Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday night econlinks

Monday, April 20, 2009

Test your Macroeconomics knowledge doing this NYTimes 18 multiple-choice questions quiz (via Greg Mankiw).
This is obviously piece of cake if you did any (ok: any decent) introductory Economics courses (if you did not do any Econ but read frequently the economic news and understand some basics, you should still be able to answer correctly at least 10 of the 18 questions-- my own approximation here), but I still like the way they structured the multiple choices: I actually had to stay more than a few seconds for some of the questions :-).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday night econlinks

  • Reviewing the reviewers, with cross-disciplinary insights. Who would have thought that Economics is somewhat like History? :-). Thanks to Daniel for the link!

  • The Economic Journal announces two interesting changes in terms of its submission/refereeing process, aiming at speeding up and raising the bar in the peer review process: i) Referees will not be individually paid anylonger, but the 10 best referees every year will each get a 500 pound prize. ii) In terms of submission process, submission of editorial letters and previous referee reports at other journals is encouraged. Read the whole letter. I think that whether i) works in speeding and improving the refereeing process is really an empirical quest, but ii) should be clearly adopted formally also by other journals.

  • Definitely a necessary debate within the structural vs. reduced-model economics context. I think/hope that this was just the warming up stage :-). Some extremely interesting contributions so far, all from top names in the Econ field: i) Marschak's Maxim nowadays; ii) Instruments of Development; iii) Better LATE than nothing. Not entirely on the same frequence, but somewhat of a prelude--third bullet point and earlier links therein.

  • We know quite a bit about the bad ones by now, e.g. from everyday's news... So time to hear more about the good pirates. (There should be of course no question about the best pirates ).

Google trends...

... to predict the present: an excellent short paper from a few days ago by Choi and Varian. This is incredibly interesting (and as you will read, working pretty well even in its simplest form!); I expect quite some new research to follow up on their call.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What I've been reading

  • Jay McInerney's "Bacchus and me", one of the best books I've read within the past two years or so. Informative, witty, provocative (even for me: I clearly disagree with the author in several places!, but that only adds to the spice...). Don't miss it even (or especially if...) you don't know much about wines (earlier).
  • "Elephants on acid: And other bizzare experiments", by Alex Boese: somewhat overrated. It does have quite some (catalogue) informative value, indexing indeed rather unusual (public "crazy"/"taboo") research within the last century or so, but the scientific studies mentioned are a strange highly selective sample from two or three disciplines (with a dominant preference towards psychology experiments); (accordingly) the writing style is very commercial, paying much more attention to the (ex ante) declared research target, than to the often unmatched (ex post) quality of the cited study; finally, we could perhaps do without the forced 'jokes' at the end of every chapter. Nevertheless, this could be used as light evening reading for those of you not involved much with (academic) science in daily life...
  • "Economics: A very short introduction", by Partha Dasgupta. Interesting and perhaps desired goal in this series: a very short and concise introduction to a specific discipline, meant particularly for outsiders. Dasgupta's book is well written, very solid in what it discusses, but far from exhaustive or even general enough in coverage (both in portraying methodology and subfields etc)... In order to "shortly introduce" this topic to non-economists, I would ideally prefer a very short version of Mankiw's "Principles of Economics" (e.g., take the 10 principles and expand in the typical 'short introduction' series book length...), or else something in the spirit of Wheelan's "Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science" (see also earlier, 2nd bullet point).

  • "Einstein: His Life and Universe", by Walter Isaacson. Probably the best biography on Einstein as yet. The author is, inter alia, using autobiographical material only recently available from Einstein's family etc. I started quite a while ago reading it (see earlier, last bullet point) but wrapped it up only recently. In particular, and rather uncommon to previous Einstein biographies, the author does a great job in portraying Einstein's personal life(s) with all its ups and downs, and a good job in presenting (and at points giving plenty of detail) Einstein political/social/economic views (particularly in the latter stage of his life), including (my interest here) what academic economists would consider naive economic perspectives (some of which Einstein himself revised or re-nuanced, to his credit).

  • "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism ", by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller. I have just started this book, and I think there is much more to it then the following..., but, before we all turn behavioural economists (sic), I suggest we all read its very recent review, by Richard Posner. In fact it is this criticism I wanted to advertise here: you might have issues with Posner's comments here and there, but else it really gets down to the fundamentals (the animal spirits, here, if you will). Here's a bit to get you going, the one bit that involves this profession: "Some of these mistakes of commission and omission had emotional components. The overconfidence of economists might even be thought a manifestation of animal spirits. But the career and reward structures, and the ideological preconceptions, of macroeconomists are likelier explanations than emotion for the economics profession's failure to foresee or respond effectively to the crisis." Nonetheless, I will still finish reading the book :-).