First of all, I want to thank Paul Krugman for inspiration, many free books and fun conversations. I often pinch myself, as a reality check, when noting that such a preeminent economist — and definite future Nobel laureate — is supervising my work. I guess this is what makes Princeton so special. Many thanks to all who have read this thesis, including (and especially) Alan Blinder, Hyun Song Shin, Gene Grossman, Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, and Lars Svensson, as well as classmates and friends. Also, much appreciation to Thijs van Rens and Vasco Cúrdia for help with SWP, and to Gene Grossman, who helped me secure funding when I was post-enrolled (the bane of the graduate student). The usual caveat applies: All remaining errors in this dissertation are my own.
The many years spent at Princeton have been unbelievable, eliciting from me a myriad of emotions. I will cherish my experiences and especially my friends, who added much delight to times spent in Princeton. There are too many people to thank individually for all the camaraderie that I have enjoyed, so I will instead begin by thanking groups that are dear to me. Foremost, I must thank colleagues, faculty and staff from the economics department, with whom I have benefited from in numerous lively conversations and debates about all that economists can talk about — some of them even make for good friends! I also realised that my knowledge of economics expanded exponentially when I was thrust in front of the classroom; so I owe a debt of gratitude to all the students who have endured my teaching shenanigans. With that said, educating bright minds has shown me that we are all pupils of life, as I have learned a lot from my students. Just as much, I also wish to thank Butler College’s class of ’06 who allowed an old fogey like me to share in their experiences. My Canadian and hockey buddies have also been a great source of motivation — at the very least they provided loads of hockey-playing fun at the Graduate College parking lot and Baker Rink. And now at fault of missing many names, there are several people, in particular, that merit recognition: Adam Baig, Kyle Detwiler, Uwe Reinhardt, Gábor Virág and George Xian Zeng. (My dim sum friends have been recognised previously in the Daily Princetonian but they deserve to have their names repeated: Yoko Kubota, Wade Pfau, Guillaume Sabouret and Austin Starkweather.) Your friendship and support mean a lot to me.
Finally, to Angelo Melino from the University of Toronto — who taught me to love economics and shoot for the heavens — I owe a big hug and endless gratitude. I never would have been able to get this far without your support. Thanks for believing in me.
Working towards the PhD may have been the hardest thing that I have ever done. I have certainly encountered many bumps along the road. Nevertheless, in this endeavour it is not about placing first, but rather finishing the race. Anyhow, I would say the outcome is not bad for a guy who grew up belonging to the lowest SES level — at my nadir I even ate food tossed away by other people — and who also once dropped out of high school and was arrested twice as a juvenile. I have beaten the odds!