News & Events

Seminar on Transatlantic Defense Partnership

Registration is now open.

June 21, 2017
Brussels, Belgium

The seminar will take place on Wednesday June 21st in Brussels, from 10:30am to 4:30pm at the Royal Military Academy (Brussels) and is organized by Economists for Peace and Security, with the support from Airbus and the Royal Military Academy.

This seminar aims at nurturing transatlantic dialogue by crossing American and European perspectives to identify stakes, challenges and opportunities after the elections in major NATO countries in 2016 and 2017. 

More information available here.

The 21st Annual International Conference on Economics and Security

June 22-23, 2017
Brussels, Belgium

The 21st Annual International Conference on Economics and Security will be held at the Royal Military Academy, Brussels, June 22nd - 23rd 2017.

Registration is now open.

The conference aims to provide an opportunity for economists, political scientists and others from around the world to share ideas and discuss the future developments in the following areas:

  • Regional security
  • Economics of security
  • Corruption and military spending
  • Globalisation and the restructuring of the MIC
  • Militarism and development
  • Security sector reform
  • Economics of conflict and war
  • Post-conflict reconstruction
  • Economics of the arms trade
  • Procurement and offsets
  • Arms races and alliances
  • Peace economics and peace science
  • Conversion and demilitarisation
  • Economics of terrorism

Registration is now open.

 

Economists for Peace and Security works to promote non-military solutions to world challenges, and more broadly to work towards freedom from fear and want for all.

William Baumol
1922-2017

A preeminent economist of his generation, Dr. Baumol taught for more than 40 years at Princeton University and at New York University, where he retired in 2014. His work touched on monetary policy, corporate finance, welfare economics, resource allocation and entre­pre­neur­ship, but he was best known for the principle that came to bear his name: Baumol’s cost disease.

The insight came to him in a 4 a.m. epiphany in the 1960s, when he and a colleague, future Princeton president William G. Bowen, were preparing an analysis of the cost of presenting and attending the performing arts.

“I suddenly woke up and said I know why those costs are going up!” Dr. Baumol recalled in a 2001 oral history with economist Alan B. Krueger. “I got up, wrote down a few notes, and went to sleep again. That’s literally how it happened.”

Distilled to its essence, Baumol’s cost disease is the idea that personally delivered services — musical performances, medical care, education and garbage collection, for example — naturally and inevitably increase in price year after year. “The idea is really trivial,” Dr. Baumol said. “But the implication, which I think has not been yet learned, I think is mind-boggling.”

The result of the cost disease, Princeton professor Alan S. Blinder said in an interview, is that services will be “more and more expensive relative to either goods — things you buy in the store, like bagels or cars,” or automated services such as the Internet.

Improved technology may allow bagels and cars to be produced more efficiently and therefore more cost effectively, but, as Dr. Baumol famously observed, a Mozart string quartet requires today the services of four musicians, the same manpower it took in the 18th century. “Productivity improvement of zero,” Blinder said.

Over the years doctors have managed to see more patients in less time by eliminating house calls, but even office visits require a certain minimum amount of time. Schools might increase efficiency by growing class sizes, but few if any parents would regard such a change as an improvement in quality.

Well-appointed garbage trucks might speed collection time, but still they must stop at every house. Police and fire departments similarly require certain base levels of staffing if they are to provide their promised services.

Dr. Baumol’s ideas had immediate relevance in public policy, particularly in the areas of health care and education, where “all kinds of villains have been trotted out,” Blinder said — “local government, teacher unions, rapacious health care providers.”

“You have now explained to me why the Democratic Party is called the party of tax and spend,” the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) once told Dr. Baumol, “because we are financing all the things that are affected by the cost disease.”

Read the full Washington Post Obituary here.