*The Economist* picks eight young top economists

They are:

Ms Dell and her Harvard colleagues Isaiah Andrews, Nathaniel Hendren and Stefanie Stantcheva; Parag Pathak and Heidi Williams of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…Emi Nakamura of the University of California, Berkeley and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business…

Mr Pathak and his co-authors have compared pupils who only just made it into elite public schools with others who only just missed out, rather as Ms Dell compared villages on either side of the Pentagon’s bombing thresholds. The study showed that the top schools achieve top-tier results by the simple contrivance of admitting the best students, not necessarily by providing the best education. Ms Dell and her co-author showed that bombing stiffened villages’ resistance rather than breaking their resolve.

Ms Williams has exploited a number of institutional kinks in the American patent system to study medical innovation. Some patent examiners, for example, are known to be harder to impress than others. That allowed her to compare genes that were patented by lenient examiners with largely similar genes denied patents by their stricter colleagues. She and her co-author found that patents did not, as some claimed, inhibit follow-on research by other firms. This suggested that patent-holders were happy to let others use their intellectual property (for a fee).

Here is the article, it is an interesting piece.


'Ms Dell and her co-author showed that bombing stiffened villages’ resistance rather than breaking their resolve.'

WWII is obviously fading into the past and out of basic awareness, because that was the basic conclusion of what happens when applying strategic bombardment (including firestorms).

But obviously, the reality of what happened in WWII is nothing compared to recent research done at Harvard being highlighted.

Aren't there diminishing returns to resolve stiffening? Eventually you start killing enough civilians such that resolve starts declining.

Apparently not in the case of Nazi Germany, though obviously 'resolve' may have different perspectives, such as distinguishing Nazi leadership from civilians.

Nuclear weapons certainly added another dimension, but in terms of the sort of bombing currently being practiced by the U.S., there is zero evidence from any war involving major U.S. strategic bombardment (WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam) that breaking the resolve of civilians so as to change their government's policy is an achievable goal.

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Nuking Japan really stiffened their resistance, didn't it?

Interesting point, as I decided to leave nuclear weapons out of discussion, in part because 'strategic bombardment' in terms of WWII did not include nuclear weapons.

The other reason I decided to leave nuclear weapons out is because one nuclear bombing did not seem to weaken Japan's resolve at all - this being a major reason why the second bombing was done.

The order to drop an atomic bomb on Nagasaki was given the same day as the order to drop one on Hiroshima.

And apparently we were going to bomb two more cities.

However, when the Soviet Union entered the war, Japan surrendered. The argument has been made that the decisive reason for the Japanese surrender was that fact, though clearly, nuclear weapons played a role.

However as noted by wikipedia - 'This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign that destroyed 67 Japanese cities.' A fact that just might lead one to believe that the Soviet Union played a larger role than two more destroyed cities.

Or not, of course - nuclear weapons certainly took city destruction to a new level.

Well, the second bomb did weaken Japan's resolve...

See above, but sure, one bomb, one plane, one city was undoubtedly disheartening.

The firebombing of Tokyo reduced the city's industrial output by 50%. There's resistance and there's the practical ability to resist. By the end of the war, Japanese civilians were sharpening bamboo sticks into spears in order to "resist" the coming American invasion. When that's all you're armed with, your level of resolve is irrelevant.

At the same time German industrial production was larger in 1944 than in 1941.

True. From what I've read, much of it never reached the front, though, because of the bombing of rail yards, bridges, and other transportation choke points. This was, at least in the German case, more effective than bombing cities themselves or the factories in/around them, so that's a point in favor of not attempting to punish or terrorize an enemy populace. Context is key, as always.

And the slave laborers mainly responsible for that increase - a number of whom died when the Allies bombed places like Gaggenau - had zero say in the matter, apart from cheering the bombing on.

Which, oddly enough, did nothing to decrease the output from those slave laborers.

That was as much a reflection of the lack of German production mobilization in 1941 as the ineffectiveness of strategic bombing.

I find these kinds of rankings stories puerile and simple minded. (Disclaimer: I’m not one if the Chosen Ones.) I mean, why 8 and not 7, or 12?

Not too far off topic, has anyone else noticed that the Economist has moved slightly to the left over the last few years? I’m aware that social justice warriors will label it, and anything they disagree with, alt right because that’s the tack they are currently taking but my question is what makes the Economist right wing at all? Does social liberalism combined with a mild fiscal conservativism now equal right of centre?

Yes, the Soviets collapsed ~30 years ago.

They oppose President Captain Bolsonaro's reforms.

Probably is the world that moved slightly to the right.

I've noticed a leftward shift with The Economist as well. Looking back it appears to have coincided with Micklethwait leaving for Bloomberg and Zanny Beddoes taking over: early 2015.

You are right. It has just become another leftist rag. For the past 6 elections, it has supported democrats. It constantly harps on the virtues of "gender equality" and social justice.

