Football: The injury vs pandering margin

During the World Cup, I keep seeing images like the following.


It is interesting, there is a lot of play acting in the masterful sport that is Football.  It is a pity, as if players just got on with the game we would see longer periods of amazing skill and tactical insights.

However Read more

Sorry about the outage!!

Hi everyone.  I’m really sorry about the fact the site has been down over the past couple of weeks, we had issues with our old host disappearing!

NZAE 2014 is taking place at the moment, with the details here and the hashtag rolling here.  I suggest using the hashtag for everything remotely economics related for the next couple of days 😉

Next week we will be properly back in action.  If you have any suggestions about things that we haven’t covered, due to being unable to post and generally away, leave them in the comments.  I have a few ideas of my own, but always want more 🙂

On fairy tales

Dawkin’s believes that fairy tells hurt kids.  Update:  It sounds like I have been unfair, here are the reported comments.  It still makes a cool conversation, so I will leave this up for comments about the ideas 🙂

From the article:

The British scientist, known for his assaults on religion in books such as The God Delusion, has told a science festival audience that parents should ditch fairy tales in order to “foster a spirit of scepticism” in their children.

“I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism,” The Times reports him saying.

I find this troubling, as I have a different view on what fairy tales are:

You may note some similarities in this to how I have broadly discussed economics.

However, I’m interested in your thoughts.  Is the framework I’m using “right”, if not why, if so how can we use that to analyse the efficacy of fairy tales for helping give children knowledge (vs misleading them).  Given all this, what lessons can we take for economics!

Some links for today

Hello all.  Here are some links I’d like to do posts on, but don’t have the time.  As a result, I suggest enjoying them for yourself!

Brief notes on communicating economic ideas

Hey all.  I am doing a short presentation on communicating economic ideas – a bit of an abstract conversation where I talk about it in terms of assumptions.  This is similar to last year’s NZAE paper, but focused on only a subset of what was covered.

The presentation can be found here.

It is aimed at people who do economic modelling and have a core framework that they use with other economists.  It is about conceptualising the ways we adjust our arguments/models to communicate them to a broader public, and in turn focuses on the types of assumptions we put in place – and the ways economists need to be careful with how these are communicated, so to avoid accidentally misleading or overselling.

Two-handed economist: The accidental compliment

As someone with the job title “economist”, a large number of my friends only contact me when they want advice on buying currency or whether to fix their mortgage or buy as asset.  After providing my thoughts about why things might happen, and what the risks are, I often get the comment “damned two handed economist, not willing to take a position”.

People think they are insulting me.  However, if that is the actual attitude of my friends in this case I’d gladly point out that they are being utter morons.  Instead, I take this as a compliment.

If I was going to “take a position”, why would I rattle it off to someone, instead of actually taking on the risk of doing so myself – if I genuinely thought that buying and selling currency offered me a good risk adjusted rate of return at this point in my life, then I’d do that, rather than just suggesting it to people.

When giving advice, I simply want people to be aware of the risk involved in the choices they are making – and the fact that there are reasons why asset prices may move one way or the other (and a good number of unforecastable, or unforeseeable, things that may pop up).  To give this advice, I need to to be two-handed.  It is my job, as a good friend, to help inform not to tell my mates what to do.

It would be the height of arrogance to pretend that, with my training as an economist, I could instantly turn around and fill the role of a professional risk manager for a certain asset class, or the CEO of a firm for a certain product.  Instead, I pull together news, ideas, and a good dollop of statistical analysis to provide information for people that will make decisions – filling a role in the production process, not trying to control it.

So economists, stop being so defensive about being called “two-handed” and stop feeling as if you have to take a specific “position” to have worth.  The world is complicated, and your advice (if based on intense questioning and analysis combined with clear communication) is valuable in the way it helps people make choices.  Embrace the fact you’re born with two hands and make sure you use both of them!