TROY - About a year into his transition from Troy University to Capitol Hill, Dr. Thomas Hogan is already making an impact on the country's economic policies.
As chief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Hogan played an integral role last year in helping the committee's chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, develop his financial reform bill.
Hogan and a staff of about a dozen people advise the committee, which consists of 22 senators.
For Hogan, the new position has been an exciting way to put his economic skills to work developing policy in Washington.
"It has been a whirlwind," said Hogan, who is on leave from the University, where he is an assistant professor of finance in the Johnson Center for Political Economy. "When I first came onboard, the committee staff was helping Sen. Shelby prepare his 2015 financial reform bill. I was thrown right in the middle of this effort, helping to decide which reforms would be the most effective and discussing the potential economic impacts."
During the summer, he organized a series of committee hearings on a variety of economic topics, then spent the fall meeting with economists and representatives from regulatory agencies like the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
"There's never a dull moment," said Hogan, who got the call to join the Senate Banking Committee early last year.
Hogan earned a Master of Business in finance from the University of Texas at Austin and spent time working for financial services companies in London and Texas, but his love of economics truly came to the forefront as he was pursuing his doctorate.
"I eventually decided to pursue a Ph.D. so that ultimately I could teach," Hogan said. "As soon as I started my Ph.D. in economics at George Mason University, I knew I had made the right choice. For many people, doing a Ph.D. is torture, but I loved every minute of it."
Hogan describes himself as a follower of the school of Austrian economics, a type of free-market economics that tends to focus less on aggregate indicators like the unemployment rate and more on the importance of individual people, the real problems they face, and the roles they play in the economy as innovators and entrepreneurs.
"I tend to follow a very free-market philosophy, partly because I think individual liberty is paramount, but also because I find that most economic regulations end up having effects that are exactly the opposite of what is intended," Hogan said.
It was that free-market philosophy, he said, that drew him to both TROY and to working as a member of Shelby’s staff on the Senate Banking Committee.
"The Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University was founded with a donation from Manuel Johnson, who was formerly the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and is a consistent supporter of free markets," Hogan said. "The term 'political economy' means we study the interaction of politics and economics, how regulations might help or harm the economy. I was pleased to have the opportunity to work with the many great scholars at the Johnson Center. The same is true of working for Sen. Shelby, a longtime supporter of free-market capitalism."
Sharing Shelby’s economic philosophy helped to create the opportunity for Hogan to become chief economist for the committee.
"My main area of academic research is banking regulation, and I’ve written several papers on that topic. When Sen. Shelby took over as the chairman of the Banking Committee at the start of 2015, he wanted to hire a free-market-oriented Ph.D. economist who was an expert on financial regulation," Hogan said. "Sen. Shelby has long advocated for a financial system with smart, but limited, regulation that promotes safety and soundness and also allows capitalism to thrive. His staff had read some of my papers and believed me to be a good fit for the position. I interviewed for the job, and a few months later I was moving to Washington, D.C."
The whirlwind is unlikely to slow down for Hogan any time soon.
His duties include advising Shelby and other committee members on financial legislation, monitoring financial regulatory agencies, and organizing hearings and briefings to support Shelby's economic platform.
And though the duties are numerous, Hogan is helping the committee get things done.
"We assisted with the Banking Committee’s markup last year of Sen. Shelby’s bill to lift the ban on crude oil exports from the United States, which was reported favorably by the committee." Hogan said. "These efforts contributed to the repeal of the ban being recently enacted into law."
This is no small feat, considering the ban had been in place since the 1970s.