Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2024

In Memoriam (.pdf)

In this issue (.pdf):

Executive diversity and firm performance: Beginning in 2015, McKinsey & Company has released a series of highly impactful studies claiming a positive relationship between executive racial/ethnic diversity and firm performance. Jeremiah Green and John Hand explain why the McKinsey findings cannot be verified, and they do a replication of sorts using the S&P 500, and find, instead, no relationship between executive racial/ethnic diversity and performance. (Note: The McKinsey authors were not invited to reply for concurrent publication because this piece was finalized at too late a date. They are invited to reply in a future issue.)

Temperature~economic growth: Having tested temperature-growth claims previously in this journal (here, here, and here), David Barker now reports on his investigation into a much-cited 2015 Nature article by Marshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel. Once again, Barker contends that the claims in the commented-on article are untenable. (Note: Professors Burke, Hsiang, and Miguel were not invited to reply for concurrent publication because this piece was finalized at too late a date. They are invited to reply in a future issue.)

The limbo bar of 5% allows too much to wiggle under it: Tom Engsted takes another look at the replication crises and argues that we need to lower the limbo bar—that is, raise the difficulty of claiming ‘statistical significance.’

Revisiting Hypothesis Testing with the Sharpe Ratio: Michael O’Connor contends that comparing Sharpe ratios of different investment options is not as simple as has been presented in the academic finance literature. He cautions that no method of analysis can improve the power of the test of statistical significance because the power is an innate property of the statistic; he uses simulations and other analyses to show that “when the power is low then the very best estimators perform no better than random number generators,” and advises: “Investors should be wary of claims by portfolio managers that their Sharpe ratio exceeds the ratio of other managers.”

What caused the Ukraine famine of the early 1930s? In the previous issue, Mark Tauger discussed the work of Natalya Naumenko, and Naumenko replied. Here, Tauger rejoins.

Ergodicity economics: Previously, Matthew Ford and John Kay commented on ergodicity economics, and a reply was provided by Oliver Hulme, Arne Vanhoyweghen, Colm Connaughton, Ole Peters, Simon Steinkamp, Alexander Adamou, Dominik Baumann, Vincent Ginis, Bert Verbruggen, James Price, and Benjamin Skjold. Here, Ford and Kay rejoin, contending “our criticism of ergodicity economics remains unanswered.”

Classical Liberalism in Russia: Provided here is an intellectual and political history of classical liberalism in Russia. The author is Paul Robinson, who has published the books Russian Conservatism and Russian Liberalism. In the story, notable figures include Semyon Desnitsky, Alexander Kunitsyn, Konstantin Kavelin, Boris Chicherin, and Boris Brutzkus. (An 1857 essay by Chicherin appears in the previous issue of this journal.)

Classical Liberal Think Tanks in Greece, 1974–2024: Constantinos Saravakos, Georgios Archontas, and Chris Loukas provide a guide to the course of liberal thought and movements in Greece—another new entry in the Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country series. After some foregrounding, they pick up the story in 1974 and focus especially on the entry, exit, character, activity, and influence of liberal think tanks in Greece. The authors are affiliated with one of them, the Center for Liberal Studies (KEFiM).

Trygve Hoff’s Appeal to Ragnar Frisch: The liberal economist Trygve Hoff appealed to Ragnar Frisch, a fellow Norwegian and future Nobel Prize winner, to relent in his economic interventionism. Their four letters from 1941 are translated and presented by Hannes Gissurarson.

Christianity Changes the Conditions of Government: Three brief chapters of The Ancient City by Fustel de Coulanges (1830–1889) capture some of the book’s important ideas about the composition of ancient polytheism, and how the universal benevolence of Christianity’s monotheistic gospel would in time spell a new world. “[T]o obey Cæsar is no longer the same thing as to obey God.” The book, originally in French, was first published in 1864.

EJW thanks its referees and others who contribute to its mission.


Stephen Walker at SSRN: An Open Letter to the Journal of Accounting Research: Demonstrate that You Are Not Sweeping Misconduct under the Rug

New book from EJW author: Markets with Chinese Characteristics: Economic Liberalism in Modern China, by Evan Osborne (free download here)

EJW Audio:

John Hand on McKinsey Studies on Executive Race/Ethnic Diversity

Dan Klein on Classical Liberalism by Country: Lessons for Liberal Civic Virtue

Call for papers:

Who should get the Nobel Prize in economics, and why?

EJW invites ‘journal watch’ submissions beyond Econ.

EJW fosters open exchange. We welcome proposals and submissions of diverse viewpoints.

Read the March 2024 issue in full (.pdf)

Table of contents (.pdf) with links to articles