What is economics good for? Event with Dan Ariely and Mark Blyth

Something perhaps of interest to the site’s readership…

This weekend, the Zurich Dalkey Book Festival takes place. This has become something of a sister event to Kilkenomics, which has in recent years hosted leading academic economists such as Deirdre McCloskey and Jeffrey Sachs as well as prominent economic commentators such as Diane Coyle, Simon Kuper and Philippe LeGrain.

This Saturday in Dalkey, I’ll be chairing an event called “Economists: What Are They Good For?“. The three-person panel comprises Dan Ariely, one of the world’s top behavioural economists, and Mark Blyth, author of Austerity – The History of A Dangerous Idea, as well as “the world’s most-quoted living man” PJ O’Rourke.



Novelist John Lanchester is giving a public lecture at the London School of Economics this coming Thursday linked to the launch of his new book, Whoops  – an anlysis of the financial crisis. The FT and the Sunday Times both carried extracts over the weekend. I was particularly struck by his comments on behavioural economics:

I have a confession to make about Kahneman and Tversky. I’d never heard of them until Kahneman won the Nobel, and when I first read about their work it seemed to me to consist of things that were surprising only to economists.

You can read the full extract here.

How Behavioural Economics Should Influence Financial Regulation

RAND recently held a conference on the implications of behavioural economics for financial decision making. Among the talks include Sendhil Mullainthan on behaviourally informed financial regulation. All of the videos are available below including talks by Richard Thaler and others. The main implication so far of this literature is that consumers make relatively predictable mistakes when making financial decisions and that various ways of simplifying the choices involved and making them more active can improve people’s lives and the functioning of markets. People should watch some of the videos before making up their mind. The simplistic arguments about paternalism do not apply here in the same way as they would to arguments around policy proposals such as mandatory pensions.

link here

Addendum: The NBER have also posted up a number of very useful videos on how to implement experimental methods in real-world economics.

link here