Monday, December 13, 2010

Econlinks: The 'Economics and Reality' edition

  • Harald Uhlig has an interesting recent paper entitled "Economics and Reality"  (intentionally recalling Sims's 1980 ECMA, indeed) . While he discusses the relationship between Economics and Reality (yep, isn't that what you all hope to hear?) mainly in terms of Macroeconomics (you know, the black sheep of the family), I thought he does that in an informative and at the same time very concise way. Hence, highly recommended; I'll quote his end (optimistic, for once...) summary, to get you in the mood: "Reality, i.e. empirical evidence influences economic thinking and theory and vice versa -- but it does not do so in textbook fashion. Jolted by new empirical and theoretical insights and subjected to the fickleness of attention, the frontier of our sciences lurches forward to the unknown territory of ever more profound understanding. If it moves in circles, it hopefully does so on even higher levels. Practical economics and economic policy follows, with considerable distance. Perhaps, this is how it has to be."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Flawless: Kseniya

I have not seen anything more dramatic and powerful than this in the modern art world perhaps since Pink Floyd's The Wall movie. This is a work of perfection, there is no single detail left to chance; for instance, obviously it could have only ended apocalyptically-- on Apocalyptica's version of Nothing Else Matters.

After this, what is left for us to write? I bow in front of the real talent.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog birthday. Senses. And jazz.

Born in the anonymity of the blogosphere 5 years ago, this weblog grew up a curious, motivated, and responsible toddler: its (no longer) secret ambition remained no less than saving the world-- despite repeated trials of dissuasion by its author, who once foolishly pledged allegiance to the infusion of blogs about nothing. Thus, as this blog claims and proved a certain maturity, it will receive two significant presents for its half decade birthday. To be shared with its select audience:

  • a second perennial motto, see blog footer; David Hilbert's Optimismus in der Forschung (und in das Leben!) is joined by Giacomo Casanova's raison d'être.
  • a wonderful, complex, complete musical masterpiece; Chicago right now feels almost as dim and rainy as Barron and Haden's flawless "Twilight" in NYC.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wine of the Year: Saxum, James Berry Paso Robles 2007

I believe it is the first time since I know it-- though it might well be first time ever--that Wine Spectator's top 10 is dominated by New World wines. The winner is Saxum, James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2007, "[a]n amazing wine, dense, rich and layered, offering a mix of power and finesse, with concentrated dark berry fruit, mineral, sage, herb and cedar notes that are pure, intense, focused and persistent. Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Drink now through 2018" . So we shall!

All in all, there are 5 Californian and 2 Australian wines in top 10, while the old wine powers  (Italy, Portugal, France) have representatives relegated only to places 8-10. I have not tried to date any of WS's 2010 top 10 choices, but this set is so intriguing that I am gonna start getting hold of these wines right now. Remarkable as well is the fact that the French wine selected, a Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is-- you will hardly believe-- a white, from 2009 (which costs precisely 100 bucks a bottle). That is what I call success of this brand: recall that the 2007 wine of the year was a Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape '05; moreover one of my favourite wines ever (arguably, influenced by the ambiance and entourage in the place where I have tried it last) was an egoist  Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape '06. All reds: high time we tried their top white, indeed.

Finally, two more brief notes: a) in the full top 100 for 2010, there is a splendid Hungarian wine, which I have tasted a couple of times-- and I am glad the WS editors have eventually discovered it-- a Royal Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos red label from 2006, on position 28-- if you're passing through Budapest, do not leave without it;  b) one of the only two wines in top 100 to obtain the absolute 100 tasting points (the overall ranking is established on more than pure taste assessment-- what I do not particularly like, but well...) is the Dow Vintage Port 2007 (14/100). Now, people who know me well will be able to confirm that I am the biggest fan of Dow's 1994 vintage, hence if the '07 is acclaimed by WS as "[t]he greatest Dow ever made", I look forward for a touch of the sublime, no less.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beyond Pico della Mirandola

How do you get talented, self-absorbed, often arrogant, incredibly bright people to work together?

Warren Bennis, "The Secrets of Great Groups", Leader to Leader, 1997

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicago Michelin Stars: The Unfinished Business

While the preamble looked rather promising, the Chicago Michelin stars seem to have been awarded in a hurry (in fact: the results were already out yesterday, a day before expected) and the upshot is at best sloppy... Do not get me wrong, many places on this list were expected to be there. If you look at my forecast in the earlier blogpost, I actually predicted correctly 10 of the 23 places eventually awarded stars, while nominating only 5 eateries that eventually failed to get at least one Michelin star. Moreover, among the places I foresaw as "obvious" choices, I had only one that was not rewarded with at least one star. And therein lies precisely the biggest problem with the selection of the Michelin undercover inspectors (who, no doubt, work hard, but my feeling is they worked less hard than their NYC counterparts-- 9th bullet point).

But to the point: I fail to understand how a place like Moto did not get at least one star. While my in depth review of that place (with inter alia, photos of most of my 20 grand course tasting dinner menu) will follow at some point, it should suffice to say that in my view that place ought to be higher ranked than (the otherwise impressive) Michael Mina's in San Francisco, which is a 2-star Michelin, or so it was when I checked it out, as now it appears to have been kicked out of the San Francisco Michelin starred list.... And while the variance in quality among the dishes in that 20 grand course was indeed higher than at Noma's (but then again, I leave it up to you to name a place where that assessment would not be true today, when Rene Redzepi simply rules above all: the fact that Noma still has only 2 Michelin stars might be the very proof of Michelin continuing with... well, slightly different standards), quality was still superior to that of most places I have tried earlier, plus the food was extremely-- I do actually mean extremely-- daring and creative. But I guess these are features that American-trained Michelin inspectors failed to notice? Anyhow, to add to potential mishaps, L2O (disclaimer: did not try it yet, some of my sources loved it, but others did not find anything special to it despite several trials) managed to collect the 3 stars grand prix (I thought of them more of a potential 1 star candidate), and that despite their top chef recently leaving them, action which is normally associated in the Michelin world with losing one or even more stars. Mais enfin, obviously I have now placed L2O very high on my priority list, so that I check it out for myself: I'll report then back to you on this :-).

