Irish Society of New Economists Conference

The programme for this year’s event, being organised and hosted in UCC, is available on this link.  Details below or on the website.

University College Cork‘s (UCC) School of Economics are pleased to host the Irish Society of New Economists (ISNE) 9th annual conference.

The conference will take place on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th of August, 2012.

If you wish to contact the local organising committee they can be contacted at

The ISNE was formed to encourage research, information and social links among economists at the early stages of their careers in Ireland and Europe. The annual conference is intended for Masters, PhD students, and young professionals in the early stages of research. Eligibility to present has nothing to do with age. We strongly encourage those working on economics-related research in all settings to present.

The 2012 ISNE meeting will feature the work and findings of scholars in economics, econometrics and related fields, and will provide an excellent opportunity to present your own research results and work in progress.

We would encourage those who are participating in the conference or those who can not attend the conference this year to join the ISNE 2012 conference Linkedin group.  This will allow a forum for discussion and announcements relating to the conference.  To join the Linkedin group please simply click the Linkedin tab below. Linkedin

We look forward to meeting you in Cork in 2012.

The Local Organising Committee:

Robbie Butler (Lecturer in Economics UCC)
David Butler (Lecturer in Economics UCC)
Justin Doran (Lecturer in Economics UCC)”

52 replies on “Irish Society of New Economists Conference”

This whole effort is both hilarious and frightening. The hilarity is occasioned by this wonderful ability – universally observable, but quintessentially Irish in its fullest execution – to sustain an optical illusion – even to the extent of creating a parallel universe. An averagely intelligent external observer, having limited knowledge of or interest in matters Irish, would get no idea that the country is going through the aftermath of one of the most profound economic crises ever experienced by an advanced economy or that the Troika have their hands on the principal levers of economic policy or that the Government is cunningly resisting their desire to pull the remaining levers of economic policy in its control to promote effective recovery and reform.

But once the hilarity subsides, it is the fear for the future that takes hold. If these are our ‘new’ economists, presumably those at the early stages of thier careers as academic/professional economists, and there is so little engagement with the reality that most citizens are encountering, then it is truly frightening.

Tried to outline some examples to illustrate the above, but the gremlins consider them unacceptable. Hey ho.

Programme is below.

Some illustrative titles below:

Bank lending in a liberal credit market: Evidence from a small open economy

Risk-return incentives in liberalised electricity markets

Choice, price and service characteristics in the Irish broadband market

An examination of variations in the uptake of Prostate Cancer Screening

Job Creation and Destruction in Ireland 2006-2010

A Socioeconomic Profile of Childhood Disability in Ireland

Some of these examples, presumably advanced to refute it, actually support the case I am making.

For example, instead of ‘Risk-return incentives in liberalised electricity markets’, why not ‘Remedying the extreme dysfunction of energy policy and regulation in Ireland’? Or, instead of ‘Choice, price and service characteristics in the Irish broadband market’, why not ‘How to recover from the aftermath of the botched privatisation of telecoms infrastructure and services’? Or, instead of ‘The socio-economic aspects of marine renewable energy development in Ireland’, why not ‘How to minimise the detrimental impact of dysfunctional EU climate change policy in Ireland’?

I usually find that the nature and volume of pseudonymous abuse and vilification is a good indication of the extent to which I’m on the right track. And it’s usually reinforced by disingenuous efforts to undermine the case I’m making.

Liam: I presume you will press the organizers to leave space for Paul Hunt and his seminal paper “Yiz are all wrong and heres why” . I for one look forward to reading it.
Come on Liam, offer it here as a put up or shut up…. I will donate 100e to the SPCA if Paul takes it up. …. he wont

I have only once been at this conference, last year, where I chaired a session. I was impressed by the quality of the presentations which would put many more senior folks to shame. These conferences auger well for the future of the profession.The organizers are to be congratulated.

Agree with Kevin. I organised this for a number of years along with some others and in the beginning it was a much smaller and more local session. Since 2007 or so, the quality and quantity of the talks and the thought that has gone into the organisation has been superb and this year continues that trend. Would strongly encourage people to go along. Also would strongly encourage people to think of sessions for future years.

You tend to lose the audience when you open with: ‘This whole effort is both hilarious and frightening.’

As for the conference, I welcome the initiative. During my study of economics I found little to stimulate my interest in the subject, outside of classes. Hopefully it will be a success.

