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This series introduces us to a different employee every week. Find out what they most enjoy about their job and learn things you might not know about them yet. This week: Jan Tuinstra, professor of Mathematical Economics with the Quantitative Economics section.

What do you like most about your job?

What appeals to me most is the freedom I have when it comes to doing research. This always gives me a better understanding and it often leads to surprising new insights and findings. Even though that can be a lengthy – and at time frustrating – process, creating, understanding and properly describing new knowledge and insights is very satisfying. I should mention that I also really enjoy teaching. I’m enthusiastic about my field of study and I like sharing it with my students. It’s great when you see something sink in. Finally, I’m happy to see that it appears we’ve left the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. It’s nice to see colleagues and students face to face.

Is there a project from this past year you are particularly proud of?

This past year, my co-authors and I made good progress in gaining a better understanding of price volatility in financial markets. We used lab experiments for this purpose. These experiments enabled us to show that markets become more unstable when traders work under less time pressure, and when they also have a shorter investment horizon (Ed. the amount of time they are willing to hold a portfolio). It also turns out that market volatility (Ed. the yardstick for price fluctuations in a securities market) increases when traders in financial markets think in terms of returns rather than prices.

I also like observing the cycles in which the market operates. Around 20 years ago, I wrote the article Forced Freebies with my good friend and UvA colleague Maarten Pieter Schinkel. The article looked at regulation of the energy market and didn’t receive a lot of attention at the time. Recently, we wrote about the same topic with a few other co-authors. This article appeared in ESB and the Financieele Dagblad. Right now, we’re working with our PhD student Simon van Tartwijk to develop a theoretical model.

What don’t most colleagues know about you?

I’ve been working at our faculty since 1995 so I don’t have a lot of secrets anymore. But in all those years, I still haven’t lost my Frisian accent. My direct colleagues and my students might have noticed that my left index finger isn’t fully formed and immobile. This is a congenital condition and as a result, I often point at things with my middle finger. I hope I haven’t inadvertently insulted too many colleagues this way! Something that a lot of colleagues probably don’t know is that I met my wife almost 20 years ago while doing research for the Forced Freebies article I mentioned above. That goes to show you how much impact research can have!