It all started with an economics class in high school. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study in college, but I always had a fascination with the way the world works,” said Ed Riley, ’14. “After I took an economics class I began to understand that there are forces at work that influence how people interact with the world, and I wanted to understand them.”

Today Riley is part of the honors program in economics and dedicates his time to gaining a greater understanding of the world around him. This past semester he submitted his paper, “The Cost-of-Carry Model and Volatility: An Analysis of Gold Futures Contracts Pricing,” to the Economics Scholars Program (ESP), a research conference held by Austin College and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas during which undergraduate economics students share their research with an audience of peers and faculty from throughout the East Coast and Texas as well as members of the Federal Reserve. Through a selective evaluation process Riley’s submission was among 24 papers accepted for presentation.

“Dr. Dolan recommended that his students apply to ESP if we felt confident in our thesis topics. I was really grateful to be accepted. To have the opportunity for others to look at my research and make comments will improve my thesis in the long run,” said Riley. “It was great to be able to talk about the cost-of-carry model and the positively correlated determinants of differences between theoretical and observed gold futures prices.”

The presentation was structured to last roughly 45 minutes. “I held a short session explaining how gold futures work for context followed by a 20-minute presentation on my paper, 10 minutes of a discussant providing comments and recommendations, and finally another 15 minutes fielding questions. It was a really exciting experience to engage people in talking about my topic,” he shared.

Upon graduation Riley plans to continue studying math and finance. “Economics can provide a greater understanding of the universe through mathematical equations. I’m interested in research, and I’m considering pursuing a master’s degree in financial engineering.  Ultimately I would like to work in asset management.”

In his paper Riley thanks Dr. Dolan as well as Dr. Mehkari and Dr. Mackay, the latter two with whom he’s had respective research assistantships. “The economics department and finance department are filled with great professors who are always willing to mentor and help their students. Without their expertise and ability to effectively convey information, I wouldn’t be where I am or have the knowledge I have today.”

Photo credit: Economics Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research