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Mises Weekends: A New Series of Interviews Hosted by Jeff Deist

May 29, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

MisesWeekends_v2_Deist_1400

Beginning tomorrow night, Mises Weekends will bring you a new show every week featuring timely interviews and discussions on current trends and events with journalists, scholars, entrepreneurs, and more.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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More on Grad School

May 29, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

master-and-apprentice

I appreciate Walter’s useful advice on surviving graduate school as an Austrian economist or libertarian or both. (I’ve also discussed graduate school strategies, and more general career issues, at Mises University; here is a talk from 2010.) I do have one disagreement, however. Walter writes: “Don’t take any part time jobs; don’t be anyone’s research assistant. Don’t be a teaching assistant. Don’t teach any courses. Just study to pass your courses with the best marks possible, and pass your oral or comprehensive exams.”

There are two problems with this. First, it is difficult to get a tenure-track position at a college or university without any teaching experience. I agree with Walter that grad students should not do a lot of teaching, either as primary instructors or teaching assistants, because this interferes with the dissertation. But having some teaching experience, and good student evaluations, can help on the job market.

Second, working as a professor’s research assistant usually leads to a better dissertation. Academic research is difficult and, like other skilled crafts, is often best learned through an apprenticeship model. You cannot learn how to be a good researcher just by listening to lectures and reading articles and books. You learn from experience. By working with a professor — hopefully on an article — you see how the sausage is made. You learn to formulate research questions, to evaluate existing literature, to collect and analyze data if appropriate, to write up results, and to deal with journal editors and reviewers. Moreover, students who don’t already have a dissertation topic can often find one as a spin-off of a professor’s existing project. Of course, grunt work — e.g., entering data into a spreadsheet — should be avoided if possible. But assisting a more experienced researcher is usually the best way to learn the craft.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Janet, Joe, Lou, and the Babe

May 29, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Our money-printer-in-chief, Janet Yellen, gave the commencement address at NYU’s graduation ceremony in Yankee Stadium.  She advised the 8,000 assembled graduates that it is  ”an unfortunate myth” that “something called ‘ability’” has much to do with success.  (Ability being an innate characteristic, it would of course have been politically incorrect for her to have said otherwise.)  Rather Yellen touted “grit,” perseverance, and passion for one’s work as the most important job skills.

Highlighting the importance of perseverance, Yellen stated:

Yankee Stadium is a natural venue for another lesson: You can’t succeed all the time.  Even Ruth, Gehrig, and DiMaggio failed most of the time when they stepped to the plate.  Finding the right path in life, more often than not, involves some missteps.  My Federal Reserve colleagues and I experienced this as we struggled to address a financial crisis that threatened the global economy.

Now it is true that Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio were only successful in about one-third of their career at bats.  But in its 100-year history the Fed has never succeeded in attaining its stated goal of providing sound money to the U.S. economy and abolishing business cycles.  Its missteps have been legion and legendary, and committed in every decade of its existence.  It orchestrated massive price inflation during and immediately after World War 1 and the Great Inflation of the 1970s (which began in the mid-1960s).  During World War 2, the massive expansion of the money supply that it engineered in conjunction with draconian price controls caused the phenomenon of “repressed inflation” that featured a shortage of goods and coercive government rationing, not to mention the explosion of  prices immediately after the war.  The asset bubbles that it created in the 1920s, 1980s, 1990s and  2000s all culminated in financial crises and recessions/depressions of greater or lesser length and intensity.  Its attempt to “reflate” the economy and prevent prices and wages from adjusting to market conditions after the Great Crash of 1929 was one of the factors that caused an agonizing prolongation of the Great Depression.    Currently, we are confronted with signs of  incipient bubbles in stocks and real estate as a result of the Bernanke/Yellen regime of quantitative easing and zero interest rate targeting.

Yes, Yellen and her predecessors have shown remarkable perseverance.  But they have all persevered in a fool’s errand, which no one has the “ability” to accomplish: trying to centrally plan the supply and …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Advice for Grad Students

May 29, 2014 in Economics

By Walter Block

1280px-Bibliotecaestantes

At Loyola University, my colleagues and I have been very successful in sending off numerous of our graduating economics majors to graduate school, to get a phd in economics. Here is some advice I offer them, which might be helpful to others as well:

Advice for grad students (some of this advice is personal to me; take what makes sense to you and ignore the rest):

1.Your goal is to get that phd, asap. Don’t let anything interfere with that, if at all possible. If you need money, take out loans, don’t work and let that interfere with your studies.

