Stafford Nichols Research Manager
Stafford Nichols is a Research Manager at Beacon Economics. He oversees and guides projects that cross a variety of the firm’s core practice areas including Economic, Fiscal, and Social Impact Analysis, Public Policy Analysis, Housing, and Community and Economic Development. Mr. Nichols has deep expertise in economic valuation methods, climate econometrics, geospatial analysis, public sentiment, and survey methodology. His work provides his clients with actionable insights and policy recommendations about what steps to take next.
Prior to joining Beacon Economics, Mr. Nichols was an Associate Principal at Gallup where he produced thought leadership studies for multinational corporations and NGOs in the areas of climate change, sustainable development, labor and workforce challenges, and global economic growth. In one instance, he led a study for an international finance institution to quantify climate change damages on subjective wellbeing in 160 countries. Before becoming a Principal, Mr. Nichols was a Regional Director at Gallup. In that role he directed survey research in 22 countries across Asia, measuring public sentiment regarding climate change, economic conditions, political leaders, trust in national institutions, standards of living, and foreign affairs. One of his key projects was leading the collection of the United Nations Food Insecurity Experience scale, which established metrics measuring world hunger for the first time.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Nichols was a Senior Methodologist at Gallup and a Research Consultant at the World Bank, where he conducted surveys and wrote about the drivers and behaviors in the European Union’s CO2 markets.
Mr. Nichols is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the University of Maastricht with an expected award date in 2023. He holds an M.B.A. in International Finance and an M.P.P. in Econometrics from the College of William and Mary. He holds a B.A. in Economics and History from Franklin & Marshal College.
No Nonsense Economics
The holidays have always been a time of higher-than-normal consumer spending. However, a drift downward in spending at this festive time of year has been occurring for years. This is likely a function of many things, the most important of which may be the decline in the number of children in the United States.
For all the sophistication of modern asset markets, at their core, they are still just Keynesian beauty contests. Keynes’s metaphor for the markets derived from a special type of beauty contest where the judges don’t pick who they think is most attractive, but who they think will be most attractive to all the other judges. His intuition is that traders are mainly trying to anticipate what the average trader thinks the average trader thinks is about to happen. Such nested logic can generate wild volatility in the market’s response to the silliest peices of news. This has been proven yet again in the waning days of 2023 with a big jump in equity and bond prices, all because of the odd notion that there has been a sharp pivot in Federal Reserve policy. The market now anticipates that the Fed will lower interest rates multiple times next year.