trammell

970Joined Sep 2018

Bio

Econ PhD student at Oxford and research associate at the Global Priorities Institute. I'm slightly less ignorant about economic theory than about everything else.

https://philiptrammell.com/

Comments
91

Glad to hear you find the topics interesting!

First, I should emphasize that it's not designed exclusively for econ grad students. The opening few days try to introduce enough of the relevant background  material that mathematically-minded people of any background can follow the rest of it. As you'll have seen, many of the attendees were pre-grad-school, and 18% were undergrads. My impression from the feedback forms and from the in-person experience is that some of the undergrads did struggle, unfortunately, but others got a lot out of it. Check out the materials, and if you think you'd be a good fit, you're more than welcome to apply for next year.

That said, I agree that a more undergrad-focused version of the program would be valuable. I don't have plans to make one myself in the near future, but I would like to at some point. In the meantime, if anyone reading this wants to do it, please feel free to reach out!

Thanks for this!

My understanding is that some assets claimed to have a significant illiquidity premium don’t really, including (as you mention) private equity and real estate, but some do, e.g. timber farms: on account of the asymmetric information, no one wants to buy it without prospecting it to see how the trees are coming along. Do you disagree that low-DR investors should disproportionately buy timber farms (at least if they’re rich enough to afford the transaction costs)?

Also, just to clarify my point about 100-year leases from Appendix E: I wasn’t recommending that low-DR investors actually do this! It was just supposed to be an illustration of why patient investors should be expected to own a larger fraction of the world over time.

The numbers I cited on 100-year leases came from Giglio et al. (2015) (published version here https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/130/1/1/2337985 , accessible draft here http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Giglioetal2013.pdf).

Haha okay, thank you! I agree that it’ll be great if clear examples of impact like this inspire more people to do work along these lines. And I appreciate that aiming for clear impact is valuable for researchers in general for making sure our claims of impact aren’t just empty stories.

FWIW though, I also think it could be misleading to base our judgment of the impact of some research too much on particular projects with clear and immediate connections to the research—especially in philosophy, since it’s further “upstream”. As this 80k article argues, most philosophers have basically no impact, but some, like Locke, Marx, and Singer, seem to have had huge impact, most of it very indirect. In some cases (Marx especially I guess) the main impacts have even come from people reading their ideas long after they died.

Anyway, happy to celebrate clear impact (including my own!), just want to emphasize that I don't think impact always has to be clear. :)


 

I expect that different people at GPI have somewhat different goals for their own research, and that this varies a fair bit between philosophy and economics. But for my part,

  • my primarily goal is to do research that philanthropists find useful, and
  • my secondary goal is to do research that persuades other academics to see certain important questions in a more "EA" way, and to adjust their own curricula and research accordingly.

On the first point—and apologies if this sounds self-congratulatory or something, but I'm just providing the examples of GPI's impact that I happen to have had a hand in, in case they're helpful!—I'm (naturally) excited that my work on the allocation of philanthropic spending over time motivated Founders Pledge to launch the Patient Philanthropy Fund. I'm also glad that a few larger philanthropists have told me that it has had at least some impact on how they think about the question of how they should distribute their giving over time.

On the second point, I don't really expect to be influencing econ professors much yet since I'm still just a PhD student, but my literature review on economic growth under AI will be used in a Coursera course on the economics of AI. (To illustrate what I have in mind of what's possible, though, the philosophers already seem to have had a fair bit of success influencing curricula: professors at Yale and UMich are now offering whole courses on longtermism, largely drawing on GPI papers.)

I am not focused on attempting to change policy.

Hah, sorry to hear that! But thanks for sharing--good to have yet more evidence on this front...!

Right—the primary audience is people who already have a fair bit of background in economics.

Cool! I was thinking that this course would be a sort of early-stage / first-pass attempt at a curriculum that could eventually generate a textbook (and/or other materials) if it goes well and is repeated a few times, just as so many other textbooks have begun as lecture notes. But if you'd be willing to make something online / easier-to-update sooner, that could be useful. The slides and so on won't be done for quite a while, but I'll send them to you when they are.

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