Brings up that older idea again: Why not expand the ICAPE format, perhaps stepwise over the next years? Starting a day before ASSA as usual, and then have it overlap by, say, one day, later perhaps two days with ASSA. Provided we can afford a college or university place in the same city where ASSA takes place. We could maintain the connection with the ASSA job market. Young scholars still could have their paper somewhere at ASSA and otherwise attend the “AHA—allied heterodox associations”. The problem would be the doubling of conference costs for attendants …
I agree that Afee should fight to keep the ASSA slots it has, and continue to fight each coming round of reduction of sessions. It is important that young institutionalist scholars have this venue; and some Afee members will be attending anyway for recruitment purposes. Most AFEE members have no reason to go, however--and so do not.
During the last round of cuts to Afee (and other heterodox) sessions, we forced ASSA (which is just a front for AEA) to admit that they had no rational reason to cut our sessions. Diedre McCloskey as well as (if I remember correctly) Leamer were on our side and demanded of the board an explanation. None ever came. It was obvious that the sole reason for the cuts was to reduce sessions for groups the AEA considers to be marginal. It had nothing to do with scarce space.
The AEA understands the logic: if you cut AFEE sessions by 40% you reduce the number of Afee attendees by approximately 40%. (Only the independently wealthy can afford to attend if they are not on the program, of which there are a few but not many among members.) It is a nice virtuous cycle--attendance at subsequent meetings will be lower. So you can count on continued attacks. There is a method in the madness.
My suggestion is this: move the main AFEE meetings out of the ASSA. Hold them elsewhere at a different time. Early January is a horrible time for meetings. Meeting with 20k orthodox economists is undesirable. (Or worse.) Many of us purposely stay away from the "meat market" that is the ASSA. We have AFIT in the west; that is inconvenient for us east coasters (I'm one of those now) and AFIT usually conflicts with Levy's Minsky conference (directly or in close proximity in time) and probably with spring break for others. Maybe a Midwest meeting another time of year for the main AFEE meeting. Or the south in Winter. Or Denver in summer. Or Rome or the Virgin Islands anytime of year. And maybe join some group that is not as hostile as AEA to get economies of scale.
L. Randall Wray
Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute
Co-editor Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
ISSN 0160-3477 (Print), 1557-7821 (Online)
New Book: Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the work of a maverick economist, Princeton University Press http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10575.html
New Book: Modern Money Theory: a primer on macroeconomics for sovereign monetary systems, Palgrave Macmillan http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/modern-money-theory-l-randall-wray/?isb=9781137539908
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