Thursday, October 15, 2009


  • Eric Maskin on the financial crisis (Mankiw, Cheaptalk and MR link to this interview, among others). Maskin is one of the smartest persons alive, so this is mandatory-- a must read in particular for those who'd like to crucify all economic theorists :-). I would also link however to a very interesting blogpost by Harald Uhlig, on VoxEU (a summary of his recent NBER working paper): he really extends the Diamond and Dybvig (1983) bank run model that Maskin starts with, such that it incorporates the stylized facts specific to the current financial crisis. Uhlig also makes very clear that this is just one way to view things and in fact that insolvency rather than illiquidity might have been the main culprit: "It is possible that the appropriate perspective is one of insolvency rather than illiquidity, and future research will hopefully sort this out."

  • Of course Oliver Hart should have won this year's Nobel as well (and Bengt Holmstrom). I cannot but agree with Aghion here, as I made clear in my prediction for the Econ Nobel within the last 3 years... Returning to Elinor Ostrom, there are by now many reactions. Most of them seem to be as confused /skeptical as I was after the release of the results, e.g. Ely, Baliga, Levitt (I disagree with Levitt's "suspicion" that most young economists also did not hear about Williamson), to some extent even Cowen ("I was delighted to hear of Ostrom winning (which I had not expected) but frankly it makes the omission of Gordon Tullock all the more glaring" ) or Krugman ("I wasn’t familiar with Ostrom’s work"); nevertheless Economists who work /worked in public choice and related (the tragedy of the commons, in particular) seem delighted with the choice, e.g. Spence, Glaeser, Romer, Smith, Tabarrok, Gächter (the latter cited in this Science short article on the Econ Nobels). The conclusion of all this (once again) is that I really have to read Ostrom's main works sometime in the near future (meanwhile I also found out that apparently she's got at least one article in a mainstream Economics journal)-- and to accept that yes, to a great extent, we are all very ignorant.

"The journal submission process is a controversial and stressful part of academia. There are many dimensions of uncertainty, and bad decisions could greatly delay publication of important results and harm one's career. This paper provides new evidence that, on the whole, the advice supplied to young faculty members by veterans of academia is correct. Authors largely have an incentive to submit first to the best journals and then subsequently, wortk their way down a schedule of journals. The exceptions to this simple rule occur when authors are particularly impatient or risk-averse.

We also note, however, that the efficiency of the system may be improved by a system in which journals reduce time lags, perhaps through incentive-based rewards for faster reviewing by referees, and increase submission fees. This system reduces the impact of time-lags on impatient or risk averse authors and more efficiently rations submissions to journals- higher reward journals will get more submissions of high-quality papers and fewer submissions of low-quality papers. This also streamlines the publication process, shortening the time during which important results are sitting on a desk, waiting for publication. "

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