STAFET: Ole Jann.

Lene Troen Lundgaard

Stafetten er denne gang landet hos Ole Jann, som forelæser i Microeconomics C dette efterår og i øvrigt er Ph.d.-studerende på Økonomisk Institut. Læs hans svar her!

Where is your favorite place to eat in Copenhagen?
Many people have answered ”At home” or something like that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but since this is also supposed to give ideas let me just say that some of the best Indian food in Copenhagen is served at “Tandoori Masala” in Nørrebro. If there’s something to celebrate, I go to “Grøften” at Tivoli and lose (modest amounts of) money at “Grand Prix” or “Galoppen” afterwards.

If you should recommend a good book, which one would it be?
There are many good books in economics. I think that Thomas Schelling’s “Micromotives and Macrobehavior” is a masterpiece. It is a bit overlooked because people always talk about “Strategy of Conflict” being such an important book (often without reading it either). Sometimes I have the impression that the median economist reads very little apart from recent research. Sure, if you want to solve differential equations in continuous time, read some new article to find out how. But for thinking about bigger economic questions, one can always benefit from reading Stigler, Keynes, Marshall or even Smith.
Outside economics, friends will know that I consider Robert Caro’s four-volume “The Years of Lyndon Johnson” superb beyond comparison.

What would you do if you won a million kr.?
I tend towards consumption smoothing, so I would probably spend a little bit now on presents for friends and family, and invest the rest.
When people hear that I do research in finance (or sometimes if they just hear that I am an economist), they always ask me for investment advice. Unfortunately, the most practical thing one learns from doing research in finance is that there is no good investment advice. So I cannot tell you anything interesting about how I would invest the money.

What, if anything, should have realized earlier in your life?

I am convinced that I will have much better answers to this question if you ask me again in 5, 10 or 30 years. For now, I would say: "Being a ridiculously inapt beginner at something is the first step towards being good at it – and one step further from not doing at all."
Now that I say it, I’m actually not sure I have completely realized this myself.

What is the best part of your job?
I get to read things that I am interested in, teach things that I am passionate about, discuss new ideas with some very interesting people, and think and write about important economic questions. But, as any behavioral economist will tell you, preferences are unstable. On some mornings, I consider it the best part that I can sleep late if I really feel like it.

Which bill do you hate to pay the most?
If you hate paying bills, you should stop paying them – and if that’s not possible, you should stop hating them! Everything else seems destined to make you unhappy. That being said, I really hate it when I buy something, and suddenly there’s an unexpected surcharge, for example an “administrative fee”. Outrageous!

What is the most beautiful result in economics and why?
Alfred North Whitehead wrote that every scientist should “Seek simplicity, and distrust it.” That applies to beautiful results in economics. I think that the efficient-market hypothesis is an incredibly beautiful and important result, and one that should be distrusted in many ways.

Which famous economist would you like to spend an afternoon with?
That would be Thomas Schelling. His writing is always extremely insightful, perceptive and entertaining, and he has thought and worked on a great variety of topics. I would not like to spend an afternoon with an economist who only wants to talk about stock price beta or cointegration analysis! (There was once a New Yorker cartoon that showed a woman introducing a man to a friend, saying: “I’d like you to meet Marty. He’s an economist, but he’s really very nice.”)

What is the most important lesson, learnt from the financial crisis?
I’m not sure whether “we” have really learned a big lesson, but I would say: Our economic system, and financial markets in particular, is unstable and susceptible to crises. Still, I am not a pessimist who says that frequent and violent financial crises are unavoidable. Then why would there have been no major (financial) crisis between the Second World War and the oil price shocks, for example?

Faktaboks

Ole Jann has been at Copenhagen University since 2010, first as a master's student and now as a PhD student on the 4+4 program. Since spring 2012, he has been teaching in the Micro C course - first as a teaching assistant and now as lecturer.
Ole is German and spent the first years of his studies in Berlin, where he received a bachelor's degree from Humboldt University and worked at the German parliament. The picture shows him investigating the economic situation of southern Europe.

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Faktaboks

Ole Jann has been at Copenhagen University since 2010, first as a master's student and now as a PhD student on the 4+4 program. Since spring 2012, he has been teaching in the Micro C course - first as a teaching assistant and now as lecturer.
Ole is German and spent the first years of his studies in Berlin, where he received a bachelor's degree from Humboldt University and worked at the German parliament. The picture shows him investigating the economic situation of southern Europe.