Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Don’t We Eat Swans?

Why Don’t We Eat Swans Anymore? asks an article in Modern Farmer. They are eaten, after all, on the TV series Game of Thrones, and medieval recipes survive.  But not just anyone could eat a swan then, and apparently not today either, at least in England:

"Often served at feasts, roast swan was a favored dish in the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, particularly when skinned and redressed in its feathers and served with a yellow pepper sauce; others preferred to stuff the bird with a series of increasingly smaller birds, in the style of a turducken. Swans have been the property of the Crown since around the twelfth century, but Edward IV’s Act Concerning Swans in 1482 clearly defined that ownership. To this day, Queen Elizabeth II participates in the yearly Swan Upping, in which the royal Swan Master counts and marks swans on the Thames, and the kidnapping and eating of swans can be considered a treasonous crime. Great Britain’s royals are still allowed to eat swan, as are the fellows of St. John’s College of Cambridge, but to the best of our knowledge, they no longer do. Thanks to stories like Leda and the Swan and Lohengrin, the birds appear almost mythical; a restaurant on the Baltic island of Ruegen had swan on their menu for a short time, before protests began and it was swiftly removed."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Religion and deceased donation in Israel

The NY Times accompanies its story on kidney brokers with one on why deceased donation is complicated in Israel
A Clash of Religion and Bioethics Complicates Organ Donation in Israel

The story begins with a photo from the funeral of the soccer player Avi Cohen, who was a registered organ donor at the time of his death, but whose organs weren't donated when religious objections to brain death were raised.

" In the Book of Genesis, it is written that when the great flood submerged the land it extinguished “all in whose nostrils was the breath of life.” Across nearly 2,000 years of Talmudic debate, Jewish scholars have returned to that verse in holding that life ends at the moment when breathing stops. One 19th-century code instructed that if a person appeared lifeless, a light feather was to be placed before his nose: “If it does not flutter,” the text advised, “he is certainly dead.”
The sages could not have anticipated that their writings would provide the underpinnings for cultural resistance to organ donation from the deceased in 21st-century Israel. But their definition of mortality, which can conflict with modern acceptance of brain death, is cited among several reasons Israel has among the lowest rates of deceased organ donation of any developed country."

Kidney brokers

Costa Rica cracks down on commercial sales of kidneys, some involving patients and brokers from Israel: The New York Times has the story.
Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica
By KEVIN SACK  AUG. 17, 2014

"Some physicians and ethicists question the relative morality of allowing thousands to die just because the means of saving them is considered repugnant. A regulated marketplace, they say, could all but eliminate the shortage. It is no accident, they argue, that the only country that allows compensation for donors — Iran — effectively has no waiting list.
Experts list China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics as hot spots for organ trafficking. But illicit transplants usually go undetected unless there is a surgical mistake or a payment dispute. Prosecutions are thwarted by false affidavits, toothless laws and lack of international cooperation, particularly regarding extradition.
Over the last decade, the authorities have pursued only a handful of cases worldwide. Few have sidelined the brokers, who seem bolder than ever. Some, like Mr. Volfman, who leases office space atop a mirrored skyscraper in Ramat Gan, have moved out of the shadows. They brazenly ply their trade even while under police scrutiny, posting Facebook photos of the luxury cars and five-star hotel rooms they rent on the road.
The Times found that brokers in recent years typically have charged clients $100,000 to $200,000 to cover expenses associated with a transplant. As with other scarce luxuries, pricing can be elastic."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Romesh Vaitilingam previews market design at Lindau

The economics writer Romesh Vaitilingam writes about my upcoming participation in the Lindau meetings:
Virtual Visit at Alvin Roth’s Lab: Designing Markets

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, August 19-23

I'll be travelling to Germany to meet with students from many universities around the world at the

5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences


19-23 August 2014

Lindau Meeting of the Laureates of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

The 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences will provide an open exchange of economic expertise and inspire cross-cultural and inter-generational encounters among economists from all over the world. The diverse methodological approaches to economics will be widely discussed between the Laureates and the young participants.

There will be approximately 450 young economists from more than 80 countries participating in the 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences.


Programme


The scientific programme of the 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences will comprise lectures and panel discussions (accessible for all registered meeting participants and guests), as well as discussion sessions and master classes (both accessible only for participating Nobel Laureates and young scientists).

A detailed version of the programme including all lecture titles of the participating laureates with links to their abstracts is available in the Lindau Mediatheque. To get an overview of the meeting schedule you can also download the programme structure.

