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Summer Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences


In August 2017, a traditional meeting of young economists and Nobel Laureates was held in a small German town Lindau. This year, two of our young colleagues, Zuzana Havránková and Jiří Kukačka, were also selected and invited. By this, they joined a group of nearly 400 young economists from more than 70 countries, which were chosen by an expert committee from thousands of applicants. This year, it was possible to meet with such renowned specialists as Peter Diamond, Chris Sims, Robert Aumann, James Heckman and others.

We spoke with Zuzana and Jiří about their experience.

The Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences has a specific position among the Lindau Meetings. Can you describe it a little?

The economic meeting in Lindau is the youngest of all Lindau meetings and is held once in three years. So while the chemists met for the 67th time this year, economists had this chance only for the 6th time. The main idea of the meeting is to connect the Nobel Prize Laureates with young economists to support the new generation of scientists. So it is a fantastic opportunity to build a new network of contacts.

How can a young scientist get to this meeting? Were you invited or did you send an application?

The foundation that organizes the meeting always offers a limited number of places to scientific institutions worldwide. These organizations nominate their candidates and the panel of organizers then selects the finalists based on their CVs and motivation letters, and invites them to Lindau. 

This year, the Czech Republic was represented by two of us and then two colleagues from CERGE-EI and one from the University of Economics in Prague.

What are the criteria?

Untraditionally, the main criterion is the age, because the meeting is intended for young students, postdocs and researchers under the age of 35. In the next step, the existing research activity of candidates is evaluated. But the most important criterion is that you can be invited to Lindau only twice - once as a young scientist and for the second time as a Nobel Prize Laureate :).

Which Nobel Prize Laureates were present this year? Who was the leading figure for two of you?

We had a chance to meet 17 Nobelists including the two most recent ones from 2016. We have to admit, that we haven´t known some of them until the meeting. To have the opportunity to discuss economics and the current world issues with whoever from these personalities was an intense experience. However, for us, there were six leading figures. Prof. Edward C. Prescott, whose "filter" knows every advanced student of economics, also the econometricians: Prof. Sims from Princeton, the popularizer of vector autoregression and the author of the rational inattention theory and Profs. Heckman and Hansen from Chicago. Jiří even had a chance to introduce his former student from IES, who is now in Konstanz, to Prof. Heckman. Another was the recent Nobelist from 2014, Prof. Jean Tirole from Toulouse, who presented a talk about Corporate Social Responsibility, which is Jiří´s long-term interest. For Zuzana, the most impressive encounter was with Prof. Pissarides from LSE.

How is the meeting organized? Organizers try to provide a dialogue between Nobelists and young scientists - how does that work?

It works well because of the unique structure of the meeting. It was amazing; the Nobelists were available for the whole time, not only during breaks between their talks but also during lunches and dinners, they would always sit among the rest of participants so that we had a chance to talk to them more or less formally. They were also part of the final boat trip over the Lake Constance (Bodensee) and joined a picnic on the Mainau island.

The meeting took four days, and the program was full from early mornings till late nights. In the morning, there was a collective warm-up or "science breakfast" on burning topics such as "Economic Inequality in a Globalised World” or “Restarting Productivity Growth” organized by sponsors of the event McKinsey and Mars. Afterwards, there were morning lectures, and after lunch (when one could hardly take a short swim in the lake), there were panel discussions on contemporary economic topics and scientific seminars. Selected participants had a life-chance opportunity to present their research and get a feedback from several Nobelists.

Did you present your research?

This chance was given to only approximately one-fourth of the participants, so the competition was high, and we were not among the selected. However, we managed to utilize other opportunities. With Prof. Hansen, we had a chance to discuss his opinion on the utilization of simulated estimation methods in econometrics. We both sat next to Prof. Sims at the gala dinner, we spoke with Prof. Tirole about not only research but also about the election in France and Brexit during lunch and we often met Prof. Pissarides sitting on a bench in front of our hotel.

Did you manage to bring new contacts for possible future cooperation?

At Lindau, we met with several people that we know from conferences, so this was a good opportunity to get to know each other better.  Jiří even got in touch with a group of experts in multi-agent modeling in advance, and they spent one dinner around one table. Zuzana got to know several young scientists, who deal with research on the impact of global warming. In the future, we would also wish to utilize the contact with the Nobel Laureates directly.

Autor - Mgr. Lucie Křížová M.A.


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