topic and type of the project we are working on," she says. "The tasks usually range from collecting and analyzing data to editing papers to preparing powerpoints."

Bagnall earned a master's degree in international public affairs from the La Follette School and is a member of the school's Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. She enrolled at La Follette through its accelerated program that allows admitted, eligible undergraduates to begin taking courses toward earning a master's degree in domestic or international public affairs with a fifth year of study.

"As a junior in college, I wasn't ready to commit to a Ph.D., but I knew I wanted to continue studying economics," says Bagnall, who completed her bachelor's degree in economics in 2009. "I was attracted to the La Follette program because it is flexible and allowed me to create a program of study based around my interests and professional aspirations. Students can take a wide variety of courses in other departments."

The flexibility of the graduate program in public affairs meant Bagnall could complete three independent study projects, one of which examined the development of extractive economies. Her other research interests include economic growth modeling, long-term effects of foreign aid and micro-banking in developing countries. She had a project assistantship in the Research Department at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40.

"After graduation, this experience helped me market myself for a job in research," she says. "Having come to La Follette as an accelerated student, I didn't have any full-time, professional work experience. For this reason, the external project assistantship was particularly relevant to my La Follette experience. I learned the dynamics of being a part of a research team and how a research team supports the efforts of an organization like AFSCME. I also learned quite a bit about labor unions, public sector employment, and the labor movement's history and dynamics in Wisconsin."

The coursework and technical training also have been a benefit, Bagnall adds. "Having a good handle on macroeconomics has been useful," she says. "I've had to use the statistical software STATA for my job, which would not have been possible without a basic understanding of econometrics and experience with STATA that I gained at La Follette."

The collaborative nature of the La Follette School's academic program also has benefited Bagnall. "In school, and particularly during the first semester, students support one another in informal study groups," Bagnall says. "The sense of community and cooperation has extended into our professional careers. A year and a half after graduation, I still rely on my La Follette colleagues for input on cover letters, research papers and other professional advice. La Follette students forgo competitiveness that is common in many graduate programs, instead striving to help their fellow classmates succeed."

Overall, Bagnall's experiences at La Follette and the Peterson Institute for International Economics have helped her keep reshaping her career goals. "I have been interested in pursuing a career in international development for many years, and my approach has progressed as I learned more about the field," Bagnall says. "When I started at La Follette, I desired to work for an international non-profit organization and anticipated that at some point I would return to school to earn a Ph.D. Now, I plan to earn a master's of business administration and would like to create socially sustainable banking structures in developing countries."

— updated July 23, 2012