Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

From San Francisco.

My whereabouts at the beginning of the year will be at the ASSA '09, presenting a paper on the 5th of Jan.
But plenty of wine before that, continuing from the Napa Valley wine tasting yesterday :-).

Ad majora in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Xmas Econlinks

  • The Economist's books of the year. A few from the 'economics & business', 'science & technology' and respectively, the 'biography' sections are on my to-read list for quite a while now. Nevertheless, I am rather amazed that many are missing among the books I was expecting to find in those three sections...

  • I am sure this could happen also within Economics... and I have a few ideas in which "peer-reviewed" conferences it might work just fine... Via Gabi Istrate, on Ad Astra.

And Happy Holidays of course! :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What I've been reading

I've started many books and haven't finished yet most of them..., but slowly and steadily, mainly during my many & long forthcoming travels (NB: Transylvania, here I come!), I'll get there...

Anyway: a book I've just finished is Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" (wiki link; audio link with Hornby answering questions about the book). There are apparently two movies made after it already, but I haven't seen either, so I'll be silent in that respect. But the book... the book is definitely not to miss.

Whether you are are a (Arsenal/UK...) football fan or not, this is likely the best book about football (or for that matter: sports fan passion) you've run into so far... certainly my best such book, though I confess I am not a big fan of football or of sports fiction & co, for that matter... so this could be most about its literary value, in the end. Here's a blurb that manages to somehow catch the main part of "Fever Pitch" in a phrase: "For many people watching football is mere entertainment; to some it's more like a ritual; but to others, its highs and lows provide a narrative to life itself. For Nick Hornby, his devotion to the game has provided one of the few constants in a life where the meaningful things--like growing up, leaving home and forming relationships, both parental and romantic--have rarely been as simple or as uncomplicated as his love for Arsenal". What I personally like a lot in Hornby's style here is the self-deprecating humor, which works perfectly in the context, and the attention to detail, again functioning very well given the theme.

To get you in the mood, I selected two of my favourite quotes from the book below (though I ultimately disagree with both of them); by the way, Hornby has plenty of those: paragraphs I simply hate I didn't/couldn't write myself :-)
  • "You just can't find this outside a football ground; there is nowhere else you can be in the entire country that will make you feel as though you are at the heart of things. Because whichever nightclub you go to, or play, or film, or whichever concert you see, or restaurant you eat at, life will have been going on elsewhere in your absence, as it always does; but when I am at Highbury for games like these, I feel that the rest of the world has stopped and is gathered outside the gates,waiting to hear the final score"

  • "I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring..."

PS. In order to make a link to my typical Econ academe world: the fan(s) portrayed in this book reminds me in a way of LSE's Chris Pissarides: I recall a short discussion a while ago, probably at the NBER Summer Institute in Boston this year, where he confessed that he cannot miss any game of (several) UK football teams (in the sense that he would shorten his conferences, maybe miss keynote speeches etc, just to make it to these games). And I games; watching them on TV does not count. After reading Hornby's "Fever Pitch", I understand Pissarides is definitely not alone in that passion :-).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The new RAE UK is out

...and for Economics and Econometrics, the quality profiles can be consulted here.

By strictly ranking percentages of research in the highest and respectively second highest research categories, the first 10 Econ Departments in UK RAE 2008 (not very unexpected) are the following:

  1. LSE
  2. UCL
  3. Essex, Oxford, Warwick
  4. Bristol, Nottingham, Queen Mary
  5. Cambridge
  6. Manchester

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You can call me Doc...

... for about a week now. And if you're interested in my dissertation, here's the full digital version, in the Erasmus University Rotterdam online repository. If you believe you deserve a nice, signed, hardcopy, do let me know :-). A short PDF presentation of the thesis chapters, for a rather general audience, can be found on my website, though without the presenter it should not/ will not help very much (NB: of course I ran out of time, this cannot be done in 15 min...).

PS. Aside questions related to my thesis, I was also asked to defend Proposition X from my "stellingen" list, at the public defence. Nothing but expected, it is the best proposition of all that list, after all. All credit to Prof. Rubinstein for that :-).

A morning thought on peer-review

Good journals in Economics (say top 15) typically have good referees (though it also depends on who the Editor in that particular case is and especially on how much effort he is putting in picking the referees; sometimes you have the feeling they expressly choose folks who really seem to have no expertise whatsoever in your area).

The serious problem starts as soon as you go somewhat downwards in the journal rankings (why would you do ever do that? well, for instance because you yourself would feel like rejecting that particular paper of yours at higher ranked journals...): the quality of the referees decreases more than ten fold for each position in the journal hierarchy (abstract for a moment from the fact that not everybody agrees with the existent hierarchies, though most serious people agree to the 10 or so top journals). I am not sure whether this is due to good people always refusing to referee for those lower-ranked journals or to the Editor choosing lower quality referees to start with (which could be surely linked to the former reason). Of course this sort of discussion is not new (see also a previous post where I linked to interesting perspectives on this), it is just frustrating when you experience it yourself...

What to do? Write only papers that can make it in top 5... and hope you do not get very stubborn Editors and referees there, which is a less desired side-effect... After all you do want your, not somebody else's, paper published. All in all, you do not have any chance of getting bored in this research-and-publish business :-).