Re: Levitt article

2003-08-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/4/03 9:41:08 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The article discusses Levitt's research style: his tendency to ask odd
but
interesting questions and be clever enough to be able to test the
hypotheses with publically available data. It also has some discussions
of
his career path and a little about his personal life. Fabio

Thanks, Fabio.  So what's so bad about that?

David



Re: Levitt article

2003-08-14 Thread fabio guillermo rojas

 I couldn't access the article. Could anyone either copy and paste it to me 
 (privately so as not to distrub others) or perhaps just give me a briefy 
 summary?  Thank you.
 David Levenstam

The article discusses Levitt's research style: his tendency to ask odd but
interesting questions and be clever enough to be able to test the
hypotheses with publically available data. It also has some discussions of
his career path and a little about his personal life. Fabio




Re: Levitt article

2003-08-14 Thread John Morrow
Along those lines, the following is a Paul Krugman article, which quite 
humorously recaps a similar media event about a wunderkind economist -- 
probably a story only economists would find funny.

http://www.pkarchive.org/cranks/legend.html

At 09:51 PM 8/4/2003 -0500, you wrote:

 The article discusses Levitt's research style: his tendency to ask
 odd but interesting questions and be clever enough to be able to
 test the hypotheses with publically available data. It also has some
 discussions of his career path and a little about his personal life.
 Fabio

 Thanks, Fabio.  So what's so bad about that?
 David
Well, the article's style and tone was a little odd. For example, as
someone else pointed out, it seemed to imply that Steve Levitt was alone
in the economic analysis of crimes and other non-market behaviors. It also
has this aw-shucks attitude, depicting a wunderkind who was ignored by
the profession until the profession was stunned and surprised by his wit.
All in all, not the worst article ever written, combining the story of an
interesting economist with some weird framing. Fabio





Re: Levitt article

2003-08-14 Thread fabio guillermo rojas

 The article discusses Levitt's research style: his tendency to ask
 odd but interesting questions and be clever enough to be able to
 test the hypotheses with publically available data. It also has some
 discussions of his career path and a little about his personal life.
 Fabio
 
 Thanks, Fabio.  So what's so bad about that?
 David

Well, the article's style and tone was a little odd. For example, as
someone else pointed out, it seemed to imply that Steve Levitt was alone
in the economic analysis of crimes and other non-market behaviors. It also
has this aw-shucks attitude, depicting a wunderkind who was ignored by
the profession until the profession was stunned and surprised by his wit.
All in all, not the worst article ever written, combining the story of an
interesting economist with some weird framing. Fabio




Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread Alex Tabarrok
Here it is.  Fabio, we expect better work from you next time!  :-)

Alex

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/magazine/03LEVITT.html?pagewanted=printposition=

--
Alexander Tabarrok 
Department of Economics, MSN 1D3 
George Mason University 
Fairfax, VA, 22030 
Tel. 703-993-2314

Web Page: http://mason.gmu.edu/~atabarro/ 

and 

Director of Research 
The Independent Institute 
100 Swan Way 
Oakland, CA, 94621 
Tel. 510-632-1366 






Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread William Sjostrom
It is an annoying piece, even if it shows the public what Levitt is up to,
because it strongly indicates that Levitt is an outlier in the profession in
his interests.  Forty years ago, he would have been a rarity in the
profession.  Today, he is pretty standard.
Bill Sjostrom


- Original Message - 
From: Alex Tabarrok [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: Levitt article


 Here it is.  Fabio, we expect better work from you next time!  :-)

 Alex


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/magazine/03LEVITT.html?pagewanted=printposition=

 -- 
 Alexander Tabarrok
 Department of Economics, MSN 1D3
 George Mason University
 Fairfax, VA, 22030
 Tel. 703-993-2314

 Web Page: http://mason.gmu.edu/~atabarro/

 and

 Director of Research
 The Independent Institute
 100 Swan Way
 Oakland, CA, 94621
 Tel. 510-632-1366










Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread fabio guillermo rojas

What I found interesting is that in economics, like in many other fields,
there are problem solvers (people who figure out specific paradoxes,
empirical facts, etc) and theory builders. Levitt is a supremely
able problem solver, a niche that didn't exist 30-40 years ago in the
economics profession. Fabio 

On Mon, 4 Aug 2003, William Sjostrom wrote:
 It is an annoying piece, even if it shows the public what Levitt is up to,
 because it strongly indicates that Levitt is an outlier in the profession in
 his interests.  Forty years ago, he would have been a rarity in the
 profession.  Today, he is pretty standard.
 Bill Sjostrom




Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread Dimitriy V. Masterov

In an earlier message, William Sjostrom suggested that Levitt's research
is typical of the economics field. I am very curious about this statement,
because it is at odds with my casual empiricism, and I would like to see
it backed by some concrete evidence. Perhaps this reflects my own
ignorance of the literature, but I would like to know who
does such clever, but careful empirical work. If this is true, I'd like
to read it. Are there people out there that collect interesting data to
approach previously intractable questions from a new direction?

The best example of this that I can think of is a working paper that
estimated the scope of corruption in Indonesia by looking at how the stock
prices of companies that has close links to the Suharto government reacted
to news about his health. I can't seem to find this paper to provide you
with a citation.


