Sunday, October 09, 2011

My Nobel Econ 2011 prediction

I say "Ernst Fehr, Matthew Rabin, and Richard Thaler for their contributions to behavioral economics" (I even bet 3$ on this, but for some yet unclear reason that pool has closed, with my money returned). In any case, I think it would be highly suspicious if I got it right also this time, given I got it perfectly last year and almost perfectly the year before that.

PS. By the way, as you must have noticed, although I've momentarily reduced the frequency of my blogposts, I've been posting brief impressions on my twitter

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jazz Impressions of Japan

The flawless Koto Song is my newest 'creative background piece': works miracles for theory modeling! For running regressions give Tokyo Traffic a shot.

More on Brubeck's best album ever (with some credits to my jazz-expert friend Dean). 

Thursday, May 05, 2011

More matching in Chicago

My research whereabouts: after an inspiring matching workshop at Kellogg, Northwestern: "Matching: findings, flaws and future" (workshop schedule in PDF)  a month and a half ago, I will attend another a priori very interesting conference on matching at the Milton Friedman Institute, University of Chicago, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow: "Matching and price theory" (conference schedule in PDF). The overlap in the two programs appears to be only one paper-- and that paper is the one I liked most last time, hence Philipp can safely go on presenting it again :-).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Funniest dating ad ever?

I hate you all. I hate London. I hate books. I hate critics. I hate this magazine, I hate this column and I hate all the goons who appear in it. But if you have large breasts, are younger than 30 and don't want to talk about the novel you're 'writing' I'll put that aside for approximately two hours one Saturday afternoon in January. Man, 33. Box no. 7810.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

My whereabouts

After a thought-provoking lecture yesterday by Daron Acemoglu on "Why Nations Fail" at Kellogg (if/when the previous link is replaced, you should be able to find the information on Acemoglu's lecture here)*, I am soon off to Vancouver, attending/presenting at the 2011 Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) meeting. Looking forward to the usually interesting SOLE conference, and to what I am being told should be a great city!

* I also attended Al Roth's excellent talk on "Market Design" a year ago, part of the same impressive Nancy Schwartz Memorial Lecture series; the more recent ones are all available in video format on the site; do not miss them!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Econlinks: The Dale T. Mortensen Nobel edition

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 San Pellegrino world top restaurant ranking

See here the top 1-50. And I am proud to note that I have tried by now 4 places in the 2011 world top 12, namely:
  • Noma (1): been there twice already, see here impressions (and some pictures) from the first time, the second was a lunch in October last year-- still have to get hold of those pictures online somewhere. Vale?
  • Alinea (6): been there exactly a month ago, details yet to come.
  • Per Se (10): visited for lunch during a brief but intense visit to NYC in November 2010, promised I would write impressions soon. I liked it more than Alinea, for starters...
  • Les Créations de Narisawa (12): end 2009, there is a whole saga behind this. This is also the one place that I believe still has a lot of growing chances. Can only go up in the world rankings, looking forward to seeing that materialize.
Remark as well that Noma, Alinea and Narisawa are respectively the 2011 top restaurants on the three continents I know (to a little extent) so far. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Romanian article of the week: Dan Tapalaga with "Best of Boc, Blaga, Paleologu"

This blogpost is only for those who can read Romanian (and ultimately really regards only those still interested  in the political life, in particular concerned with various elections, in Romania-- who are less and less every day, including here the Romanians themselves; a by-product of the article linked below is in fact providing a rationale to explain that trend).

Asadar, un articol excelent al lui Dan Tapalaga; as zice probabil cel mai bun din tot ce am citit scris de el in ultima vreme. Nu necesita alte comentarii.

PS. Disclaimer: am o parere in genere destul de buna (uneori chiar prea pozitiva) despre Toader Paleologu, pe care il stiu personal pana la un punct (e.g., vezi aici sau aici-- istoria de la ultimul link fiind probabil rezumata prin "[] I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"), doar ca omul nu intelege ca avantajul sau comparativ e in diplomatie, nu in politica autohtona (eventual la Ministerul de Externe... dar nu a fost si nu este momentul pentru asta nici acum; de fapt si acolo realizez ca am exagerat, exista mult mai multe incertitudini care trebuie rezolvate-- the unknown unknowns...-- decat ambitia personala). Si cine sa ii spuna asta, daca nu cei cu intentii bune, care inteleg ce este acela un avantaj comparativ?... Mais, à bon entendeur, salut!

