Friday, January 6, 2012

First Day ASSA: Highlights

Today was the first full day of the annual economics conference (this year in Chicago!). I spent a full day attending interesting talks. In case you're interested, here are the highlights from my experience (other economists' experience may differ).

At 8 am, I went to a session called New Developments in the Organization of Firms. My favorite paper of the session was a paper called, "Organization and Information: Firms' Governance Choices in Rational-Expectations Equilibrium," presented by Bob Gibbons. The main crux of the paper is that firms shape the market while the market shapes firms. The final part of the abstract sums the paper up nicely:
As in rational-expectations models, some parties may invest in acquiring information, which is then incorporated into the market-clearing price of the intermediate good by these parties' production decisions. The informativeness of the price mechanism a¤ects the returns to speci…c investments and hence the optimal governance structure for individual fi…rms; meanwhile, the governance choices by individual …rms a¤ect the informativeness of the price mechanism. In equilibrium the informativeness of the price mechanism can induce ex ante homogenous …firms to choose heterogeneous governance structures.
Cool stuff.

At 10:30, I attended an interesting discussion on the interface between economics and other social sciences (specifically, theology), put on my the Association of Christian Economists. There were two theologian presenters who were well spoken and two economists (one of whom is Deirdre McCloskey). It was fascinating.

At 2:30, I attended a session entitled Mergers, Acquisitions and Buyouts I, put on by the American Finance Association. My favorite paper of this session was one called "Merger Synergies Along the Supply Chain," which really should have been called "Mergers: Efficiencies or Market Power?" as the discussant Gordon Phillips pointed out.

Finally at 5:00, I attended a spectacular lecture by Roger Myerson (the T.W. Schultz Lecture) on the role of local governments and democracy in promoting economic growth. He posted the slides online, but I cannot find them. In the meantime, here is a related essay on a related topic.

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