The other huge problem, already anticipated in the earlier post on the Michelin-in-Chicago, is that places like Avec and Sweets and Savories failed to be recognized even in the Bib Gourmand category (with particularly Avec a no-nonsense candidate even for 1 star). Avec is by all means one of the best eateries in this city, while Sweets and Savories is in my view the best quality-price ratio I have tried as yet (better than The Girl and The Goat, or Hopleaf, or the other Chicago Bib Gourmands I have tried to date, as to that particular dimension). While I did not necessarily think these two places should be within the starred Michelin category, failing to recognize them even in the Bib Gourmand (while, truth be told, adding some places among the 46 in that category that some of my gourmand sources find at least odd...) raises big question marks.

All in all, too many 3- and 2- Michelin stars among the recognized eateries, missing at least one potential 1- or 2- star place, and further ignoring at least two noteworthy Bib Gourmand restaurants. That is bad enough, even for a very first assessment of the Chicago culinary scene.

Update: Jean-Luc Naret on the Chicago Michelin stars. Some things above find an explanation (the ranking was finalized already in September; Avec has been closed for a great while; Laurent Gras might return?) but I am not satisfied.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicago Michelin Preamble: The Bib Gourmands

The starred restaurants will be known only in two days, but meanwhile here is the Bib Gourmand list (via Fred, who's actively tweeting lately): Michelin's 46 Chicago places that will give you plenty of bang for your buck. I have tried already six very nice places from this list (and have had about another dozen on my priority to-check-out list); time permitting, I will be at some point back with detailed impressions. Meanwhile, here they are, in (weakly) descending order of my current (overall: food quality, ambiance, location) preference-- highly recommended!
I further think they are missing at least two important restaurants in the Bib Gourmand set, unless they actually plan to reward them with a Michelin star, which would not be that surprising: Sweets and Savories, and respectively Avec, both of which have a similar position as The Girl and The Goat in my ranking. 

As for the Chicago Michelin stars, my bets are the following. First, my obvious choices: Alinea (my top ranked must-try-place in Chicago; number 7 in the 2010 San Pellegrino top 100-- and the only Chicago eatery in there!-- must translate in two or three stars); Moto (had a fabulous dinner there, just second to my two experiences at Copenhagen's one and only Noma, on par with my very recent experience at NYC's exquisite Per Se or Tokyo's unforgettable Les Creations de Narisawa, and-- I would venture to say-- superior to my otherwise superb dinner at San Francisco's Michael Mina); Spiaggia (best Italian I've tried as yet: must be starred). Other obvious favourites for one or more stars (all on my still-have-to-try Chicago list): Charlie Trotter's, Tru, TopolobampoBlackbird; finally, some further potential candidates, particularly for 1 star: Schwa, L2OTakashi, Northpond, Sprout, Sepia, Michael, Les Nomades (plus, as stated above, places that impressed me earlier like Avec and Sweets and Savories, which do not appear in the Bib Gourmand set). Stay tuned, less than two days left!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Labour markets, between heaven and hell

[...]heaven is where women and older people work like Swedes, the young work like the Dutch and the unemployed find jobs like the Danes. Hell is where workers get into unemployment like the Americans and out of it like the Italians.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Not that I want to brag or anything but... please check this out again and then go to the Nobel prize site to see who won this year's Prize in Economics (by the way, last year I predicted Hart, Holmstrom and Williamson, hence I also got there one of the awardees-- just in case you were wondering if I predict the same every single year).  

Anyway, while you can check out all the press release on the 2010 Econ Nobel prize directly from the source etc., some very brief and fast personal points on Dale Mortensen. I feel privileged to currently have Dale as my postdoctoral guide and host at Northwestern University (and to have known him over the years, particularly via the LMDG research group in Aarhus, but in fact already from my PhD years at the Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam--when probably in 2003 or so I took my first search and matching short course with him teaching it); I am also grateful to have taken part in several events organized by Beverly and Dale Mortensen in Chicago/Evanston; and, it so happened that I was having lunch with Dale and a couple of others here in Aarhus-- yep, you have to be in the right place, at the right time!-- some hours ago (and minutes before the actual Nobel prize announcement) when he received that phone call from Stockholm. That is pretty amazing, you know, to be part of this very moment... all that suspense and then the smiling confirmation... with Dale stating he is not supposed to acknowledge anything yet :-)... Thus we started John Abowd's invited seminar here at the Aarhus School of Business (of course Dale went on with attending undisturbed the seminar-- a scientist to the end!) with champagne and the live online Econ Prize announcement from Sweden.

Finally, at this very moment they do not seem to have put up a picture of Dale on the Nobel prize site yet (while they have found portraits of Peter Diamond and Chris Pissarides), so I'll just place up a photo with Dale and Beverly in their kitchen in Evanston, this summer, preparing to serve (some very lucky) us an absolutely delicious Mexican dish. Congratulations once again, Dale Mortensen!

PS. Pictures/videos from after the prize announcement might follow late...r on, depending when/if I have time to actually sort them out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My 2010 Nobel Econ Prediction

Some names are recurrent in the betting pools, but-- as usually-- it does not appear that anybody has a very clear favourite for this year's Economics Nobel, and that seems true even in terms of the Econ area(s) to be currently rewarded. Thomson Reuters' predictions are sampled from a pretty varied set topic-wise. Harvard , Chicago and Northwestern / Kellogg  seem all to be somewhat home biased for the leading pick, though with very heterogeneous faculty preferences in the rest. And when the experts disagree to this extent, you will rightly ask yourselves if there is any point in attempting a forecast.

But, as you came here anxious to get my prediction for tomorrow: I think it is high time search theory was recognized for its significant contributions to a great many Econ subdisciplines (inter alia, search is responsible for crucial modelling advances in Labour Economics, Consumer Theory, Monetary Theory, and way beyond) -- with Peter Diamond, Dale Mortensen and Chris Pissarides as its very deserving pioneers. This was my favourite option also last year, but I assign it a much higher probability of success now. That being said, I hope Dale would not change the dinner plans tomorrow evening  if he does get the phone call :-).

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Econlinks: Kamelåså et al

  • Before I come up with my Econ Nobel forecast -- a week to go, stay tuned-- let us take a look to the 2010 Nobel Ig prizes related to Economics. The Economics Ig Nobel itself is perhaps not very unexpected this year--though not very creative either (I wonder whether Oliver Stone is behind this too; his latest movie gets pretty mediocre reviews-- IMDb, RottenTomatoes-- despite all the hype). The "Management" Nobel Ig reads much better (but I still need to check out that paper): "Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random. REFERENCE: “The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study,” Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, Physica A, vol. 389, no. 3, February 2010, pp. 467-72."

