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Andrew McKenzie, the newly appointed Fryar Endowed Professor in Risk Management, found
career inspiration in a most unusual place: the cinema.
March 10, 2021
By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture
(Newsrooms: with photo McKenzie at https://flic.kr/p/2kyHu3F)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Andrew McKenzie, the newly appointed Fryar Endowed Professor
in Risk Management, found career inspiration in a most unusual place: the cinema.
McKenzie, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, for the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural,
Food and Life Sciences, will also serve as associate director of the Fryar Center
Price Risk Management Center of Excellence. The center is conducting work as part
of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the Division of Agriculture’s research
arm. (See the story about the center at http://bit.ly/3cHMwpM.)
McKenzie, a native of South Shields in the north of England, earned his bachelor’s
degree from the University of Dundee, a master’s in investment analysis from Stirling
University and a Ph.D. in economics from North Carolina State University. He joined
the Arkansas faculty in 1998.
Price risk is the chance of experiencing a loss due to an adverse price change. Price
risk is inherent to all markets, and agricultural market prices can be particularly
volatile. Effectively managing this risk is a difficult yet important challenge. The
new center’s work will focus on helping decision makers meet this challenge with industry-leading,
research-based information, tools, and strategies.
If the subject of price risk management seems a bit rarified, one of McKenzie’s key
objectives is to keep the subject grounded and the research made useful for farmers
and others whose livelihoods are commodity based.
In his new role, McKenzie said he will be “trying to bridge the large gap between
theory and the real world and make the research useful to people in the real world.
We intend to take our research findings and develop software to create online risk
management tools,” he said.Among the tools under development:
Art inspires interest
Bridging the gap between theory and real world uses may be related to McKenzie’s introduction
to the commodity market through a 1983 movie whose plot turned on the trading of frozen
orange juice concentrate. The topic sounds obscure, but the movie was a global hit.
“When I was an undergrad student watching the movie, ‘Trading Places,’ that sort of
brought up the whole commodity aspect and stoked my interest,” he said. In grad school,
“part of the course, one day we were to watch a video on the Chicago Mercantile and
that was my first exposure to that. It was a fascinating area to me. I wanted to learn
more about it.”
John Anderson, department head and director of the Fryar Center, said McKenzie has
long experience in the field.
“Andy is well known in the agricultural economics profession for his work on commodity
prices and risk, particularly on grain merchandising strategies,” he said. “Andy has
developed one of the most highly-regarded undergraduate training programs on commodity
futures markets and trading strategies in the country.”
“His expertise in identifying, designing, and executing high-level, high-impact research
projects is exactly what we need as we seek to establish the Fryar Center as a world
leader in risk management scholarship,” Anderson said.
Anderson said McKenzie has developed extensive connections within industry.
“This keeps him constantly apprised of emerging issues related to commodity prices
and risk and allows him to engage in research that is relevant to the problems that
industry participants are facing,” Anderson said. “This is the kind of work that we
want the Fryar Center to be known for, so Dr. McKenzie is ideally suited to help establish
and direct our research agenda.”
Where psychology meets economics
Price risk management has tangible functions, McKenzie said.
“What these markets do is in effect make a transparent price for anyone to see at
any point,” he said. This enables farmers to get a better handle on the best prices
for their grain or other commodities and help offset risk. It also means understanding
how weather, trade disputes and other events affect those prices.
A unique area of study for the center will be behavioral economics.
“This is the intersection where psychology and economics come together,” McKenzie
said. The field is relatively new compared to traditional economics, being 20-30 years
old, and examines traditional paradigms that say “People behave rationally and the
markets are efficient.”
Anderson said the center was in the process of hiring an additional faculty member
and said that McKenzie’s status within the field and network of connections has allowed
“us to recruit a phenomenal pool of international talent for this position.”
“This is a huge opportunity for us,” McKenzie said. “I’m very grateful to Ed and Michelle
To learn about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit https://uada.edu/
Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk, @uaex_edu or @ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.# # #