Time difference

Wandering on the Internet... aimless...

Today is Barcelona's holiday. While every citizen is enjoying their lives around the city, I have to stay in the library and work on problem sets. One, by one, by one. Like an endless sequence, since new one will continuously  enter the sequence... The only balance is to let it stay within a certain length. No way out.

Reading Chinese news report like a habit. However, when eyes are hurt by the sharp world "7th, march", the feeling of time stress comes back. Yes, time difference... Every time when I see the Chinese time, a sense of "extra precious time" follows. 7 hours late, so before the real deadline, there are still 7 hours.

Get used to chat with friends from different time zones, living in different cultures and holding different opinions. Tons of works to do, and the agenda notebook is always filled with new events. Sometimes I only want to escape from the modern digital computer world, so I bought the real notebook and draw my life with a simple pencil. However, life is still there, there... It cannot really change anything, and the modern life requires you to keep catching up as much fast variant thing as you can.

Two research proposal in two weeks... don't even know where the ideas come from, but at least I have got something to write fortunately. Social network... sometime I was too energetic for it to realize the fact that without SNA the world is still running. Therefore, what's the point? I don't know.

With consideration of India

I don't know why but recently I have read tons of papers somewhat related to India, one big neighbor of China. Historically, when I was in China I didn't pay enough attention to India, expect for the last year when I was reading some papers on development and experiments. It seems that many economists like to target on India. The reason may be that India has a very large population, or the intervention from government is less compared countries like China.

Development issues are spilled all over the world. Even if in the developed countries, the social problems like racial discrimination, homosexual marriage, public health care, immigration, etc. are still remaining unsolved. However, in particularly from the economic perspective, it seems more possible to identify the cause or the so-called treatment effect with experiments, either natural or implemented by people. Therefore, to find a place without those targeting treatments before will be the ideal place to actually design and implement those trials. Of course, both those undeveloped countries in Africa and developing countries in Asia and South America will be good candidates. Among those, as an English-speaking country with huge population, India stands out.

It may not be fair to say that I care India more from the academic perspective rather than a more natural cultural attractiveness. India has its great culture by many means, which are worthy respecting. More often, I have been shocked by the diversity of cultural things. It is very hard for a person to judge something unbiased, or to tolerate the cultural difference easily. However, I’m trying to know more about it before making a judgment.  My logic is very simple: you can only say something about one particular thing if you really know it well. Otherwise, imagination won’t help you to get a clear idea about what went, have gone and will go on in the future.

Although India and China are both regarded as the “eastern cultures”, the difference is still large. Religions, institutions, economic features… for instance, the area of arable land is bigger than what China has. Therefore, even the population grows in India is somehow out of control, they can still sustain (well, although the life standard is very low). Moreover, the confliction among religions is another big problem for India. Yes we have 56 ethnic groups in China, but Han counts for the primary group. In India, it is not as simple as this…

I’m feeling that now it is worthy spending time on learning a culture entirely instead of merely having a glance at it from several limited angles. A good way to start shall be movies. Yes, they have many fantastic movies 🙂

the week of seminars

This week was pretty busy: seminars, my own presentation and of course, problem sets, and especially, Chinese New Year.... Well, it worth a brief summary.

Seminars began from the past Tuesday: I skipped the boring advanced macro class and went to the labor seminar series. The presentation was:

Alessandro Tarozzi (Duke University)
"Micro-loars, Insecticide-treated Bednets and Malaria: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Orissa (India)"

Due to the reason that I may need to work on a public health/ health econ topic joint with a classmate as the final master project, I have to learn more about what they are doing in health econ. Although the presented paper was from an applied/metrics view, it was still interesting to see what problems they had met in the field works...

Another seminar was one of the recruiting one, offered by:

Speaker:    Konrad Burchardi (London school of Economics)
Title:    The Economic Impact of Social Ties: Evidence from German Reunification (with T. A. Hassan)

I should admit that I have been always curious about the job market papers: they can be downloaded from the Internet, and well-packed. How incentive compatiable they are! Moreover, I do care about this topic: social ties.... well, it was so sad that when he talked about the German history, I knew nothing and was quite confused with the process which he did not need to explain too much to other audience....my poor storage of European history knowledge! To be honest, during the seminar, I was wondering one thing: is he reading EJMR as well? From the forum, they are discussing this year's job market hotly, so there is a big chance that some of the speakers may also be a part of the readers/contributors. Woo, that would be an intersting question if their true types have been finally revealed by linking the real person with the online IDs....

Actually, just before the recruiting seminar, I gave my first (academic) presentation in class. Since it was the first time for me to present in front of a group of Ph.Ds and totally in English, I felt quite stressful  before the presentation. But it went much better than I had expected. I was pretty impressed by the active classmates - they were so kind and offered valueable comments. It automatically reminded me of the previous experience when I presented something in my undergraduate school. Nobody really cared about what I was researching. Fine... Such a sharp contrast. Maybe it is exactly the reason why that many talent researchers need to go outside of China and receive more advanced education in world leading universities: not only for the knowledge itself, but also with consideration of the environment, the people who they are going to work with. It is also exciting for me to see that our draft is growing mature and meaningful. At least, a very good and precious practice for me.

Another interesting episode:  after the seminar, I was walking with several classmates, and then we met our dear director Ciccone. He smiled to us, and suddenly said "that is impressive that you econ students  have time for seminars"... Well, yes we are pretty busy, but, I love seminars.... irreplaceable by normal lectures.

Now, I am at UAB, for the reason that today here is a workshop on network topics:

MOVE Meeting: Coalition Theory Network Workshop (16th Edition)

They have got numerous interesting papers, like

Kalyan Chatterjee:    "Word of Mouth Advertising, Credibility and Learning in Networks" (with Bhaskar Dutta)

Agnieszka Rusinowska:    "Iterating influence between players in a social network"

However, I was so tired and lazy this morning and I missed the first one... Actually, most of the papers are highly techinical, and I am not really interested in the technical tools they have used/developed in their papers. I care more about how they have applied the complex network theory to economic analysis and what they are paying attention to nowadays.

Ok. I think this summary is enough. Great week by any means. On the Chinese New Year's Eve I made dumplings for a few friends, mainly Chinese. Eh... Later tonight I need to make dumplings by hand again for my dear non-Chinese friends. Haha. Nice night awaits!

the role of economic analysis - a reconsideration

A few days ago I went to the recruitment seminar of CREI, and the speaker was Dina Pomeranz from MIT. I don't know her before, but since both Ciccone and Azmat have mentioned her to me, I didn't want to miss her speech. So I was there.

I should admit that she made an interesting presentation. Her topic was pretty attractive - it was about VAT (value added tax). The title of her paper is "No Taxation without Information", and she mainly talks about the links among upstream and downstream firms in the VAT report process. It is pretty interesting that the information transmission plays such an vital role in this reporting cycle - how can we design an experiment/mechanism to prevent those firms from cheating/collusion.

Well, instead of repeating her presentation, I would like to talk about the role of economic analysis here. An interesting question is that: where do those people go after their postgraduate study in economics? I do not have the evidence, but I think that a big proportion of those economics students will end up being an analyst - especially those positions who offered by the government.  Then, they are doing economic analysis from the government's view, and offering advice for those policy makers. Perhaps it is the first time for me to realize that what can economic analysis provide for the running of the society. We are not only building those abstract and seemly useless models, but actually contributing to the constructions of several projects. That sounds somewhat great.