Another sordid link

1. Sour grapes from Harvard; egad some people are out of touch.

I thank a loyal MR reader for the pointer.



Reeks of Ivy League entitlement

Oh no, not 12 years! The horror!

Fight fiercely, harvard,
Fight, fight, fight!
Impress them with our prowess, do!
Oh, fellows, do not let the crimson down,
Be of stout heart and thru.
Come on, chaps, fight for harvard's glorious name...

Hart was listed as 2/1 odds with Fama (just kidding). Should award the Harvard commentator and the Fama devotees a best efforts award at cajoling the Nobel Committee to grant "make it up to me" award.

There are many economists who are of Nobel quality. With or without awards, they make discoveries and insights everyday.

What seems to me is that people promote those who they are associated with, or whose school they attended, as sort of an identity exercise to validate their own views, when in fact, those who truly invent are those who depart from their schools and offer new insights.

Pathetic. My favourite part is when Aghion criticises the Nobel Committee, i.e. most of it. Either that or the headline.

That's not Ivy League entitlement, that's pure Harvard entitlement. And a reason why I didn't go to Harvard (yes, I did get in).

Random brush with fame: my dad did go to Harvard, and was the same class and house (Eliot) as Ted Kaczynski. Holy cow, I just realized I share a birthday (May 22) with Mr. Kaczynski...

Harvard will have to get used to it. The internet has leveled the playing field.


Have you read Alston Chase's A Mind for Murder: The Education of the Unabomber and the Origins of Modern Terrorism?

As George Mason seems in a fair way to learning in a generation or two, great universities are known by people trying to get in touch with them, not for their being "in touch".

Markets in everything: Ivy League Econo-haters

sometimes I wonder if these articles in the Crimson are a very clever parody/satire that people at Harvard laugh about, but us outsiders just don't get.
I've repeatedly seen stuff that was just so over the top "but we're Harvard, we're entitled" that you have to wonder...

Seward- I have not. Thanks for the tip. Google Books informs me that my dad's not mentioned in the book, alas.

Sebastian- I wonder if there's a Poe's law for Harvard.

"Sour grapes" means you say the thing you didn't get isn't worth having. "Those grapes were sour anyway. I'm glad I couldn't reach them." It's not just being pissy you didn't win.

I normally don't care about usage problems, but I do when the expression is based on an actual fable with a moral.

Next up, an email to the Economist about their weekly misuse of "lion's share." (The lion takes everything because he's a lion. Not just more than the others.) Oh yes. The "Midas touch" is a BAD thing.

I am not sure why you say "sour grapes". Aghion says something entirely reasonable: Oliver Hart would have deserved the Nobel Prize as much as Williamson. It has nothing to do with Harvard pride. It is simply a fact and you should be ashamed of your stupidity in selecting the title for this link.

Aghion did more than state facts. He claimed that Hart “went much further than Williamson by constructing a rigorous framework that made the theory of the firm become truly operational and testable.†

Many of us are not persuaded Hart's rigorous formalism that oversimplifies key ideas is an improvement over Williamson's exposition. Many of Williamson's students seem to do a good job of testing Williamsonian ideas without any reference whatsoever to Hart's models and get published in top journals. Only a parochial theorist thinks that constructing toy models is by definition "going further." Moreover, even were that true, the pioneer is whom we want to recognize, not the engineer who builds on the ideas.

It is precisely this parochial notion that doing modeling in a very limited way constitutes the only form of acceptable theory that is so damaging to economics. Let a thousand flowers bloom. This year the Nobel committee recognized that Econometrica is not the final and exclusive arbiter of what constitutes good theory.

Sordid and self centered. We are the center of the universe.

"went much further than Williamson by constructing a rigorous framework that made the theory of the firm become truly operational and testable.†

More operational and testable? Really? Any papers which have tested these models?

A revealing paragraph from Hart and Moore's paper on "A theory of firm scope"

"One of our objectives in writing this paper has been to move the focus of attention away
from assets towards activities. Asset ownership is at the core of the property rights theory and it
will remain important for understanding boundaries. At the same time it is remarkable how few
practitioners, organizational consultants and researchers studying organizations within other
disciplines than economics (e.g. sociology and organizational behavior) ever talk about firms in
terms of asset ownership. For most of them a firm is defined by the things it does and the
knowledge and capabilities it possesses. Coase (1988) in his article “Industrial Organization: A
Proposal for Research,† makes clear that he too is looking for “a theory which concerns itself with
the optimum distribution of activities, or functions, among firms.† (p 64). He further notes “the
costs of organizing an activity within any given firm depend on what other activities the firm is
engaged in. A given set of activities will facilitate the carrying out of some activities but hinder
the performance of others.†


I'm not an economist and don't know anything about any of the people or the inside baseball. But from this outside observer the commons problem seems to me to be the only problem. And the things that are commons and not artificially made commons by the government (e.g. healthcare and insurance) are few and big.

John Kennedy treated the matter of university
rivalries humorously when on receiving an
honorary doctorate in New Haven he said,
"Now I have the best of both worlds: a Harvard
education and a Yale degree."
John Kenneth Galbraith, who was at Harvard for
years, never received the Nobel, a matter about
which there are must be at least two opinions.

Harvard is just sore because Berkeley has won two Econ "Nobel" prizes since the last time Harvard did.

And the things that are commons and not artificially made commons by the government (e.g. healthcare and insurance) are few and big.

Actually as the name implies natural commons are very common. Practically any non-domesticated food source (game, wild plants) as well as water and any natural resource (from wood to coal) are natural commons and the mass extinction of megafauna and deforestation shortly after the arrival of humans in Australia and America are a powerful testimony of human destructiveness in an ungoverned regime.

I am not at Harvard - I am at a rival econ PhD program and am very interested in organizational economics and I have to say Hart actually DID deserve the prize as much as Williamson did!

Another rumor circulating is Wharton and Harvard (and others) dropped in the rankings because the limitation on H1-B visas prevented a lot of their international students from finding jobs, which affects rankings.

Whether this is true doesn't matter. The rankings are a bit bogus anyway because what they measure doesn't necessarily have a bearing on an individual needs. If a school goes up, they trumpet them as proof. If the ranking goes down, the school finds external excuses.

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