Sunday, June 14, 2009

My whereabouts

After a full week in very beautiful (and very hot) Seville, where inter alia I presented a paper at this year's ESPE conference (I will dedicate of course a separate post to my Seville experience a.s.a.p, hence further details will be omitted here), followed by a short pit stop of a few hours back in Aarhus, I have just arrived in Os, very close to Bergen. I am staying at this sensationally picturesque place called Solstrand, truly a perfect combination of classic and modern, romantic and pragmatic (e.g., one might have have difficulties deciding which of the several swimming pools or saunas to try out, after having had a perfect walk--or swim!-- along the fjords... :-))..., where for the next couple of days I'll be listening to, discussing and presenting papers within the 2009 Nordic Summer Institute in Labour Economics. Be good, I'll be back!

PS. Some straightforward differences between Seville (or, attempting to generalize: Spain/ Iberia/ Southern Europe) and Bergen (Norway/ Scandinavia/ Northern Europe) really have to do with numbers, ie. temperature degree and, respectively, price differentials. You can most likely sign those differences yourselves :-).

Friday, June 05, 2009

(Many) Econlinks for the Weekend

  • If you're at all into arithmetics (and not only) you might like this concise exposé on very big numbers (think Ackerman series, Busy Beavers and the like if you are dubious about what "very big" stands for in this context...). Inter alia, this reminds me that many many years ago :-), when I was starting highschool, one of my life goals was to prove the Goldbach conjecture. I guess meanwhile I started looking for easier life targets :-).

  • We absolutely love Blonde Parades -- though I wouldn't necessarily ask a financial crisis as prerequisite :-).

  • Pacepa and the former Romanian car industry (that he does get at all WSJ editorial space I find rather amazing in the first place, that he uses it to give advice to the USA gov on the failed car companies is, well... just fantastic :-)...). Hmm, at least he's got an interesting "style", shifting the entire blame on his former superior(s)... There isn't much Economics in there of course, as he after all admits himself..., but I would have liked at least some more precision in the numbers (and no, "billions" in "The Oltcit project lost billions" is not what I would call a good approximation)

  • This is the only bullet point connected to the "pathetic" label of this blogpost. Levitt oddly calls it "reasonably interesting" on Freakonomics (I also do not agree with all Levitt's further opinions on the apparent "macro problem", but well, I guess he is well versed in Macroeconomics to know it better :-)), but I find this Guardian editorial "interesting" only inasmuch it shows the difference in Economics education between the "Economics editor" (sic!) of The Guardian and other Economics editors at, say, WSJ, NYTimes, The Economist, or FT... Inter alia, I wouldn't pretend that everybody understands the work of Bonhomme and Robin forthcoming at the ReStud (or for that matter, any other work in a top 5 research journal within Economics, which perhaps is not aimed to really everybody?), but indeed from an "Economics editor" we would perhaps expect a little bit more that the appraisal "divorced from reality" (merely from reading the abstract and nothing further in the text, since else our author would have found plenty of "reality"...). But Economics à la The Guardian it is, now you know what to read :-).

  • Who's a bigger villain for Development: Mugabe or Anopheles/ Sachs or Easterly...? I guess you ought to know by now what I think in this mater, but that should not stop you from making your own opinion :-).

  • Interesting facts & thoughts by Dan Hamermesh on (incentive...) bonuses for papers with multiple co-authors. Should they be designed as function of 1/N or 1/SquareRoot(N), where N the number of co-authors etc.? Perhaps we should also know what other disciplines do, if anything, in this regard, in Economics indeed there seems to be a (very surprising) heterogeneity of such practices among various Departments/Institutes.

  • It might be the first time ever..., but yes, the Historian won against the Economist (my good old friend Daniel, Harvard trained Historian of Science too, will surely be very pleased to hear this:-) ). I would never allow Paul Krugman in such competitions again, this is bad for the whole Econ field :-). The good thing though is that the Historian won with (the true) Economics arguments :-).

  • Average citation rates by field (through Ad Astra). One trend not emphasized in the article's discussion following the table is that in some fields the citation impact is very low on the short run (1-3 years), but increases much faster over the the longer run (8-10 years). This is why for instance Economics gets a higher average citation impact than Mathematics or Computer Science overall, though in the short run (eg, the two years span that the Thomson ISI citation ranks are typically constructed on) is equally "de-cited". Consider switching to Molecular Biology if you're after citations :-).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My first (and last) public karaoke performance

...represents the validation of my long held opinion that I have no comparative advantage whatsoever in this area. My team partner for this impromptu exercise, Ian Walker, among other things the current editor-in-chief of Labour Economics, performed rather reasonably, but there was no chance to ultimately rank decently among the brave competitors-- my colleague economists from the Aarhus School of Business, some of them natural born karaoke stars-- precisely because of teaming up with yours truly. As a consequence (and I credit Ian Walker with the quote of the week), "[I] shall remain a referee for Labour Economics forever". Still, there could/would/should be some attenuating circumstances to consider: the event took place in an unlikely hotel restaurant room in Viborg with what looked like improvised (initially malfunctioning) equipment, the choices were from a limited set of (only) Abba songs and, crucially, I was forced in the show without being provided with sufficient wine beforehand... :-)

Anyway: though we butchered the song, we still ought to thank the true masters for the music!