  • Mankiw's excellent advice for all new college freshmen. Do learn some Economics, Statistics, and Finance, (ok, even Psychology, though this is second order) for your own sake... Couldn't have phrased it better.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Transylvania, Scania, Jutland

I have just arrived in Kolding (remember Kolding in winter time? It is even more beautiful now) for a workshop tomorrow, after a short wedding detour to Helsingborg, which looks and feels way more exciting than seen from Hamlet's side of the Øresund (or Öresund, if you fancy Swedish more than Danish). This, in turn, followed some busy days in Cluj --Transylvanian citadel unable to compete landscape-wise with Scandinavian harbours & fjords, but managing instead several decent cafés/wine bars/beer gardens that start to look capable of rewarding one's hard days' nights. At the cost of detail, I'll spare your waiting and tell you upfront that Café Bulgakov won the hard-fought contest, both in terms of atmosphere and food quality (dramatic improvement since a few years ago); where, obviously, '"I'm judge and jury and executioner too'"... If they worked on expanding the selection of Belgian beers--beyond the lovely, but lonely, Leffe--and considered polishing their wine list, I would see them as top contender for the Transylvanian café in Cluj.

PS. I know you are anxiously waiting for my Shanghai impressions. And for my Boston foodies recommendations. And for details of my half-hour NCN (=Napoca Cable Network) live interview in their "Cluj zi de zi" rubric, a couple of days ago. Soon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Econlinks: Of Maths, Efficiency, and Language

  • Last but not least: two ok obituaries for Tony Judt, one in The Economist and one in the NYRB.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Up in the air

It is great, truly great. In fact IMDb and RottenTomatoes do not give it sufficient credit. I was told I would love it, by people who know me, but I didn't just love it: I adored it. One of my favourite scenes is also one of the most brilliant dialogues/pick-up strategies, on screen and beyond. It is a shame the movie did not win any Oscars, given the six (only!) nominations it received. "Superlative" is not doing enough justice to the acting performances of George Clooney, Vera Farmiga or Anna Kendrick, with the film also an example of perfect direction and screenplay by Jason Reitman & co. It belongs right there, in my top 5 all-time favourites.

To top it all, I've seen "Up in the air" just the proper way, up in the air-- during my Chicago-Amsterdam trip yesterday. And, obviously, I write this post from Schiphol's KLM lounge, soon to be up in the air again, this time to Shanghai. "Bingo. Asians."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Manski Critique

Chuck Manski's recent NBER working paper, "Policy Analysis with Incredible Certitude" (non-gated version) ought to be a must-read for anyone doing or interested in policy analysis.

The study is written in an accessible way, such that it can be in principle followed without explicit academic training in Economics/Econometrics (there are plenty of further references for the technical details), and essentially sums up some of Manski's conclusions from his well known research agenda on empirical methods in social sciences such as partial identification, and using decision theory with credible assumptions, for policy inference-- see for instance his books on these topics (which any applied econometrician should have on his/her shelf; though I confess, my copies are currently still in Aarhus, awaiting my shipping/bringing them to Chicago), Identification Problems in the Social Sciences (1995), Partial Identification of Probability Distributions (2003), Social Choice with Partial Knowledge of Treatment Response (2005), and Identification for Prediction and Decision (2007).

Manski catalogues the 'incredible analytical practices' and provides examples for each category. His set consists of "conventional certitudes", "dueling certitudes", "conflating science and advocacy" and "wishful extrapolation". I find particularly compelling the sections on the conventional and respectively the dueling certitudes, which are preceded by a concise introduction on the incentives for certitude (wherein, as usually, USA presidents' alleged statements always come in handy). Similarly, Manski pins down very well the "wishful extrapolation" practice, when often very strong, unwarranted, invariance assumptions are made (see his example on the selective incapacitation studies performed by RAND researchers in the early 80s, which gave rise to some hot political debates).

The one section that I find less thorough than the others in Manski's paper is the one on "conflating science and advocacy". Acknowledging that impartiality in social science (in fact, with some contextual caveats, this point is relevant for science in general) is the ideal, and that often research falls far from this ideal, I think Manski's pointing out that conflating science and advocacy is one of the main reasons for incredible policy analysis is absolutely correct. His illustration with excerpts from Milton Friedman's arguments for educational vouchers is also fine; indeed some of the crucial empirical evidence necessary for Friedman's stated policy implications in that context was (and still is, as Manski also states) missing, such as whether there are significant neighborhood (or peer) externalities involved (however, for making that point stronger, plenty of better, and/or more recent examples could have been used...). What I did not particularly fancy is the between-the-lines allusion that Friedman used to do this (i.e., conflating science and advocacy) on a frequent basis or, perhaps, all/most of the time. For instance, Manski states on page 20, "Milton Friedman [...] had a seductive ability to conflate science and advocacy" [...]. See Krugman (2007) for a broader portrait of Friedman as scientist and advocate". That particular NYRB article of Paul Krugman that Manski cites (presumably for other depictions of Friedman seductively conflating science with advocacy, and related-- line which is otherwise not followed up or further substantiated in Manski's paper) has however a considerable number of inaccuracies and misunderstandings, which others very well pointed out in subsequent articles, see for instance Nelson and Schwartz's reply to Krugman's; in fact, many would easily think that Krugman is himself guilty of conflating science and advocacy here (and elsewhere; some do actually substitute 'conflating science and advocacy' with 'ignoring science for advocacy' as practice in many of Krugman's NYT pieces- 1st bullet point...). And yes, ok: I wrote myself a post about that Krugman portrayal of Friedman, shortly after his article appeared. All in all, however, this minor point does not in any way diminish the essence of Manski's thesis; it's only that if it is about impartiality and professionalism in scientific practice (which Chuck Manski is one of the champions of, no doubt), we should make sure that is also the (only) between-the-lines message.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Eterna è la strada che va

I've been a fan of "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" (wiki, official) for an indefinite number of years now. I hold for instance the view that their first three early '70s albums -- which I listen to frequently, on my iPod, e.g. while travelling from Chicago to Evanston and back--, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Darwin!, and respectively Io sono nato libero, are composed almost entirely of genius works, surprisingly underrated and little known outside intelligentsia circles (even in Italy). It is pretty hard to pin B.M.S.'s style down, or relate it to any other band's, since they combine uniquely various musical genres, rock, jazz, classical, all that plus the so Italian cantautore sort, in masterpieces that ought to rival in status and fame Pink Floyd's brightest creations.

