Friday, December 19, 2014

Two conferences straddling the holidays

In case anyone is interested, I'll be presenting at an Infometrics Institute workshop today (here). The topic is information theoretic/maximum entropy econometrics and I'll be presenting my work on a generalized maximum entropy version of propensity score matching. It's still a work in progress (it's received some major changes since the Southerns), but I have high hopes for it.

At the end of January I'll be presenting at an INET-YSI workshop on economic history (here). If you click through the link you'll notice something funny. There's a list of a few "senior participants" that includes many actual economic historians (and historians of the economy) whose names you might even recognize and do seem to merit being called "senior participant". Then there's me. I think this is because the organizer had been asking my about my interest and got a commitment early. Very strange/intimidating. Anyway I'm going to be presenting some work on gross job flows in postbellum manufacturing. I was tempted to add a subtitle "a VERY rough estimate" because the imperfections in the data sources worry me, but I suppose this is par for the course for a lot of economic history.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

1920-21 and reasoning from a price change: two recent posts

Two recent posts on monetary policy and 1920-21 by Tom Woods and George Selgin. The thrust of it is some of us (myself included) are, as Scott Sumner would put it, reasoning from a price change. I don't have a strong view of the argument because I haven't had a chance to look at the data. I find Woods's post a little odd - he seems to switch from arguing from a price change to arguing from a quantity change. The other problem here is that even if money were still tight through the recovery, the break in the extremely tight policy still matters. A lot of people think that Bernanke has been tight throughout the recovery, but that is not the same thing as saying that the stark policy changes at the beginning of the crisis didn't prevent a much worse situation. I'm not a monetary economist and I haven't had time to digest all of this, but those are my initial reactions.

I really have to add that Selgin's glib reference to my article (RAE) and note (CJE) on 1920-21* doesn't demonstrate a good grasp of what I've claimed. My point has always been that 1920-21 doesn't disprove Keynesian arguments. I am no critic of the idea that markets can recover on their own, nor am I a critic of the idea that monetary policy can be instrumental in a recovery without fiscal policy.

Anyway - links:
George Selgin
Tom Woods

* - He says I've made "something of a specialty" of this work, which is also odd because most of my research has nothing to do with 1920-21 - it's hardly a specialty of mine.