Assorted links

1. Can a failed spy succeed in Russian politics?

2. Does the finance premium penalize entrepreneurship?

3. “Daniel (jungleman12) Cates, a 21-year-old self-made multimillionaire, lapsed economics/computer-science major and one-day Bubble Trouble champion of the world, was mildly annoyed.” Link here.

4. Michael Spence narrates his life.

5. Reviews of Margaux Fragoso.

6. Why don’t more female economists blog?

7. Bryan Caplan, slouching toward consequentialism.

8. The growth in unpaid jobs.


@3: the future is odd pseudonyms.

As a hiring manager at a small tech startup in NYC I can say that #2 is certainly true.

#3: "“Why would a restaurant be any more crowded on Valentine’s Day?”

I think that says it all...

"Why are more men than women doing X?" is almost always a stupid question.

i completely agree. i never understood the logic behind the notion that the gender distribution of every non-manual profession needs to be 1:1, or else theres something wrong. also, i find it strange that the author is asking why dont female "top economists" blog, rather than just female economists in general. i dont see the correlation between being highly regarded economist and success as a blogger. one female economist i followed consistently until she passed away was Alison Snow Jones, and shes nowhere on that list. i would think its common sense that having a large following has more to do with being interesting and insightful than just reputation.

2) As somebody who recently left science for finance, let's examine this statement: "the industry now focuses its recruiting on new master's- and doctoral-level graduates of science, engineering, math and physics, and pays them starting wages that are five times or more what they would have earned had they remained in their own fields".

This is not a function of how much finance pays, but of how little science pays. I'm sorry, but being 29 years old with a physics PhD and working for 6 years bouncing from city to city in postdocs getting paid 50k/yr on the off chance that I might come out of it with a tenure-track job seems like a pretty crappy life decision.

Scientists and PhD-level engineers are tremendously smart, hardworking people and they get paid nothing like what much less intelligent people in law, medicine and business get. There are two possibilities for why this is so:

a) Innovation and basic research are generally low-value activities, with some rare exceptions
b) For some reason innovators in technical fields fail to capture the great majority of their marginal product

If it's (a), then people moving from science to finance is good. If it's (b) then the solution is to figure out a way to allow innovators to capture much more of what they produce, massively raising the salaries of scientists and engineers.

The problem isn't with finance, it's with science.

quant - You make some good points, but there are other possibilities on your list.

(c). Guilds. Other fields such as law and medicine control the number of qualified practitioners much more tightly than science.
(d). Interest. A much higher number of very smart people may be interested in fields like physics or biology than in finance or law. That drives down wage earnings for scientists without necessarily meaning that basic research is a mostly low-value enterprise.

There is also an interesting conflict between the idea of capitalism and the Kauffman paper. Capitalism supposedly increases the greater good just by having market participants each maximize their own interest. But the article seems to be saying that in this case, Ph.D. students maximizing their self interest by getting finance jobs has led to a globally sub-optimal outcome.

D really needs to be emphasized. For the highly intelligent scientists I know, they're in it because they want to learn/increase knowledge (plus a bit of status seeking). For the people in finance, they're almost all in it for the money and/or to "win" with one man I know who (after winding up in his current career after Nixon axed his first choice, a welfare agency job) really, really wants to make sure that the people who invest with him have more money next year than they did this year

Is academia really the only place for the STEM people?

I do wish more of our smart people were into invention and science, but I don't really fault anyone for pursuing money. They may see that as their payday after working hard all through school while their colleagues goofed off or attempting to sabotage the future millionaire.

No one owns scientists' labor.

Curt, point (c) is valid. Point (d) is not. If the field is oversubscribed then at the margin it is a low-value activity.

in re #2, what is remarkable? if one thinks that capitalism always trends to optimal solutions, that would indicate a very ivory tower outlook indeed.

#1 has already proven to be madly successful.


a. Because they don't share men's egos
b. Because they have other outlets for their creative endeavors
c. Because they lack the cojones
d. Because, as is the case with pubs, they are not as smart as men

On Number 6..... besides Nancy, there are...: (no longer updated) (so many of her posts will remain entertaining, relevant, and poignant)

The silly idea about leisure or instant gratification and whatever the CS Monitor suggest isn't the reason for seeing so few female economics bloggers. In general, there is a lack of women who study economics in the first place. In my opinion, mainstream economics alienates women from the study of the subject because for so much of the history of economic thought women are ignored and neoclassical theory often produces a sexual double standard for women's self-interest. But things may be changing- while making up only 1/10 of tenured professors, women now account for about 1/3 of graduate students ( Once this student completes her graduate degree, perhaps I can be counted as an "lady econ blogger".... someday.

