It’s Friday the 13th, so obviously the Spurs lost. How else can it be explained? I’m still in shock. After the 27-degree sunshine in London (for which, of course, I was in rainy and chilly Addis Ababa), Leicester City winning the premiership, and the continued rise of Trump, this is clearly a sign of the end of days. So quickly, to the economics, before the coming apocalypse makes the Solow Growth model and convergence of incomes moot.
1. Speaking of Trump, I think I need to eat some serious humble pie. After the first primary, I remember confidently stating that there was no way on earth that he could possibly win the Republican nomination; that early polls are usually wildly inaccurate; that no-one with such net negative favourability ratings had ever won. Well, he did; and we need to work out why so many people got this so wrong. The best piece of navel-gazing comes from one of the more consistent Trump sceptics, Harry Enten at 538. I am now resolutely making no predictions whatsoever, because my ‘put your house on the Spurs’ statement indicates that my endorsement is a kiss of death, and I’m not taking the blame for President Trump.
2. In another sign that the Idiocracy is almost upon us, an Italian economist was chucked off a plane for writing in ‘terrorist code’. The said code? Algebra. Granted, the Lagrangian Multiplier is probably one of the scariest things I’ve seen, but still, make no mistake, this is the worst. I mean, what’s the reasoning here? Person writes in non-English script, must be Bin Laden? Even if Guido Menzio was Middle Eastern and writing in Arabic, how did it get this far? Suspicion was raised because he was not white enough and was writing in a foreign script. This is outrageous.
3. Perhaps the only silver linings here are that Guido’s work is getting more attention, and the Economist did something funny (yes, I know – end of days, see the intro) with their list of ten signs that you’re sitting next to an economist on a plane. If you’re sitting next to this economist, you can tell by the loud snores and constant, annoying, fidgeting.
4. The SDAs on the list might not like this, but here’s Stephen Porter arguing that qualitative research is increasingly irrelevant. Before the rotten tomatoes are launched my way, I think qualitiative research is really important (and always make this point in trainings on using evidence effectively), but he’s right that there’s a trend among some researchers into wilfully esoteric and vague work, which makes it less attractive to policy makers.
5. And, for fairness’s sake – here’s Dave Evans on a bugbear of mine about quantitative research – how little of it provides information on cost and cost-effectiveness of interventions. This always annoys me – it matters if something is really expensive! Speaking of research – here’s some pretty terrible practice – a researcher released personally identifiable data on 70,000 OKCupid users, and then casually brushed it off. Gah.
7. Finally – someone has actually gone up to everyone in a café and asked them what exactly they’re working on at that moment. Two main thoughts: one, Americans are pretty entrepreneurial; and two, they’re all clearly lying because none of them said ‘goofing off on Facebook’.
Have a great weekend, everyone!