Friday, July 24, 2009

Econ salaries

Students who are wondering about whether to major in Econ might be interested in finding out how salaries in the US differ by university major. It turns out that there is some compensating differential for economics...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Do Charles Plott and I Have In Common?

What do Charles Plott and I have in common?

Two articles in the most recent issue of Economic Inquiry.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Darwin v. Smith

Robert Frank, in a short, powerful article, argues that Darwin is destined to be seen as the "intellectual founder" of modern economics, replacing Adam Smith. This should be required summer reading. And it is only a few paragraphs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

AB economic council without economists

The Alberta Premier's Council for Economic Strategy has been announced. Twelve members, of whom one is an economist. Presumably the idea is that anyone is an expert in economics. Either that, or economists have not much to add.

No academics from Alberta. Two Oxford professors, one an expert in the ethics of post-conflict reconstruction, and another an immunologist. They are so smart at Oxford, that even their immunologists are experts in economics. I guess our immunologists and ethicists here in Alberta aren't so good in economics. I find this surprising, because most economists I know here have a pretty deep understanding of immunology, ethics, and all other subjects. In fact, I am prepared to advise the UK government on directions for cell biology research anytime. Or even the ethics of cell biology research, but that would cost a little more.

I wonder, if we can't trust local university academics to advise the government, how can we possibly rely on Albertans to lead the government? This, to me, raises the novel idea of requiring that our provincial politicians must be resident abroad -- sort of like Michael Ignatieff -- in order to qualify for a responsible position in Alberta.

The message I hear from our government is this: "If you're so smart, why are you at a university in Alberta?"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Natural gas and AB fiscal situation

The economic exploitation of shale gas is likely to result in a long-term downward revision of natural gas prices. In turn, this will likely result in a significant long-term reduction in natural gas royalties for Alberta. In 2008, natural gas royalties contributed about $6bn to the Alberta treasury, in addition to indirect contributions through corporate and personal income taxes. This year, the figure will be maybe $3.5bn. And there seems little prospect of a return to higher revenues -- indeed, revenues will probably trend down with a drop in drilling.

I am not an expert in this area, but would like to hear your views on what this means for Alberta and perhaps for U of C. It looks to me like the province, the city, and the university should be considering a permanent reduction in expenditures to match the reduction in revenues. This is not related to the recession, so we can't just aim for stimulus spending: it really relates to the improvement in technologies enabling economic access to shale gas and is a permanent feature of our economy.