28th Barcelona GSE Lecture

by Professor Joel Slemrod

(Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan) on MONDAY, October 21, 2013 at 18:45 pm.

Prof. Slemrod will speak on: Policy Insights from a Tax-Systems Perspective

Joel Slemrod is the Paul W. McCracken Collegiate Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics. He also serves as Director of the Office of Tax Policy Research, an interdisciplinary research center housed at the Ross School of Business. A leading expert on tax policy, professor Slemrod received the B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1973 and the Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1980. Professor Slemrod has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Canadian Department of Finance, the New Zealand Department of Treasury, the South Africa Ministry of Finance, the World Bank, and the OECD. Besides numerous articles in top economics journal, professor Slemrod also produced highly acclaimed books on taxation. He is the co-author with Jon Bakija of Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen’s Guide to the Debate over Taxes, whose 5th edition will be published in 2013, and with Len Burman of Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know, published in 2012. From 1992 to 1998 Professor Slemrod was editor of the National Tax Journal. In 2012 he received from the National Tax Association its most prestigious award, the Daniel M. Holland Medal for distinguished lifetime contributions to the study and practice of public finance.

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The Aftermath of the Latin American Boom?

Throughout this academic year, we have learned about European policy making, immigration issues in the United States, OECD´s effort to put up with the current crisis, Spain’s unemployment and labor market and why Northern countries engage in intra-industry trade. My contribution to this blog is oriented towards the Southern Cone of the globe, and is a personal assessment of some of the challenges that Latin America in particular, faces as a region today.

Cover for the book “Enough of Histories” of Andrés Oppenheimer by artist Alfredo Sabat (2010)

While many countries in the north confront one of the worst financial crisis in history, the ability that Latin American countries have had to adapt to the recent crisis has been remarkable. Nevertheless, what was first called as the Latin American boom now appears to be coming to an end.

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How to go from an unknown graduate student in Economics to front page news of New York Times.

How to go from being an unknown graduate student in Economics to landing the front page of the New York Times in one week? And no, you don’t even have to win a Nobel Prize in Economics at 24. All you have to do is replicate a paper. Yes, you did read it right- just replicate a paper. All of a sudden your usual problem set assignment for Econometrics could result in Paul Krugman dedicating his NYT column to you. However…on your way to stardom you might need a bit of luck. And it might be helpful to choose to replicate a certain, how to say it nicely, erroneous paper of Harvard professors Rogoff and Reinhart at a time when fiscal austerity is quite a hot topic. This is the story of Thomas Herndon.

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Don’t Sell Yourself Short

New Yorker - Frank Cotham
New Yorker – Frank Cotham

It is the season to be job hunting. Amidst trying to decide on new courses, finalizing dissertation proposals and enjoying the Barcelona sunshine, starting this fall we will all have to find something new to keep ourselves busy. While maybe we can stretch the wait out a bit further, studying is not free, and at some point the balance of most of our la Caixa accounts will approach dangerous levels.

Any questionnaire of career plans of GSE students would no doubt throw up a very diverse set of answers. Continue reading “Don’t Sell Yourself Short”

Private Information or (and?) Local Thinking during the Housing Bubble

A few weeks ago I came across a research paper named “Wall Street and the Housing Bubble” by Cheng, Raina and Xiong (2012). I found it while I was reading the always-interesting (and diverse) blog “Nada es Gratis”.  In here, you can find (in spanish) a thorough synopsis of what the article is about. The paper analyzes whether the experts in securitization were aware of the housing bubbles and the possibility of the collapse of housing prices in the US. Namely, they test the “Inside Job” view, popularized by the film of the same name which held the view (among other things) that insiders were aware of the financial bubble during 2004-2006 and its inner workings. At first glance their results are at least thought-provoking.

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How (not) to explain the stability of marriage with economic models.