2.Don’t take any part time jobs; don’t be anyone’s research assistant. Don’t be a teaching assistant. Don’t teach any courses. Just study to pass your courses with the best marks possible, and pass your oral or comprehensive exams.

3.Don’t argue with your professors, certainly not on basic issues. Your job is not to convert them to laissez faire capitalism, to Austrianism, to libertarianism or anything else. It is only to get that phd, asap.

4.Pick a relatively non controversial dissertation topic. Pick a professor to guide you who has prestige within the department (if your committee rejects your dissertation, it is a slap at your advisor too; so pick one who will not likely get slapped).

5.I found the most difficult part of getting my phd was writing the dissertation (although the oral exam was tough). I was accustomed to classes, but never to a long protracted period of research and writing. Grit your teeth and write that material! After a while, I found working on that dissertation to be boring (it was mostly gathering of statistics, and running econometric studies). So, to perk myself up, I gave myself a reward system. If I did thus and such on my dissertation, I would reward myself with a day or two when I could do anything I wanted. On these days off, I would write things in defense of the pimp, or blackmail, or counterfeiting counterfeit money. By the time I finished my phd I had about 30 of these essays, which I later published as Defending I.

6.Make sure you “pack” your dissertation committee to the best of your ability. At Columbia, where I got my phd, Gary Becker was my dissertation advisor, my topic was rent control, certainly not controversial within the econ dept; when Gary left for Chicago, Bill Landes took over this role. …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How Political High Jinks Prevent Private Savings and Investment

May 29, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

400px-Tour_eiffel_at_sunrise_from_the_trocadero

[Note: Antoine Clarke at the Cobden Centre explains how political instability in France destroyed the incentive to save, and how the French and Russian states conspired to steal even more.]

“The Death of French Savings, the Russian Bonds Story 1880-1996″

By Antoine Clarke

The following text is from the notes I made of a talk that I gave to the “End of The World Club” at the Institute of Economic Affairs on 18 April 2014.

If there is one feature of human society that makes it successful, it is the capacity that human beings have of choosing to satisfy short-term appetites or to defer gratification. This ability to distinguish between short term and long term interests is at the heart of economics.

But why defer consumption? Why save at all?

One reason is the transmission of wealth from one generation to the next. Another is to ensure security in hard times.

A complaint of American academics about French savings in the 19th century is that they were too conservative. Easy for them to say.

The population of France grew more slowly than any other industrialising nation in the 19th century (0.2% per year from 1870 to 1913, compared with 1.1% for Germany and 0.9% for Great Britain). The figures would be even worse if emigration from the British Isles were added to the headcount.

This slower rate of population growth would tend to mean a slower rate of economic growth: smaller local markets, fewer opportunities for mass production. This was well known to be a problem in France. In fact Jean-Baptiste Say was sent to England in 1815 to study the growth of English cities such as Birmingham and its effect on the economy (here in French).

The causes of low investment must surely include political and social instability.

Here are the changes of regime in France during the 19th century:
1800-1804: The Consulate
1804-1814: The Empire
1814: The First Restoration
1814-1815: The Return of Napoleon
1815-1830: The Return of the Restoration
1830-1848: The British Experiment
1848-1851: The Second Republic
1851-1852: The military coup-d’état
1852-1859: The Empire Strikes Back
1860-1870: The Free Trade Experiment (supported by Richard Cobden)
1870-1871: Three sieges of Paris, two civil wars, one foreign occupation
1870-1879: The State Which Dare Not Speak Its Name (retrospectively declared to be a republic)
1879-1914: La Belle Epoque (including the anarchist bombings 1892-1894 and the Dreyfus Affair 1894-1906)

If instability discourages savings, it is remarkable how much there actually …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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TODAY: Congress to Vote on At Least Four Amendments Reigning in Troubled Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

May 29, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Amendments Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws; Prohibit DEA from Blocking Production of Hemp; Deny Proposed DEA Budget Increase

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Dept and Congress; Lawmakers and Advocates Call for Her to be Fired

Today, the House is set to vote on at least four amendments checking the DEA’s power and cutting its budget.

May 29, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY