Yes, random tidbits not following any pattern from the recently completed ASSA meetings in Boston.
In commenting on a paper about endogenous preferences and identities in a session on "balance," George Akerlof had a slide that had only two words on it, "Getting dressed." This is how people choose identities when they get dressed each morning, "all of us," George said.
Richard Thaler spent nearly 15 minutes introducing Raj Chetty to give the Ely lecture. Really. The place was overflowing, leading guards to keeping people out. It was on a behavioral economics view of public policy, behavioral econ being very hot at this conference.
Annie Cot put into its place as overblown an argument made by several speakers on the history of behavioral economics that its origins were all about controlling people due to attitudes of B.F. Skinner. After all, behavioral psychology is not the same thing as behavioral economics.
In a session on secular stagnation, Robert Hall said that people in the US have dropped out of the labor force due to food stamps, so obviously cutting them could end secular stagnation, while Larry Summers implicitly criticized Janet Yellen, noting that when the next recession comes within the next three years, if the Fed has not raised interest rates sufficiently, it will not be able to lower them to stimulate demand and thus avoid, you know, secular stagnation. Gosh, what a mistake we made not making him Fed Chair...
In his AEA presidential lecture, William Nordhaus drew widespread laughter when he noted as a "minor detail" that his proposal for a "climate club" that would consist of a group of nations agreeing to a global climate agreement who would place import tariffs on goods from non-club member nations would violate the existing World Trade Organization treaty.
Daniel Berkowitz pointing out that when Putin ended allowing oblasts to elect their governors in favor of him appointing them in Russia, he cited Ukraine as his model for doing this, which already had that system.
Joe Stiglitz talking about "pseudo wealth," which the classical economists from Adam Smith to Karl Marx called "fictitious capital," a term I much prefer, frankly.
Learning from former AEA Secretary-Treasurer, John Siegfried, that New Orleans is no longer in the rotation for ASSA meetings due to bowl games conflicting, that New York is no longer in it due to being too expensive, and that Washington is not because it does not have enough hotels in a single cluster to accommodate the larger meetings, although it is building some and might yet get back in.
Hearing that while death rates in cities in industrializing Britain rose with pollution levels during industrialization, they are not doing so now in Chinese cities.
Having someone at the ACES reception introduce me to someone else as being a "co-founder" of the organization when I have never even been a member (although my wife, Marina, is), and it was founded decades before I ever had anything to do with it. Talk about feeling like a dinosaur.
Hearing a member of the audience telling Richard Wagner and Frederic Jennings in an AFEE session how pleased she was that their presentations were "shockingly normative."
I did not see the anti-conventional economics demonstraters, but I did see a poster they stuck on a wall.
Oh, and having dinner with fellow Econospeaker, Peter Dorman, who laughed heartily about people suggesting that the US could imitate the system that Germany has for limiting job losses during recessions.
Update (more just a btw),
On Stiglitz, of course his theory of pseudo wealth (bubbles and derivatives markets, etc.) provides a foundation for increased macro instability, aggregate fluctuations, as did fictitiious capital in both Smith and Marx (less fully worked out in Smith, but more so in John Stuart Mill). I guess this is why Joe has been dinged for the SEC.... :-(.