I’ve previously organized one of the ISNE conferences at UL, and participated in one as PHD student about 1 million years ago. In both cases I found each session I went to interesting in terms of subject matter but more importantly in terms of helping younger researchers to acquire experience at presenting and discussing their work. ISNE is good at what it does.

Paul’s cynicism isn’t merited, sexing up titles of papers doesn’t make the content more or less important in terms of its findings.

As I say Liam : put Paul up to speak , and see his excuses. There are none. Cant attend? Record it or skype it… more probable he wont attend. Then we will know that like many of the more sneery here he is an empty vessle.

Heaven forbid that PhD students spend their lives following their interests rather than pursuing Paul Hunt’s research agenda. How precocious.

Enda H
+1. I challenge Paul hunt to put forward his views also. What apart from face, do you have to lose Paul ?

The European Young Economists session is below

In Scotland, I am currently coordinating the PhD component of the SGPE. Each year, subject to some entry requirements, students from each of the 8 participating universities participate in a PhD conference. Each PhD speaker is matched to a faculty discussant from one of the other universities. There are also policy sessions, keynote lectures and various career-type events. There are advantages to the ISNE model in that faculty across the universities tend to feel obligated to attend and discuss papers given that its part of a formal programme. An advantage of the ISNE event has tended to be that its more student-driven and tends to have taken on a life of its own over the last few years.

As Stephen points out, the main purpose of these types of events is to create space for early-stage researchers to present their work in public in an environment less pressurised than traditional conference setting. ISNE is doing that job well for the last few years.

Folks, Paul has ample opportunity to put forward his views (including setting up a blog if he wants to). Also, according to his own accounts here, he has been an economic consultant for several years and hardly qualifies under the definition of “new”. Why dont we just accept that he is entitled to his opinion on the contents of this conference and not get into another silly round of taunts.

@Enda H,

I think ‘precious’ was the adjective you were looking for. I’m a bit too long in the tooth to be ‘precocious’. And I have no desire to control the research agenda of all economics PhD students in Ireland. It’s just that Ireland is confronting many challenges and problems on the economic and political economy front. I would just like to see one to two get to grips with a few of them.

And, Stephen Kinsella, I’m not in to ‘sexing up’ titles – just, in a very brief way, highlighting some problems/challenges that might be worth investigating.

And I think we all know why none of these ‘new’ economists would broach these issues. If they were to they would make themselves instantly as unemployable in Ireland as I am.

Good effort Paul, but no, I wrote what I meant.

It may come as a jolt, but I was not talking about you. Good man.

@Enda H,

Subtle. You have my apologies.


Well done. Decry the taunts, but refuse to engage. The only reason I comment here is that, occasionally, there is some engagement that enhances understanding.

But thanks for the link to Karl’s paper. It reveals quite a bit more about the economics profession than I suspect he intended.

@ Paul Hunt

I’m happy to see that you find our effort at organising ISNE 2012 hilarious. I can assure you that the reality was somewhat different.

Don’t fret about the future. Even if you are right, and us ‘new economists’ are completely disconnected from economic reality, we surely can’t leave the country in as bad a state as your generation.


@ All

The use of the word “new” is in itself presumptious. Finding out what is wrong with the “old” might be a more productive exercise. I agree with Paul Hunt that the economics profession in Ireland, with a few honourable exceptions, is living in some kind of parallel universe. Reality is, however, going to bite sooner or later.

@ All

Oops! I had the Institute for New Economic Thinking in mind rather than economists that happen to be new.


What is one to make of this?

“The annual conference is intended for Masters, PhD students, and young professionals in the early stages of research.”

Why not “applying their recently acquired professional knowledge to the present economic challenges”.

The mountain of academic research has hitherto, as far as I can judge, produced a not very useful mouse.

Good luck with the conference, Robbie. It looks like it’ll be great. Don’t worry about the rantings of internet folk. Worst comes to worst, we won’t be asked to present at their…institution.

On a more productive note, the two ISNEs I attended were amongst the more useful conferences I attended while doing my Ph.D and I very much regret that I will have to miss this one. We are lucky to have on this small island some really smart people looking at really interesting issues – some of importance to Ireland, others not so much, but all adding to the global stock of knowledge.

“It reveals quite a bit more about the economics profession than I suspect he intended.”
Care to enlighten the readers Paul?

Jeeze, some of you blokes are in a tetchy mood with PH. Getting a dim ctitique is not the nicest thing to endure. But ye have the option: improve or keep quite. How will ye respond when a ‘real economist’ uses a flenching knive on yer thin skins?

