NZAE conference

Well, the NZ Association of Economists conference is done for 2011. It’s a chance for all economists to get together and talk nerdy without fear of social reprisals, although the food is another popular topic of conversation — it was pretty good this year, if you’re wondering. There were plenty of great presentations and star turns from both Tim Harford and Ricardo Reis. The latter hung around for most of the conference and even attended the dinner, which left me completely starstruck!

Of course, it is also a chance for bloggers who normally interact only through the interwebs to talk in person and this conference was no exception: as the sole representative of TVHE I was accosted and lambasted by both Eric and Seamus from Offsetting Behaviour for our lack of recent activity. As Matt has previously mentioned, things have been a bit busy for us at work lately but blogging is Matt’s second highest priority so he’ll be back just as soon as he has a free hour or two.

In lieu of a post about Serious Issues I thought I’d let you know what the bloggers at NZAE got up to. I didn’t see Eric’s talk myself but I’m told that he was just as fiery in person as people had expected from reading his posts. He talked about the problems with social cost studies in a session that also included his nemesis from the public health world, Des O’Dea. Eric seems to have a knack for confrontation at NZAE conferences after being paired in a session with Adrian Slack, co-author of BERL’s report on the social costs of alcohol, a couple of years ago. Not one to relax after one presentation, he also gave a talk about some of the more academic work he has co-authored with Bryan Caplan. I’m sure you can read more about both topics over at Offsetting Behaviour.

I made sure to attend Seamus’ presentation, not because I am an avid follower of electricity markets but because he always gives a great talk. I imagine he’s an excellent lecturer if his conference presentations are anything to go by. This year he made the bold claim that New Zealand would be better off if everyone bought their electricity from Powershop, although he sensibly stopped just short of recommending any policy interventions. His explanation revolved around the marginal retail price’s response to demand shocks and something to do with strategic complementarity, but I don’t want to give it all away before he has a chance to blog it himself!

There were also contributions from a number of regular commenters on this blog, although most go by pseudonyms. The one notable economist who makes a point of going by his full name in the comments is Andrew Coleman and, while I didn’t bump into him, he presented a paper discussing the impact of retail price discounts on the CPI.

Your erstwhile bloggers at TVHE were poorly represented by comparison with our Cantabrian colleagues. Goonix is in the UK now so he couldn’t make it. Matt and Agnitio weren’t able to find the time to attend, sadly, and my presentation on capital-labour substitution elasticities couldn’t rise to the giddy heights of excitement that Eric and Seamus managed.

If there are any other bloggers or commenters that I’ve missed let us know in the comments below. And, if you didn’t come along, start planning for next year now. Not only is it a very well run event but Seamus has the dubious honour of being the conference organiser next year and I’m sure he’d appreciate some of the blog love being translated into real life support!

  • http://antidismal.blogspot.com/ Paul Walker

    Just sent in the Blog Watch column for the next issue of “Asymmetric Information”, which doesn’t mention TVHE at all, due to there being nothing to discuss!! I trust I will have something to comment on for the next column.

    Good to see there are live bloggers in Wellington again!

  • http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com Eric Crampton

    Des O’Dea isn’t my nemesis! I like Des! His paper for ASH/SFC on tobacco social costs was honestly done: he first tabulated the fiscal costs, noted that there’s no way in hell that costs to the government or costs to other people exceed the excise tax take, then went on to add all the personal private costs of smoking as per his funder’s request.

    Des and I have talked about going in jointly to tear up the MoH’s fraudulent figures on smoking costs. It could be a lot of fun.

    I did have fun needling the ACC guy though. They really should be embarrassed about having commissioned that BERL report.

  • Seamus Hogan

    Rauparaha: You didn’t mention your colleague Bill Kaye-Blake (and convenor of this year’s conference organising committee). He has been blogging at the NZAE blog http://nzae.wordpress.com/. To be fair, the association hasn’t publicised it yet.

    I will blog on the conference at some point soon. Unfortunately, I was chairing a session at the same time that Rauparaha was presenting and so am not in a position to return the compliment. Next year, I promise to attend your session! See you in Hamilton.

  • http://www.tvhe.co.nz rauparaha

    @Seamus Hogan

    Thanks, Seamus, I didn’t even realise NZAE had a blog. Bill always has plenty to say on any topic so I’m glad to see him blogging. And you really didn’t miss anything by skipping my presentation but I’ll try to do something a bit more interesting next year!

    @Eric Crampton

    Sorry, Eric, I mistakenly thought Des was one of the ‘healthists’ you regularly refer to.

  • http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com Eric Crampton

    If I did, I had Des wrong.

  • http://www.collectorskingdom.co.uk Julian Dixon

    In my experiance bloggers are often seen to have far less radical views face to face than online so interesting to read your comment about Eric!