I'm at the Public Choice Society 50th annual conference this weekend, being held in New Orleans, presenting my paper on Persistent Electoral Success with Endogenous Rents on Sunday. The conference program is available here. For those yet unaware of the Public Choice Society, it has for years been the forefront of both theoretical and empirical research in the field of political economy (well, public choice theory to be precise). The Society was founded by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock in 1963 and has since been an active advocate of progressive research in social sciences. Its current president is Edward Lopez, while past presidents include an impressive list of names, from Mancur Olson, William Riker, Dennis Mueller, Peter Ordeshook, Vernon Smith, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, William Niskanen, Geoff Brennan, Randall Holcombe, and of course the founders (Tullock and Buchanan) to name only a few. It is affiliated with three journals; Public Choice, Constitutional Political Economy and the Review of Austrian Economics. It's also closely affiliated with George Mason University, where the Center for Study of Public Choice is situated along with the IHS and many brilliant economists and political scientists.
The conference itself is featuring over 250 presenters and guests and provides a unique opportunity to find out the newest research in the field, and encounter a whole range of interesting ideas that necessarily spur ones intellectual curiosity.
So far, after the first day has passed, my impressions are exuberant. I'm gonna try to sum up some of the most interesting parts of the conference's first day.
Today we had two Plenary sessions, one devoted to the late James Buchanan and the other one to the late Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, where we had an opportunity to listen from those who worked with these extraordinary political economists first hand. In my opinion, Brennan's portrait of prof. Buchanan was particularly touching, even though the presenters of the Bloomington School, Roberta Herzberg and James Walker, offered us an even more personal approach into the lives of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom.
Apart from the Plenary sessions there were also a bunch of other regular sessions, out of which many very interesting ones, however the time and size constraints led us to choose only a few to attend. I sat down for "Value and Preferences of Voters" in the first morning session, "Institutions and Fiscal and Political Outcomes" in the afternoon session and a panel on two great books, The Clash of Economic Ideas by Lawrence H. White and Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers by Wayne A. Leighton and Edward J. Lopez, in the early afternoon session. I don't regret either of my choices even though I missed on some great topics such as "Development and the Size of Government", "Corruption Evidence", or "Political Budget and Business Cycles".
I won't yet talk about the individual papers I've listened to (or read), I want to leave that for last and pick out the ones I thought were most interesting (to me at least). In the mean time I'll keep enjoying being part of the intellectual forefront in political economy.