Now, if I get this correct, the most serious political challenge facing this state is gently trundling our way. I see nowt on the agenda about it. There was one about local transport. But that seem to be that.

Geeze, I wish some of ye pseudo-economists would do me a favour and state what yer economic Model-in-Use is. Could ye do this?

I think people are expecting too much… it looks like its a conference of people presenting their thesis. worthwhile but we are bankrupt now and no conference (not involving creditors) will do anything about that.

That said, there is something unsettling about seeing the next generation of economists being groomed for the BS factory. Personally, I think they should be forced to do something different after graduation… a few years working in a factory, farm, nursing home, running a business, flipping burgers, doing something practical, even living on the scratcher for a few years…. anything except graduating to the ‘super industry’ of quangos immediately.

Ah, come on lads.

This is a post-grad conference for PhD students and graduates who are newly emerging into the profession to talk about their studies and present some research findings.

Surely the economics profession – and the Irish economy as a whole – would benefit from having economists who can debate their methodologies, present their findings and accept peer-review.

Some of the chippy comments on this thread suggests that one or two of you are a little nervous of the next generation – better trained, better coached in the communication of their findings and better able to cope with debate.

No wonder the profession has such a poor reputation for arrogance!

Jesus, it really is like an old locals pub full of single issue bores around here; “as far as I can judge, produced a not very useful mouse” (how the hell could you judge?); “Geeze, I wish some of ye pseudo-economists would do me a favour and state what yer economic Model-in-Use is. Could ye do this?” (You read like a caricature straight out of central casting my brother) “a few years working in a factory, farm” (Oh, the plain folk of Ireland schtick, salt of the earth, stupid as hell)

All this anti academic ranting was funny at the start I must admit, now it’s just pathetic. Makes me glad I got out of the country, and left it to the embittered old fools. Turn the lights out when your done.

@Robbie Butler,

You are being a tad disingenuous. I don’t find your effort at organising this conference hilarious; I have no doubt it will be properly and prefessionally conducted. My criticism – and it is intended to be constructive – is of the content. Keynes did not inspire a generation of economists, policy makers and administrators by accepting the status quo in the 1930s; TK Whitaker did not accept the status quo when he and his colleagues provided the intellectual and admininistrative sinews for the major departure in Irish economic policy in the late 1950s; and the neocons most certainly did not accept the status quo when they sought to demolish the post-war economic policy consensus when it foundered in the 1970s.

If you and these other ‘new’ economists are perfectly happy with the current status quo being sustained by Official Ireland of ‘steady-as-she-goes’, of sustaining this optical illusion of ‘business-as-usual’, of hoping that something will turn up – while the domestic economy founders and large-scale unemployment becomes entrenched, then I’ll withdraw my criticism and reflect on the implications.

As DOCM observes, it appears that the current generation of ‘older’ economists – with some honourable exceptions – are broadly content with the current status quo. The reason I fear for the future is that I see no evidence of the ‘new’ generation being prepared to challenge this status quo. And again, you’re being a tad disingenuous. Not all of us older graduates who went on to practise the discipline were part of the Official Ireland that created this mess. (I took Official Ireland’s ‘shilling’ for only a couple of years in the late ’80s, but, since then, have been well outside the fold.)

Good luck with the conference guys, these are really brilliant events.

I remember the first one I went to and being quite blown away by the number of presenters from Abroad who came along. It really can open up your horizons and it’s great to meet other people working in the same area and at the same stage of their careers. I look forward to getting to an internet connection that lets me access Dropbox, and with a bit of luck, I might even get down to Cork!

A few things thinking back over the eleven years of this (i) Would be good to talk about developing some master classes on top of PhD training in Ireland and UK. Certainly demand and may relate back to previous post about online (ii) Interdisciplinary work also becoming more standard though again worth talking through (iii) There is an old debate in Ireland about whether PhD students should work on Irish topics. My own view is it shouldn’t really matter. If you come from a country, it can sometimes be an advantage as you know the place better. Certainly, it shouldn’t be the case that people dont work on Irish topics due to lack of data (iv) Will be interested to see Beamer/Powerpoint and R/STATA ratios this year! (v) The moving around (Dublin,Limerick,Galway,Dublin,Dublin.Cork) has been good. (vi) For people interested in how PhD research should adapt to massive global changes since 2008 the INET group has been the most prominent on this. They are not related to ISNE despite similarities in name. They have been a major force in asking questions about economics itself. People here including Philip Lane, Kevin O’Rourke and Stephan Kinsella have been involved (vii) Looking back over the presenters since the start, mix of people who are now academics, private sector financial, consultancy, civil service, wider public sector. Basically what you would expect from people who have taken postgraduate economics degrees. (viii) As said above, the international component and size of the conference has been great in last few years.

