Overview

The State and Local Governance Initiative at the Hoover Institution is focused on generating high-quality publishable research as evidence for policy recommendations that will aid and impact state and local government policy. Most academic literature is often driven by what is most interesting to researchers; but the availability of government datasets is more likely driven by what topics are top-of-mind for policymakers. Fundamentally, the goal of the initiative is to find the overlap between those two interests.

LEADERSHIP
Joshua Rauh

Joshua D. Rauh

Program Director
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Ormond Family Professor of Finance, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Joshua Rauh is the Ormond Family Professor of Finance at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He leads the Hoover Institution State and Local Government Initiative. He formerly served at the White House where he was principal chief economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (2019-20), and taught at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (2004–9) and the Kellogg School of Management (2009–12). At the Hoover Institution he has served as Director of Research (2018-19). Rauh studies government pension liabilities, corporate investment, business taxation, and investment management. His research on pension systems and public finance has received national media coverage in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Economist, and he has testified before Congress on these topics. His PragerU video “Public Pensions: An Economic Time Bomb” has been viewed over four million times on the PragerU website and over three million times on YouTube. He has published numerous journal articles and has received various awards recognizing his scholarship including the Brattle Prize and the Smith Breeden Prize of the American Finance Association. His scholarly papers have appeared in journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Review of Financial Studies, and the Journal of Public Economics.

TEAM
Rebecca Lester

Rebecca Lester

Associate Professor of Accounting, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Rebecca Lester is an Associate Professor of Accounting and one of three inaugural Botha-Chan Faculty Scholars at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is also a Research Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and at the Hoover Institution. Her research studies how tax policies affect corporate investment and employment decisions. In particular, she examines the role of reporting incentives, disclosure regimes, and information frictions in facilitating or altering the effectiveness of cross-border, federal, and local tax incentives. Her recent work explores national-level tax benefits, such as U.S. manufacturing tax incentives, European intellectual property tax regimes, and tax loss offsets. Other work examines state, local, and neighborhood-level incentives, including firm-specific tax incentives and the recent Opportunity Zones tax incentive. Professor Lester received her PhD in accounting from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and she has a BA and a Masters of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee. Prior to her studies at MIT, she worked for eight years at Deloitte in Chicago, including five years in the M&A Transaction Services practice. 

Valentin Bolotnyy

Valentin Bolotnyy

Kleinheinz Fellow

Valentin Bolotnyy is a Kleinheinz Fellow at the Hoover Institution whose research aims to improve public services and gain insight into social behavior. His projects have covered topics like the gender earnings gap, public infrastructure procurement, prison education, mental health and addiction, and housing, with partners spanning agencies in Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Alabama. He received a PhD in Economics from Harvard University and a BA in Economics and International Relations from Stanford University.

Oliver Giesecke

Oliver Giesecke

Research Fellow

Oliver Giesecke is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Giesecke works on topics related to asset pricing and public finance. His recent work studies the finances of state and local governments across the United States. This includes the capital structure of state governments, the book and market equity position of city governments, and the status quo and trend of public pension obligations. For his work on city governments’ finances, he was awarded the NASDAQ OMX Award for the best paper on asset pricing. His work on pension obligations was instrumental to shaping state legislation. In addition, Giesecke has conducted a large-scale survey that elicits the retirement plan preferences of public sector employees across the United States. He is the author of the Stanford municipal finances dashboard which provides, for the first time, credit spreads and fiscal fundamentals for many state and local governments in the United States. The dashboard has received national media coverage in The Bond Buyer.

 

Prior to his academic career, he has worked for Germany’s Federal Agency for Financial Market Stabilization (FMSA) and as a senior quantitative finance consultant. Giesecke received a Ph.D. in finance and economics from Columbia University, a Master’s in economics from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and a BA from Frankfurt University, Germany.

Natalie Millar

Natalie Millar

Research Fellow

Natalie Millar is an economist and a Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Natalie works on topics related to the economics of education and labor economics. Her main strand of research focuses on the returns to alternative credentials, public-private partnerships, and the intersection between these alternative credentials and the traditional education system. In separate work, she studies how business incentives affect job creation, capital investment, and workforce development. Natalie is also an Alabama Commission on Higher Education Research Fellow and a North Carolina State University Postsecondary Career and Technical Education Research Fellow. She received a PhD in Economics from The University of Alabama. 

Dean Ball

Dean Ball

Senior Program Manager

Dean Ball is the Senior Program Manager for the Hoover Institution's State and Local Governance Initiative. In this capacity he oversees the development of partnerships with state and local government agencies, legislators, non-profits, and other groups. Prior to this, he served as Executive Director of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, based in Plymouth, Vermont and Washington, DC. He worked as the Deputy Director of State and Local Policy at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research from 2014-2018, and as Director of the Adam Smith Society from 2018-2020. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Alexander Hamilton Institute and the Scala Foundation. He graduated magna cum laude from Hamilton College in 2014 with a B.A. in History, and currently resides in Washington, DC. 

Jillian Ludwig

Jillian Ludwig

Research Program Manager

Jillian Ludwig is the Research Program Manager for the State and Local Governance Initiative at the Hoover Institution. She previously worked as a research analyst on the team, covering a variety of policy topics, including tax and budget issues and homelessness. She also assists with the Public Policy Lab at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She received her MSc in political science and political economy from the London School of Economics and her BS in economics and a certificate in French language from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Seamus Duffy

Seamus Duffy

Research Analyst

Seamus Duffy is a research associate with the State and Local Governance Initiative. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and economics from Creighton University in 2021. He has assisted the team on its ongoing research into state and local pension plans, the finance of state-regulated electrical utilities, and municipal bonds. His research interests include post-employment benefit programs, state and federal debt financing, the interaction of ESG metrics with shareholder primacy, and the electrical generation industry.

Aaron Gelberg

Aaron Gelberg

Research Analyst

Aaron Gelberg is a research analyst for the Hoover Institution’s State and Local Governance Initiative. His current research interests include economic development and urban economic policy. Before coming to Hoover, Aaron conducted research on demographics and partisan affiliation, the economics of policing and crime, and California education policy. Aaron graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Centre College in 2023 with a double major in economics & finance and politics.

Riley Shin

Riley Shin

Research Analyst

Riley Seunghye Shin is a research analyst for the Hoover Institution’s State and Local Governance Initiative. Her research interests are centered at the intersection of asset pricing and public finance, with a specific focus on state and local pension plans, municipal bonds, and state government liabilities. Prior to her academic career, she was a portfolio manager, where she managed and launched ETFs and mutual funds. She received an MA in public policy studies from the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, and a BA in economics and business from Ewha Woman’s University, South Korea.

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