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I wonder - should the title be "New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada" or "Nostalgic Memories of Intelligent Government in Canada"? Gen Xer Chris Ragan (BA 1984, PhD 1990) is, I think, the youngest author by some distance.

As is often the case for CSLS conferences, there are no women in the program. (Is this a fair allegation? Go onto the CSLS website and look at past conference programs. They're not all 100% male dominated - you can make up your own mind if they're more or less male dominated than one would expect, given the subject matter).

I'd be willing to bet that Andrew Sharpe would be surprised, and perhaps even hurt, by the suggestion that his conferences are more male-dominated by similar conferences organized by other people. And he might wonder why I'm writing this on the blog, rather than talking to him about it in person - the truth is, Andrew, I was too busy drinking your wine, eating your food, and gossiping with Ian Lee about the blog last time we met. I'd also be willing to bet that Andrew Sharpe put some effort - perhaps a great deal of effort - into trying to find some female contributors - almost certainly he would have asked Shelley or Alice or Jane or perhaps Nicole. But whereas the public economics conferences organized by Robin Boadway will have contributions from Rose Anne or Kate or Joanne or Tammy or Lindsay or Tracey or other less familiar people, the CSLS conferences rarely do.

The feminist philosophers blog has launched a gendered conference campaign describing the kind of sub-conscious biases that lead well-intentioned people to lead to have disproportionately one type of presenter on a conference.

Of course, you also get the problem my wife gets where she's pressured into going into a bunch of conferences that aren't really relevant to her interests because they want more females. It's a two-edged sword.

Mike, it's two sides of the same coin - the recognized female scholars get more invitations than they know what to do with, the less recognized ones get very few. There's no middle ground.

Agreed - that's what she's experienced as well.

There seems to be a certain amount of path dependency, that once you're seen as being 'that guy' or 'that woman' in a particular group you get called on over and over again. In my private sector work, I think I'm known as 'the Canadian' in some circles. If there's some international regulatory issue and someone realizes that they don't have a Canadian voice at the table, my phone invariably rings ('oh no.. we don't have any Canadians? Better call Mike!')

Naturally that's a lot less frustrating to me, as Canadians aren't systemically discriminated against like women are.

It's of the essence of Festschrifts that they are in part looking back. But we need to do this from time to time.

Chris Ragan took a historical perspective on the evolution of Canadian monetary policy for example, to try to see better where we are and where we might be going. It's almost impossible to discuss future Canadian energy policy without mentioning the past NEP, as another example. History isn't just nostalgia.

Retired (or recently resigned, such as Munir Sheikh) public servants can also speak freely in a way that current ones can't. (Plus having the time).

Nick, I would be extremely interested in your reaction to the Osberg paper on why Unemployement fell off the Macro agenda in Canada.

Determinant: I was arguing with Lars about that, after he gave it!

Very quick:

1. That graph of real wages is desperately in need of explanation. Such a sharp break in the trend. I don't know of any good explanation. But I don't think Lars really has one either. He needs a model, and he doesn't really have one.

2. Lars draws a picture of a "thick" Long Run Phillips Curve. For decades now I have been toying with models of thick Long Run Phillips Curves. This post from a couple of weeks back is one example:
http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2011/04/a-monetarist-search-model-of-keynesian-unemployment.html

3. But I can't really get myself to believe my own models in this case. The models work (full-blown utility maximisation with rational expectations etc.) but they are inherently very "fragile". By that I mean that a very small change in the assumptions causes a big change in the conclusions. I have to "cheat" to build them. Since assumptions are never exactly true, we should only believe models that are relatively "robust" -- where a small change in the assumptions causes only a small change in the results. Robust models may be approximately true.

4. Even if I did believe my own models of thick LRPC's, I'm not sure it would generate that sharp break in the trend growth of real wages over such a long time period.

5. International evidence: did other countries show a similar break in trend when they started targeting inflation? Did countries which kept talking about unemployment show a different path in real wages?

This should come as a surprise to no one, but the Boadway paper is fantastic. Given me a lot to think about.

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