Friday, April 08, 2011

US Government shutdown menorah

...and some of us were worried about Portugal...

At midnight, if the President and Congress have not reached an agreement on funding measures, the U.S. government will shutdown, referred to as a funding gap, until an agreement is reached to either extend a temporary funding measure or a final budget deal is made.

[...] The last time a funding gap took place was in 1995-1996 when the government experienced a 21 day shutdown.

Oh well, some, like Stephen Colbert, can see the positive side of all this: extinguishing one more candle on their government shutdown menorah (and... wishing for a pony).

Monday, April 04, 2011

Econlinks: The applied maths edition

Friday, April 01, 2011

Best LEED for developing countries

Word goes that Portugal is likely to soon join the category of developing countries (as you might have heard). However, before you start sobbing, consider this: not all is doom. In fact, this could well be heaven for economists working with the famous Quadros de Pessoal longitudinal "linked employer-employee data" (LEED), and, eventually-- as I will try to convince you-- it would materialize in tremendous success in improving the state of the whole world. Bear with me.

Firstly, these researchers working with Portuguese LEED would then be able to sell their papers also as research in development economics (I am already working on convincing my co-author Miguel to place "economic development" as keyword in our couple of projects using that data). And you tell me if any other developing country can come up with data that beats Quadros de Pessoal! More importantly, just imagine not having to worry any longer about sample sizes, representative samples, non-response, measurement errors-- issues that typically plague development economics research; imagine how much more could be uncovered about the economies of developing countries, imagine the giant leap in the research progress on development, imagine finding solutions to all developing world problems, imagine all the virtuous circle! Isn't Portugal's sacrifice then just a very kind gesture to humankind?

-Inspired by Tiago, the most enterprising  Econ PhD student at Northwestern-

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Ecoutez, bravo, 1-0 pour l’Italie"

Quels que soient ses problèmes, ce n'est pas le sens de l'humour qui lui manque: sans doute le chef d'État le plus drôle de la planète!

Merci, Martine!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On multicore Stata MP performance

Since I am in the middle of some very interesting discussions and experiments concerning this topic: it really does look like the difference in speed between the different multi-core/multi-processor Stata/MP versions is considerable. Right now I am performing a comparison exercise* with my friend and co-author Miguel, where, it turns out, a number of certain estimations with a 8-core Stata/MP 11 take about 10 almost 15 times less real time (I know, I hardly believe it myself) than (almost) the same estimations done with a 2-core Stata/MP 11. Taking the median across all estimations commands in Stata, an 8-core will outperform a 2-core by a factor of 2.28 (NB: this ratio appears to be larger than the price ratio of these two multicore versions!): I computed this figure from other stats available in this 250 pages report on Stata MP's performance.

The next quest should be to assess Stata's bold claim: "From dual-core laptops to the big iron of multiprocessor servers, Stata gets the most out of multicore systems. No other statistical software comes close" (my emphasis in bold). If true, that surely ought to boost Stata's status in the statistics/econometrics community (part of which-- I plead guilty too-- is currently infatuated with using other programming languages like Ox, Fortran, Gauss, Matlab etc, while typically leaving Stata for simple exercises or data manipulation).

*brief update footnote here, for clarification (well, at least part of the clarification..., the huge, factor 10 15, execution time differential remains somewhat puzzling): we cannot really perform this comparative exercise directly, as "(almost) the same" here means  that we do have  identical specifications (and the same software and operating system), but nonetheless different  (very large) panel datasets-- and in this particular case the difference in the structure (specifically, the "connectedness" of the cross-sectional-time series data, but the intention was not to give too many details) of those datasets matters, beyond an eventual difference in  the number of observations (for our purpose virtually the same); if we ran identical specifications on exactly the same dataset, with the 8-core and respectively the dual-core Stata/MP, the speed ratio could not be higher than 8/2=4, the theoretical limit. Given the type of exercise performed here, the real time differential due solely to the difference in core numbers is most likely close to this limit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What I have been reading

