Archives for economists



The Nobel Prize Goes to an Odd (but Worthy) Economic Trio

I awoke yesterday to the happy news that two of my friends won the Nobel Prize in economics.*

Gene Fama was one of the three recipients.  He and I share two important beliefs about the world.  First, we value empirical research in economics — i.e., getting deep into the data to understand what is going on.  Second, we both believe that golf should be played quickly!  So every weekend, at least once, Gene and I get up before the sun rises and get in 18 holes (walking) in about 2.5 hours.  Gene is 74 years old — he didn’t take up golf until his sixties, and I’ve seen him post a scorecard with multiple birdies on it. 

Gene believes deeply and fundamentally in markets, which is why pairing his prize with Robert Shiller, a market skeptic, is quite odd.  But Shiller is a wonderful economist — someone whose work I read a lot and was inspired by early in my own career — and I’m glad he was chosen. Read More »



Should Candidates for AEA Elections Tell Us What They’re Thinking?

Joshua Gans is an economist at the University of Toronto. He has appeared on this blog before and, as the author of Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting, was featured in our podcast “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting.” He has a long-standing interest in the economics of science as well as studies of the economics profession. He is also a long-standing member of the American Economic Association. On that last note, he has written a thoughtful essay that wonders if the candidates standing for AEA elections should be required, or at least encouraged, to be more forthcoming about what they’d stand for if elected.

 

Should We Learn More About AEA Candidates?
By Joshua Gans

It is that time of year when the 18,000 members of the American Economic Association (AEA) receive their ballots to vote for the society’s leadership. I have been voting in AEA elections for 25 years and the information provided is always the same. There is a voting sheet and then a pamphlet listing the bios of each candidate (e.g., significant publications, awards and administrative positions held) and a photo of each (see here). This is not a lot of information to go on. In my younger days, when I had little personal information on the candidates I would choose on their basis of their work, whether they are close to my field of interest (macro vs. micro, theory vs. empirical), and perhaps whether their politics matched my own.

These days I know many of the candidates both professionally and personally, and so now I factor into the equation whether I think they will be good leaders of the AEA. This may be correlated with the information in their bios but it is not a given. Very often I have found those who are less widely known in the public to have thoughtful ideas about the AEA and economics profession. That gives rise to a natural question: should we know more about AEA candidates than is presented to us formally? Read More »



Calling All Data Memoirists

The statistician Andrew Gelman has asked us to publicize what sounds like a nifty project: a Year-in-the-Life look at what data hounds and statisticians actually do:

So here’s the plan. 365 of you write vignettes about your statistical lives. Get into the nitty gritty—tell me what you do, and why you’re doing it. I’ll collect these and then post them at the Statistics Forum, one a day for a year. I think that could be great, truly a unique resource into what statistics and quantitative research is really like. Also it will be perfect for the Statistics Forum: people will want to tune in everyday to see what comes next.

In an e-mail, he adds:

I think it would be a great service to the professions of quantitative research to get vignettes from a wide variety of statistical practitioners.  (I’d be interested in hearing what empirical economists do during their days too!)  So I’d like to spread the net wide and get lots of stories from people.

And yes, for those of you who read the agate type, this post goes in the Bygones Being Bygones file.



When the Economists Arrive, Do the Prostitutes Leave?

I was walking outside the American Economic Association meetings this past Sunday when a man stopped me and asked what all the university professors were doing in one place.  I told him that it was the annual convention of economists, and got a hearty laugh by telling him the old joke that when the economists arrived in town, the prostitutes left.  This joke is a good illustration: the arrival of economists represents a decrease in demand; the prostitutes’ leaving represents a decrease in the amount supplied.  I don’t know the shape of the supply curve, however, so I can’t speculate about the size of the change, if any, in the equilibrium price. But the joke does suggest that the equilibrium quantity transacted decreased.



Economists Making Their End-of-the-World Confessions

Today is the last day on the Mayan calendar, which, according to some, means the world is going to end.  This seems about as likely to occur as any economic forecast.  And so in preparation, economists on Twitter have been making their end-of-the-world confessions, using the hashtag #EndOfTheWorldEconfessions.

Here are some of the highlights: Read More »



Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas: A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) 

It’s the latest in our annual series of explanations about how economists can take all the fun out of the holidays. In the past, we’ve looked at gift cards, deadweight loss, and gift registries.

This year, we have one simple mission: ask economists how they go about shopping for the holidays. Read More »



Free-conomics: A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Free-conomics.”  (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) 

The gist: economists are a notoriously self-interested bunch, but a British outfit called Pro Bono Economics is giving away its services to selected charities. Martin Brookes is one of its founders:

BROOKES: When we first set up Pro Bono Economics, there were some economists who thought it was wrong, in principle, to give a service to charity for free. That if the service of analysis of their data was valuable, they should have to pay for it.

If the supply side was reluctant, so was the demand side: Read More »



The Return of the Freelance Economist

A few weeks back, we posted a query from a young economist who, before heading for the job market, was looking to pick up  freelance work. She (yes, she) promised to report back with her progress, and now she has:

Thank you for posting my email. I received a decent handful of responses, but was not flooded with emails. I did get one big project that I am very excited about and will carry me through to the job market, so it worked out very well for me, but is probably not a good career strategy. I had no idea what to charge, so started with the rate I would have received from the employer that didn’t work out, which was clearly too high. I tried to make it clear that it was negotiable, but fear I may have scared off a few people.

Read More »