Advice for early careers

Advice on academic cover letters:


Also, check this Website for several interesting links:



Inequality and creativity in New York

"The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we're getting to a point where many of New York's citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I'm a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1%."

Article by David Byrne, which can be found here. If you are wondering who is David Byrne, he was the front-man for the Talking Heads:


The return of manufacturing

The return of manufacturing to developed countries (sometimes called reshoring) has been on the agenda for a while, particularly in countries such as the US that deindustrialised much faster than for example Germany. Yesterday Krugman wrote a couple of posts (first and second) on this issue inspired by an article on the NY Times. Previously the same newspaper had published another article on this topic, supported by a short video (see below). To read a more extensive treatment of this issue check for example this report published in 2011 by the Council on Competitiveness, or this article by Susan Christopherson.

The basic storyline is that as fuel costs rise and automation increases, wages represent a smaller share of final production costs, which justifies bringing production facilities closer to final consumers. We can probably add to this the impact of rising wages, particularly in China, potentially some agglomeration diseconomies in developing nations or maybe even the fear of further backlash from stories that expose terrible working conditions and exploitation in (usually) poorer countries.

This is somewhat good news for workers in the USA, particularly those with low and medium skills that used to benefit the most from the existence of a strong manufacturing sector. It is also likely to have important multiplier effects, not only through the jobs it creates but also because a larger part of the production network is now located in one country. Also, manufacturing is particularly strong in the sort of incremental innovation that usually sustains long-term competitiveness. The obvious problem is that, as pointed out in the NY Times articles, the jobs created are a fraction of those that would be necessary even a few years ago, to achieve the same level of production. Also importantly, this is likely to lead to slower job growth in developing nations, where jobs are badly needed.

Nonetheless this might signify the reversal of previous global trends, very well documented in the book Global Shift, with slower growth in international trade as a result of the re-concentration of production networks. Time to do some research!

How to publish in newspapers?

If you've ever thought about publishing an opinion piece in a newspaper (rather than an academic journal) this post has some very good suggestions. Good luck!

Jobs in America

Interesting op-ed on the Wall Street Journal by Enrico Moretti about job creation in the US and the different multiplier effects of booming sectors.

"The American labor market is recovering from a painful recession. But the recovery is geographically uneven. While some parts of the country are booming, others are still stuck in a deep recession. Two groups of localities have been doing particularly well over the past two years. Both are supported by fast-paced technological progress, but one has by far the bigger jobs-multiplier effect.

The first group includes cities endowed with a large number of highly educated workers and innovative employers—places like San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. The recession had less impact on these areas, and job growth has been brisk since the recovery began, thanks to sectors like the Internet, software, digital entertainment and biotech.


The second booming-economy group includes areas endowed with oil and gas—Oklahoma, parts of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Here too the labor market is thriving thanks to technological innovation such as fracking, horizontal drilling and computer-based seismic imaging. The most striking example is western North Dakota. Like San Francisco, this area is becoming a magnet for workers attracted by raising wages and seemingly insatiable labor demand.

Despite some current similarities, these two groups offer vastly different models of economic development and their fortunes are likely to diverge in the long run."

Stay updated on new publications

Staying updated on new publications can sometimes be a big challenge. Particularly considering the growing number of journals and articles from different parts of the world, which is in itself a very positive thing, it is difficult to know exactly who is publishing what, where and when. There are different ways of addressing this problem. For example, I receive several email alerts from major journals that let me know when they have new articles. This is however not a perfect system, because I might be missing on great articles being published elsewhere.

A very interesting solution is the nep-geo mailing list, managed by Andreas Koch, that regularly sends out a list of working papers in economic geography. It has the additional benefit that these are working papers and are therefore accessible free of charge. All you have to do is go to the link above and submit your email address. There is also the nep-ure mailing list, specialised in Urban and Real Estate Economics.


The University at Bufallo SUNY is hiring an Economic Geographer. More Information here.


Policy Link

Another interesting project by the Orlando, CA based community action group Policy Link. They asked a number of people what did they promise to do for their neighbourhood. The result can be seen in this video.


On equity

I'd like to highlight a couple of websites focusing on equality, although at least one of them isn't new. The Equality Trust was created in 2008, after Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett secured a deal to publish the book "The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better For Everyone'>The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better". The aim of the trust is to bring to the public knowledge about the 'social illnesses' caused by inequality and help develop the political will to tackle this issue.

The second one, called Demand Equity Now, was created by Policy Link, a very innovative and engaged think-thank / community organisation based in Oakland, California (a post-industrial city located near Berkeley). It is a platform to coordinate the efforts of advocates for a more equal world.

Both are very interesting for people who would like to be more active in this field, while being also a good source of information.