Andrew Leigh leaves the blogosphere

… and a ton of other stuff; hopefully temporarily. Andrew is going to Treasury for six months to try his hand as a public servant. On the one hand, I see this as a terrific opportunity, rarely afforded Australian academics, to see government from the inside. For what Andrew does that is essential and so long as it is temporary, his academic career will not suffer for it.

But for me personally, this is a big change. Andrew and I have written many papers over the past few years and continue to do so. Some of those are in the publication train but there will inevitably be a pause to the creation of new ones. But Andrew’s blog was the reason I got into this business and I get so much from reading both it and his AFR columns that were, by far, the best in the country. Many will miss that.

There is, however, another role Andrew was playing. For media commentary (not just on our joint work), we were each other’s fall-back. For instance, recently, I decided not to comment any more on the baby bonus and the timing issues that this would create today and tomorrow. Andrew stepped in and was there to save me from having to explain my decision to journalists. I’ll have to do my own wriggling now.

It is not all cost. One of the biggest mysteries Andrew and I had to deal with was why our push to have the baby bonus installment stopped failed earlier this year. The evidence and economics were compelling and it was a new political party in office. But yet we failed. Interestingly, one clue on that has come to light and it turns out that the policy we will have from 1st January, 2009, is in fact an original Latham era policy to do with parental leave. We had not been aware of this. The original policy involved fortnightly payments and a more stringent means test. But it was not motivated like Costello’s ‘one for the country’ absurdity but about parental leave. Hopefully, it will morph into that.

As a (temporary) insider, Andrew will likely get to learn more about what makes policies get traction and what doesn’t. This will be a valuable for all of us.

Results: Happy Economists

OK so here are the results of yesterday’s poll (thanks to Google Spreadsheets). The first number is the average (out of 5 where 5 is ‘Really Happy’ and 3 is ‘Neutral’) while the number in the brackets is the standard deviation.

4.35 (0.90)     3.3 (0.82)       3.47 (1.1)      

2.88 (0.79)   3.26 (1.06)     3.84 (0.81)

I am guessing Andrew Leigh’s picture was taken pre-baby.

Happy Economists

A new paper today about how happy economists seem. [HT: Marginal Revolution] To what end, I am not sure.

In honor of this I thought I’d conduct a survey of how happy some Australian economist bloggers appear. The survey is over the fold. (It could be laid out better but I didn’t want to spend more than 10 minutes on this). Results will follow later.

Continue reading “Happy Economists”


If you look a little to the right you might see something new: ads. Now that the blog is off the university system, it has costs that I would like to cover. They are not substantial, but still. Anyhow, I am trying out these Google ads out to see what they bring. Half of this site’s visitors come through searches and those are my ad targets. For regular readers, I recommend a feed reader or the email subscription service, neither of which will contain ads.

Blog host migration

Well, today, this blog was migrated (successfully it appears) to a new host outside of the Australian University system. Should relieve some traffic issues and downtime problems that we have been facing of late. The new host is BlueHost and I must say their technical support have been great (email responses within the hour). Feel free to let me know, however, if there are any teething issues.

Entrepreneur looking for economics web site ideas

Just a link to an entrepreneur looking for economics web site ideas. This must be a new phenomenon. In recent weeks I have had some non-trivial offers to buy and also an offer from a major media player to put advertisements on both of my blogs. Not enough for me to sell (although I am thinking about the notion of ad revenue) but I was curious that someone now thought the name was worth something.

Google Blogs

And there I thought we already had this. But Google have launched Google Weblogs; in beta of course. Also, no one can get enough Rick Astley. Will the innovation never cease?

OK these new gadgets really worked for me too.