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Economists Keeping Themselves Busy

Nothing calms nerds in crisis like talking process.
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China’s economic woes, swooning stock markets, impending (or not) interest-rate increases, debt crises in two top beach resorts and at least 22 major presidential candidates, all in need of economic advisers, is not enough to keep all of our dismal scientists engaged. Luckily, economists are an enterprising lot, and four of them struck upon a “problem” of particular significance to the most important people in the world: economists. Specifically, how to fairly order the papers listed in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s weekly e-mail.

Good news: Unlike their colleagues working on the other aforementioned problems, Daniel Feenberg, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaule and Jonathan Gruber has this matter all figured out.

To avoid inequities across working papers that result from list placement differences, beginning next week, the order of papers in each of the more than 23,000 “New This Week” messages that we send will be determined randomly. This will mean that roughly the same number of message recipients will see a given paper in the first position, in the second position, and so on.

I wanted to call this change to your attention so that you would not be puzzled if you noticed that papers were no longer listed in ascending numerical order.

Economists Found a Problem and Devised a Solution Only Economists Would Come Up With [WSJ Real Time Economics blog]


NOT GOOD ENOUGH. By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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