Princeton honors student in economics

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Princeton honors student in economics

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Kim Jung-ho

A Korean-American student graduated with the top honor in economics from Princeton University last month, the first ethnic Korean to do so.

According to Princeton, Kim Jung-ho, 21, received the Halbert White Prize in economics at the May 31 graduation ceremony. The prize is given to the best economics graduate every year. Another 98 students graduated together with Kim from the Princeton economics department. His GPA in the department was 4.143 out of 4.3.

Princeton has one of the world’s finest economics departments, with alumni including Gregory Mankiw, former chair of the U.S. Presidential Council of Economic Advisers; Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve; the former Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs John Taylor; Harvard University Professor Edward Glaser; and Halbert White, the professor at the University of California-San Diego for whom the award was named.

The school’s faculty includes Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate in economics.

Kim said he will enroll in a graduate course in economics at Princeton on a full scholarship.

“I already took many of the graduate course classes, so I expect to be able to enroll in the doctoral program next year,” Kim said. Kim plans to study finance and macroeconomics and work as a full-time researcher - with opportunities for advancement.

“The short-term goal is to be a professor at a top-notch college, and the midterm goal is to get a John Bates Clark Medal,” he said. That honor is given by the American Economics Association to talented American economists under the age of 40.

Kim’s ultimate goal isn’t surprising: the Nobel Prize.

Kim said he has many role models in the economics world. Among them, he said, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and current director of the White House’s National Economic Council, is the most inspiring, he said, because Summers has made such a significant contribution not only to the academic world but to the real economy.

With a parent working through the various overseas branches of a large Korean company, Kim has acquired years of experience traveling overseas. He attended schools in Canada, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. That has helped him adapt to any culture or situation, he said.

“I had difficulty with my insufficient English skills when I attended middle school in Australia, but could overcome it by studying hard and dreaming of studying at a well-known U.S. college,” he said.

He said he first wanted to become an economist when he received the highest score on an economics examination in high school in Singapore.

By Choi Ik-jae [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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“최종 목표는 노벨상 도전입니다”



“재작년 뉴욕에서 시작된 금융위기는 리스크가 큰 파생상품 때문에 발생했습니다. 금융회사가 판매하는 파생상품의 가치를 정확히 판단하는 것이 중요합니다.”

미국 프린스턴대 경제학과를 수석으로 졸업한 김정호(21·사진)씨는 경제학도로서 파생상품의 위험성을 이렇게 진단했다. 김씨는 지난달 31일 열린 졸업식에서 99명 중 가장 우수한 학생에게 수여하는 ‘핼버트 화이트 상’을 받았다. 그의 학점은 4.3점 만점에 4.143점이었다.

이 대학 경제학과에서 한인 학생이 이 상을 받은 것은 처음이다. 이 학과는 저명한 경제학자 그레고리 맨큐 교수, 앨런 블라인더 전 연방준비제도이사회 부의장 등을 배출했다. 노벨 경제학상을 받은 폴 크루그먼은 현재 교수로 재직 중이다.

김씨는 “같은 학교 대학원에 전액 장학금을 받고 진학할 예정”이라며 “이미 학부에서 대학원 과목을 상당부분 이수했기 때문에 내년쯤 박사과정에 들어갈 수 있을 것”이라고 말했다. 김씨는 금융과 거시 경제를 공부한 뒤 대학에 남아 연구를 계속할 계획이다.

그는 “단기 목표는 상위권 대학에서 교수직을 얻는 것이고 중기 목표는 미국경제학회가 40세 이하의 소장 경제학자에게 수여하는 존 베이츠 클락 메달을 받는 것”이라며 “최종적으로는 노벨상에 도전하겠다”고 말했다. 김씨의 우상은 로런스 서머스 백악관 국가경제위원장이다. 학문적 연구뿐 아니라 현실 경제에서도 큰 업적을 남겼기 때문이다.

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