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August 1, 2004
David Warsh, Proprietor


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Summer Housekeeping

A conference on damages in the government’s suit against Harvard University and one of its star economists, originally slated for July 19, has been rescheduled for September 9.

US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock presumably will ask all parties to file briefs on what they think they ought to be required to pay — Harvard for breach of its $34 million contract; economics professor Andrei Shleifer and his then-assistant, lawyer Jonathan Hay, up to three times that much for the civil fraud Woodlock concluded they committed.

The government has argued that the entire value of Harvard’s mission to Moscow was lost when it turned out in the mid-1990s that Shleifer and Hay and their wives had been investing in Russian businesses and securities, in violation of the conflict of interest provisions of their contract. Harvard and Shleifer say that the reforms they suggested worked well.

The US State Department fired Harvard when the transgressions came to light in 1996.  The Russian government fired the State Department in turn, saying that the Harvard team had done nothing wrong while advising them.

* * *

Ross Miller is familiar to readers of Economic Principals as the author of a chronicle of developments in experimental economics titled Paving Wall Street.  Now he has written an amusing novel of deception in financial markets he calls Rigged. He has been posting chapters of the book week by week this summer.  Now he’s almost done.

General Forge and Foundry, the conglomerate around which the tale revolves, is not entirely dissimilar to General Electric, where Miller worked for many years as founder of the Quantitative Research Group.

Miller keeps up a weekly commentary on markets and their evolution on a related site as well.

* * *

Many readers have asked what Economic Principals was doing in Germany for five months earlier this year. The answer is that the American Academy in Berlin awarded its J.P. Morgan International Prize in Financial Policy and Economics to the editor.

The prize included a lengthy sojourn in the German capital with a dozen other fellows of the Academy. During that time, EP called on a good number of economists and business executives, delivered a lecture and learned a great deal from his hosts and fellows.

Such visitorships are an important part of the way EP expects to go about its business in future years, tracking developments in economics. Suggestions and/or invitations are always welcome.

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