« 3 practical things, and one abstract thing economists could do to improve economic coverage in the media | Main | Econometric estimates of fiscal policy multipliers »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think the greatest risk-takers I know are those who work at Statcan for 30 years, max out their generous public service indexed pension, then retire to think-tank sinecures. The more odes to private-sector acuity I read from risk-takers like that, the more informed I become. In fact, some day I may even try to work in the private sector myself! Nah, who am I kidding. I'd never cut it!

You know folks, Mr. Cross is simply trolling us. Getting angry just makes him happy.

Instead, I think we need to laugh. Here is something funny that he wrote. I'm not sure he intended it as humour, but I find it totally LOL funny myself.


I think I would like to encourage Mr. Cross to write a book. He could title it:

"Real life awesome business lessons on risk taking from a 3rd generation bureaucrat who learned all he needs to know about how *hard* it is to be in business during a couple of years doing some consulting gigs on the side while supported by a fully-indexed taxpayer-supported pension."

That would totally be a top-ten seller! I'd buy a few copies for sure!

Don't hold back, Kevin, keep it coming! ;-)

It seemed to me that Philip Cross raised legitimate questions in his FP Op-Ed, albeit using colourful language, concerning the near complete absence of economists from the business community at the CEA annual conference.

I suggest this while noting I am a very strong advocate of the need to employ more economists in business schools, due to the empirical and analytical rigour they bring to the study of business strategy and public policy.

Turning to the issue, I thought the excellent numbers provided by Trevor Tombe validated the central thesis articulated by Cross. However, much as I appreciated Trevor's and Stephen Tapp's separate analyses, neither addressed the fundamental issue - why do so few economists from business submit papers to the CEA conference?

Secondarily, is it the role of potential paper givers - outside of academia - to organize panels at academic conferences or is it the role of the academic conference organizers to reach out to non traditional presenters to ensure greater intellectual and philosophical diversity?

Although we in the academy loudly trumpet our commitment to diversity, it seems to me (based on my 27 years as a professor) we interpret it to mean gender, race and ethnicity rather than philosophical diversity.

Lastly, I must respectfully disagree with Kevin - whose simply excellent research I quote regularly, frequently - for the pension income or consulting income or family background (e.g. "third generation public servant" of an analyst is simply not relevant to issues debated. (But for the record, as it has been brought into the debate, I do not consult to anyone or anything anywhere and yes my father also was a public servant and his father was a bricklayer in the interwar years in England - but so what? why is this important to the debate?).

The debate should concern the empirics and logics of the issue - and not the personal financial status or family lineage of the analyst.

Why are CEA and CABE separate organisations?

[Ian: "Although we in the academy loudly trumpet our commitment to diversity, it seems to me (based on my 27 years as a professor) we interpret it to mean gender, race and ethnicity rather than philosophical diversity. BINGO! "Diversity" doesn't include conservatives.]

Nick - full disclosure - I am on the Board of Directors of Ottawa Economics Association (OEA) - which is a chapter of CABE. Chris Ragan is our past President 2 presidents ago. However, most of the OEA presidents have been business or govt types e.g. Stephen Poloz, Glen Hodgson (Conf Board), Peter Hall (EDC), Bill Robson (CD Howe) etc.

However, the larger point is that CABE is not a parallel organization to CEA, as CABE and its chapters are not an academic association devoted to scholarly research. CABE and its chapters are (imperfectly) analogous to the various business luncheon clubs in major cities in Canada e.g. Canadian Club.

Re your quote "diversity does not include conservatives", I was not referring to political diversity (not sure you were either). I deliberately used the phrase "intellectual and philosophical diversity" pertaining to views concerning private markets, private for profit corporations etc.

I recall a PRJ published about 5 years ago by a prof at U of T and his research colleague at George Mason U Economics Dept. They developed a survey of faculty in US and Canada that inter alia, asked the respondents to self identify as far right, conservative, centrist, liberal, social democrat or beyond. If I recall accurately, 85% of Cdn faculty self identified as left liberal, social democrat or beyond. My comment at the time was that the remaining 15% were buried so deep in the closet - with the door closed - with the lights off - no one could find them. I called them the "disappeared".

