Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dominicks ...

... is open again. Yum.

For folks not in Ann Arbor, Dominick's is the restaurant / bar closest to Lorch Hall, home of the economics department. They close every year between the last home football game and the Monday after winter break as much of their seating is outside.

This year, their re-opening on Monday "caused" temperatures to increase by about 30 degrees relative to Sunday. Such power.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Making grocery shopping better

How come no one thought of combining beer and grocery shopping before?

Can white wine at Whole Foods be far behind?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Blood and Gore

I enjoyed this Atlantic piece by James Fallows on Al Gore's investment firm more than I expected to. Particularly interesting is the surprisingly detailed description of the process that the firm uses to choose the firms in which it invests.

The key weakness of the piece is that no attempt is made to separate out two very different stories about the firm's financial success: One is that they have shown that, magically, you can have it all: high financial returns while investing only in ethically and environmentally friendly companies. In that story, the firm's performance provides evidence that the tradeoff that the literature highlights between monetary returns and other goals does not have empirical bite. The other, very different, story is that Gore's firm earns above-market returns because they focus on bread-and-butter issues that other investment companies do not emphasize enough, such as corporate governance and executive compensation, they pay relatively more attention to the long run than do other firms, and they are relatively more activist shareholders. Under this story, their returns would be still higher if they did not add in the focus on ethically and environmentally friendly firms. Of course, it could all just be good luck too, an aspect that the story neglects but which merits attention given the firm's relatively small size.

One odd bit. Fallows notes: "No one [at the firm,which is mostly in the UK] seems to call him `Vice President Gore'; they viewed my reflexive use of the term as a weird Americanism." I think Fallows needs to get out more. Only a beltway journalist used to flattering politicians would bother with this sort of foolishness. Gore has been out of office for 16 years!

Another odd bit: Why doesn't the firm pay Laura Tyson to be on their advisory board?

You have to read the article to understand the title of the post. Truly an opportunity missed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On where to publish after tenure

Instapundit remarks on a paper that argues that law professors publish just as much post-tenure but dial down the journal placement.

The journal process can be slow and tortuous, and not infrequently results in papers that are worse, not better. It puzzles me a bit that well-known tenured economists with access to the NBER working paper series, which has essentially become a means of self-publication rather than a means of circulating unfinished work for comments, bother with the journals at all. If people will read and cite the NBER working paper, why spend time rewriting to make the paper more like the one that the referees would have written when you could write a new one?