Conference Trips

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Conference report: 2019 ASSA-AREUEA

Xiaoyu Zhang

ASSA-AREUEA 2019 was held on 3rd January 2019. The conference is the most important conference in the field of urban economics and real estate economics. I did a poster presentation on the first day of the conference. The paper presented is one chapter of my thesis. I got a few good comments on the paper. Besides, this is a good opportunity to market the paper. In the poster session, I also learnt a lot from the paper of other Ph.D. students from all over the world.

During the next three days, I attended a few paper sessions and benefit a lot. The paper sessions hold by AEA and AFA had many potential research papers with good data and interesting results. The paper sessions hold by these two associations have papers that are very different from my field, so I learnt a lot about the data they use, the research methodology and of course, the new topics. As a junior researcher, I think it is very important to have a broader view of the field of general economics, rather than limit myself to the small field on the Ph.D. thesis. However, the most beneficial part of the conference should be the discussion of the papers. The discussants always can point out the problems with the papers that I failed to realize. This can help me understand the paper better and most importantly, employ the thinking process to my own research.

I also participated in the welcome receptions of AREUEA and a few other organizations. I met some old friends and got acquaintance with some new friends.

Conference Report

ZHANG Danlei

I attended the Doctoral Session & Reception of 2019 AREUEA-ASSA Conference on January 4th, during 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Hilton Atlanta, Crystal Ballroom.

At 5-6pm, the chair of Doctoral Session, Prof Deng, gave us a small talk about how to hunt for an academic work, how to work and write paper when pursing tenure and the experiences from academic work to industry work with other two outstanding young professors. We learnt a lot from their practical advices and their life experiences. After that is the formal poster session. About 20 PhD students stand to showcase their research posters. During the session, a lot of professors and conference attendants come to talk to us. These two hours are fruitful for all of us.

In my cases, my audience included some professors, some students and even some laymen. By presenting my research in an interactive way again and again, I became much clearer about what my story tells and how to tell a better story that is friendlier to the outsiders. Besides, some people enlightened me how to further improve and go deeper into the story by pointing out their confusions and giving their suggestive advices. I felt sincerely thankful for them. What’s more, by reading other students’ posters, I also found my weakness and found how much I fall behind in some ways. In short, it is a great honor for me to attend such a high-end conference in the economic area and it really pays back! We can only know ourselves better once we step to the outside world. This is definitely a worthy and excellent journey in my research life.

This summer I attended the 2018 AsRES at Seoul. This conference is one of the most popular conference in the real estate field due to the high standard of the paper presented, as well as the large number of participants, which makes it a good opportunity to market my paper and boost citation. Professor Ed Glaeser made an insightful keynote speech on the future development of cities.

The paper I presented is titled “Risk aversion and urban land development options” which studies the time-varying risk attitude of Singapore land developers and the implications on the land market. The paper is now an on-going work and I received some good comments based on which I will further improve the paper. Besides, people seems quite interested in the paper, so I hope in the future the paper can get more citations.

My supervisor professor Sing Tien Foo also made an interesting presentation on one of his paper studying the cross-border real estate investments. The results have quite a few important implications on investment strategy and policy regulations.

The conference is also a good opportunity to get to know other fields, such as NEG and urban planning and other papers done by people in my field. I can talk to other conference participants fact-to-face and exchange information on the hot topics and new data in related fields.

In the past annual conference of American Real Estate Society (2018), I presented two research papers in the main program and doctoral session, respectively. The rewarding trip only enriches my understanding of my current studies, but also help me build some valuable network with scholars in other universities and research institutes. In this short report, I would like to share the process and some implications for my current studies.

The first research draft -- Does overpayment indicate bad deal? Evidence from US REITs property acquisitions – was presented on April 13th, 2018, in session 68: REIT- Firms structure and M&As. In all, four papers were presented and discussed (seen in Table 1).

Table 1 Session 68: REIT- Firms structure and M & As

Paper Title Authors Discussant
Value Implications of REITing and DeREITing Alan Tidwell (University of Alabama); Sugata Ray (University of Alabama); Luqi (Emma) Xu;(University of Alabama) Zhang Fan (on behalf of Joseph T.L. Ooi) (National University of Singapore)
The Role of Institutional Ownership on REIT Acquisitions Daniel Huerta-Sanchez (College of Charleston); Thanh Ngo (East Carolina University); Mark Pyles (College of Charleston) NA
REIT Conversions at a Global Perspective - Why Do REOCs Adopt the REIT Status? Dominik Wagner (University of Regensburg); Steffen Sebastian (University of Regensburg); René-Ojas Woltering (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland) NA
Are Overpaid Acquisitions Bad Deals? Evidence from REITs Joseph T. L. Ooi (National University of Singapore); Fan Zhang (National University of Singapore) Alan Tidwell, Luqi (Emma) Xu(University of Alabama)

In the session, I got valuable comments from the discussion, including the sharpening of economic meanings of the results, and possible switching of the story’s angle, which would definitely promote my future work. A picture of my presentation is attached below (Figure 1 left).