My hypothesis is that there are some great unwritten, not presented, not published papers in economics faculties across Canada that are self-suppressed as the would-be authors understand they would be outliers and offside at the proverbial faculty club. Not due to overt discrimination or what Cross called "bias" but due to the "inter-subjective consensus" (Habermas) that exists amongst the majority of faculty.

The posts above are excellent examples of the inter-subjective consensus that exists - in this instance in economics - but is more pronounced, in my judgment, in other faculties.

Hi Ian. I think it is a great suggestion to increase ineraction between CABE and CEA. It is wonderful that you're involved in the local CABE chapter because the CEA meetings are in Ottawa next year. In fact, I will write to the CEA organizer to suggest a spot be saved for a CABE-sponsored session. Maybe even Mr Cross will attend.

As to your point that CABE isn't interested in academic research, doesn't that cut away the substantial point Mr Cross was making?

Thanks Kevin. Yes, I think it would be great to have CABE and/or OEA sponsor a session at the CEA. Most of the speakers we invite to the OEA are speakers who address some aspect of public policy eg rail transportation policy, competitiveness, federal budget, trade. Thus I think the "fit" perhaps stronger due to our policy focus (because most of the luncheon paying bums are chairs are public servants). But I will raise this at our next OEA Board meeting in 2 weeks time.

(BTW congrats on landing in Ottawa next year. as I tell my friends in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver who mistakenly think they are the center of the universe, the truth must be out. Ottawa is the center of the Cdn universe - we collect and spend almost a third of a trillion dollars a year and we pass the laws that decide if and how the govt can spy on you etc.: My running joke with CBC people is why oh why oh why is the "National" in Toronto - which is just a big regional expensive dangerous city in southern Ontario. The National should be broadcast from the National Capital!

Back to your question. I cannot and do not speak for CABE. However, nonetheless, I do review their web site regularly and I am familiar with the governance of CABE through my involvement with OEA. As I mentioned, CABE was not established as an academic or scholarly entity. Its mission or raison d'etre is very different from CEA.

And I am not trying to suggest a conspiracy. To invoke the late British scientist CP Snow's phrase, "The Two Cultures", ensures there are barriers between the scholarly world and the academic world.

I remain hopeful the CEA will reach out to some of the business economists with a more theoretical bent and encourage them to write and present papers. Certainly, a good number will be too busy - but just as surely some will agree if solicited.

Great Ian--all I ask is that you pass any information on to the CABE representatives. Here is the email I just sent to Jean-Yves Duclos, who is listed as President-Elect of the CEA.


Bonjour Jean-Yves, je t'écris comme Président-élu du CEA. J'ai aussi fait un 'cc' en haut à Frances Woolley qui est vice-Présidente du CEA.

Il y avait un 'op-ed' du M Philip Cross la semaine passé ou il a écrit des critiques contre le CEA. Il était de l'opinion que le CEA aurait besoin de plus des participants du secteur privé. À mon avis, c'est une bonne idée.

Prof Ian Lee est un délégué du Canadian Association of Business Economists à Ottawa. Les réunions du CEA seront à Ottawa en 2016. Pour cette raison, c'est naturel d'inviter Prof Lee de nous aider avec les rélations entre le CEA et CABE.

Ma question: est-ce que c'est possible d'envoyer à Prof Lee (que est 'cc' en haut) des infos pour organizer une session au CEA 2016? Peut-etre Prof Lee n'est pas disponible pour cette idée mais j'espère que il pouvait rendre les info à la personne à CABE qui pourrait.

Merci beaucoup, Kevin

Kevin Milligan
UBC Economics

An academic and a retired bureaucrat explain what business econmistz want. Brilliant. I look forward to Messrs. Cross and Lee explaining what it feels like to menstruate.

I am a "Business economist". I work at a bank economics group and have graduate degree. My employer pays me to add value to the bank, not to publish vanity publications and peddle them at conferences. No disrespect to those who do it, but that is not my job, no more than you get paid to talk to branch managers on how to use economic data to sell mortgages. Don't let a bunch of self loathing conservative academics mislead you.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search this site

  • Google

Blog powered by Typepad