The best female economist in the world used to be a man. What does that tell you? She expresses herself through wonderful books.

Seriously, you've got a handful of top notch female economists like Reinhart, Athee, Scotchmer, Wooders, Blau, Romer and then a whole lot of nobodies with thin and light CVs. Even the best known female economist, Janet Yellen, has a paper-thin publication record, mostly with her husband doing the heavy lifting.

How many books did any of these women write other than textbooks? Where is their equivalent of Freakonomics?

I agree with Mike that the good female economists don't feel the need to express their opinions and observations on a blog. They are engaged in productive research. I wouldn't agree that female economists are less gifted, on average, but they certainly don't occupy any slots in the upper tail. I doubt this is a matter of ability, self selection, opportunity, or discrimination. Women were late to the game of economics, and it will take longer for this particular identity group to place someone in the upper echelons.

If we're interested in demographic characteristics, why are there so many Jewish economists among Nobel Prize Winners? How many top economists are left handed? Why don't many older economists or black economists have blogs?

I submit that having a blog is a clear case of self-selection. If you're wondering why women don't have one, you should ask them. Some of them have nice websites with good resources for students and fun photos.

As for the male bloggers, most of them are far-left ideologues who love nothing more than hearing the sound of their own voices and spreading their pernicious narratives. Menzie Chinn is bent out of shape because UW professors apparently can't use taxpayer and student funded work time and equipment to spread their propaganda anymore.

My favorite features of MR are the eclectic mix of topics, wide variety of viewpoints, humble presentation, inviting atmosphere of discussion, and the nexus of casual discussion with rigorous analysis. The bloggers may have opinions, but they are never shrill or demeaning.

6. Any woman who posts opinions about "men's" topics on the internet inevitably ends up receiving tons extremely creepy hatemail containing graphic descriptions of the sexual violence that the senders would like to inflict upon her. That's on the top of the still-creepy, but more benign fanmail from lovesick stalkers -- stalkers who watch your blog for clues about where you're going to be and then show up there and attempt to grope you. Not to mention that a huge proportion of commenters (on one's blog and on other blogs) are unable to discuss a woman's opinions or accomplishments without remarking on her appearance and no one thinks that's the least bit unusual. (Seriously, how often do you see someone append a "he just thinks that because he's hot / ugly" or "I sure would like to bone him / I wouldn't fuck him with a 10-foot pole" remark to the end of a post or comment about a male econoblogger?)

Given all that grief, why would any professional woman (i.e., a woman whose whereabouts are often a matter of public information due to the nature of her job) want to draw that kind of creepy extra attention to herself?

I never did end up becoming an economist, but I still switched to maintaining two blogs:
1) an infrequently updated, boring blog about frivolous topics with my husband as co-blogger (the latter in hopes that the fanboys will get the hint that while I may be *their* dream girl, that doesn't mean that they're my dream guy and no I have not been waiting my whole life for them to whisk me off to their parents' basement)
2) my serious, more controversial/opinionated, professional/political "real" blog, which is 100% anonymous

Wow, great point Jacqueline.

But are you just saying that because you're hot? :)

The internet is a dangerous place, and I think you're right that more of the predators are men. A woman might have a website and attract some unwanted attention, but when you add opinions to the mix you bring out the worst of the misogynists.

Excellent observation.

But I think professional women also want to be taken seriously in the profession and devote their time to peer reviewed research. While not mutually exclusive, having a blog where people express opinions off the cuff (often wrong, often controversial, rarely rigorous) undermines ones reputation as a serious scholar, unless you're already well established as such.

I wasn't aware Caplan denied being a consequentialist. Even Mises was a utilitarian, and Caplan seems rather firmly in the neoclassical tradition of using utility functions to make normative arguments.

No, the finance premium does not effect entrepreneurs, despite the rumors :).

Long live small business!

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