Figure 1 Presentations by Zhang Fan

On April 14th 2018, which is the last day of the conference, doctoral session was held. I present another work -- Diversification and analyst – in Session 99: COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FINANCE. Five Phd students presented their works under the instruction of Prof. Jocelyn D Evans, the Chair of the session. Topics covered default of commercial mortgages, financial crisis and real estate integration, performance measurement of real estate, property value, diversification and analyst accuracy. I also received very useful comments, including the consideration of analysts’ characteristics as control variables, as well as the likelihood of upward/downward biases, which would definitely be built onto my current paper, or even trigger new research pipelines.

The conference also enhances some good networks in academia by holding discussion luncheons (See Figure 2). In the gathering, we have a good understanding of how the organization is run, continued and broadcasted. Also we are aware of the role of us – new comers as freshly graduated or in-progress PhDs – in contributing to and shaping the future of the real estate research societies.

Figure 2 Conference Luncheon

Speaker: Jing Kecen

The Annual Meeting of Urban Economics Association (UEA) is organized by the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) and is one of the top conferences in the urban economic field. This conference brought together researchers working with a variety of fields: economics of cities, real estate, housing, transportation, and regional studies, etc. My research topic fits in the scope of the conference perfectly.

I presented my paper “The Dependence of Housing Prices on Public Transportation when Households Quit Driving” in the UEA session “Transportation III”. This paper is going to be the second chapter of my doctoral thesis. It is a collaborated work with Wen-Chi Liao, who is my supervisor, and Daniel McMillen. Utilizing the unique COE policy in Singapore, this paper studies how the dependence of housing price on public transportation changes with the cost of private transportation mode like driving. The research question is attempted with a simple yet intuitive monocentric-city model, and propositions yields an interestingly “convex-concave” substitution pattern between private and public transport modes when COE price changes. The theoretical findings can be empirically verified in both semi-parametric and OLS estimations. The paper is currently an on-going work and I have received many valuable comments and feed backs from the audience and my discussant Jinwon Kim in the conference. Thanks to the conference, I was also able to have a chance to meet with my coauthor, Prof. Daniel McMillen, and discuss how to improve this paper.

Another paper of mine “Architecture Awards and Conspicuous Consumption of Housing”, with Wen-Chi Liao and Chuan Ying (Rachel) Lee, was presented by Wen-Chi Liao in the NARSC session “Housing III”. This paper concerns conspicuous demand for residential real estate. A prestigious award for brilliant aesthetics in architecture is remarkable branding that triggers off affluent households’ desire to pursue the winning building’s status symbol. The awards add a significant premium for winning condominiums, controlling physical and visual project quality. We find this is a “conspicuous premium” and other competing hypotheses cannot rationalize. Regarding the validity of identification, our discussant Edward Kung and the session audience give many constructive suggestions that we can later work on.

Conference is also a good opportunity for meeting new friends and reunion of old pals. The Chinese scholars participating in this conference organized a nice gathering dinner in Vancouver, where I am glad to meet many outstanding researchers in this field.

Speaker: Wang Long

The 12the Meeting of the Urban Economics Association was held in Vancouver, Canada during 8 Nov to 11 Nov 2017. The conference is focused in the area of economics of cities, housing, real estate, transportation, and distribution of economic activities.

It was my honor to present the paper, “Why Corruption Matters: A Systematic Analysis from Global Commercial Real Estate Transactions”, which is co-authored with my supervisor, Prof Tien Foo Sing. This study affirms the negative relationship between corruption and real estate investment flows using a comprehensive set of cross-border commercial real estate investment data from 2001 to 2014. We find non-information explanations for foreign investments in corrupt countries. Foreign investments in corrupt markets are highly diversified by investor type and property type, and are independent of geographical proximity. Large foreign countries account for only a small fraction of foreign real estate investment in corrupt countries. Foreign investors form joint ventures to mitigate corruption risks. They hold real estate for a shorter period and earn lower returns in corrupt countries. I received valuable comments and criticisms from the discussants, which would help me to further improve my paper.

