Sunday, December 23, 2018

Annual Review 2018

I've been doing these annual reviews since 2011. They're mainly an exercise for me to see what I accomplished and what I didn't in the previous year. This year was a bit of a struggle at times, so it's a good idea to remind myself of what I did manage to accomplish.

Me and my mother holding my brother in 1967

Going into this year, I had high expectations for getting more research done, as I finished my term as economics program director at Crawford at the end of 2017. In the first semester, I was teaching a new course, or rather a subject I last taught more than a decade ago – environmental economics – but I thought that should be manageable and had three weeks of class prepared at the beginning of the semester. I definitely don't have a comparative advantage in teaching, it takes me a lot of time and effort to prepare. Then my mother died in the week that class began. This was quite expected – she was not doing well when I visited in December – but of course the exact timing is never known. I didn't travel to Israel for the funeral. I had already agreed with my brother up front to travel for the "stone-setting", which in Israel is 30 days after the death. It is the custom to bury someone on the day they die, if possible, so I didn't want to delay that. After I got back, I got ill with a flu/cold, which resulted in me completely losing my voice so I couldn't teach at all. So this was a difficult semester. In October/November I again got ill with flu/lung infection of some sort and lost a month of research time.

Noah and me in Sweden 

But there were also happier travels during the year. In June and July, I traveled with my wife, Shuang, and son, Noah, to the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Japan. I went to three conferences: the IAEE meeting in Groningen and the IEW and World Congress in Gothenburg. Shuang also attended the World Congress. The visits to Finland and Japan were just for fun. Stephan Bruns was also at the IAEE meeting and actually presented our paper on rebound, which got very positive feedback. Stephan and Alessio Moneta did most of the econometric work on the paper, which we are about to submit now.

In September I went to Rome and Singapore for two workshops. At the Villa Mondragone, near Frascati, outside of Rome, was the Climate Econometrics Conference. I presented a paper that compared different estimators of the climate sensitivity. This produced some unexpected results, and it looks like it needs a lot more work some time! I met lots of people including meeting my coauthor Richard Tol for the first time.

Villa Mondragone near Frascati

In Singapore, I attended the 5th Asian Energy Modelling Workshop, which mostly focuses on integrated assessment modeling. By then, I was confident enough to present the rebound paper myself.

I also went to the Monash Environmental Economics Workshop in Melbourne in November. This is a small meeting with just one stream of papers, but they are all focused on environmental economics, whereas the larger annual AARES conference mostly focuses on agriculture.

Akshay Shanker and I finally put out a working paper that was our contribution to a Handelsbanken Foundation funded project headed by Astrid Kander. We are also branding this as part of our ARC funded DP16 project, as we have also been using ARC funding on it. We also completed work this year on the major part of the work on rebound that was part of the DP16 proposal. Zsuzsanna Csereklyei, who was working on the DP16 project, moved to a lecturer position at RMIT.

The Energy Change Institute at ANU won the annual ANU Grand Challenge Competition with a proposal on Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific. Actually, the project already received several hundred thousand dollars of interim funding from the university in 2018 and I have been working with Akshay on the topic of electricity markets as part of this project. We'll continue research on the topic during 2019.

ECI Grand Challenge Presentation Team: Paul Burke, Kylie Catchpole, and Emma Aisbett

We only managed to publish two papers with a 2018 date:

Burke P. J., D. I. Stern, and S. B. Bruns (2018) The impact of electricity on economic development: A macroeconomic perspective, International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics 12(1) 85-127. Working Paper Version | Blogpost

Csereklyei Z. and D. I. Stern (2018) Technology choices in the U.S. electricity industry before and after market restructuring, Energy Journal 39(5), 157-182. Working Paper Version | Blogpost

But we have several papers in press:

Bruns S. B., J. König, and D. I. Stern (in press) Replication and robustness analysis of 'Energy and economic growth in the USA: a multivariate approach', Energy Economics. Working Paper Version | Blogpost

Bruns S. B., Z. Csereklyei, and D. I. Stern (in press) A multicointegration model of global climate change, Journal of Econometrics. Working Paper Version | Blogpost

Bruns S. B. and D. I. Stern (in press) Lag length selection and p-hacking in Granger causality testing: Prevalence and performance of meta-regression models, Empirical Economics. Working Paper Version | Blogpost

We posted five new working papers, three of which haven't been published yet:

Flying More Efficiently: Joint Impacts of Fuel Prices, Capital Costs and Fleet Size on Airline Fleet Fuel Economy Blogpost
November 2018. With Zsuzsanna Csereklyei.

Energy Intensity, Growth and Technical Change
September 2018. With Akshay Shanker. Blogpost

How to Count Citations If You Must: Comment
January 2018. With Richard Tol. Blogpost

Google Scholar citations approached 16,000 with an h-index of 51.

The trend to fewer blogposts continued – this is only the 9th blogpost this year. Twitter followers rose from 750 to 950 over the year.

Akshay Shanker – his primary adviser was Warwick McKibbin and I was on his supervisory panel – received his PhD with very positive feedback from the examiners. He has a part time position at ANU working on the Grand Challenge Project and I am supervising him on that.

There doesn't seem to have been any major progress on the issues surrounding economics at ANU, that I mentioned in last year's post. Arndt Corden seems to be heading towards being a specialist program dealing with developing Asia and there is no overall identity for economics at Crawford. I increasingly identify with the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis.

On a related theme, I applied for three jobs on three different continents. One of these – the one in Australia – went as far as an onsite interview, but the more I learnt about the job the less enthusiastic I was, and I wasn't offered it. It was a 50/50 admin/leadership and research position.

Looking forward to 2019, a few things can be predicted:
  • We're about to submit our first paper on the rebound effect and should also put out a working paper or two on the topic.
  • I'll continue research with Akshay on the Grand Challenge project.
  • I'm not planning to go to any conferences this year. I have one seminar presentation lined up at Macquarie University in the second half of the year.
  • My PhD student Panittra Ninpanit will submit her thesis at the beginning of the year, and I have a new student, Debasish Kumar Das, starting. The plan is for him to work on electricity reliability.
  • I'll be teaching environmental economics and the masters research essay course again in the first semester.
 Trying to understand the menu in Finland