Look forward to this a lot. Well done again

@rf: My reference to an economic Model-in-Use has a strong intellectual pedigree. Else I would not harp on about it. It is such a crucial part of any academic programme that its absence is deeply worrying.

The ‘young’ economists do have an economic model in their heads – they just are not aware of it. Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast + Slow) describes one variant. There were priors; (Argyris and Schon; Georgescu-Roegen; Frederick Soddy and if you realy want your ass handed to you on a plate – Paul Samuelson). Its all there in the literature. Its just not widely known – its not dy/dxey stuff. But if you want to encounter bad outcomes (the one we are are enduring is the latest is a series!) just plough on, blind, oblivious and ignorant.

The reference to ‘working experience’ is one of the more wiser comments so far. In Behavioural Economics its known a Reference Framing. And what is that? Well its part of a Model-in-Use, is all!

My challenge stands un-answered – so far.

“The ‘young’ economists do have an economic model in their heads – they just are not aware of it”

I’m pretty sure anyone doing a PhD would be aware of basic economic models. Or perhaps not! I look forward to seeing if you’ve caught them out. Re prior work experience, big problem here is, even if I accept your premise, you don’t have a clue about any of these peoples backgrounds.

“No wonder the profession has such a poor reputation for arrogance!”

I don’t think anyone becoming hostile towards the conference has any connection to academia to be honest. More likely they’re just the internet equivalent of that demographic that haunts Ireland, Big men from small towns.

rf: Thank you for exposing your idea about what you understood by my reference to an economic Model-in-Use. Unfortunately its not what I have in mind. It is not any of those faux models that economists use. Those are based on the logical arguments of mathematics (and some woeful assumptions) and have little contact with reality. Its something quite different. My personal economic Model-in-Use is known as Sustainability. It does have significant problems (which I am aware of) and which no amount of Miltonian wishful thinking will erase. It is known as a ‘quick and dirty’ model.

It is not my intention to ‘catch out’ folk. Where amongst my various commentaries did you pick that up? It matters naught whether you accept anything I say. Folk make up their own mind’s about what they believe is useful to them. Sure, I am clueless. But a few pertinent questions might elucidate some answers. Ah! Maybe you believe that may have a ‘paternalistic’ streak. Your welcome.

I give you credit for attempting to answer my (intellectual) challenge. But I would be grateful if you would please identify yourself in full. Some of the commentators on this blog know me personally – I was an undergrad in Liam Delaney’s Behavioural Economics class in UCD.

My challenge still stands unanswered.

I am surprised and disappointed by some of the above comments.

These are junior researchers. They need to prove that they are competent. That is done by taking on a small but technically challenging subject.

Once they have shown to be able to do sound research, they can move on to relevant stuff. Recall that unsound research is irrelevant.

Even so, there is little truly esoteric stuff there, and some of the papers are in fact quite scathing of policy, if formulated in the cautious words of academics.

@Brian Woods Snr

Could you expand a little more on what your getting at? I’m not familiar with the term ‘Model-In-Use’. Perhaps a link to something I could read more on this?

I assume you don’t mean that the research done by Ph.D. students is irrelevant, Richard?

Also, I think that tackling small (or well defined) questions is the best way to do science.

For those coming to Cork on the 23rd and 24th, please note that heavy road works continue at the Sarsfield Road Roundabout.

If you are driving to Cork, it might be an idea to travel through the city to UCC or, if travelling on the Link, exit before the Sarsfield Road Roundabout e.g. Kinsale Road Roundabout exit.

The mix of papers here seems interesting enough.

The related points made on the economics profession being victims of Stockholm Syndrome during the bubble and apart from a number of exceptions, remaining part of a floundering status quo post bubble, are points of merit, but are really part of a separate topic.

Ireland is a very conservative country and it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks. However, in the grim decade ahead, there will be pressure to relate areas of research to areas of society where people are taking the brunt of stagnation.

Despite the return of high longterm unemployment, the number of jobless is a much more potent issue in the US than Ireland.

In the science research area for exmple, there is pressure to show some return for public investment but when the Government is funding basic research in for example nanotechnology, even licensing fees would usually produce a low single digit ratio of spending.