Anyway, here is my number 1 choice: enjoy the superlative Il giardino del mago (very decent quality YouTube clip), from their first album-- with today's runner-up being Canto nomade per un prigionero politico, the major piece from Io sono nato libero.

Check out also my earlier blog incursions into the territory of Italian good music, here, here, and here. More will follow.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Econlinks: The search and matching edition

  • John Kennes has put together quite an impressive resource on the 'economics of search and matching' (on which he's giving a full course this Fall, in Aarhus: if you are a master/PhD student active/interested in the area, you really don't want to miss that). I have to admit I see myself several of those internet-accessible search and/or matching (and beyond) materials (e.g., many YouTube lectures) for the first time. Great job, John: hope you'll keep developing that site!

  • I've now read (airtravel is a great means for reducing your pile of must-read research papers) Jean-Marc Robin's paper "On the Dynamics of Unemployment and Wage Distributions", of which I've seen a very stimulating presentation at the EALE/SOLE conference from mid June, in London. I think this is indeed an interesting (if still subject to further empirical validation) alternative, building up from micro- to macro- modelling, to-- this is not entirely correct, but I will try to fit a catch-all term-- 'direct wage stickiness' models advanced over the recent years (and largely embraced since). While wage rigidity remains essentially the main culprit in explaining wage inequality dynamics patterns (varying cyclicality at different cuts in the wage distribution), the underlying mechanism is different than hitherto considered, a combination of worker heterogeneity and aggregate shocks to match productivity delivering both unemployment volatility and different renegotiation process of extreme, as opposed to intermediate, wage levels. Moreover, as Jean-Marc emphasizes in the conclusion of the paper, his benchmark suggests some straightforward, pretty exciting avenues for further research.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

NBER SI & ICA @ Boston

Mid July, terribly hot, Cambridge, serious Econ research: high time for the yearly NBER Summer Institute. Yesterday I attended an interesting second part of the EF&G Research Meeting, where in particular I'd single out Chetty's paper on bounding labour supply elasticities with optimization frictions (succeded by Rogerson's excellent discussion). From tomorrow onwards I'll look forward to the presentations of what a priori appear to be quite exciting papers within the Macro Perspectives Workshop.

If Economics is not your favourite dish and you really refuse to read any of the papers linked above: I've also discovered today a place in Boston to feast your eyes and spirit (every time I discover a few more such places in Cambridge/Boston and surroundings): the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Those of you who enjoy(ed) London's Tate Modern or NY's MoMA will also be very fond of ICA, a smaller scale but equally fascinating place. These days it hosts for instance an exhibition of works by the Mexican artist Dr. Lakra. Several pieces therein are indeed freakishly good.

PS. As you know, New England is one of my top destinations, one chief rationale for that being its culinary delights. Stay tuned to find out -- research comes first, so foodies will have to wait somewhat-- what (else, besides the famous clam chowder) you should in no way miss tasting in Boston, and, crucially, where to do that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Montreal, SED, and Pulp(o) Fiction

To start with the last item in the title, it wasn't to be for The Netherlands... a third World Cup final wasted. Mais, c'est la vie. However, even though I predicted wrongly the winner in the very last game, I still managed to eventually rank 411th among 497,206 participants worldwide, in the Castrol's FIFA World Cup Predictor Challenge. This simply states that 99,99% of success in such a football prediction competition can be ensured by good use of basic statistics plus priors updating after each game :-). The remaining unexplained part is the sole domain of Octopus (Pulpo) Paul, who can now retire in full glory.

The Society for Economic Dynamics Annual Meeting 2010. The SED Annual Meeting is by far the best conference (NB: this does not include more specialized workshops) I have ever participated in (this being my second time, after the SED 2008 at MIT): the average quality of the papers presented is high, while, crucially, there is no extreme quality variance (as, unfortunately, some European conferences tend to exhibit over and over, though you'd think they've had enough feedback on that by now). Excellent invited talks, some quite inspiring, by Bob Hall, Susan Athey (no slides online, but she surely was-- seems to me she always is-- the best orator), and Ellen McGrattan. Moreover, the organizers did a terrific job, while at the same time keeping conference fees to decent levels (another problem of many European conferences). Last, but not least, if you're interested in my SED presentation, you can download the slides here (the paper is being revised at the moment, so older versions you might find online might be too old).

Briefly on Montréal: definitely a city I could live in (to the extent I've experienced it in my week there), though I still might, slightly, prefer London and Chicago over it (unconditional reasoning, obviously). In particular, the Mile End and Plateau neighborhoods are true gems, with Old Montreal my next favourite. Oh, and I've discovered I can actually manage quite well in Québécois, which is probably the most exciting Franglais around. On the minus side: it is as hot and unbearable in the summer as Chicago right now (and I understand it goes cold extreme in the winter, again just as Chicago).

To get to what I find truly amazing in Montreal (neah, despite some being surprised at this, it is not the fact that most hotels have great open-air swimming pools on their top...), that is its dining scene-- again comparable to the food scenes in Chicago or London, for instance, in both variety and quality. There wasn't a lot of time available, but I could not in any way miss Restaurant Toqué!, which for the connaisseurs I would relate to Spiaggia in Chicago (in terms of food class, locale ambiance, and service), except that it is about half as expensive (hold your horses, that is still very far from cheap; but again, in my opinion, worth every penny). In particular, the way they combined what you might think are elements that simply cannot go together, in my "Cavatelli, morceaux de foie gras et huile de truffe blanche" is something bordering on sublime (preceded by wonderfully fresh-- yes, in Montreal-- oysters). The wine list is also impressive, with plenty of choice for any taste. Wrap it all up with a classy vintage port and you will know you have to come back. Talking about wine however, my favourite place in Montreal has to be Bu; it is precisely the wine bar concept with small, high quality, dishes, to pair with great wines, which I think is missing from most other places, including all of Eastern Europe, all of Scandinavia, and so on and so forth, in fact I yet have to discover such a place in Chicago (the latest such place that amazed me was a nice wine bar with tasty "montaditos" and good Spanish wines on offer, in Sevilla, Spain, where I will have to return as soon as possible). In any case, as my Romanian friends living in Montreal, whom I had the pleasure to meet after many years in that evening at the Bu, will surely testify, a Pierre Gaillard Condrieu (2003 in this case; there are also vintages I like better) is not something you will drink every day (or, every month, year etc., depending on the person), but you will remember its taste for long thereafter; and probably it wouldn't really matter what you pair it with, though my "Ravioli frais de mozarella di bufala, pesto et tomates séchées" seemed a perfect choice. Finally, to keep the list manageable, well worth mentioning is what I'd label the best tapas place in Québec (prove me wrong!), Tapeo Bar à Tapas. While it took me some effort to organize this, we did eventually manage a great dinner for no less than 10 persons (true, starting no sooner than 10 PM, nothing unlike a Spanish tapas time...), and I had the feeling there was eventually nobody left unsatisfied. All dishes were superlative (with perfect service, accomodating extremely demanding foodies....), my weaknesses being the octopus salad (sorry, Paul), and the calamari fritti.

PS. I also promise myself never to follow fellow conference go-ers into random (red) piano bars, where all you have on offer is Heineken, Cheval Blanc, (one) bad Chianti wine(s), and ad-hoc suspect-looking-cocktails, all that plus tone deaf live singing, when you are in a city such as Montreal, and you (ought to!) know that life is too short for conscious failures.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hup Holland Hup!

With a very pertinent quote from my good old friend Robert, which best summarizes what needs to happen tomorrow (today, if you are on European soil):

Indeed, the defence is crucial, as is violence on the midfield. For the first time in years Holland has a pair of complete bastards in the midfield (De Jong and Van Bommel). They will have to break down the Brazilian attack while Sneijder finds space behind the Brazilian wing backs to launch Robben and Van Persie. Doesn't sound very traditional Dutch, right? But it will be the game plan tomorrow. Believe it or not, some people here are actually calling for an old fashion German style approach, which is causing some distress among the total football purists. Lets hope for the best.

Oh yeah, and the reason I have not posted for so long is that (as you obviously imagined...) I am very busy-- inter alia, have very impatient co-authors (they do have a point, though, and I have always liked challenges, hence all for the best this far)--, and have recently returned to Chicago from very interesting conferences in London (EALE-SOLE 2010; great organization by the UCL team of Richard, Steve & co) and in Skagen (Danish Microeconometric Network; admirably organized by Lars and Marianne). Following soon is SED at Montreal, with the greatest expectations. If I find the time, you'll read detailed criticisms and praises at some point.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Noma rulez!

No doubt you recall I had dinner there less than a month ago. Detailed impressions to come later, time permitting; meanwhile I link to Valérie's yummy pictures from the event. Try to imagine the taste.

Also worth noting in this year's ranking
PS. Thanks to Dale-- another very satisfied Noma alumnus-- for the 2010 S. Pellegrino ranking link.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Midwest's Northwestern

Scandinavian volcanic ash behind, I have just made it to Chicago; greetz from NU's Andersen Hall. Contact infos to be updated soon. Promised (and unpromised) blogposts will resume at some point, too.

PS. 26 Celsius and no wind in the Windy City...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

High expectations

[...] We’ve been busy traveling around in the Nordic regions and we have been finding a number of simply phenomenal ingredients that we have flown into town for our use: Horse mussels, deep-sea crabs and langoustines from the Faeroe Islands, which are living right up until the moment they are served to our visitors. Halibut, wild salmon, cod and seaweed and curds from Iceland. Lamb, musk ox, berries and the purest drinking water from Greenland. In much the same fashion, we are constantly scanning for new sources of inspiration in Denmark, especially, as well as the other Nordic regions, for purposes of securing reliable sources of top-quality raw produce. This pertains both to very costly ingredients and also to ingredients of a more everyday character that we feel have come to be overlooked in the formulation of a salient Nordic approach to cooking: cereals, hulled grains and legumes, which you will come to experience here in the context of surprising preparations. [...]

The verdict on the top exponent of new Nordic culinary craft after the weekend.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Theory and practice, in theory and in practice


The playful mantras of our adolescence have become a way of life for later generations. At least in the ’60s we knew, whatever we said, that sex was about…sex. All the same, what followed is our fault. We—the left, academics, teachers—have abandoned politics to those for whom actual power is far more interesting than its metaphorical implications. Political correctness, gender politics, and above all hypersensitivity to wounded sentiments (as though there were a right not to be offended): this will be our legacy.

Why should I not close my office door or take a student to a play? If I hesitate, have I not internalized the worst sort of communitarian self-censorship—anticipating my own guilt long before I am accused and setting a pusillanimous example for others? Yes: and if only for these reasons I see nothing wrong in my behavior. But were it not for the mandarin self-assurance of my Oxbridge years, I too might lack the courage of my convictions—though I readily concede that the volatile mix of intellectual arrogance and generational exceptionalism can ignite delusions of invulnerability.


Superb historical/biographical account by Tony Judt, in "Girls! Girls! Girls!". A must read for all us elitists without scruples (some things will always be the same)... and anybody else who dares.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Danish Norvegian perspective. More. Didn't know vikings can be that funny.

PS. The milkman can start anytime a PhD in Economics.

(with credits to Hans-Martin)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weekend econlinks: The quest for perfection

  • Gelman writes a useful overview on causality and statistical learning (caveat lector: I have only read through Angrist and Pischke's book, among the three Gelman mentiones; that one is very well written, but aimed at junior graduate students at best: hence, the book's tag "an empiricist's companion" is overselling it; and that has nothing to do with Josh Angrist kindly "advising" me to change my PhD topic/focus, sometime in my beginning graduate years, because 'nobody serious would be interested in structural modelling' :-)). I guess I would position myself more within the “minority view” set, represented here by Heckman (I wouldn’t say that is really a "minority" within Economics alone, by the way), but the usefulness of these debates cannot be questionned. And an outsider's (to Economics) opinion, such as Gelman's, is always more than welcome. Related, the WSJ talks about statistical time travelling to answer interesting counterfactuals; I have a feeling I'll stick to my structural guns for now...