I was able to attend numerous sessions during the conference, which provides me with a valuable opportunity to focus on research topics that directly to my research interest. I also had a chance to visit the Vancouver Campus of the University of British Columbia and met my co-authors at UBC. I was pleased with all I received in this trip and hope to attend again in 2018.

Speaker: Yang Shangming

The North American Regional Science Council was held together with Urban Economics Association in Vancouver on 8th -11th of November, 2017. I attended the conference and presented my paper which is titled “The Spatial Misallocation of Capital and Labor in China: A Welfare Analysis Based on Urban Accounting” in the session named “Cities in Developing Countries”. I benefited from this meeting from the following three aspects.

The first aspect comes from my presentation. My discussant is a typical geographer. Although the discussion is different from those of economists, he makes me reflect on the model assumption and model setting in my paper. This is a really good practice, which can make you see more clearly about the thinking of a typical economist. There are also audiences who are interested in the Chinese economy. They raised valuable comments on my paper. One of them is quite critical and it can help to improve my paper.

The second aspect comes from the presentations I attended in the meeting. One invited lecturer presented on the economic outcome of a core-periphery pattern and its impact on the political voting. This lecture is really impressing. It shows the natural outcome of the economic force and shows how the natural outcome will affect the political voting, and the results of the political voting, such as Brexit, do have a profound impact on the economics. This inspiring lecture makes me rethink the rationale of the current political institution in a typical western country. It stems from the pure political consideration but has bad outcomes on the economy. Another session that attracts me is the session of Cities and trade. It has two papers with advanced theory, which seems helpful to my own research.

The third aspect is that I recognized lots of economists that are interested in and are conducting research on the Chinese economy. Communicating with them deepened my understanding of Chinese economy. In the future, we may meet again and again in the conference and become good friends with the same research interests. Some teacher organized the Chinese economists there. We had a dinner together. We also took a photo.

Speaker: Yang (Zoe) Yang

The 64th Annual North Amercian Meetings of the Regional Science Association International (NARSC) and the 12th Meeting of the Urban Economic Association held a joint conference in Vancouver, Canada from 8 Nov to 11 Nov 2017.

It was my honor to present my two working papers “Risk Avoidance and Environmental Hazards- Effects of the Transboundary Haze Pollution in Singapore”, co-authored with Prof Sumit Agarwal and Prof Tien Foo Sing, at the NARSC session, and “The Privilege of Power and Wealth: Evidence from China's Urban Land Market”, co-authored with Dr. Long Wang, at the UEA session.

I was excited to attend this conference since the conference was held in the city where I spent some of the most memorable years of my life, and it was also my first time to serve as a session chair at an international conference. During the meeting, I received constructive comments to improve my papers and met with my old friends and professors at UBC. I was delighted with the all I received at the conference.

As the guider of the world’s urban planning discipline and research trend, the Association of Collegiate School of Planning (ACSP) held its 57th annual conference in Denver during October 12-15, 2017 aiming to create a more inclusive strategy to leverage opportunities from growth to promote a sustainable, equitable, and healthy metropolis. It is my great honor to be selected as an individual paper presenter in the conference track titled “Land Use Policy and Governance” to report the research outcomes of China’s urban sprawl conducted by my supervisor A/P Tu Yong and me. During a 20-minute talk on the first day of the conference, I’ve briefly introduced a comparison of urban sprawl patterns between China and the Western countries, followed by a detailed summary of research methodologies and outcomes. The conclusions of the presentation related to the unique institutional characteristics of China’s urban sprawl, including the locational patterns, the so-called “zone fever”, and the land market led by the local municipalities, have attracted wide attentions of scholars and planning colleagues physically presented in the hall. After the presentation, we have had a hot discussion on zoning policies between the United States and China relevant to the land development and urban growth. Besides the recognition given by the audiences, our research has also obtained dozens of invaluable comments and suggestions for the further improvements.

During the other two days of the conference, I have met and talked with several gurus in the planning field of the North America, including the distinguished Professor Donald Shoup from UCLA, Marlon Boarnet from USC, and Chris Hamnett from King’s College London. They have all expressed the huge interests in Singapore and also suggested that NUS students related to urban issues should become more active in participating ACSP conferences. They hope that more students from Asian top universities could appear in the conference held in 2018 at Buffalo, New York.

Speaker: Ph. D. Candidate Liu Yuwei

From 9th July to 12th July, I am glad to be invited to participate the joint annual conference GCREC and AsRES 2017 in Taichung, Taiwan provinces, China. Both GCREC and AsRES are the top conference in the field of real estate. This year, over 300 high quality papers and research have been presented in the conference.

