Levitt and Mankiw to Join Obama Team!

Steve Levitt and Greg Mankiw will join the Obama team.  Here is a key paragraph from the blog that broke this important story:

Colleagues at the University of Chicago economics department are cheering the move. “I could not think of a better choice than Steve Levitt to move to Washington and help the Obama team” says Nobel Laureate James Heckman, adding that he expects the job to occupy Levitt for two full Obama administration terms. “We will miss him, but he has an important job to do.”


Dare I say this is good news? It certainly makes me feel more optimistic.

This seems like check-the-date material.

You had me worried there for a second.

nicely done.

If I hadn't seen Mankiw's April 1st already, this would have gotten me. Well done.

They can help keep the zombies alive -- don't zombies always moan "Brains, Brains!"

Do they have proper credentials for Obama Team?

Levitt most likely does - he has connections to the Chicago's underworld (through Venkatesh)

Mankiw... Does he at least owe some taxes?

Nooo, please don't be an April Fool's joke...


much better April Fool's joke: http://improveverywhere.com/2009/04/01/best-funeral-ever/

If this weren't a joke, my reaction would be:

*Groan!* I bet we're going to see all kinds of "innovative" solutions to economic problems. Expect to see...

-Crime rate too high? Lift restrictions on abortion!
-STDs too common? Randomly execute non-copulating males!
-People not throwing enough good money after bad? Turn off random $100 bills! (Actual solution proposed, though not by Levitt.)
-Consumers not propping up obsolete retail models? Throw money from helicopters! (Combine with previous for amplified results.)
-AIG execs won't give back bonuses? Print and give $100 million to all Americans who never worked for AIG! How you like that bonus now, guys?

How do you know that? I have to admit, I find intra-faculty squabbles highly amusing.


Everybody knows it. See the interview he did with the Minneapolis Fed a few years ago where he all but called Levitt a chump. Heckman's distaste for Levitt seems largely due to his own hatred of reduced form econometrics. He's a structural guy; Levitt's in the Card-Angrist camp. So much of the differences is because of schools of thought stuff. But I think Heckman also has a reputation for being less than courteous towards people, and so I think it's also much more than merely schools of thought differences.

Speaking of the University of Chicago: Gary Becker, who stated in print that the law of negatively sloped demand is the most fundamental proposition in economics, has a publication in the JPE (1991) that features a demand with an upward sloping segment(unsubstantiated by empirical evidence of its existence).

April Fool? Well actually, no.

How embarassing! Here I am telling my friend as I read the headline about the new appointees.. Then pausing.. Re-evaluating... Wait... I've been had!


The seminal paper on the "social force" that Becker (1991)transmogrified was by Harvey Leibenstein (1950). Although Becker ignores Leibenstein's hypothesis that bandwagon demand curves DO NOT slope upward, I would advise against this practice; for more see the following titled work in Econ Journal Watch (2009): "Some Anomalies Arising from Bandwagons that Impart Upward-Sloping Segments to Market Demand":


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