The last couple of months we have been breathing, eating, sleeping and dreaming of Economics. Very quickly words and phrases such as optimization, consistency, “my function of studying has a negative first derivation since monday”, “there is no Nash equilibrium in our restaurant choices” entered our every day communication. Most popular Google searches and old bookmarks were replaced by blogs about econometrics and game theory, and reading the news came down to skipping to the Economics and Finance section. There was nothing to complain about, as Bukowski put it “if you are going to try, go all the way”, and there was no other way to do a Masters in Economics. But when it came down to economic models trying to explain love, I was not going to give in so easily.

For Economics followers, the Nobel Prize in Economics is a bit of an Oscar’s. Continue reading “How (not) to explain the stability of marriage with economic models.”

Some Death Ought to Jump-Start the Economy

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Some thoughts on the course: The Rise of the Global Economy taken in the first term as part of the International Trade, Finance and Development (ITFD) program. 

How much of economic history stretching from hunter gather to modern day financial crisis can one really learn in five weeks? As it turns out, one can learn rather a lot. As anyone who braved Pro Voth’s course will tell you, economic growth as we know it is a very recent phenomenon. Up until before the Industrial Revolution, economic growth had remained stagnant for hundreds of years. This is a thought that should fester when considering that during the lifetime of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Gutenberg etc. incomes and living standards remained essentially unchanged. As such, The Rise of the Global Economy set out to answer the questions: when did growth occur, why did it take so long, what finally caused it and what did we do with it.

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How High Will You Get If Marijuana Is Freely Available?

Marijuana Consumption Among International Students In Amsterdam

Kelvin Ong

Adapted from a simple observational study done by Herrmann, Ong and Piovesan (2009). Available upon request.

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Edibles, Kelvin Ong 2011

It might surprise many that Cambodia and North Korea are the trailblazers when it comes to liberalizing pot laws, and while many European states have already loosened or are loosening their pot laws in response to changing social mindsets and ineffective drug policies, the United States is just beginning to follow suit, with the electorate of Colorado and Washington voting to legalize marijuana consumption without a doctor’s recommendation. They are joining California, who since 1996 have already begun liberalizing their pot laws. Continue reading “How High Will You Get If Marijuana Is Freely Available?”

A Quick Overview of Thailand

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Thai Hawker In Bangkok, Kelvin Ong 2012

Kelvin Ong

Written in Thailand 2011, adapted from devac.org

Thailand has a rich history spanning nearly 800 years now, and throughout this time, it has never been colonised by a Western nation, which is unique among Southeast Asian countries. Thailand has the second largest economy of Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, and it has historically enjoyedhigh rates of growth, at least before and after the currency crisis of 1997. Its industrial sectors contributes 43.9% of GDP, coming in second-most important after its services sector, which accounts for 44.7% of GDP.

The past decade has been full of challenges for Thailand. Continue reading “A Quick Overview of Thailand”

A Wave of Changes (of more or lesser importance)

Another one bites the dust. Could it be much more than a lost election for the Republicans?

Every lost election sets off a wave of debates, blaming and eventually new strategy-setting. This wave is now hitting the Republican Party – and hard. How much in its path will be wiped off and the extent of the ensuing change is still uncertain but potentially big.

If they are driven to change, it is, to most accounts, because the American electorate has a new face. The Latino and Afro-American communities who usually do not make use of their electoral rights have in bigger shares wielded their power and gone to the polls. The Republican’s inability to relate and appeal to these minorities is thus by now commonly identified as the reason for their loss.

As said, this could have far-reaching impacts; the first one being the opportunity for professors to update that Political Economy problem set they have been handing out for years. These elections mark indeed the era of a new Median Voter Theorem case study. If analysts are right, what we are observing in the United States is indeed nothing else than a shift of the electorate. Naturally, this accounts for a shift of the Median Voter.  Our theorem tells us to expect the political actors to accordingly change their ideology and adopt that of the new median voter. And this is what we see unraveling – and at an amazing pace.

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