Dick Ahlstrom of The Irish Times recently wrote: ‘An Irish developed blockbuster would take away any lingering doubts about the wisdom of investing in research, and alliances increase the probability that in time we will deliver a cure for malaria or a radical computer design or something else that will deliver wealth and jobs. The sooner the better.’

This is unlikely for a number of reasons. It took the biotech industry over 40 years to report a profit and then only because of the performance of the 3 biggest firms.

The paper: ‘Are Irish Trade Missions Effective in Increasing International Student Numbers?’ seems an interesting one as some years ago, I wrote that Irish education recruitment in India is a form of human trafficking.

The bigger private Irish outfits presented themselves as universities while others were offering IT courses with some PCs and chairs with armrests in a room, usually over a shop – – at €5,000 or more a pop.

It was the opportunity to work up to 20 hours per week in the EU rather than education was the lure.

As in recruitment, local agents representing the European institutions take a big cut, paid by a poor extended family.

In 2007, the Indian government refused entry to an Irish trade mission following the collapse of a business called ‘Dundalk Business School’ – – not to be confused with Harvard Business School – – an IT training firm that took advance fees but had no funds when it went bust.

Hi David. The Model-in-Use term is derived from behavioural psychology. It refers to a belief-set (or Reference Framing) which individuals use to make sense of a somewhat complex world.

We humans have many and varied Models-in-Use – for the variety of situations we encounter. It is argued that our Model-in-Use is used to motivate us and drive our behaviours. Prospect Theory is the model used by Behavioural Economists. Theories of Action that Inhibit Learning is the model described by Chris Argyris. The dominant economic model is known as Permagrowth (a geometric increase in aggregate economic activity over time). I have not encounterd the term in economic texts. It may appear as an upward-sloping exponential growth-line in undergrad texts in the context of Equilibrium. Or it may appear in numerical form: as 2% annual compounding growth.

If Permagrowth is your economic Model-in-Use (it is used unconciously) then your mathematical-based economic models will be virtual images of your Model-in-Use. When an economic downturn emerges (the geometric trend-line falters) a lot of economic folk become mightly perplexed and advocate wrongheaded solutions – lather on the stimulants. Which actually work until they do not. Like today. We’re kinda tuckered out on stimulants. Successful failures are doomed to reprise.

As a biochemist, I regard the implications of a 2% geometric growth (in a closed container with finite resources) as catastrophic. As an economist I think its great gas. As in Helium!

Our Models-in-Use are constructed in an idiosyncratic, episodic manner, over long time-periods and can accumulate some seriously misleading stuff which is next to impossible to ‘cleanse’.

Undergrads build these models (of their subject matter) as they progress thru college and the models become highly persistent – so eliminating stuff that may be ‘wrong’ is fearsome difficult. Wm Perry jr has documented the intellectual maturing process of (male) undergrads; (Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years, 1999).

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1971 and 1999: The Entropy Law and the Economic Process) may prove useful. He hammers modern economists for their ridiculous beliefs. It is a difficult read. Paul Samuelson wrote an undergraduate text in 1948. Delightful to read. Virtually devoid of mathy stuff and he treats economics as Political Economy. Its real economics.

Permagrowth is based on fallacious assumptions and mathematical trueisms. It needs to be dumped. But where?

@ David F. Thanks for that.

A nasty thought intruded into my complacency. What if many economists DO NOT have a specific economic Model-in-Use which drives their thinking and behaviours (about economics). This might explain the puzzlement many seem to experience when I raise the issue. So what model do they have? They must use something. Hmmmmm.

Thanks for giving this event some exposure here Liam.

As someone who was involved in co-organising the ISNE annual conference for 3 years (Dublin, Galway, Limerick), I am delighted to see it continuing; and indeed moving around the institutions in Ireland.

The equivalent event for the whole of the United Kingdom is the RES PhD Presentation Meeting and Job Market (, though I am aware of the PhD conference in Scotland aswell.

While lacking a job-market function (and I recognise that the Irish market is a fraction of that in the UK), I think that the ISNE conference has in recent years been a very welcome forum for PhD students in economics at Irish institutions.

As the saying goes, the more presentations one gives, the better one gets at presenting. And furthermore, the ISNE conference exposes one to useful feedback from students at different universities – both from Ireland, and further afield. It is a valuable preparation-ground for the annual IEA conference, the RES PhD conference, and of course, other international conferences.

I wish the organisers all the best with this year’s event in Cork.

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