  • The ubiquitous problem with such academic et al rankings (which I brought over and over, including in earlier posts and articles, particularly concerning the academic ranking obsession in Romania, where they also-- still! -- have problems understanding that a publication 'anywhere in ISI' can be total nonsense) is that they try to rank overall, ie. over all disciplines, often over (too) long periods of time etc. The only meaningful hierarchies in science are those done on specific disciplines and, even better, subdisciplines, and over shorter periods of time, thus revealing top new places etc. Then, inter alia, one would not be able to claim that biological sciences are advantaged, since there would be a within-discipline focus. I haven’t heard a single serious (but plenty of marginal) scientist(s) stressing the relevance of the rank of her/his university/institution over that of her/his department/research group. Politicians and journalists should take note, too.

  • Gastronomic sacrilège: where have all the great cheeses gone-- roquefort, camembert, brie de Meaux, Saint-Félicien, gruyère, comté, münster, pont l’évêque, cantal, reblochon, tomme de Savoie, crottin de chavignol?! Worse, together with the cheese, soon gone might be oysters, and epsilon common sense... Quo vadis, France?

  • The most exciting scientific upshot I've heard about in a great while: explaining the tip-of-the-tongue moments. It comes finally clear (although at this stage I understand it is still just speculative/conjectural, and needs more testing) why polyglots (such as I like to consider myself...) have more of a problem in remembering specific words than people who use a single language: “ […] this kind of forgetfulness is due to infrequency of use; basically, the less often you use a word, the harder it is for your brain to access it." Good, I will feel much better when invoking 'lapsus memoriae' next time :-).

  • How very true, though my feeling is that the battle for the brightest junior (and not only) Economists is far from over. It is sadly not Europe overall that might offer an alternative for European economists (not a chance: for starters, Europe needs to cut that embarrasing red tape where academics depend on useless, worthless, ridiculous bureacrats, and to think of attractive real wages... ), but Canada and Australia, which look more and more like worthy competitors to the USA (top; the bulk is way worse than pretty much anywhere in western Europe) places (related, earlier).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Shawms and bagpipes

Superlative medieval tones, and a combined use of Romanian & Latin lyrics, in Mille Anni Passi Sunt. Plus, you cannot afford to miss my other personal favourites (including videoclips of live --ad litteram-- shows): Dulcissima, O Varium Fortune, Venus Vina Musica, Totentanz, Chou Chou Sheng, Ballade de Mercy, Suam Elle Ires. A total medieval feast, by the extremely creative Corvus Corax!

(with credits to The Eclectic Metalhead, and YouTube).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday night econlinks: Interviews edition

  • Interesting interview with urban and environmental economist Matthew Kahn on green cities, environmental Kuznets curves, demographics in major cities, policies to attract and retain a skilled population base etc. Here’s one of the parts I like most: “I'm an honest man. I think it's important to know what you don't know. When you know that you don't know something, the answer is to experiment! “ Valid beyond this context.

  • A chat with Greg Mankiw, Harvard professor, successful Economics blogger, former CEA head, and a total family guy.

  • December ’09 video interview with John Nash; inter alia briefly touching on inaccuracies in A Beautiful Mind , childhood, home encyclopedias, meeting his wife, asking refugee status in Europe, willingness to still do some academic work etc.

  • Interview with entrepreneur Peter Thiel, among other things cofounder of Paypal, and first investor in Facebook. Though confused about a few specific issues, his overall idea makes a lot of sense.

  • Short interview with Yoram Bauman, the one and only stand-up Economist, on the need for humor and cartoon textbooks in Economics. We love this quote: “I put my left hand on the small of her back, I put my right hand on the curve of her hip, I put my invisible hand on her thigh

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Atlanta and ASSA grand finale

Right, almost two months since my visit to Atlanta, hence high time to wrap up and conclude.

Briefly on Atlanta itself: ultimately not that appealing a city. In fact, probably the least interesting city I have visited in USA so far (caveat lector: I have deliberately avoided stuff a priori known to be dull), bar San Antonio, Texas (which might have changed since my trip there in '04, but I doubt it). It does have an attractive small city center though, and a couple of decent bars and restaurants. Oh, and not to forget, the Aquarium is definitely worth a visit (even if what they claim, ie. that they are the largest aquarium in the world, was true in 2005 at the time of their opening...), despite that the Beluga whales are/were? on holiday, and the whole place is a tad too commercial for my taste (much more so than the New York Aquarium, say, which is not that large or exciting, but looks definitely better organized, in particular lacking that nonsensical, pushy, overly-populistic, inside marketing). The "gentle giants", the whale sharks, are amazing, you could watch them for hours (did not have time for a dive with them, but that would have probably been the best thing to do in Atlanta) and so are a bunch of species I saw for the first time live, including the huge Japanese spider crabs etc. The one big regret: I did not have time to visit the CNN Center in Atlanta (on the other hand, I am glad I did not queue up for the Coca-Cola Museum).

Back to the Atlanta restaurant stage: the best experience by far was Top Flr, with amazingly low prices for that quality (e.g., an extremely tasty scallops dish, with citrus braised endive, ginger, lemon grass reduction, and horseradish celery salad, at 15 dollars; pair that with a nice Austrian Pinot Gris-- or, but they had run out of it at the time, a subtle French Viognier--, at less than 40 dollars per bottle), and a remarkable environment in general (note: the cab got lost on the way--allegedly, a max 7 min drive--, with Google Maps, and normal maps, and all technical devices in use; after about 30 minutes we realized the problem was very much the cab driver, not the location of Top Flr). Bacchanalia was also up there, quality-wise (the veal sweetbreads, with "braised local baby collard greens", was just out of this world), and service-wise (e.g., the sommelier had some super interesting tips to substitute wines we asked for, which they did not have; btw, what's up with that Viognier-- and nota bene, I did not say Condrieu-viognier; that is unfortunately missing anytime, anywhere-- absent from all Atlanta places that advertise to normally have it on the wine menu), but somehow below the expectations I had for such an exquisite place (I can only have extremely high expectations from a place supposed to be the best of its kind in Atlanta). Anyway, if you happen to be around, these two places are certainly worth checking out. Moreover, you might be able to find some top quality dishes in some absolutely unassuming places; that was a pleasant surprise.

