I (and virtually every other economist in the world, it seems) am currently attending the Allied Social Sciences Association meetings, more commonly referred to as the AEA meetings—or just “the AEA’s.” Despite catching up with old friends and advisors, getting feedback on my research, and learning new things in the sessions, this is my least favorite conference. There’s something about this conference that just stresses me out. It might be the two-thousand job market candidates that are competing for just 200 jobs (slight exaggeration), who are everywhere and look terrified/lost/exhausted. Or it could be meeting up with my MIT classmates and hearing about their raging success. Maybe the posturing of hundreds of people presenting their (half-completed) research as if it were the greatest thing since sliced bread has something to do with it. Or it could be the truly brilliant people who (sometimes unintentionally) make everyone else in the room feel stupid. In any case, I don’t look like the only who is stressed out. Everyone looks generally miserable. Whoever coined the term “the dismal science” must have done it after attending this conference.

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