Thesis Corner – Jack Gries

For my blog post, I had the privilege of interviewing fellow graduating senior Jack Gries about his Economics Thesis. Look below for more information about his work! I would like to thank Jack Gries for his time and energy in answering the questions below.

What is the topic of your thesis?

De-risking private investing into smart grid infrastructure. Basically, I looked at different ways to make investing into smart grid infrastructure more appealing to the investment community. I looked at ways to de-risk smart grid technologies so there is less variability in return. I also looked at to what threshold companies would invest into smart grid infrastructure.

Why were you interested in researching this topic?

I wanted to combine my experience and interest in finance with economics. I combined a common valuation mechanism (DCF valuation) and tried to target a certain valuation, through finding an appealing discount rate (WACC). A lot of work from my internship was related to matching investors with the a given investment value.

What were your general findings?

In general, I found it is still relatively early for smart grid technologies to be widely implemented without significant capital infusion. Smart grid technologies are entering into a small return industry, but it is also a technology asset which is usually a high return industry. There needs to be more widespread development before it can be appealing to more investor groups.

What was the most challenging part about your thesis?

The most challenging aspect of my thesis was trying to understand the lingo and vocabulary within the utilities market. Especially in Texas where the markets are deregulated, it was difficult to discern how each state handles the operations of its utilities.

What advice would you give to other students for their Economics thesis?

I would recommend to not overly rely on data. Try to find a topic that strikes a balance between quantitative and qualitative aspects. It is more fun to write an economics thesis that has real world implications that you can understand.

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