Further highlights from the ASSA @ Atlanta:

  • Hal Varian's, on computer-intermediated transactions, and the history of technical innovation and implications in general, was by far the best keynote (the 2010 Richard T. Ely lecture) of the whole AEA conference. Varian knows how to bridge the academic and the more general audience sides better than anybody else; he is natural when it comes to joking, without forcing himself whatsoever; and he has always something very interesting to say. To keep to some of the funny things he mentioned (unfortunately could not yet trace slides/ talk summary anywhere online), one of them was the fading importance and influence of HiPPOs (Highly Paid Person Opinions) in IT and beyond; he also thought he coined himself the label "micromultinational", before he googled it and found many precedents; and he shared with us the conviction that 'if you torture the data enough, it will eventually give up everything' (now you know what Google is up to).
  • Robert Shiller gave this year's joint AEA/AFA talk: very provocative, and quite original, particularly his arguments for issuing GDP shares, or so-called "trills", which he had also written about a couple of days before, in the NYTimes (that idea is really not that crazy as it looks at first, trust me). The not so clear/bright? part: he also made repeated allusions to all previous and current "amateur economists", who have no clue about how the financial market works, although avoided being any more concrete; some macro/finance people in the large panel behind him were not smiling at all.
  • The very much awaited session on "New Directions in the Economic Analysis of Human Capital" was not as exciting as it announced itself: Gary Becker, the one who was supposed to chair it, was missing, while some discussants were either not there or did not say anything (since they shared all their comments with the authors before the session?!): organization, what can I say... But there were at least two very good presentations, one by Gabriella Conti (paper joint with Heckman and Urzua) on "Education and Health", and the other one by William Hubbard (paper joint with Becker and Murphy) on "The Market for College Graduates and the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women". Plus, I have a great picture of Josh Angrist and Jim Heckman sharing one podium. That is a most rare occasion, I can tell you :-).
  • Finally, Avinash Dixit's talk at the Nobel Laureate Luncheon honoring Paul Krugman was very nice and as funny as one can imagine: there is probably nobody who could introduce and summarize better Krugman's work, including and emphasizing his pioneering (1978!) work on "The theory of Interstellar Trade"-- which Krugman later announced that it might finally be published in Economic Inquiry. Which is truly great news, since this would be then one of the two funniest papers ever published, in the entire history of Economics academe (the other one being the 1983 AER paper of Preston McAfee, "American Economic Growth and the Voyage of Columbus"-- download here a non-gated version; with thanks to Tor for the tip) . You should definitely read them both-- it will convince you that people do have a lot of fun, next to doing great research, in Economics. Since we're mentioning Krugman: here's a pretty well written, recent, bio article (cats included); and we couldn't do without his musical super fans, of course: e.g., listen to/see this or this.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday night econlinks: Submit the paper right now!

  • The Tilburg Univ "Econ Schools Ranking". It is indeed using a rather decent pool of journals (for period 2004-2008) and moreover, you can construct your own top by choosing subsets of those journals (such as top 5 only, if you wish). Not a bad idea.

  • A pity they decided to close before I managed to assess them... While I honestly hope Ferran Adrià will revisit this decision, I cannot help noticing that this simply paves the way for the would-be King of Restaurants: El Bulli is dead, long live Noma! I promise to tell you more about Noma in the first week of April.

  • (A noteworthy) LEAP forward at Harvard (via Al Roth, at Market Design). The sort of interesting academic initiatives that European universities would be wise to imitate (hope dies last)...

  • The sustainable, meat-eating, vegetarians. And, (in a funny way) related, a great "Hústorta" short movie, by a promising young director, Jakab-Benke Nándor (with thanks to Dan). By the way, this Toldi restaurant in Cluj Napoca, on Clinicilor 23, (tried for the first time with the occasion of my recent trip there) is indeed a place where they know how to prepare meat. In general. So if you want good meat, definitely a place to try. The problem is that there is not much else than meat there... Literally. And they could do so much more. The service and ambiance are pretty decent, though they could invest in more/better marketing (online included, for instance).

  • Time to put all these culinary-links-Chicago in order and save for future reference, before I get there (blame the EU Commission if I am late): Chicago's great culinary middle ground. Assuming I will not go every second day to Avec (which I've tried twice by now) and above (looking very much forward to).

  • Posner and Becker on consumer competence, in particular about whether any regulation concerning obesity is necessary. Or proof of the fact that Becker has a Nobel in Economics, while Posner only believes he should get one...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Indignation. Leila. Zigeunerweisen. Leila

For some reason I (once in a while) remember something Supachai Panichpakdi, then-WTO boss, said at a keynote speach in a Rotterdam conference celebrating 100 years since the birth of Jan Tinbergen (earlier on this blog, in Romanian): namely that we, then-PhD students in Economics, should stop reading [all sorts of books, papers etc.] and start writing immediately [papers, books, anything?], without wasting any further time (footnote here: -- which I do not know if Blogger can handle-- next to that, Dr. Panichpakdi, who also appeared to speak more than decent Dutch, had all sort of nice memories involving his PhD supervisor, Jan Tinbergen, and, my favourite part, he had plenty of anecdotes about the intense interactions between himself, Pascal Lamy, the-- ironically-- current WTO boss, then- EU Commissioner for Trade, and Robert Zoellick, current World Bank boss, then-US Trade Representative; Lamy said later that year that 'Panichpakdi talks too much', when I brought that up to him, in a "Young European Citizen Convention" videoconference, where we could ask him questions...). Now, the thing is that I am more and more convinced (despite similar advice from other, call them, "seniors") that Panichpakdi was dead wrong in that particular suggestion: there is simply too much written stuff around, and most of it is worthless (vox populi: crap); you don't need to be part of that. Au contraire, in order to make a(ny) difference (assuming you do not get significant utility from simply writing down stuff, that is, from the action of writing/typing per se...), you'd better take all the time in the world and read sufficiently... before you write anything. I mean, you're still in gain committing the error of too much reading (can one ever err there?), then that of too much writing, all else equal. Some caveats surely apply (some revolve around the slight alteration "live sufficiently", instead of "read sufficiently.. before you write anything"), but no more space for those here: I wrote too much already :-).