Look at the "economists" it mentions here. Deliberately chosen to have gender and racial diversity.

A list with Sufi but not Mian?? I m not convinced...

With all of the talk of the so-called "credibility revolution," I've yet to see any of their findings actually change minds. I am not especially impressed by work that evidently has no persuasive power.

Academic economics is so lame. It's just intellectual mediocrities mindlessly applying neoclassical microeconomic theory and econometrics to the most inane and trivial social science issues of the day.

The only economics worth its while today are economic history and monetary cranks and other partisan cranks like Post-Keynesians, Austrians, Marxians, etc who, even if only inadvertantly, actually grapple with important and philosophic questions.

+1. Marxism wasn't so bad compared to the vapid "young economists" in the modern West.

Absolutely! The job market papers and what-not that Tyler posts here are almost all consistently dull dealing in trivialities.

It's funny how much of a professional self-own most of these posts are.

What, you don't find the economics of the Duluth used car market compelling?

Well, what is best education? If, as an undergraduate, you have to learn say Calculus, there aren't many variations on what you are taught and how it is taught. So what is best education?

On the other hand, if you look at education in a broader sense as in meeting interesting, stimulating, bright people than we are probably up to something.

The technical matters (like Calculus ) are the first to be forgotten after school (very often are forgotten within hours after the exam. The meaningful education is the range of experiences and people a pupli is exposed to in school and as such there is a difference indeed in the quality of education.

I disagree. I remember calculus in college as being very difficult but what amazed me was the genius of Leibniz and Newton for creating it. I always marvel at the idea of derivatives and integrals as methods for solving problems that seemed baffling.

I can meet stimulating and bright people in ordinary life. My internet kept dropping out and after one tech replaced the modem, which did not fix the problem, a second tech came out. He found that the connection from the pole to our house was shot and had to be rebuilt. While he was working and testing the new connection, I had a really interesting and wide ranging conversation with him on many topics.

It is not the subjects are not fascinating and hard. They hard. The thing is that there aren't many different to teach them so the difference between a good university and a bad university in that respect will be very small. Both will teach the same thing in pretty much the same way.

Regarding meeting smart and stimulating people... yeah, you can meet a stimuliting plumber but you will spend half your time checking whether or nit he cheating you on the hours he charges. The same with clients, suppliers or coleagues at work. There is never the possibility of a pure connection intelectual connection as there is in school. But yeah, you are right, bright people are everywhere but the probablity of finding them at a great university is quite large.

Even (actually especially) for technical subjects I can tell you first hand there is a definite difference between good and bad universities - although this is coarse grained as in I think there's a big education quality increase between like Podunk U and a flagship state school or other good school but not as big of an increase between like U Michigan and Princeton.
The thing is the difficulty of the exams and also the types of assignments and projects in the course. Bad universities tend to have easier exams where you can just cram and do well, better schools tend to force you to learn the material better to do well and also (Calculus isn't a good example here) the courses might contain more projects which really help you learn. Worse universities just try to do the bare minimum. I find it actually quite scandalous.

What about the students who just missed being admitted to top-tier schools. Did it stiffen their resolve? Or were they so disappointed and discouraged that it weakened their resolve?

I think the US military figured this out over 50 years ago, when General “Wastemoreland”, as the left called him, was replaced with Creighton Abrams. Abrams approach was winning the war until the perfidy of the Democrats abandoned South Vietnam to the tender mercies of the NVA.

Why were we in Vietnam? Was it because we knew that 50 years later an American president would sell out his country to the Russians? Or was it because we knew that 50 years later the American economic juggernaut would be replaced by the Chinese economic juggernaut? Or was it because we knew that 50 years later American business would shift production to low cost Vietnam?

Your comments don’t even reach the level of stupidity. You know your questions are nonsense, but still you persist.

Every few years, the folks at Harvard and MIT hype a few of their connected former students. Most of whom are forgotten after a few years. How many people now remember Emily Oster?

"*The Economist* picks eight young top economists"

Quick, hang 'em.

These Up-and-Coming Whatevers to Watch articles always seem like those WWII movie platoons where one guy was sure to be from Brooklyn, one guy from a farm in Nebraska, one Italian, one Polish, one rich and spoiled, one poor and street-smart ... Or the Enterprise crew with Scotty, Sulu, Checkhov and Uhura

So all the best economists are American?

All the best economists work in research posts at American universities where they have little influence on policy or the education of America's current or future leaders. Uh, except Sufi. That combination of facts seems unlikely.

A brief survey suggests normal economists have heard of Sufi (yes!), maybe Pathak and maybe Nakamura. However, many of the others seem very technically skilled, proficient in specialist local policy areas of the United States, or to have good relations with strong co-authors.

Interestingly, exactly 50% of the members of these lists are female. Picture perfect. This has been the case for a while for such lists (especially those that come from media).

Yet, GMU Econ department has so few women. Why?

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