Archive for April 28th, 2011

Robert Fogel linking height with human development

April 28, 2011

Patricia Cohen of NYT reviews the upcoming book of Robert Fogel -The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700 (his paper based on ideas here) . Fogel was a 1993 Nobel winner for his work on economic history (in particular cliometrics).

He has lately been looking at health, human development issues from a historical perspective and the book has amazing findings:


Fed needs to prepare donuts like Charles Ponzi…

April 28, 2011

Pimco’s Global Central Bank Focus research notes are always a fascinating read.

The recent Apr-11 issue is another superb read. It has Anthony Crescenzi and Ben Emons writing on Fed, Andrew Bosomworth on ECB and Lupin Rahman on Emerging economies central banks.

The one on Fed is startling. First some bit on Ponzi scheme:


How schooling investments facilitated the Middle East uprisings

April 28, 2011

I had pointed to this interesting articlefrom Mwangi Kimenyi of Brookings. He said the uprising was not because of poor economics/development failure. Infact these regions have shown decent performance in human development. The high social development was not in line with dictatorial regime.

Now, there is some empirical evidence backing his article. Filipe R Campante and Davin Chor of Harvard and Singapore University respectively have done some research looking at the relationship – Schooling, Political Participation, and the Economy ; The People Want the Fall of the Regime”: Schooling, Political Protest, and the Economy.

As always voxeu has good summary. In sum, Middle East autocrats themselves contributed to their own downfall by investing in education:


Should economists be seen as biologists instead of wannabe physicists?

April 28, 2011

Renee Courtios Haltom of Richmond Fed writes a superb paper/article on the intellectual crisis in economics. Like Krugman’s amazingly candid piece – How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? this one is as refreshing and candid as well.

Haltom says the crisis in economics is not accepted by all:

The sense is not unanimous, mind you, or probably even the majority view. But there is the uncomfortable fact that the profession was largely surprised by the largest economic event in several generations. Some have taken it as a sign that economists are, decidedly, studying the wrong things. The specific complaints are varied: Economists were so focused on unrealistic, highly mathematical models that they missed the problems developing before their very eyes.  They were so complacent with the idea that markets usually get things right that they ignored a housing bubble and  securitization mess in the process. Overall, critics say,  policymakers shouldn’t listen to a profession so lacking in consensus and out of touch with reality.

Did the research and beliefs of economists leave them ill-equipped to foresee the possibility of a major financial crisis? And if so, what drove the profession to such a myopic position?

Haltom then wonderfully (rather magically) presents the evolution of economic thought from Smith to Ricardo to Keynes and to current Lucas/Chicago School thoughts. (Though she misses out Friedman!)


Which Measure of Inflation: Headline, Core or Trimmed?

April 28, 2011

This is the title of my new paper. It looks at how central bankers look and prefer these measures of inflation. Looks at case studies of Fed, ECB and BoE and the divergence in central bamker views.

I remain surprised that despite wide divergence amidst Fed members, I see no dissent in Apr-11 FOMC meeting. This is something I have been noting whenever Regional Fed Presidents don’t talk in lines with FOMC views (see this and this). Why just talk?

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