Thursday, August 29, 2019

Marty Weitzman’s Noah’s Ark Problem —Alex Tabarrok

Marty Weitzman passed away suddenly yesterday. He was on many people’s shortlist for the Nobel. His work is marked by high-theory applied to practical problems. The theory is always worked out in great generality and is difficult even for most economists. Weitzman wanted to be understood by more than a handful of theorists, however, and so he also went to great lengths to look for special cases or revealing metaphors. Thus, the typical Weitzman paper has a dense middle section of math but an introduction and conclusion of sparkling prose that can be understood and appreciated by anyone for its insights.
The Noah’s Ark Problem illustrates the model and is my favorite Weitzman paper....
Marginal Revolution
Marty Weitzman’s Noah’s Ark Problem
Alex Tabarrok | Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a research fellow with the Mercatus Center

1 comment:

AXEC / E.K-H said...


No False-Hero-Memorials
Comment on Barkley Rosser on ‘Martin Weitzman RIP’

The failed scientist and applause troll, attention/reputation manager, political agenda pusher, crime hunter, academic busybody, storyteller, and falsifier of the history of economic thought Barkley Rosser takes the opportunity to erect the next False-Hero-Memorial.

These are Barkley Rosser’s quality criteria: “But he was always further out on the edge of respectability, even though his career always looked respectable on the surface: a PhD from MIT under Robert Solow and holding positions at Yale, MIT, and Harvard since 1989, as well as regularly publishing in top journals from 1965 on.”

This translates into: During his academic career he was most of the time either indirectly or directly on the payroll of billionaire-sponsors.#1

What about contributions of real scientific worth?

“This famous paper reasonably argued that in a world of non-certainty regarding costs and benefits of environmental policies, the use of a tax versus a quantity control such as cap and trade depended on the relative slopes of the marginal cost and marginal damage functions. If the former is steeper then a price-oriented policy such as a tax is preferred whereas if the marginal damage function is steeper than a quantity-oriented policy such as cap and trade would be preferred.”

This translates into Martin Weitzman never realized that Marginalism and the Totem-of-the-Micro are proto-scientific garbage since Jevons/Walras/Menger.#2

With all these credentials, Martin Weitzman was, of course, a worthy candidate for the Faux Nobel: “Several of us here had long advocated that he share the first Nobel Prize to be given for environmental economics.”#3

Yes, obituaries have always been the best place to plant myths. And nobody does this better than Barkley Rosser, the promoter of fake science and suppressor of genuine science.

For the scientific community it holds vis-a-vis all cargo cult scientists: RIP at the Flat-Earth-Cemetery.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 “MIT is giving Jeffrey Epstein’s tainted donation to a charity, but Harvard says it won’t do the same”. Twitter

#2 What is so great about cargo cult science? or, How economists learned to stop worrying about failure

#3 Links on the Economics Nobel