Dimitriy V. Masterov


___
Dimitriy V. Masterov

Center for Social Program Evaluation
1155 East 60th St. Room 038
Chicago, IL 60637
Work: (773)256-6005
Fax: (773)256-6313





Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread Daniel Houser
In my own biased view, one such group are experimentalists. The best
experimental work provides extremely clever manipulations that generate data
to address previously empirically intractable questions. The AER is full of
such clever and careful work. Recent AER examples include Henrich et. al.'s
efforts to use experiments to learn about how trust and market performance
are related, Fehr et. al.'s efforts to examine the effect of sanctions on
cooperation, List et. al.'s field experiments with baseball cards, and on
and on (including work by ICES colleagues)... On balance I would argue that
Levitt is indeed unusually clever (in the sense that he comes up with good
questions and also finds interesting natural manipulations to study them),
but that his particular approach to economic science is not novel: Vernon
Smith has been using it for decades. - Dan

- Original Message - 
From: Dimitriy V. Masterov [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 3:52 PM
Subject: Re: Levitt article



 In an earlier message, William Sjostrom suggested that Levitt's research
 is typical of the economics field. I am very curious about this statement,
 because it is at odds with my casual empiricism, and I would like to see
 it backed by some concrete evidence. Perhaps this reflects my own
 ignorance of the literature, but I would like to know who
 does such clever, but careful empirical work. If this is true, I'd like
 to read it. Are there people out there that collect interesting data to
 approach previously intractable questions from a new direction?

 The best example of this that I can think of is a working paper that
 estimated the scope of corruption in Indonesia by looking at how the stock
 prices of companies that has close links to the Suharto government reacted
 to news about his health. I can't seem to find this paper to provide you
 with a citation.


 Dimitriy V. Masterov




___
 Dimitriy V. Masterov

 Center for Social Program Evaluation
 1155 East 60th St. Room 038
 Chicago, IL 60637
 Work: (773)256-6005
 Fax: (773)256-6313








Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread William Sjostrom
 In an earlier message, William Sjostrom suggested that Levitt's research
 is typical of the economics field. I am very curious about this statement,
 because it is at odds with my casual empiricism, and I would like to see
 it backed by some concrete evidence. Perhaps this reflects my own
 ignorance of the literature, but I would like to know who
 does such clever, but careful empirical work. If this is true, I'd like
 to read it. Are there people out there that collect interesting data to
 approach previously intractable questions from a new direction?

I did not quite mean that most economists were as clever as Levitt.  I meant
only that the kinds of problems Levitt works on are now pretty standard.
Crime has been a common topic among economists for decades.  The reference
to Levitt's work on real estate agents is basically just agency theory,
again a topic for empirical work for some years.  I do not mean to denigrate
Levitt's creativity, which is simply huge.  My complaint was about the way
the Times told the story.  They made it sound as if economists sit around
all day making vague philosophical observations about capitalism and
socialism, or something like that, rather than working on the small problems
that most of us spend most of our time working on.
Bill Sjostrom


+
William Sjostrom
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Policy Studies
National University of Ireland, Cork
5 Bloomfield Terrace, Western Road
Cork, Ireland

+353-21-490-2091 (work)
+353-21-490-3658 (fax)
+353-21-463-4056 (home)
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
www.ucc.ie/~sjostrom/




Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread AdmrlLocke
I couldn't access the article. Could anyone either copy and paste it to me 
(privately so as not to distrub others) or perhaps just give me a briefy 
summary?  Thank you.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 8/4/03 8:07:18 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I did not quite mean that most economists were as clever as Levitt.  I
meant

only that the kinds of problems Levitt works on are now pretty standard.

Crime has been a common topic among economists for decades.  The reference

to Levitt's work on real estate agents is basically just agency theory,

again a topic for empirical work for some years.  I do not mean to denigrate

Levitt's creativity, which is simply huge.  My complaint was about the
way

the Times told the story.  They made it sound as if economists sit around

all day making vague philosophical observations about capitalism and

socialism, or something like that, rather than working on the small problems

that most of us spend most of our time working on.

Bill Sjostrom



Re: Levitt article

2003-08-04 Thread fabio guillermo rojas

 and on (including work by ICES colleagues)... On balance I would argue that
 Levitt is indeed unusually clever (in the sense that he comes up with good
 questions and also finds interesting natural manipulations to study them),
 but that his particular approach to economic science is not novel: Vernon
 Smith has been using it for decades. - Dan

Correct me if I am wrong, but a big difference between Vernon Smith and
Levitt is that Smith focuses mostly on a single area - experimental econ
with a cognitive focus - while Levitt is a bit more wide ranging in his
interests. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe that's a reason Levitt is so
distinctive. Few people have the cleverness to consistently spot
interesting puzzles and then have the tenacity to find data that can
actually test hypotheses.

Of course, the long term interesting question: will such puzzle solving
lead to greater economic insight? I think so. In mathematics, such puzzle
solvers are good at showing all sorts of cherished ideas are wrong and the
evidence accumulated from such research can force people to think in new
ways. Also, puzzle solvers are good at finding tricks that can be used to
solve other problems. I wouldn't be surprised if Levitt's long term legacy
is like that of Paul Erdos the mathematician who was notorious for solving
goofy problems, but whose solutions forced people to rethink a lot of
math.

Fabio