Friday, February 19, 2010

Excitement at UCLA

In the middle of 70 degree winter in West L.A, the UCLA men's basketball team is no good. Due to budget cuts and abundant opportunities at less sunny private universities, some excellent faculty are preparing to leave and we have not been able to hire replacements in the short run. Despite all of these challenges, morale at UCLA is surprisingly high. Why? Sunshine? In part.

While I don't know the full answer, my optimism is based on the quality of the scholars who (at least for now) continue to be at UCLA. While I could single out hundreds of people on campus, I am a lazy man and will name only two.

1. Ed Leamer has worked with a team to build a fascinating new data set that I am sure will become the leading indicator of where the macro economy and local economies (such as at the state or regional level) are going. His "early warning" indicators project will provide a heads up to policy makers and financial markets concerning the state of the economy.

2. Eric Morris --- If you had told me back 3 years ago when I joined UCLA that I would be advising Ph.D. students who had written for Star Trek (Eric) or loved to surf (I'm thinking of Ryan and Neil), I would have told you that you were nuts. Back in my day, Ph.D. students didn't leave the A-level of Regenstein Library. But, things have changed. UCLA has a new cohort of Ph.D. students who are all quite smart. I suggest that you read that interview with Morris and then read the Kahn/Morris classic paper.

Perhaps to raise my morale, I will name more names of who is serious at this great University. With a finite and shrinking set of faculty and graduate students, if I never mention you then you will learn the truth about what I really think of you.