Sarah Crane

Current Role: Economist at Moody’s Analytics
Graduate Year: 2017

Applying Economics to State and Government Fiscal Issues


I graduated from the MA program in Economics about four years ago, and since then I moved to the Philadelphia area to work as an economist for Moody's Analytics. Moody's has features of consulting, think tanks, and governments, so, fortunately, I get to do a little bit of everything in my position. Some of our clients include the utility companies, commercial real estate firms, financial institutions, and state and local governments. I've been able to dip my toe here and there into all of these sorts of clients, but I have a primary focus on fiscal issues. Most of my projects involve state and local government issues. The State of Illinois is one of our clients — we prepare reports for them. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I testified in front of a committee in the state of Illinois, which is having a serious budget crisis right now.

One of the biggest benefits to going through a program like American’s MA in Applied Economics is that it teaches you how to analyze the world around you, how to interpret numbers, and the way that they typically will act together and react to each other. You can use the quantitative programming skills that you learn in order to predict outcomes and prepare projects for the clients that you'll be working with.

My job involves a great deal of writing, and even editing other people's writing, so the communication of economics’ concepts to a wider audience comes into play every single day. It's very important that you not only can understand numbers but that you can explain what is happening with them. So I like to think of being an economist as being a storyteller who just happens to work with numbers.

How did your program experience make you more competitive among colleagues in your career so far?

Nurturing the ability to write about economics is extremely important. People who can communicate well are in very high demand. People with quantitative skills are in very high demand, too. I just think that, in my experience, I've noticed that people who can write and speak well with others about economics are less common than people who are skilled exclusively at modeling, programming, or just doing the math.

Of all of the courses offered within the curriculum, which was the most impactful?

One of my favorite courses was the Survey of Economic Development course that I took. Professor Winters was the professor, and he was very good about engaging the students in class, telling stories about his real-world experiences as a development economist — very interesting things that help you learn about how development economics works. Ironically, I now specialize in agriculture at my position, so I often think back to that class when I'm doing an analysis of agriculture areas in the United States. Even though we're not a developing country, some of the concepts have stuck with me.

To learn more about American University’s online Master of Arts Economics, Applied Economics specialization, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.