Honoring Astrid

Economist Mary Lovely is based in Washington, serving as Maxwell’s first Merget Fellow. She is also a China-trade expert whose insights are suddenly much in demand.

By Renée Gearhart Levy

Economist Mary Lovely at her temporary Washington home, the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Lovely is in Washington as the first Merget Fellow, which honors former Maxwell faculty member Astrid Merget.

ary Lovely had completed six years as chair of undergraduate IR and two as a faculty representative to the University Board of Trustees. She planned to use 2017-18 to refuel and, as a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, advance her research on Chinese industrial policy and U.S. trade.

Then Donald Trump’s China-trade policy erupted and suddenly Lovely became the School’s most sought after media expert. She’s been cited in more than 100 media outlets recently — among them, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Financial Times, Bloomberg News, CBS MoneyWatch, the BBC, and MSNBC. In September, she contributed an invited opinion piece to the New York Times, “How China Wins the Trade War,” which inspired a widely-circulated editorial cartoon.

“I think my real contribution has been looking at what U.S.-China trade is actually like, focusing on tariffs and potential loss of competitiveness for American businesses,” says Lovely, a Melvin A. Eggers Economics Faculty Scholar at Maxwell and a former editor of China Economic Review.

"I think my real contribution has been looking at what U.S.-China trade is actually like."
Mary Lovely

During the fall semester, Lovely was still in Washington, D.C., as a senior fellow at Peterson, but also teaching. She’s the inaugural recipient of the Merget Fellowship, created in memory of Astrid Merget ’68 MPA/’73 PhD (SSc), a former chair of Maxwell’s Department of Public Administration. The Merget Fund supports innovative teaching at Maxwell’s D.C. headquarters in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); engagement in Washington was one of Merget’s priorities. University Professor Sean O’Keefe ’78 MPA, lead donor to the fund, describes Lovely as “precisely the kind of talented and inspired faculty member” Merget would have imagined supporting in D.C.

Lovely’s current research is part of a broader, 15-year focus on China’s sustainable development. “It became very clear that the emergence of China into the global market was the story of my generation,” she says.

Astrid Merget

As the Merget Fellow, Lovely is teaching “Emerging China’s Challenges for the Global Order” in Maxwell’s new Washington-based executive IR master’s program. She is excited to use the fellowship to collaborate with top scholars on China within CSIS and elsewhere in Washington. She is bringing guest speakers to the class, including Scott Kennedy, director of CSIS’s Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy (on the topic of China’s innovative capacity); and Matt Goodman, senior advisor for Asian economics at CSIS, who covers the future of U.S-China relations.

“I’m thrilled to be in the class myself,” Lovely says. “It’s extremely stimulating being able to access these Washington resources. And the students are high-caliber, most of them working professionals in the areas of security or diplomacy.”

She’s proud, also, of her accomplishments leading the undergraduate international relations program. The interdisciplinary program began in 2011, when it was separated from graduate IR, and Lovely was its first chair. “It was an amazing experience,” she says of helping bolster a program that was “hidden under the success of the master’s program.” She is proud of launching the Maxwell Celebration of Undergraduate Scholarship, now a school-wide program; and providing support and technology for what developed into award-winning Model UN teams.

“We created a lot of programming that was forward-looking, and I think of that as a major contribution in my career,” she says.

But for now she’s in Washington, researching, teaching, and keeping up with media requests. “It’s like drinking out of a fire hose,” says Lovely. “It’s been fantastic in terms of my own research, but also very much in terms of what I can bring to the classroom.”

This article appeared in the winter 2019 print edition of Maxwell Perspective © Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail dlcooke@maxwell.syr.edu.