Surprise, surprise. I haven't been blogging as much as I hoped to over the summer. After a few posts looking back at first year (which sucked btw, BORING!, the year... and maybe the blog post), now I've hit a dry-spell. I do want to write more about first year, but I also need to look forward. Lots of other things are going on and blogging just falls down.
In the meantime, here's what I've been up to since I'm not blogging. You can read this post as a long excuse to both my readers...
Official Duties (ha ha)
My main focus over the summer has been for a fellowship I am receiving this summer. The fellowship is for students to spend the summer working 1-on-1 with a faculty member. Prof. David Rahman was kind enough to agree to put up with my shenanigans for the summer, and hopefully longer.
I'm working with him on developing a simple, intuitive model that looks at how dictators use propaganda. My question is simple, when will dictators use propaganda and when will citizens believe it? It is related to my master's thesis, but I'm following a different literature this time. It's a variation of something called global games.
Rahman has been suggesting tons of papers to read through and because I'm a little slow it has taken a lot of time. Trying to figure out the model is even harder. Surprise, surprise! After 2 months, I have not mastered the ability to create simple models and solve them. That's what I need to work on... I'll keep trying.
Also, as I wrote before, I was an Mercatus Center Adam Smith Fellow this past year. (I also get the pleasure to do it again next year!) For one week this summer, I got to attend a conference on classical liberal economists. I was able to also present and discuss my paper on Smith and Hayek while there. I received lots of great feedback and had many fun discussions about all things related to social science. The program is just a blast in so many dimensions. It allows me to get out of the strict confines of pure econ.
Despite the great feedback from people at the Smith Fellowship, I sent it out earlier in the summer and got my first reject. That was an odd feeling, but good to get the experience. It's not going to be the last rejection. Now I'll need to revise it and send it out again. With everything else going on, I don't know when I will focus on it.
Other Random Econ Stuff
I've also been lucky enough to spend the summer doing other fun econ stuff and I have more to come. In addition to a week out at Mercatus for the Smith Fellowship, I spent a weekend out at the Public Choice Outreach Conference and another weekend out discussing recent work in the politics, philosophy, and economics tradition. As always, these weekends are fun and I learn a lot.
The peak of the summer econ activities was a week talking about Hayek. Liberty Fund hosted a week-long colloquium discussing Hayek's contributions. The group was made up of economists, political scientists, and philosophers. It was a lot of Hayek for one week, but exciting. I learn so much when I'm around non-economists. They see the world differently than me and that's great. That's how you get gains from trade, when each side has something unique.
Besides that, I've been filling the time with lots of random ideas on all topics, from optimal taxation to the Panic of 1907 to rational irrationality. A typical grad student, I have no idea what I'm working on.
I also started a food blog with my wife to keep some non-econ things in my life.
What's Coming Up
I have one more personal vacation and two more professional trips this summer. That will be enough traveling to get me through the summer... I'll have another weekend out at Mercatus (about the 100th in the past year, wait, that can't be right?) and a few days at the Sante Fe Institute. At Mercatus, the topic is Austrian economics. At Sante Fe, the topic is complexity. Both should be a lot of fun.
All that traveling has made me almost forget this coming year. Oh well. I'll think about that when it comes. I'll probably also indulge myself by blogging about the second year in my econ PhD also...
In the meantime, I'll just thank God every day that I get to spend my days learning economics. It is the coolest subject in the world and I am truly blessed to get paid to learn about such fun stuff.