A couple of books I have read within the past few weeks, most of them on my Kindle 3G device(*):

Scott Berkun's "Confessions of a Public Speaker" (get the Kindle edition): the author is a professional speaker, in front of audiences large and small, hence he has got some very helpful tips for anyone who ever needs to engage in public speaking, mostly drawn from his own experiences. These tips range from the a priori preparation for your speech, to engaging your audience, to knowing what to do when you have a too large room and too few people in there etc.What is missing, but understandably so given the author's career, is the treatment of academic public lectures, which can be quite different than any other public types of speech-- nevertheless a series of Berkun's recommendations work perfectly also for academics. The book is at the same time a very fun reading.


Jason Zweig's "The Little Book of Safe Money: How to Conquer Killer Markets, Con Artists, and Yourself" (get the Kindle edition): useful advice for small investors (that can be probably summed up by the following quotes "for most small investors, an indexed bond mutual fond is the best way to go" and "[d]on't invest in leveraged and inverse ETFs. Leave them to professional traders" ...) and adapted particularly for the US audience (you do find for instance very helpful info on the so-called '529 plans,' including some online links to compare various such plans, in case you are interested in that). Definitely not for more sophisticated investors (some of you, readers of this blog) or for people who've read much more detailed stuff on financial investments earlier (although I am myself in this category, sometimes it is useful to consult other perspectives at a more elementary level). A tad too cautious and limited on scope and purpose. Anyhow, if you are a beginner and (plan to) live in the US, by all means do read this book.


Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's "Superfreakonomics" (get the Kindle edition). I find this better written than their first Freakonomics success (see, e.g., the first bullet point here for some of the huge debate on that earlier book)-- probably experience and learning on the job-- though it contains as little economics as the first one (it is written more in an investigative journalism style: Dubner obviously has the feeling for what sells and what not). That being said, I still think it is eventually a great service even to the economics  academic community (at least in drawing attention to the range of situations/phenomena that economics can be applied to; NB: I personally doubt it would give the/a too wrong impression of what economists do and should do-- if anything, it might convey the idea that some economists know very well how to sell their books,), and probably that writing it in more 'econo-prose' would have reduced its popularity. I would particularly recommend it to any non-economists, for sure (e.g. last winter I noticed the Romanian translation of the book is already out, and made it present to a good old Transylvanian friend of mine-- in function of his reaction I might offer it to my parents as well). By the way, related, the Freakonomics documentary is currently available for instant viewing on Netflix (I correct myself: right now their site is down, but it is the first time I do not see it functioning), if you are in US and have access to that service-- I plan to watch it one of the next days.


And now to my two favorites in this set: 

John Adams's "Hallelujah Junction. Composing an American Life" (unfortunately not available on Kindle): this is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read, within the musical realm and beyond. Honest, full of wit, style, and extremely informative-- and that to say the least. As somebody who's listened to a large set of Adams's compositions (and working on the remaining ones...) and who regularly follows his blog, I simply had to read his autobiographical piece in order to have access to Adams's detailed perspective on both his  own work and his general ideas of music (composition, interpretation, intrigues, all the hoopla), politics, life, everything... Highly recommended: one of those books that you simply cannot stop reading once you have started. I'll most likely refer to passages or ideas from "Hallelujah Junction" in many of my future blogposts.