Here's the formal part of the program:
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20TH
08:30 - 09:00
Lecture
Lars Peter Hansen
Uncertainty and Valuation
09:00 - 09:30
Lecture
Alvin E. Roth
Repugnant Markets and Prohibited Transactions
09:30 - 10:00
Lecture
Edmund S. Phelps
Bringing Dynamism, Homegrown Innovation and Human Flourishing into Economics
10:00 - 10:30
Coffee Break
10:30 - 11:00
Lecture
Christopher A. Sims
Inflation, Fear of Inflation, and Public Debt
11:00 - 11:30
Lecture
Vernon L. Smith
Rethinking Market Experiments in the Shadow of Recessions: The Good and the Sometimes Ugly; Propositions on Recessions
11:30 - 14:00
Lunch Break
14:00 - 15:00
Opening Ceremony
15:00 - 15:30
Break
16:00 - 17:30
Discussion
Discussions 
Discussions with Laureates Hansen, Phelps, Roth, Sims, Smith
17:00 - 20:00
Break
20:00 - 23:00
International Get-Together
THURSDAY, AUGUST 21ST
07:00 - 09:00
Discussion
Science Breakfast
Paths to Innovation: Restoring Grassroots Dynamism to Address Global Challenges; Hosted by Mars, Incorporated - Upon invitation only
09:00 - 09:30
Lecture
Joseph E. Stiglitz
Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing
09:30 - 10:00
Lecture
Eric S. Maskin
Why Haven’t Global Markets Reduced Inequality in Developing Economies?
10:00 - 10:30
Lecture
Finn E. Kydland
Economic Policy and the Growth of Nations
10:30 - 11:30
Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00
Lecture
Robert J. Aumann
Collectives as Individuals
12:00 - 12:30
Lecture
Reinhard Selten
From Learning Direction Theory to Generalized Impulse Balance
12:30 - 13:00
Lecture
William F. Sharpe
Economic Analysis of Retirement Income Strategies
13:00 - 15:00
Lunch Break
15:00 - 16:30
Discussion
Panel Discussion
The Future of Econometrics: Structural Restrictions, Parametric Methods and Big Data; Panelists Hansen, McFadden, Sims
16:30 - 17:00
Break
17:00 - 18:30
Discussion
Master Classes
Master Classes with Myerson and Hansen
17:00 - 18:30
Discussion
Discussions 
Discussions with Laureates Aumann, Kydland, Maskin, Selten, Sharpe, Stiglitz
18:30 - 19:00
Break
19:00 - 20:00
Lecture
Mario Vargas Llosa
A Panoramic View on the Situation and Perspectives in Latin America
20:00 - 23:00
Dinner and Free Evening
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22ND
07:00 - 09:00
Discussion
Science Breakfast
Innovation from the Edge - How could we possibly solve the “Innovator’s Dilemma” through the Power of Diversity?; Hosted by SAP SE - Upon invitation only
07:00 - 09:00
Discussion
Science Breakfast
Banking and Banking Regulation after the Financial Crisis; Hosted by UBS AG - Upon invitation only
09:00 - 09:30
Lecture
Robert C. Merton
Measuring the Connectedness of the Financial System: Implications for Systemic Risk Measurement and Management
09:30 - 10:00
Lecture
Daniel L. McFadden
The New Science of Pleasure
10:00 - 10:30
Lecture
Sir James A. Mirrlees
Some Interesting Taxes and Subsidies
10:30 - 11:30
Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00
Lecture
Roger B. Myerson
Moral-Hazard Credit Cycles with Risk-Averse Agents
12:00 - 12:30
Lecture
Edward C. Prescott
The Revolution in Aggregate Economics
12:30 - 13:00
Lecture
Peter A. Diamond
Unemployment
13:00 - 15:00
Lunch Break
15:00 - 16:30
Discussion
Panel Discussion
Strategic Behavior, Incentives, and Mechanism Design; Panelists Maskin, Mirrlees, Myerson
16:30 - 17:00
Break
17:00 - 18:30
Discussion
Discussions
Discussions with Laureates Diamond, McFadden, Merton, Mirrlees, Myerson, Prescott
18:30 - 20:00
Break
20:00 - 23:00
Bavarian Evening supported by the Free State of Bavaria
SATURDAY, AUGUST 23RD
07:15 - 10:20
Boat Trip to Mainau Island supported by SAP SE
11:00 - 13:00
Discussion
Panel Discussion
How Useful is Economics - How is Economics Useful? Panelists Diamond, Merton, Roth
13:00 - 15:15
Lunch Break
15:15 - 15:45
Farewell Ceremony
16:15 - 18:30
Boat Trip to Lindau supported by SAP SE
Here's a link to the 'Nobel Labs 360' set of photographic, clickable interviews (including mine) in which you can direct some of the action and fly around the room using your mouse...