As a Ph.D. candidate who is going to graduate soon, I have made two presentation in this joint annual conference, which are the joint work of me, my supervisor Prof. Fu Yuming and Prof. Liao Wen-Chi. The first working paper provides the structural model to capture both demand-based and supply-based determinants of employment formalization, which enables us to account for the cross-city heterogeneity, as well as the development trend, in employment and entrepreneur skill mix in both formal and informal sectors. The model will be validated against the stylized facts observed in Indonesia datasets. The second working paper focuses on the potential policy in Indonesia that cutting corporate tax rate from 25% to 20%. It is the application of the structure model in first paper. Firstly, we calibrate both the supply and demand factors, such as location fundamentals, human capital and external demand in the Indonesia context. Based on the estimated structure parameters, we do the counterfactual analysis for the welfare and productivity impact and how it changes with the determinant of employment formalization. Such analysis will break new ground for the study of structural change in developing economies. According to the reaction of the audiences, our research are accepted. What’s more, through interacting with the professors, I am able to receive plenty of useful suggestion and comment, which helps us improve the work in the future.

During the conference, I expand my network through meeting a lot of famous researchers and making friend with them. By talking with them and listening to their presentation, I have learnt a lot knowledge and accumulated experience. In the same time, making presentation in such an important academic conference strengthens my confidence in pursuing further achievement in my future career. The experience of GCREC & AsRES 2017 makes me realize the benefit from joining conference and communication, and therefore, I shall seek to participate more international academic meeting.

Speaker: Guo Xiangyu

The 2017 International Joint Conference of AsRES and GCREC was held in Taichung during July 9-12, 2017. I presented my research paper “Locally Weighted Quantile House Price Indices and Distribution in Japanese Cities, 1986-2015” in the session of “Housing Price & Appraisal”. Professor Chang-Moo Lee from Hanyang University, who is the president of AsRES in the next year, chaired the session and discussed my paper. I got valuable suggestions from his discussion.

In addition, Robert Shiller, Nobel Price-winning economist, gave the keynote speech “Asset Price Inflation in Housing, Stock and Bond Markets.” I learn a lot from his speech of speculative bubbles from irrational exuberance.

Speaker: Wang Long

During 9-12 July, 2017, I attended the AsRES conference 2017 in Taichung, Taiwan. AsRES is one of the top conference in Real Estate Field, which attracts experts and Ph.D students from all over the world. As a Ph.D student, I can catch a glimpse of the forefront of urban economics and real estate finance. This is a great platform to generate ideas and build connections in the field.

At the panel session “Global Real Estate Investment”, I presented my paper “Corruption and Information Asymmetry: Evidence from Global Real Estate Investments”. This is my first time I presented this paper and I got many valuable comments from my discussant and the audiences. In addition, presenting the paper in public is a rare opportunity to develop my skills to tell the story and sell the paper.

More important, the academic conference provided us a platform to communicate with those experts from different universities. This is a great opportunity for Ph.D students to gain important information regarding the research, as well as the career. E.g., Prof. Somerville from University of British Columbia shared his life experience and insights in research. Besides, I met with a lot of Ph.D candidates and exchange the information about the job market.

The 2017 AREUEA-International Conference, a leading conference to address global development in international topics that affect real estate and urban economics, was held on July 4-5, 2017, in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

During the conference, I was able to attend numerous sessions and focus on topics that directly related to my research interests. I have two papers accepted by the organizers of this conference, and I also served as a discussant to comment another paper in the session.

I presented a paper “The Privilege of Power and Wealth- Evidence from China's Urban Land Market”, which ia a joint work with my co-author, Long Wang. This paper examines the underlying mechanisms that drive the price premiums in land auctions using a unique and representative dataset of 316,320 transactions from 2000 to 2016 in approximately 2,300 counties of urban China. We find that the starting bid fully explains the price premium that the SOE paid as land prices were bid up in the acquisition of quality land parcels, whereas the relatively weak bargaining power of individual buyers contributed to the price premiums they paid. The difference-in-difference estimations show that the “Economic Stimulus Program” significantly increased the price premiums the SOEs paid for land acquisition during this time period, and the price premium decreased over time with the depletion of these distributed funds.

In a parallel session, my co-author Tsur Somerville presented another paper, “Trying to Slowdown a Freight Train: An Evaluation of Chinese Macro-Policies to Slow the Housing Market”. This paper examines the effectiveness of Chinese government macroprudential policies in slowing their housing market. In late 2010 and early 2011 the Chinese government imposed a variety of restrictions on the number of houses individuals could buy, what sources of funds they could use for down-payments, and the minimum size of these down-payments. We use the difference-in-difference type tests to identify the effectiveness of the policies and find that the policies were ineffective in slowing the housing market much beyond an initial short-run negative effect on volume.

