Dec 17

Happy Blog Anniversary/Year in Review/Happy New Year! (Updated)

Today marks the seventh anniversary of this blog, so on top of wishing Happy New Year to all, I am also wishing this site Happy Blog Anniversary!

Today also marks the close of this blog’s most successful year ever: Between 2016 and 2017, the number of page views increased by 22 percent, for a total of over 150,000 pageviews in 2017.

The most popular posts of 2017 were, starting with the most popular:

  1. 2SLS: Chronicle of a Death Foretold?
  2. How Should Econometrics Be Taught?
  3. How to Publish in Academic Journals?
  4. You Can’t Compare OLS with 2SLS
  5. Achieving Statistical Significance with Covariates

Looks like there is a common theme there… which means I will most keep writing about applied econometrics. I should be able to post more frequently in the next few months, as I don’t have to teach between January and September.

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This has been a good year for me. In terms of research, I have published three new articles–two in my discipline’s top journal, and one in a top general political science journal. Another article was just accepted and is forthcoming in early 2018, and I have placed an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

(Update: And in an article titled “In Praise of Quinoa,” The Economist mentioned our work on quinoa–and me by name, although I wish they would’ve acknowledged my coauthors, too–in an article in their Leaders section.)

I have traveled for work within the US to Chicago (three times), Gainesville, FL, Washington, DC (three times), West Lafayette, IN, New York, Vail, CO, Columbus, OH (twice), Madison, WI, and New Orleans, LA; and internationally to the United Kingdom, back home to Canada (twice), and to Italy.

At Food Policy, my co-editor and I have seen our impact factor go up significantly yet again this year.

I have helped conduct, for the first time in my career, the external review of one of our peer departments, learning many new things in the process.

My personal favorite has been to see three of my PhD students successfully defend, graduate, and start in tenure-track positions that they are really happy with.

The most wonderful part of all this has mixed the personal with the professional: it has been to meet and talk with so many interesting people, old and new.

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Whether you have been reading this blog since its very beginning or you have only started recently, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making time to read what I write. When I registered this domain name and installed WordPress on the site, I wasn’t sure I could keep this blog going for a year, let alone seven.*

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 brings you joy, health, and prosperity.


* At that point, I had tried and failed many times to keep a diary. This only changed recently, as I now write a few pages in a daily journal every morning as part of a more elaborate early-morning ritual.

Nov 17

In Which I Talk About Fad Foods

In the past month or so, I was twice asked to discuss the price of what I’d loosely* refer to as fad foods–foods whose demand was relatively uncommon up until a certain point, after which that demand takes off significantly.

I was first asked to be a guest on the Mad Hat Economics podcast, where I talked about quinoa. The discussion took us to other topics, including staple foods, local foods, and food cultures in general. You can listen to that half-hour episode of Mad Hat Economics here. And since the podcast is produced by grad students in my coauthor David Just’s lab, subscribe while you are at it.

On Monday, I was asked to be a guest on Your Call, a program on San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW, talk about avocados. The two other guests featured were an organic avocado farmer from Southern California and a representative of Mexico’s Rainforest Alliance. You can listen to the hour-long show here.


* I say “loosely” because Merriam-Webster defines “fad” as “a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal,” and it is not clear that the increased demand for quinoa and avocados will be going away anytime soon, if ever. In short, even though it’s not the most precise use of the word “fad,” I like how “fad food” sounds.

Nov 17

‘Metrics Monday: 2SLS–Chronicle of a Death Foretold?

Last week I discussed how it is generally not possible to compare 2SLS estimates with OLS estimates because the two estimates apply to different groups of observations. Given that, it makes sense that I should write this week about a new working paper by Alwyn Young that has been making the rounds these past few months.

The paper is titled “Consistency without Inference: Instrumental Variables in Practical Application.” In it, Young uses the bootstrap to conduct a meta-analysis of 1,400 2SLS coefficients across 32 papers published in the AEA journals, and to essentially ask: “Is 2SLS all that it is cracked up to be?” Continue reading →