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A Quick Note on the AEA Conference

I had hoped to live-blog the American Economics Association sessions I attended over the past few days in Denver — and thanks for your suggestions — but, alas, it was nearly impossible to get a good internet connection in the (mostly) underground meeting rooms. By that measure, and a few others, it felt very twentieth century. For a bunch of people interested in efficiencies, there were scads of inefficiencies, including the fact that small seminar rooms were often overflowing, big ones were sometimes 80 percent empty; in almost all cases it was hard to see and hear the presentation unless you sat in the first few rows; even though most meeting rooms had a TV monitor outside it, those monitors contained no information about the current session; and, with 60 or 70 simultaneous sessions, the paradox of choice was a legitimate handicap. That said, it was great to hear presentations by and chat with so many of the economists whose work I admire: Levitt, of course (who gave a bundle of papers, most of them new and some quite interesting), as well as scholars whose work you’ve encountered on this blog and elsewhere: Richard Thaler, Justin Wolfers, Dan Hamermesh, Robert Shiller, Orley Ashenfelter, Robert Frank, Avinash Dixit, Alan Kreuger, George Loewenstein, Annamaria Lusardi, and many, many others. I will write up some of what I learned at AEA in the coming weeks, and you’ll surely hear traces of it in forthcoming Freakonomics Radio pieces as well.