I received constructive comments and criticisms to improve our papers during the conference sessions. In addition to the conference sessions, the networking opportunities at the conference appealed to me, as did the opportunity to learn from many good researchers in my field. I have known many academics and professionals from different countries who have similar research interests. I was very pleased with all I received at the conference and hope to attend the conference again in the future.

The 2017 CES Annual Conference in China was held during June 10-11, 2016, in Nanjing University, China. I presented my paper “What are the side effects of housing market interventions: a 'limits of arbitrage' approach?”.

During the conference, I obtained several new research ideas through talking with other participants. However, I did not gain many suggestions on my presented paper. As each presentation is only given 16 minutes and there is no discussant.

The conference is beneficial in the following three aspects. Firstly, it invites some big authors and experts who know China problems very well. For example, keynote speaker Dr. Chong-En Bai (as shown in the below Figure) and Dr. Min Ji introduced their understandings about China’s financial issues. Dr. Yinxing Hong introduced China’s institutional issues.

Secondly, it covers hot economics topics of all fields. Although my research focuses on real estate, many methods and understanding in other fields are very inspiring. For example, I meet with an expert who focuses on race problem. During our discussion, I mentioned that Singapore’s race problem related to housing has been sufficiently studied, while he raised several new ideas which are out of the housing scope.

Thirdly, the conference acts as a good bridge to future job market. Many participants are from different Chinese universities and I gain a lot of information from them.

As a summary, although I did not gain many suggestions on my presented paper, I am still satisfied with my benefits from it.

The International Conference on China Urban Development series was initiated in 2010 and has since become an important platform for fostering academic research, facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue and sharing research findings and experiences with a global academic community on the issues of urbanisation and urban transformation in China. Following three conferences in Hong Kong and Shanghai and two conferences in Cardiff, UK, the 2017 International Conference on China Urban Development comes to London and is hosted by the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL). Fortunately, my paper titled Characteristic, mechanism, and outcome of urban sprawl in China: a systematic analysis based on the evidence from Wuhan has been accepted in the conference and I’ve presented the main content in the session Chinese urban systems and development. Since London is one of the oldest and most developed mega-cities in the world, and UCL Bartlett School of Planning enjoys the world leading reputation in the urban planning field, the conference has gathered the majority of current famous scholars such as Fulong Wu, Michael Batty, You-tien Hsing, and Anthony G.O. Yeh in the academic community of planning, geography, and urban studies. I’ve exchanged the ideas with these most-cited professors and leaned much on China’s urban research. The whole conference lasted two days and has covered over 30 sessions with different topics and directions. Based on various research papers the planning scholars have reported, the close session of the conference also proposed the coming key focuses and future work needed on China urban development, I got considerable implications from the journey.

The chair of this conference, Professor Wu Fulong, has expressed warm welcome to me and told me that he knows quite a few excellent scholars in the Department of Real Estate, National University of Singapore. He hopes that more academic staff and research students from NUS could join the future meetings and pay attention to China’s urban development.

As a summary, this participation in the Referred Paper Session of the ERES conference meets my expectation on getting academic feedbacks and polishing my paper. Besides, I benefit a lot by talking with researchers and industrial experts who focus on different markets.

As a summary, this participation in the Referred Paper Session of the ERES conference meets my expectation on getting academic feedbacks and polishing my paper. Besides, I benefit a lot by talking with researchers and industrial experts who focus on different markets.

The AREUEA-ASSA – Chicago conference was held during Jan 5-8, 2017. I presented 2 papers:

  • “Asymmetrical limits of arbitrage: micro evidences from the Singapore private housing market and policy implications” in the session of House Price Determination” and
  • “Flippers' sales and market mis-pricing: evidences from the Singapore private housing market” in the session of “Housing Market in Singapore”.

The discussants of the two papers, Prof Wenlan Qian and Weihua Zhao gave a lot of insightful and useful recommendations which are related to issues such as possible endogeneity problem and the future tests. During the conference, I have exchanged ideas with many renowned senior professors and young scholars who share similar research interest as mine, and met with some old friends.

During the conference, I attended sessions beyond real estate related topics, as well as other network sessions, from which I did benefit a lot.

The EUROPEAN REAL ESTATE SOCIETY 23rd Annual Conference was held during June 8-11, 2016, in Regensburg, Bavaria/Germany. I presented my paper “The behaviors of flippers, rental investors and owner-occupiers in Singapore private housing market” in the refereed paper session under topic Housing Economics. During the session, I also acted as the discussant for a very excellent paper which fits my tastes and knowledge base well.