Momtchil Karpouzanov, who teaches Microeconomics and Financial Accounting at AUBG, joined the university in 2017, a few years after his return to Bulgaria. He obtained his PhD from Aix-Marseille University in France, and felt that teaching would be “a natural continuation of his academic career.” Professor Karpouzanov says that what brings him the biggest professional fulfilment are moments when “students present and successfully defend their arguments and line of reasoning in class and I feel they will know more then I will ever do.” The professor, who is part of the Business and Economics departments, shares that he appreciates the opportunity to hear his students’ views about the topics discussed in class and see how they ‘blossom’ both during their studies at the university and after graduation.
Three facts about you
This is the toughest question I have ever had to answer. I am best at taking care of a day Gecko (a small diurnal lizard). I trust people for not being trustworthy. I guess that I speak French much better than English.
If you have to describe yourself with one word, what will it be?
Disillusioned because I discovered I had my illusions about people. I was really naïve for growing up thinking that people are inherently good. Then I had to accept the idea that individual self-interest may be a source of conflict. There is a book by Bernard Mandeville titled ‘The Fable of the Bees: or, Private vices, Public benefits’ which describes how we can rely on individual weaknesses rather than virtues to provide for a working society.
Interest in Economics
In the late 1980s and early 1990s [in Bulgaria] the long agony and following collapse of the centrally planned economy, the shortages of all kind, the massive dismissals of workers, the sudden concentration of capital in selected hands, the inflation and devaluation of the national currency seemed to be questions of crucial importance if not survival. The way a myriad of individual plans could not only coexist but actually coordinate was a mystery.
What can you tell us about your education background and your experience obtaining a PhD from the Aix-Marseille University in France? Why did you decide to study there?
The University of Aix-Marseille was my first choice for its singular doctrinal position in the Continental Europe academic landscape. The city of Aix-en-Provence has been the political, legal, religious, and academic center of the South of France for many centuries and the University there was established more than 600 years ago. Its Faculty of Economics and Business is among the few strongholds of Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School of Economic Thought in Europe and has been associated to Nobel Prize winners such as Ronald Coase, James Buchannan and of course Friedrich Hayek (who presided the doctoral jury of my PhD advisor), and several famed economists, philosophers and social theorists like Israel Kirzner, Leonard Liggio, Douglas Rasmussen among others. While my initial interest was more related to finance and business, I gradually became interested in monetary theories and policies, the logic of the Currency Board arrangement and competitive money supply, which led me to my doctoral studies.
I have almost entirely self-funded my studies, so I had to work as soon as I got a legal permit for that (back then Bulgaria was not part of the EU). My first position was that of a receptionist in a small hotel in the old town of Aix-en-Provence, where I could rely on my language skills and learned to work with people, serve our guests and respond to their requests, solve problems of all kinds and work under pressure. I also worked for a bank for some time developing the real estate leasing and lease-back operations in the Greater Provence region, before I completed my post-graduate studies, enrolled in a doctorate program and started my academic career.
I started teaching as an assistant during my first two years in my doctorate program and as I gained experience I was recruited as a lecturer at the University of Lille. Upon completion of my PhD it felt as a natural continuation of my academic career to teach courses both in economics and in finance. After returning in Bulgaria some five years ago I had the opportunity to work as a consultant for various projects related to the analysis of the Bulgarian economy and the impact of the Operational Programs co-funded by the EU’s Cohesion and Structural Funds. However, I missed teaching and when I was presented the opportunity to join AUBG, I did not hesitate for a second. The reputation of AUBG as a leading school in the Balkans needs not be made. AUBG is like a beacon of freedom of thought and speech, a haven for critical thinking, and a home to liberal ideals. The sense of community it helps build in each one of us, students and families, staff and faculty is amazing and extraordinary.
A typical day
Arrive on time from Sofia as early as the traffic permits, quickly check on my mails and communication with students and faculty leadership, go to class or talk with students during my office hours, and if I have enough time, go to the gym.
What are your teaching and research interests?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to teach quite a broad array of topics in Economics and Finance. I was initially very much interested in Monetary Theory, the Currency Board arrangement and theories of Competitive Monetary supply, the Austrian School of Economics Thought and the Classical Liberal doctrine. I also studied the institutionalization of corruption and the issues of Economic policy during the Transition Period following the end of the centrally-planned economy and the one-party socialist State in Bulgaria.
When students present and successfully defend their arguments and line of reasoning in class and I feel they will know more then I will ever do. My aim is to walk around the students, have a discussion and exchange information with them on the same foot despite of age, background or education. I am eager to listen to students’ views about the topics discussed in class and to see how they ‘blossom’ both during their studies at the university and after their graduation.
If teaching was not your profession, what would have been?
Difficult to say. A consultant, I guess.
This is an easy one: rock climbing, mountaineering, and these days protesting.