Steven Landsburg's "The Big Questions" (get it on Kindle): I will only tell you that this book is from my perspective really scary, in that its author appears to think about  crucial stuff --i.e. mathematics, economics, physics, philosophy, tax policies, trade, sex, religion, life, Universe etc.-- in an almost identical way to yours truly (ok: I should maybe phrase it as "I think almost exactly like him"-- after all he was there before me...). In any case, even if you've known all the time and agreed all the way with everything in the book (though he does cover an enormous range of topics, requiring that you'd be an extremely well read person), Landsburg's exposition is one of the clearest I've ever encountered (this is true also for his previous books, some of them recommended earlier on this blog; I will only say here that I even used an earlier quote from him as one of the "propositions" --"stellingen", in Dutch-- to go along with my PhD thesis defence-- see under IX in this list). In particular, he's got the rare ability to explain in few paragraphs, mainly by means of easy examples and analogies, some highly complex material (try explaining quantum physics or deontological vs. consequential ethics to the non-initiated!), albeit he needs to strip them down to the bare essence (but then again this is a popularizing book, aimed for a wide audience). Landsburg's writing style is also something I personally like a lot: he's got just the right amounts of humor, irony, and even the tiny bit of arrogance (why not?) mixed in his book. Check out also Landsburg's "The Big Questions" blog, something I've followed and enjoyed since its very start. I end with a larger quote from the introductory chapter of "The Big Questions" that is likely to give you a good feeling of Landsburg's 'creed' and goal in this book (as well as the similarity with my own academic training and beliefs, c.f. the scary/eerie part from above):
"[...] I went on to a career of research in teaching in both mathematics and economics, with a little dabbling in physics along the way, but I never lost sight of my fascination with the big questions of philosophy: Where did the Universe come from? Why is there something instead of nothing? How is knowledge possible? What justifies a belief? How can we tell right from wrong, and good from evil? How should we live our lives?
Philosophers have useful ways of thinking about these questions, but so do people  who are not philosophers. Physicists know something about the origins of the Universe; mathematicians know something about the patterns of reality; economists know something about how our choices affect the lives of others, which is not distinct from the problem of distinguishing right from wrong. I've come to believe that these disciplines provide some of the best available tools for chipping away at the problems of philosophy.
When a man  with a hammer tells you that everything looks like a nail, you should doubt his objectivity. When a man who knows some math and economics tells you that the problems of philosophy can be solved with math and economics, you're entitled to exactly the same reaction. But in this case I believe the causality runs the other way: I was drawn to math and economics because they illuminate the big questions. I saw the nails and went out to find a hammer. [...]"

(*)which is absolutely fantastic and you must have it, despite 1. the fact that David Letterman cannot find page numbers on the Kindle books -- and hates it because of that; 2. the fact that each Kindle book costs more if you buy it outside US-- function of the IP address from where you log in to your Amazon account when buying it (before investigating and realizing this, I did actually buy quite a few Kindle books during my European winter holidays-- and ended up paying about 50 bucks more than I would have paid, had I bought them here in the US). In any case, I am the owner of more than 100 Kindle books already (yes, Amazon, I expect some loyalty awards!): given my fairly long commuting time between Lakeview, where I live, and Northwestern Univ in Evanston, I can read up to two or three books in good weeks.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Work in progress

In the quest for the epiphany, I am happy to report reaching the lesser, though nonetheless revealing, epistrophy stage. Credits due to Thelonius Monk --and a (was it 2006?) François Villard Condrieu De Poncins quaffed yesterday at Alinea.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sondheim, Burton, Depp and Rickman's "Pretty Women"

I tend to watch great movies with a considerable delay..., but then again, my feeling is that I get to appreciate them much more in this way, aside all the initial hype and the turmoil associated with a new release (an auxiliary gain is that I can discard-- without having to go through the pain of actually watching them-- a lot of movies which were released with high expectations, only to turn out total flops, hence really what remains is above average or, in the best case, excellent). One of these movies is Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd (IMDb, RottenTomatoes), the movie version of Stephen Sondheim's famous musical that premiered only days before I was born (i.e., an eternity ago)-- and which I still promise myself to see on Broadway at some point (or: in London-- Sweeney Todd the musical was rumored to know a revival in London this year-- perhaps with Alan Rickman in the role of Judge Turpin, as in the movie; but, as it looks, this will hardly happen before next year...). In any case, this movie easily gets very high in my top movies all time, at least top 10 (my 25-movie hierarchy put together a while ago has changed significantly since then, as you no doubt noticed if you followed --particularly recent--blogposts set in my "movies" category).

