Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday econlinks

  • One of the reasons I just love reading Landsburg: he is acid and funny. Here's something that hopefully will open a longer exchange between him and Krugman: I really think Steve Landsburg is the proper counterpart to Paul Krugman in any debate (NB: Mankiw is great, but too serious and not engaging--understandably-- enough in the type of debate Krugman seems to love). And I tell you beforehand that I shall bet all my money on Landsburg :-). This for instance should be kept for posterity: "But sometimes I think Paul Krugman is out to top them all, by excelling in two activities that are not just disparate but diametrically opposed: economics (for which he was awarded a well-deserved Nobel Prize) and obliviousness to the lessons of economics (for which he’s been awarded a column at the New York Times)."

  • Who should go to college and who should pay for it: with many specialist opinions (via MR). Signalling seems to be dominating as point of view, though I myself think that university also has a genuine positive effect (I agree that matters most for the students in the top of the ability distribution). Else, all might be boiling down in the limit to competition between cats with fraudulent diplomas (via boingboing, via MR).

  • Kirman has been writing about these things for quite a while now (with high frequency recently), and almost always on such a revolted tone; these things are happening within Economics, for quite some years now, much of what he mentions is mainstream or closeby (think of social interactions and networks, herding behaviour in finance etc). Plus arguing for discarding these old and well known models (my belief is that most serious economists are very well aware of their limitations for each specific context), just for the sake of discarding them, is madness (who is ideologue here?...). I really don't think this is the way one should argue for different approaches. All my respect for Alan Kirman's scientific work, but with his (especially recent) comments he does seem to go/fall a long way in the direction of non-Economists misinterpreting Econ fundamentals (first bullet point), or, worse, of the several nonsense people writing now and then in The Guardian, e.g. here (6th bullet point) or here.

  • Tim Harford on the "Jamie Oliver Feed Me Beter" experiment in UK schools. Features recent econ research analysing effects of that experiment, by Michele Belot and Jonathan James; you can download a draft version here. The preliminary results suggest that good food has considerable positive effect on educational outcomes. Extrapolating: so stop telling me not to spend my money on Michelin-starred restaurants :-).

  • I think "wine critics/commentators" should move-- what they should have done a long time ago-- to identify / classify wine quality ranges, rather than preserve the current practice of grading on a 1 -100 scale. In any case, the last paragraph in this article is the one to retain.

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