Juan Navarro-Staicos – CUP Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I work at the New York Federal Reserve, analyzing trends and developments in global financial markets. The role requires knowledge of macroeconomics and finance, as well as what issues policymakers need to understand to make monetary policy decisions.

After taking several courses in macroeconomics in graduate school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to focus on broader economic issues, and how they affected financial markets and policymaking. Luckily for me, the New York Fed was hiring!

Taking an even further step back, I wonder why I started being interested in these big-picture economic issues in the first place. I’m originally from Argentina, a place that has a history of severe macroeconomic challenges, to put it lightly. In Argentina, anyone on the street can tell you the multiple exchange rates on offer to buy dollars, what the monthly inflation rate is, or the yields at which the country’s debt is trading. I saw firsthand the importance of macroeconomics, both positive and negative, on the daily lives of almost everyone. Seeing these effects made me want to work in this field.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

At work, I like to focus on longer-term projects that allow me to expand both my knowledge of financial markets and my capabilities as an analyst. Fortunately, financial markets have a tendency to be really exciting. But that means a lot of my time is spent understanding moves in asset classes across short time windows, which many times takes away from other priorities, including my longer-term work.

What is your proudest achievement?

Working in public service. I’m driven to understand public policy and economic issues, and so to be able to be in a position where I am deeply involved in these topics is a privilege.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

There are a lot of people I look up to, and that have make large contributions to our world.

One example of this is Benjamin Strong, the first president of the New York Fed, de facto leader of the Federal Reserve System, and a true economic leader and thinker. His knowledge of monetary policy was well beyond his contemporaries, and would be familiar to us today. He also was a global leader, understanding the need for cooperation among foreign central banks when many in the country wanted to focus policy entirely on U.S. issues. I find him to be a great personal inspiration and hope to follow his example in building both technical and bigger picture expertise throughout my career.

Another individual who deserves thanks from every New Yorker is Jane Jacobs. While her views in favor of mass transit and city neighborhoods would be familiar to any New Yorker today, they were truly against the status quo in the car-and highway-focused 1950s and 60s. Without her passion and organizing, it’s likely we wouldn’t have many of the historic buildings and landmarks in our city. She fought for New York and made it a much better place to live.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In a leadership role focusing on macroeconomics, financial markets, and the impacts of policy on those areas. Graduating from Harvard’s Business and Kennedy Schools, a challenging joint degree program, really helped me transition towards my current career path at the Federal Reserve. However, a big emphasis of the program is the intersection between the public and private sector. I hope to be able to gain experience in both public and private roles, in order to gain more experience and expertise as I pursue my career.

What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?

I only moved to New York recently, but I like to say I adopted it as my new home. CUP’s connection to inspiring and impactful civic leaders and non-profits will help me further connect with this city that I’ve grown to love. In addition, the Fellows, many of which have similar interests to me, are a wonderful peer group to learn from and learn with. I’m very excited for what 2014 has to offer!