Avocadonomics

For better or for worse, I seem to have acquired a reputation as the go-to guy regarding the price of trendy foods. So a few weeks ago, I talked to Bloomberg reporter Kyle Stock about the price of avocados. Here is the article that he wrote, which also features insights from my Purdue colleague David Widmar.

This is what I had to say:

When a new tree is planted, it won’t bear much fruit until its third year. At the moment, that stings consumers. Supply can’t catch up with demand in a manner of months, as it can with a product such as the tomato. All the while, though, farmers are watching the price, ready to plant where they can and cash in. This fall’s expensive avocados may trigger a glut in two or three years. That’s what happened with quinoa in 2015, according to Bellemare. After doubling to record highs, prices for the trendy grain swooned.

“When you see this kind of crazy demand, there are a lot of people sitting on the margins that decide to get in and plant,” he said. “Eventually, all those extra-normal profits get competed away.”

In the process of preparing for my call with Kyle, I read a whole bunch about avocados, as they were a commodity I knew little about. Continue reading

Econ PhDs and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Job Market

A friend who is finishing his PhD in economics writes:

If you have time, would you mind sharing your thoughts on working in [an agricultural and applied economics] department as well as any tips you may have for customizing job applications for ag/resources places?

This is a good question, and I am grateful for the blog fodder. After sitting on two search committees in our department, I noticed that econ PhDs often didn’t do well in their interviews with us because they hadn’t taken the time to study the differences between economics departments and agricultural and applied economics departments.

As with many questions job-market related, John Cawley’s guide to the job market is the best overall resource and it should be the first place you look. But here are some thoughts of my own, idiosyncratic and in no particular order: Continue reading

Editorial Insights: Cite Intelligently

Serving as one of two editors of Food Policy over the last few years, I have lost count of the number of times I have received a manuscript where it was clear that the authors did not think carefully about the works they were citing. I’m hoping this post will help younger researchers understand the citation economy.

Why do the works you are citing matter? Because unless your manuscript is on a topic I know extremely well and I can immediately think of two or three potential reviewers just by looking at your title or abstract, in most cases, I will start looking for potential reviewers by jumping directly to your references list.

Now, imagine I receive an article on a topic I don’t know much about (say, international trade), and all I see are references to Acemoglu and Robinson this, Acemoglu and Robinson that, Krugman here, and Stiglitz there, and so on.

Moreover, imagine that the articles referenced in the manuscript are almost all in journals like the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, or Econometrica, and no reference is made to articles in Food Policy or its sister journals (e.g., the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Economics, etc.)

For the authors, this is usually a bad citation strategy, for two reasons: Continue reading