NZAE13 review

By Matt Nolan 11/07/2013

So last week was the New Zealand Association of Economists conference for 2013.  Rock and roll.  I am disappointed that people were not tweeting furiously about it – maybe next year.

Bill from Groping to Bethlehem is the new President, while Seamus from Offsetting Behaviour is the Vice President.  This implies that the organisation is now controlled by vegetarian bloggers.  As a vegetarian blogger I am hoping that this somehow translates into wealth for our social group – but I have no idea how.

I’m not sure how much I can actually say about the presentations I saw – given that maybe they are supposed to be private.  I can say that the income distribution work was pretty damn fascinating this year, last year was good but this was a big step up.  It sounds like the 2014 session will be a must see – I mean we are talking full longitudinal analysis here!

Also I see Donal at the Economics New Zealand blog covered off the Obstfeld speech and Quiggin’s speech.  I felt like there was an inherent tension in Quiggin’s presentation, between  the lack of certainty he demanded economists should face up to (which we would mostly agree with) and the high level of certainty he seemed to place upon his policies and his description.  I also felt he mixed “understanding” and “prediction” up where there is an inherent difference – and he seemed willing to act as if there was a trade-off between realism and tractability that I’m not sure has been properly established.  Interesting issues, and pretty happy to have some critical stuff getting raised, but they aren’t exactly new to the discipline if he has a little hunt around some of the methodology writing of the last couple of decades ;)


  • Speeches were entertaining and interesting – got something out of everything I went to.
  • These economists are pretty danged smart, so I learnt a lot just listening to the types of questions that were raised and the way they raised them.
  • New Zealand economists don’t fight – they talk about things calmly.  This was a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Mardi Dungey’s presentation on systemic risk was a highlight for me – the mix of data and clear definitions and references provided an incredibly useful presentation.  Combined with the fact that it was engaging this was gold.
  • Generally I got to meet lots of amazing people who were either working as economists or studying to be economists – an outcome that is always a treat.
  • I have to point out that the hotel staff were both attentive and polite – nice stuff Amora Hotel Wellington.


  • No-one dressed up as an economics supervillian – the student helpers got close, dressing in orange, but we really needed an “evil batman” to go with their evil robin … in other words we needed some evil economist outfits with dark and earthy tones, to co-ordinate with the inherent fact that bright orange is an evil colour.
  • Needed more people tweeting IMO – economists, it is always a good time to get amped up!

Tldr:  Good time, would go again – only needs more tweeting and costumes.

0 Responses to “NZAE13 review”

  • Nice write up.

    It’s interesting mixing things up and going to different conferences held by different academic professions. My rough impression for instance, is that meetings of crocodile experts tends to have more tanned participants with a lot more scar tissue than economists. There could be a good reason for that.

    Clearly we need to step up with more aggressive tweeting.

  • “My rough impression for instance, is that meetings of crocodile experts tends to have more tanned participants with a lot more scar tissue than economists. There could be a good reason for that.”

    I am in my economist cowboy outfit today – I think that would have been a good theme to shake up the conference a bit!

    “Clearly we need to step up with more aggressive tweeting.”

    Tweeting with pride – how can folk economists ever love us if we do not love ourselves. The first step must be aggressive tweeting.