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Posts Tagged ‘Economists’

How To Better Incentivize Labor Economists?

The annual conference that I organize with the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bavaria begins Thursday. Each year we receive about 150 submissions, and pick 24 to fill the available time slots. Typically we’ve had one or two withdrawals, but this year we have five. If I had known this, we would have accepted more papers—the conference works best with 22 or 23 papers. Is there any way to solve this problem? I could accept more papers, but the program would be too long if nobody withdrew. I could require authors of accepted papers to post a bond, perhaps $250, forfeitable if they withdraw. While that sounds very economic, I bet we would get fewer submissions—posting bonds for conference participation is not part of our culture—and possibly even lower average quality submissions.
Of course, I punish those who withdraw by disqualifying them from the conference for the next few years. But other than that, I see no solution.

The Morality of Economists

L’affaire Strauss-Kahn underscores my view that we economists are as immoral—but also as principled—as any other professionals. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that; but I now know of, or even know personally, economists who have engaged in sexual assault, embezzlement, murder and, of course, clearly immoral acts that are not criminal.
Yet it is also true that we are as generous as any other group. As Yezer, Goldfarb and Poppen showed in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1996, learning economics makes you no less charitable in your actions (although not in what you profess) than does studying any other discipline. And each of us can recount instances of personal charity and sacrifice by well-known economists, often on behalf of younger, less well-known colleagues.
As with so many other pairs of individual characteristics, the correlation between morality and, in this case, occupational choice is very low.

Why Don't Female Economists Blog?

Eight of the top 100 male economists (according to RePEc’s rankings) write a blog. But of the 39 women who ranked in the top 1,000, none blog.

Hating Economists but Loving Economics

Robert Shiller points to an interesting conflict in economics today: “We are in the midst of a boom in popular economics: books, articles, blogs, public lectures, all followed closely by the general public. Yet this boom in popular economics comes at a time when the general public seems to have lost faith in professional economists – because almost all of us failed to predict, or even warn of, the current economic crisis, the biggest since the Great Depression.”

A Code of Conduct for Economists?

The Economist is running a forum on an interesting topic: Do economists need a code of conduct? The economists surveyed disagree on the merits of a code of conduct.

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.

What Can Economists Tell Us About Teenage Sexual Mores?

One point of our upcoming podcast is that economists — academic economists in particular — are generally free from the political and moral boundaries that restrict most people, and are therefore able to offer analysis or recommendations that politicians, e.g., wouldn’t go near with a ten-foot pole.

Chicago Economists on the Crisis

Earlier this week, Dubner linked to a terrific New Yorker piece by John Cassidy, which explores the state of the “Chicago School.” Following up, Cassidy has posted some very revealing interview transcripts. All the interviews are with truly great economists. The very best come across as trying to build insight that is both rigorous, and empirically relevant.

Economists Love to Hate on One Another

“My attitude is this,” he said. “If you are getting attacked by Krugman, you must be doing something right.”
Is there any other academic field in which standard decorum is valued so low?

Are Economists Cheap? Or Do We Just Believe in Comparative Advantage?

The front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal tells us that “Economists are cheapskates.” The article by Justin Lahart is hilarious, recounting the foibles of those of us who sometimes take our classroom lessons about economizing a step too far – particularly when it comes to economizing on time.

What to Get an Economist for Christmas?

Christmas and economists go together like – well, like drinking and walking. Joel Waldfogel, the economist who is famous for highlighting the deadweight loss of gift-giving, has a new book out called Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.

Guess What the Initials NADA Stand For

If nothing else, getting an economics Ph.D. should teach someone how to complicate and obfuscate the issue so that it isn’t so obvious to outsiders that the argument makes no sense.

An Economist Thinking About Love

Economists see markets at play everywhere. Even in your romantic life. Indeed, I’m one of the worst guests that you can invite to your wedding. Why? Because while most of your guests are listening for your love story, I’m listening for your contract.

Advice Worth $1 Billion

Usually, when people talk in terms of billions of dollars, they are referring to macroeconomic questions. Recently, however, three economists (Jeremy Bulow, Jonathan Levin, and Paul Milgrom) were hired as consultants to advise a group that was bidding in a spectrum auction that would allow them to provide wireless service.
By following the advice of the economists, the group was able to purchase wireless coverage for the United States for $2.4 billion, while their major competitors ended up paying $3.5 billion for the same spectrum in the same auction. Thus, their advice was worth more than $1 billion to their clients.


Economists spend immense amounts of time ranking journals, partly to decide on monetary and non-monetary professional rewards, partly as pure gossip. There is some imperfect agreement on rankings.
Given that agreement, how should we credit coauthored publications (the overwhelming majority of papers)?

Macroeconomists, Take Cover

Business Week‘s cover story slams macroeconomists. Dilbert doesn’t think much of economists either:

Imbens Fires Back at Deaton

A few months ago, Princeton economist Angus Deaton offered his vision for development economics. In his piece, he rails against the movement toward relatively atheoretical, randomized experiments, calling for closer ties between theory and empirics. “The great economists should be trying to do something that is harder.” Now, in an excellent new paper, Harvard economist Guido Imbens fires back. Imbens . . .

Tell Us Your Favorite Scientists

From a reader named Thomas Kennedy comes the following e-mail: I am an economics teacher from Alaska. I can personally list my top 10 favorite actors, top 10 favorite living writers, top 10 favorite rock groups, and even my top 10 living economists and top 10 entrepreneurs; but how many out there can name their top 10 living scientists and . . .

How Do You Speed Up Economists?

Like many other journals in economics and other disciplines, the Economic Journal, the main scholarly organ of the Royal Economic Society, has paid referees (judges of submitted scholarly papers) for prompt reports (e.g., the American Economic Review offers $100 for a prompt report). The purpose of this is to provide an incentive to get the job done quickly. I have . . .

New Editors at Brookings

O.K., I’ll admit that I’ve done plenty of hand-wringing about the state of economics. And now I’m going to do something about it. This morning, Brookings announced that David Romer and I will be taking over as the new editors of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. We’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill — left empty by Larry . . .

RE: Nation of Whiners

| In this crisis of capitalism, it’s all well and good to re-read John Maynard Keynes, writes Pulitzer Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen in the New York Review of Books. But Sen also says that we tend to ignore Keynes’s rival Arthur Cecil Pigou, who said market fluctuations are partly driven by psychology, and that we do so at our own . . .

Sad, But True

An interesting article by Gregory Clark on the post-crisis status of macroeconomics includes the following money quote: Recently a group of economists affiliated with the Cato Institute ran an ad in The New York Times opposing the Obama‘s [sic] stimulus plan. As chair of my department, I tried to arrange a public debate between one of the signatories and a . . .