Sunday, July 20, 2014

Promoting Econometrics Through Econometrica

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have an interest (but negligible talent or authority) in the history of econometrics. Actually, the same applies to the history of the discipline of statistics. I find it difficult to appreciate where we are without knowing something about where we came from, and I try to convey this to my students.

Olav Bjerkholt (University of Oslo) has provided me with a lot of very valuable material and insights in recent months, and I've been delighted to have drawn on his contributions in previous posts (e.g., here, here, and here).

Olav wrote to me yesterday, as follows:

"I read the Rejected Economist entry [in your blog]. One of the cases of an author complaining about unfair rejection, namely Modigliani in Econometrica in the late 1940s, was dealt with in the presentation of my paper at ESEM-67 last year (but not in the paper itself). I attach some pages torn out of my presentation file for that meeting, comprising the Modigliani case of bad memory after 40 years and 3 other interesting/curious incidents from the Econometrica editorial files, in case you would consider it usable material."

Here's a link to the material that Olav sent to me. It certainly makes interesting reading!

The incidents that Olav deals with are:
  • Modigliani's Complaint
  • The Leontief-Staehle Incident, 935
  • The Fastest Acceptance of a Submitted Paper in the History of Econometrica
  • Oskar Morgenstern Rejected!

They all make fascinating reading.

Without wanting to seal Olav's thunder, I just have to reveal the content of the third item:


"Cable from Jacob Marschak to Ragnar Frisch, August 14, 1947

WOULD ECONOMETRICA PUBLISH 28 DOUBLE SPACED PAGES ON COST OF NUCLEAR ELECTRICITY BY EXPERT ENGINEER PLEASE WIRE COLLECT = MARSCHAK

Cable from Ragnar Frisch to Jacob Marschak, August 15, 1947

YES MARSCHAK PUBLISH = FRISCH

The paper, which had just been declassified, was published immediately afterwards as J. R. Menke: Nuclear Fission as a Source of Power, Econometrica, 15(4), Oct. 1947. Frisch was staying in a simple style mountain resort in the Norwegian mountain massif of Jotunheimen without telephone and electricity. Cables and mail arrived by rowboat messenger across a lake."

Thanks for passing on your notes, Olav!




© 2014, David E. Giles

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