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!