Thursday, December 07, 2006

Do Economists Agree on Anything? Yes

This is from Mankiws's blog:
Robert Whaples surveys PhD members of the American Economic Association and finds substantial agreement on a wide range of policy issues. For example:
  • 87.5 percent agree that "the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade."
  • 85.2 percent agree that "the U.S. should eliminate agricultural subsidies."
  • 85.3 percent agree that "the gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged."
  • 77.2 percent agree that "the best way to deal with Social Security's long-term funding gap is to increase the normal retirement age."
  • 67.1 percent agree that "parents should be given educational vouchers which can be used at government-run or privately-run schools."
  • 65.0 percent agree that "the U.S. should increase energy taxes."

And, finally, the topic that generates the most consensus:

  • 90.1 percent disagree with the position that "the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries."

One issue that fails to generate consensus is the minimum wage: 37.7 percent want it increased, while 46.8 percent want it eliminated.

Econometrics: A Bird's Eye View

This is a survey on economtrics for the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and Law, 2nd ed. (forthcoming).
Econometrics: A Bird’s Eye View
by John F. Geweke, Joel L. Horowitz, Hashem Pesaran (November 2006)

As a unified discipline, econometrics is still relatively young and has been transforming and expanding very rapidly over the past few decades. Major advances have taken place in the analysis of cross sectional data by means of semi-parametric and non-parametric techniques. Heterogeneity of economic relations across individuals, firms and industries is increasingly acknowledged and attempts have been made to take them into account either by integrating out their effects or by modeling the sources of heterogeneity when suitable panel data exists. The counterfactual considerations that underlie policy analysis and treatment evaluation have been given a more satisfactory foundation. New time series econometric techniques have been developed and employed extensively in the areas of macroeconometrics and finance. Non-linear econometric techniques are used increasingly in the analysis of cross section and time series observations. Applications of Bayesian techniques to econometric problems have been given new impetus largely thanks to advances in computer power and computational techniques. The use of Bayesian techniques have in turn provided the investigators with a unifying framework where the tasks of forecasting, decision making, model evaluation and learning can be considered as parts of the same interactive and iterative process; thus paving the way for establishing the foundation of “real time econometrics”. This paper attempts to provide an overview of some of these developments. 
PDFDiscussion Paper No. 2458