Briefly, this movie broke several personal records among my earlier movie rankings/assessments: i). it is by far my favorite film version of a musical (Chicago was my top choice so far); ii). it is also my winning choice for a dark humor movie (title claimed earlier by Delicatessen); iii). it is my number one Tim Burton movie so far (though I still have to see some of his movies that might challenge that); iv). it is my best Johnny Depp movie to date (and I can safely say that I have seen most productions in which he acted; however, with Depp one can expect any time a new movie which can claim the first place in this ranking; another interesting observation I would make here is that Johnny Depp has that amazing quality of almost always being outstanding in his role, even if the rest of the movie in which he happens to play is mediocre or worse, which happened in a few cases). These opinions were strengthened after watching 'the make of', i.e. a series of interviews available  also on the DVD of the movie, with Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and several others among the actors and crew, plus the one and only Stephen Sondheim*.

Anyway, the point of me writing this post was to emphasize my possibly favorite scene of the movie (I say "possibly" because this choice might be mood-dependent to some extent), also my favorite piece of music from the soundtrack, the "Pretty Women" duet scene between Sweeney Todd and Judge Turpin (which remained in my memory and would not go away since). Here's the full scene from the movie. Here's an audio version only, with better sound quality. And here's an audio version with lyrics**.

* I thought of Sondheim as a genius ever since I first saw/listened to West Side Story, the Bernstein-Sondheim masterpiece. Among the interviews available on the DVD of "Sweeney Todd" there is one amusing line of Alan Rickman (who, by the way, played superbly Judge Turpin; more generally, the few movies where I have seen Rickman acting--still have to see some of the older ones-- already place him extremely high in my actors' ranking). He confesses that he thought absolutely crazy the fact that the great Stephen Sondheim himself came to listen to, criticize, and encourage the actors--most of whom never sang publicly before and were thus 100% amateurs when it came to musicals.

** There are other fabulous parts of the soundtrack/scenes (after all, the whole thing is superlative, you should not miss anything!). A personal selection: "No place like London", "Johanna" (Antony's version), "By the sea", "Epiphany",  "My friends", "A little priest"-- the latter with a bonus: "A little priest" 2005 live version, with the original Sweeney Todd musical casting of Angela Landsbury as Mrs. Lovett and Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Econlinks: The Freudian interlude

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ah não ser eu toda a gente e toda a parte!

I've watched it most recently via this smart* video rental & online streaming service called Netflix : a true gem of a movie, albeit one of the most underrated cinematographic creations of the past decades (does not have a RottenTomatoes critics' rating!). This is a Wim Wenders meisterwerk, most of the time my favorite (nontrivial; I hold most of Wenders's movies in high esteem). As a by-product, the film is also an effective branding/ marketing tool for Lisboa, and, by extension, Portugal** --in fact, Wenders's original intention had been to make a documentary about the city; suffice to say that Lisbon Story alone would convince me to place Lisboa among my in-no-way-can-miss destinations.  Some highlights: Rüdiger Vogler plays superbly the confused German sound engineer; even though his effective role here is minimal, Patrick Bauchau is perfect as the elusive film director (alter ego of Wenders himself); while Madredeus's Teresa Salgueiro... well, she is just so unique; around them fascinating Lisboa snapshots-- images, sounds, poetry, music, life: what's a key without a kiss?

Earlier on my live discovery of Portugal. Earlier on Madredeus. Earlier on Pessoa.

* not ideal: so far I could find only about 60% of the movies I was interested in watching, with the post-mailed DVD option included. Given my typically unusual choices though, 60% is not that bad. Something like this is badly needed on European soil, too.
** I am going to claim more: this is eventually a great cinematographic statement for and about Europe itself.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

One hundred years of AER

 "This paper presents a list of the top 20 articles published in the American Economic Review during its first 100 years. This list was assembled in honor of the AER's one-hundredth anniversary by a group of distinguished economists at the request of AER's editor. A brief description accompanies the citations of each article."
"Written in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Economic Review, this paper recounts the history of the journal. The recounting has an analytic core that sees the American Economic Association as an organization supplying goods and services to its members, one of which is the Review. Early in its history the Review was a multipurpose publication with highly disparate content. Over time the economics profession expanded and more economics research was produced, primarily in the form of journal articles. Editors accommodated this shift by allocating more resources to the refereeing and editing process and more space to research papers."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Econlinks: Of (visual) art, old and new

  • The third and the seventh: imagination materialized or Alex Roman's computer generated art. Via Michael Nielsen
  • Staying in CG: meet Julia Map, of Google ancestry. And since we're here, read how the fractals changed the world --which was in a way also part of the obituary to Father Fractal, Benoit Mandelbrot, who passed away a couple of months ago; see a better one from the Economist. My own brief memories of him: I met Mandelbrot at a workshop on economics with heterogenous agents (WEHIA) at Essex University, back in 2005. Before his keynote speech, he introduced himself in the following very humorous way (paraphrasing): "Hi, I am Benoit Mandelbrot. And I am not dead yet. [pause] I tell you that because I have just met somebody in the corridor who told me: 'OMG, you are Benoit Mandelbrot. I thought you were dead for a long time now' ". 
  • Meet Jeremy Mayer, tamer of the typewriter. "I disassemble typewriters and then reassemble them into full-scale, anatomically correct human figures. I do not solder, weld, or glue these assemblages together- the process is entirely cold assembly. I do not introduce any part to the assemblage that did not come from a typewriter"
  • Back to the traditional, but impressively executed: meet Camille Seaman. From the "Last Iceberg series" statement: "Nick Cave once sang, 'All things move toward their end.' Icebergs give the impression of doing just that, in their individual way much as humans do; they have been created of unique conditions and shaped by their environments to live a brief life in a manner solely their own. Some go the distance traveling for many years slowly being eroded by time and the elements; others get snagged on the rocks and are whittled away by persistent currents. Still others dramatically collapse in fits of passion and fury."
  • On the art of fiction: interview with Michel Houllebecq, born provocateur. Hat tip MR.
  • And yes, she is back online (hopefully she is now here to stay)! Meet my friend Anna, talented photographer and undercover economist. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The quest for good old kiełbasa in the Big Apple

We ventured out to the Polish neighborhood yesterday. Nothing as compared to Chicago, but nonetheless good sausages. But after five minutes we went to the wrong direction, and ended up in a derelict, post-industrial nightmare instead of lively Polish ladies selling imported toilet paper. 
-Daniel, venturesome lover of all things Polish-

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A little blizzard. Treated with Tanya.

Will it beat the legendary 1967 one? My Lakeview Lake Shore apartment windows are shaking,  but so far holding up (they'd  better: in Chicago terms, I am paying a fortune for this place). Yes, somehow  I made it home; Evanston likely cut off from Chicago for the next couple of days, Northwestern closed for the time being. No better time than now for listening loudly to Gordon and Byrd's Tanya: Part 1 + Part 2 in the original 1964 recording; later Tanya sample with Dexter Gordon proving his worth. A tune indeed* one flight above pretty much anything else. Blizzard-proof, too.

* some credits due to my jazz-expert friend Dean

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grand challenges for social, behavioural and economic sciences

What this is about: SBE 2020.
244 white papers in SBE available on the NSF site.
The white papers in Economics. Note that some of these papers are not available on the NSF site as they were submitted after their deadline, hence this is not really a subset of the earlier 244; moreover, more might be added at this link (I would not be surprised to count ultimately more here than the total number of papers on the NSF site, after all Econ work is never over-- last bullet point).

(hat tip to Al Roth)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Econlinks: In degrees of awesomeness

  • Greg Mankiw seems to be arguing for a European-type separate master + PhD graduate Econ program-- such as those at LSE, Oxford, Pompeu Fabra, Tinbergen Institute, and (I guess) the newish Paris School of Economics entity-- rather than the US-type graduate PhD package, which comes with a (usually elective) master on the way (that is somewhat ironic, given the desire of the typical high-aspiring European place to ultimately emulate the US top places). In any case, assessing the total costs and benefits of these two alternatives remains a difficult empirical quest.
  • Awesome grants, via Michael Nielsen.
  • MR has linked to direct evidence that the History academic job market was hit way harder (e.g., this year lowest number of positions in a quarter century) than the Economics academic job market (and most likely than any other discipline's job market), which is almost back to the pre-recession level. (My wise friend Daniel, the historian of science with whom I talked several times about this, was absolutely right in his intuitive assessment) 
  • Awesome (albeit late) discovery. After reading Gelman's WSJ story, I am decided to request a priori a "kill fee provision", whenever I am asked again to write stuff for various non-scientific outlets; I had similar experiences with a couple of Romanian (some, not surprisingly, now defunct...) newspapers, and, in particular, with the (very surprisingly, still surviving...) Aarhus School of Business internal press. Except that I ended up wasting time and not getting any 'kill fee' for it. Sometimes you have to learn from your own mistakes.
  • Creative love song for Friedrich Hayek. Great, as so far Keynes seemed to get all the love (plus the hangovers, true): last bullet point
  • Very well presented classic economic arguments for raising public college tuition fees by Gary Becker and Richard Posner. Digest them carefully, as they might appear counter-intuitive (witness the frequent nonsensical arguments against such tuition raises) even to intellectuals -- those without training in and/or understanding of Economics. 
  • Awesome reply to comment in the scientific journal world. 
  • As controversial as outputs of such activity might currently be, concretely gathering brains in such 'intellectual ventures'--in fact: literally leading to brainstorming-- is just awesome. The idea in itself is of course not new, Myhrvold just had the will-- and financial means!-- to implement it on such a scale

Sunday, January 23, 2011

George Stigler could do anything--anything but be boring

 [...] I must out of courtesy and caution reserve judgment on any laws that Professor Stigler may unveil. For, as I learned when our friendship began long ago, George Stigler can do anything-- anything but be boring.
-Paul Samuelson-

Here's the Sunday read I recommend to you: a great 1963 dialogue on the "proper economic role of the state" between two intellectual giants, George Stigler(*, **) and Paul Samuelson. More actual than ever. If only all current policy and academic debates had this flavor!

* inspired by Steven Landsburg's recent blogposts on Stigler, here and here. Echoing Landsburg, you must absolutely read Stigler's "The Intellectual and the Marketplace" and "Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist", if you haven't already done so. Indeed, he would likely be the champion of all Econ bloggers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Des petits trous, des petits trous, toujours des petits trous...

I attended two excellent jazz events last week, jazz being one thing the Chicago music scene excels at (*).

The first was "Brazilian Nights" with Paulinho Garcia and some very talented NU jazz students, at the Regenstein Hall in the NU campus. Best live bossa nova since Eliane Elias's concert in Denmark a couple of years ago. Could not find any of the pieces from the concert I mention above (let me know if you trace Chega de Saudade in Paulinho Garcia's rendition anywhere) but check out Garcia in an amazing duet on Batida Diferente, one piece that well emphasizes both his guitar and vocal abilities.

The second was a super interesting fusion of gypsy jazz, chansons, latin & more-- indeed a "fantastic French-y performance" as they themselves call it-- by Paris La Nuit, at Katerina's. On their site you can directly listen to several nice pieces (try for instance J'ai Un Revolver, that rendition is superb). All the members of the quintet, format in which they played at Katerina's, are superlative on their own  (though only the bassist markets herself properly), while they also almost perfectly synchronize within the team. A plus for Marielle, the talented lead singer and violinist: she's got the style and theatrical presence, something one might think a sine qua non in this business, but nonetheless pretty hard to come by... Way above my uninformed priors; I am sure I'll hear many good things about them in the near future. Check them out also in quartet format, interpreting Serge Gainsbourg's Le Poinçonneur des Lilas (with the risk of committing the sacrilège: despite that song launching Gainsbourg, I prefer Paris La Nuit's jazzy version)

(*) although, talking about Chicago jazz in general, not all is rosy: local organizers & hosts tend to overstate the public's demand for "large band jazz", think long Green Mill Thursdays, for instance...; in other words, I'd vote anytime for New York- vs. New Orleans- type of jazz.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Econlinks: On crises. And opportunities

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Take 5 in 2011

Let us start this new year with a legendary jazz piece: Paul Desmond's "Take Five"; recall first the original instrumental version, superbly interpreted here by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, exactly 5 decades ago. Once you've got the feeling, proceed to the vocal variant--with lyrics by Iola and Dave Brubeck-- to capture the whole message; one of my favorite versions must be the very creative Dave Brubeck- Al Jarreau '97 get-together, the first and likely the only time they performed on the same stage.

Happy New Year!