Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Want to Become a Good Research Analyst?

As posted on this blog, 5 simple tips are highlighted to those interested in polishing their research and analytical skills:

1. Doing: Have a go – learn by doing

2. Learning together: Learn off someone experienced – read their work, have them review yours

3. Reflection: Be your best critic – analyse your own work – ask if your analysis and conclusions are watertight

4. Validate: Always ask yourself – ‘what is the evidence telling me, what can I confidently say from it? Is there anything I am saying that the evidence doesn’t justify?’

5. Peer review: Always get an experienced person to proof-read, review and validate you final report. Get them to provide constructive feedback.

Click here for the full article.

August 15, 2007 at 5:42 pm 1 comment

Should economists run for president?

In many countries, policy decisions are often made by politicians who barely know any economics – let alone – the economic impact their decisions are likely to have on the economy and consumers as a whole. Yes, they have their “economic advisors” to whom they consult – or should be consulting – when making important decisions related to the economy; but do they really make decisions that are at all times beneficial to the economy – ignoring their own selfish political agendas? No.

One could then argue, if economists are, after all, the backbone behind which political leaders make policy decisions – why shouldn’t they be given some prominence in the political running of the country as well? May be because (unfortunately) it isn’t just a sound understanding of economics that makes for a good president. You need to be charismatic, a leader, a person who can influence people. And unfortunately, many of the political leaders who possess such qualities, lack a thorough understanding of the subject area they love talking about.

For those interested, James Pethokoukis of the U.S. News and World Report, gives a thoughtful analysis on recent statements made by US democratic presidential contenders – and the weird economics behind them.

So to answer the question posed in the title: should economists run for president – I say yes. One can only imagine what progress could be made if we had our own Manmohan Singh running our country.

August 10, 2007 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

The Economics of…Anything.

I am often astounded at the number of fields Economics can be related to, and the vast body of research done by economists, which in a sense, wasn’t very economic. Take, for example, Emily Oster, a renowned economist at the University of Chicago, whose main research area has been to do with diseases in Africa. Sure, one could label such research as relating to Health Policy (another economic field I was surprised to learn, existed), but this really relates to, (and is often pointed out by her critics) Epidemiology – the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations. Seems more of a Natural Science field than a Social Science, doesn’t it?

Nevertheless, her efforts have been well rewarded, being named by the New York Times as one of 13 up-and-coming academic economists in the world today. And the truth is, her research is pretty darn good. I think what gave her an edge was the training in mathematical and analytical thinking that a degree in Economics gives, (over a degree in say, Sociology) which enabled her to effectively analyze econometric models and the like, thus arriving at theoretically sound, yet factually-based, conclusions.

Does that mean then, that as future economists, it can be possible to conduct research on any topic that catches our fancy – and be able to label it as (somewhat) economic – so long as we apply the principles of economics we learned in college and elsewhere? I would like to think so. The question we must ask is, where then do we draw the line?

July 25, 2007 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

The Rhino Problem

I spotted an interesting online blog entry made by Freakonomics co-author, Stephen J. Dubner today. It asked its readers to think up a solution to the following problem regarding wildlife conservation of Rhinos. I decided to have a go at finding a possible solution to the problem using the Economics I know up to now – feel free to leave comments on your views towards addressing the problem.

The main issue is deciding between funding conservation projects in Zimbabwe where the threat of extinction is more imminent but where corruption in the country is widespread, versus Botswana, a minimally corrupt country with poaching stresses being less high.

The first question I would ask is: for any dollar that is given in funding, how much of it is misused? Arguably, it would be quite difficult to find reliable data on this issue. However, if it is possible to get a rough estimate of how much aid was provided to each country in a given year and how much was actually used, this would give us a estimate- albeit a very rough one – as to what percentage of funds is actually used towards the betterment of society.

Next, it would be useful to determine the cost incurred per Rhino saved from extinction. This is a very ambiguous definition, but it could be calculated, using fixed, variable, tangible and intangible costs, to give a rough idea. An example of a cost incurred could be the expenditure on extra security in the form guards and technology, used to prevent poaching. This could give us an idea as to how many Rhinos can be saved per country per XX amount spent in funding.

Another issue that needs to be examined is the difference between poaching rates in the two countries. If differences are not large compared to the amount of money squandered, it may be a better idea to fund conservation projects in Botswana rather than in Zimbabwe.

A final note I might add is that it is not clear whether all the money has to be spent on one country or whether it can be divided among the two. If it can be divided, then the situation arguably gets more tricky. Comments?

July 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

Freakonomics…?

Hello and welcome to the official blog of the RI Young Economists’ Association! Blog, you say? That’s right. For a while now, members have been discussing starting a website catered to the association. While this clearly isn’t a website, I thought it would be nice to create a blog whereby we can post interesting articles that we come across relating to Economics, Sociology or anything really that catches our fancy.

The idea entered my mind while browsing blogs of some of today’s leading economists. The main goal of this blog is to keep us up to date with what’s happening in the world today. Hence, feel free to send in links or articles or your own research so that it can be posted on this site. Remember, we want to keep this blog educational AND fun!

Enjoy!

P.S. Please feel free to leave comments on articles posted and any constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated!

July 23, 2007 at 11:08 am Leave a comment


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