Christian Zimmerman of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has created the ultimate game for econ nerds: the RePEc Fantasy Economic league. “The IDEAS fantasy league allows you to pretend you are at the helm of an economics department,” explains the league’s website. “Your goal is to improve its ranking relative to other departments in the league. You can do this by trading economists and by choosing which ones to activate in your roster.” A Business Insider article explores optimal strategy:
“In real life when you build a department, you want to hire people that are prospects,” Zimmermann said. “In this fantasy league, it’s just the same. You really want to acquire people that are going to be doing well in the next 10 years.”
In other words, you want the sleeper picks. Ask yourself: Who is going to cost 1 util and then put out some game-changing working papers?
Edwards agrees that you have to look for the rising stars. “It’s a Moneyball type strategy,” he said. “Looking for undervalued economists and trying to invest, or trying to divest in overvalued economists.”
In an article for The New York Times Magazine, Catherine Rampell explores the “wedding markup.” While planning her own wedding, Rampell was surprised by the lack of transparency in the wedding industry, even with all the wedding-related sites on the Internet:
Wedding vendors seemed to be trying to size me up to figure out how much I’m willing to pay; consumer advocates say this is a common practice, as is charging more for a given service for a wedding than for a “family function” or “corporate event.” Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, recalls that when he was married over a decade ago, one caterer initially quoted him about $60 a head, and then jacked up the price to about $90 per person after realizing the function was a wedding. These are forms of what economists call price discrimination; it sounds unfair, but it’s perfectly legal, and it’s easier to get away with in markets where there’s little price transparency and consumers are relatively uninformed.
Many of the industry experts Rampell interviewed attributed the markup to the fact that brides are usually less-informed “first-time shoppers,” and also to the “once-in-a-lifetime logic”: Read More »
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When Jason Childs and his colleagues went about devising a new course in economics at the University of Regina, they wanted to find a focus that didn’t involve the overused and fictitious widget.
What they arrived at was a product that was historic and central to people’s lives – and something most undergraduate students are familiar with: beer.
Childs, an associate professor of economics, said the Economics of Beer course had 80 seats, and they were filled in about two weeks. The course began in early May and finishes near the end of June.
“Basically, it’s an exploration of some economics concepts, in particular microeconomic concepts, and the brewing industry,” he said. “Beer is a really neat example because it allows you to talk about just about every fundamental concept in economics.”
Economic analysis is itself value-free, but in practice it encourages a cosmopolitan interest in natural equality. Many economic models, of course, assume that all individuals are motivated by rational self-interest or some variant thereof; even the so-called behavioral theories tweak only the fringes of a basically common, rational understanding of people. The crucial implication is this: If you treat all individuals as fundamentally the same in your theoretical constructs, it would be odd to insist that the law should suddenly start treating them differently.
Cowen concludes by exploring a modern-day application of this putatively egalitarian core:
A distressingly large portion of the debate in many countries analyzes the effects of higher immigration on domestic citizens alone and seeks to restrict immigration to protect a national culture or existing economic interests. The obvious but too-often-underemphasized reality is that immigration is a significant gain for most people who move to a new country.
Elena Malik, communications chair of the 12th annual Carroll Round at Georgetown, writes to solicit applications for a worthwhile event:
The Carroll Round is an annual undergraduate international economics conference at Georgetown University that provides a unique forum for research and discussion among the world’s top undergraduates. Each year, we invite applications from students to present and discuss their work with peers, professors, and policy-makers invited to participate. This year we are honored to host guest speakers including Dr. John B. Taylor and Dr. Janet Currie. We are still recruiting applications from students.
This year’s Carroll Round will be held from April 18-21; more info here.
With the Presidential debate finished, we are officially in the final lap of America’s second-favorite spectator sport. (Yes, football is better than politics.) Of all the talking that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will do by Nov. 6, you can bet that a great deal of their breath will be expended on economic matters. Because that’s what the President of the United States does, right — runs our economy?
That, of course, won’t stop the candidates from talking about their plans to “fix” or “heal” or “restore” our economy — all of which imply that we are in an economic doldrums that is sure to pass. But what if it doesn’t? What if the massive economic growth the U.S. has experienced through most of our history is a thing of the past?
I’ve just gotten back home after a terrific few days at the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity. It’s my favorite gabfest of the year, featuring economic analysis that is both serious research, and also connected to ongoing policy debates. (OK, I’m biased–I’m an editor, and organize the conference along with Berkeley’s David Romer.) And while I think some of you may enjoy slogging your way through the latest papers, others may prefer your summaries simpler and lighter. So I went ahead and recorded a few short videos summarizing the papers. I hope you enjoy! Read More »