Anyway, what I actually wanted to bore you with is that I have recently returned from home, i.e. Cluj, Transylvania, Vampire Empire, which nowadays happens to be part of Romania (more), a country where in order to get a new, biometric, passport, you have to wait no less than 20 (twenty! and they stress: week)days. In the Netherlands or Denmark (or any other sane country) you get the same, biometric, passport in 5 (five) days. And there they also do not (implicitly or explicitly) ask if you agree to be fingerprinted because (as in my country, the default assumption is that) you, as in you-citizen, might believe there is some connection of fingerprinting/digital photography/anything involving a biometric passport to a peculiar 666 number, or some-- whatever-- religion, or to both. Pathetic. And still (what a child, ain't it?), I insist: I want to have my Romanian (biometric or not) passport. I am by now 99% sure that Marcus Messner's so perfectly displayed indignation (hopefully they get back to their senses in that Nobel Literature committee and give the next prize to Roth, rather than persisting in rewarding mediocrity) is simply a most natural feeling, with or without Olivia (or Bertrand Russell) in the background.

Maybe it is better to talk/write about what we love. So here she is once again, Leila: this time together with Sarasate and his Zigeunerweisen (earlier). More about Pablo de Sarasate's masterpiece (including an incredible 1904 recording of Sarasate himself playing it!). More on Leila's Zigeunerweisen. Fabulous!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In Memoriam L.H. Chen

For those of us who met him, Long Hwa came across as the soft-spoken, thoughtful Taiwanese; curious, but skeptical, about all-things Western. He brought with him his Asian wisdom, and enriched everybody's horizon in a world where we care too much about details, and often ignore the essence. That doesn't mean he did not care about those details that, at times, sweeten our lives. Among other things, he taught some of us how to do proper dumplings-- operation where his two lovely teenage daughters showed us what comparative advantange in the dumpling-making art really means. (He also 'smuggled' a bottle of Taiwanese hard liquor in a top lounge/bar in Aarhus, just to prove to me, live, that their liquor is better than any European hard liquors; I still have the bottle, full-- I like that drink as much as I like palinka: it burns! :-) ). Next to being a perfect host in Aarhus several times, he was a great companion in several conferences and workshops attended together, among which memorable ones in Budapest, Oslo, Tallinn, Tokyo, and several places in Denmark.

Long Hwa wrote to me the following, after joining me and several colleagues to a dinner in a, as he called it, "burning-money restaurant", in Tallinn, Estonia, September last year:

Thank you for the burning-money restaurant. That is not a bad idea, to burn some money when we are alive. I mean that it is better than getting money in the underworld, when we pass away.

He always knew better.

I will greatly miss Long Hwa: the student, the teacher, the colleague, the Friend.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Albert Einstein Bizottság: Szerelem

I don't think it has occured to any of you that simulated maximum likelihood OX programs, which often take days to converge (given I do not--yet!-- have the parallel computing power I would love to possess...), run much faster if in the meantime one listens to Albert Einstein Committee's brilliant music. Without any doubt, this is the best ever Hungarian band (where I 200% agree with the master of all good Hungarian music, wisest Daniel); and-- as conjecture-- probably the best Eastern-Central European band of the 80's (this should be as clear as-- to switch areas for a second-- the best movie of the same time, same region, being the Polish film "Seksmisja"; unfortunately no time to go in that direction today). Had they sung also in English, they could have been as popular as, dare I say, the Beatles (ok, I said it), two decades earlier; in any case, a band with a similar fate (extremely popular among domestic intelligentsia, but without too much exposure outside, mainly because of the language barrier) , about the same period, but in Western Europe, is for instance the Dutch band Doe Maar. In Romania, the closest to A.E. Bizottság is probably Timpuri Noi (though their top work came out in mid/late 90's).

A subset of my favourite A.E. Bizottság pieces: "Szerelem" (perfect; if you make an effort to understand the lyrics, you will fully agree); "Kamikaze"; "Már megint ez a depresszió "; "Konyhagyeplő" ; "Putty Putty"; "Egy lány kéne nékem" (oh well, I see this one comes with a striptease session in the youtube clip; depending on your tastes/orientation that might be a plus or a minus :-)); finally (update) listen to/see this if you want the total fun part. You will enjoy all of it!

PS. Check out some other excellent/interesting Hungarian music I mentioned earlier on this blog: here, here, here, here, or here. Blame YouTube if clips are not available any longer (though, tip: you can still find them, if you search carefully, under different links).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bar Rouge and the evils of drinking

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I am extremely busy and promised several VIPs who read my blog (I am flattered!) that I would focus fully on research, so the posting frequence has (to) decrease(d) somewhat. But still, I just cannot abstain: here's the quote for the week. Or maybe it should be the quote for the whole year. We'll see; I might need/prefer some Champagne eventually...

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.

Henny Youngman

This is the best motto from the cocktails list at Bar Rouge, of Skt. Petri Hotel fame (see also here, if you have the legal drinking age), a most interesting place in Copenhagen that I've recently explored (credits to Frederic, the Belgian who knows Copenhagen by heart). If you pass by, try "East & Hold Up" (votka, Aperol, pineaple, lime, and passion fruit); or, if the other bartender is there, maybe you will get "Captain Nemo" (Hendrick's gin, Noilly Prat, orange bitters, & a baby squid)-- in that case, let me know how it tastes.

PS. Overall verdict: almost as interesting as Michael Mina's Clock Bar, last year in San Francisco (more on which here--last paragraph-- where it is revealed that "Boulevardier" did not have the "Last Word").

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tough times for young economists

The Economist has also been at the ASSA-Atlanta (this year I've been busy with the more scientific, and less applied, section). Some other potential (academic) implications of the 20+ % less vacancies in '09, compared to '08 (and earlier):

  • the high time for places from Europe (in particular, Denmark and The Netherlands need to make the good moves right now...) to (seriously) tempt some (serious) top candidates (from both US and European prestigious schools). They do have to outmaneuver Canada in that realm (and-- to some extent-- the far East, Australia included).
  • temporary postdoctoral positions might become more fashionable... even among economists
  • prestigious postdoctoral grant programs have started to be really in demand (e.g. witness the increase in the number of applications for the-- several types of-- Marie Curie independent grants within the EU Commission FP7 program, ECO panel). Which made it more challenging for yours truly, but doable :-).
  • per ensemble, it is not all bad news, indeed: some of these implications move us closer to the jobs market of junior natural scientists, which I believe is one positive consequence of the drama