Friday, December 20, 2013

Tennessee's formula for awarding $826 million to HE institutions

I found it here and I thought it was interesting. Simple enough and useful.
It covers institutions of all levels of higher education (Universities, Technical Colleges and Community Colleges).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

UC Berkeley Lecturer Alexander Coward on college education and strikes

  • I copy here the e-mail sent to UC Berkeley math students by the Lecturer  Alexander Coward to explain the importance of College Education and why he was going to teach next day and not participate in the University of California workers’ strike action.
Dear All,
As some of you may have heard, there is some strike activity taking place on campus tomorrow.
I want to let you know that I will not be striking, which means that I will be, so-to-speak, crossing a picket line. Moreover, I know that two of your GSIs have decided to strike, but because I happen to be free in the afternoon when they teach, and because I enjoy teaching smaller classes from time to time and I haven’t had a chance to in a while, I’ll be covering those sections. If you were planning to see me at office hours tomorrow afternoon, then feel free to come to one of the sections I’ll be covering. I will be in Stephens 230c from 2:10 to 4pm, Cory Hall 285 from 4:10pm to 5pm, and Evans Hall 6 from 5:10pm-6pm.
The reason for me taking this decision is extremely simple: We have 7 class days left until the end of the course. Despite the fact that we’ve made good time and are likely to finish the syllabus with a few lectures in hand for review, class hours are valuable and your education is too important to just cancel a class if we don’t have to. Whatever the alleged injustices are that are being protested about tomorrow, it is clear that you are not responsible for those things, whatever they are, and I do not think you should be denied an education because of someone else’s fight that you are not responsible for. I say this with no disrespect whatsoever to the two GSIs who have decided to strike. Societies where people stand up for what they believe in are generally better than societies where people do not, sometimes dramatically so. Further, I cannot discount the possibility that I may be in the wrong on this and they may be right. I have certainly been on the wrong side of political judgements before and I’m sure I will be again. However from a practical point of view I’ve made my decision and you should all turn up to class and discussion tomorrow as normal.
Beyond practical matters, I think it’s also worth reflecting a little on the broader relationship between politics and your education, and I think I have some important things to share on this topic that may be helpful to you.
I do this with some trepidation. Normally I try to avoid talking about politics with my students and also my professional colleagues because people have a wide variety of views, sometimes held with great conviction and feeling. If I was to get into a political disagreement with one of you or one of my colleagues, it might get in the way of or distract us from the central mission we have of working together to give you a great education. 
However sometimes political events reach into our lives without our invitation or control, and we have no choice but to engage with each other about politics. Many times in history it has done so with far more violence and disruption than a strike, and it is wise to be psychologically prepared for this fact.
If I’ve learned one thing about politics since I was your age, it is this: Politics, like most things in life worth thinking about, including mathematics, is very big, very complicated, and very interconnected. I’ve lived and worked in four countries on four continents, all with societies set up differently both politically and socially. I’ve discovered that there is no unique or obviously best way of setting up society. For every decision and judgement you reach, there are people who benefit and people who lose out. It’s the same with the way I teach my classes. I know that for every decision I make about how to teach you there are some of you who benefit and there are others who would do better if I did things differently. There is no way of getting around that. Every judgement you make in life is a question of balancing different interests and ideals. Reasonable good people can disagree on political questions like whether to strike or not, and they can disagree about far more contentious topics also.
All this may sound like speaking in platitudes. However it is a point worth making to all of you because you are so young. One of the nice things about being young is that your thinking can be very clear and your mind not so cluttered up with memories and experiences. This clarity can give you a lot of conviction, but it can also lead you astray because you might not yet appreciate just how complicated the world is. As you get older you tend to accumulate life experiences to learn from, and this is the source of wisdom, but the trouble is that the lessons we glean from life do not all point in the same direction. Sometimes it is hard to tease the correct learning from the experiences life throws at us.
So what are we to do with the fact that when we are young we lack a lot of the perspective we need to make definitive judgements about what is right, but that as we get older our judgements tend to be informed by our experiences, and these experiences guide us in contradictory ways, both between different people and within the same person? 
I don’t know. 
However one thing I do know is that you are not going to be able to avoid making these kinds of judgements, just as I cannot avoid making a judgment about whether to strike or not. Like it or not, I have to make a political choice, and I have to talk to you about it. For me, the choice not to strike is quite easy, but for you the kinds of judgements and choices you are going to face in your lives are going to be far from easy; they are going to be of a complexity and importance that will rival that faced by any previous generation. To an extent that you may not yet appreciate, the world is changing incredibly quickly. In just a decade, since I was your age, the internet and telecommunications has truly transformed the way we live, not just in rich countries but around the world. When I was an undergraduate, if I wanted to check my email I went to a little room in the basement to use a computer, and if I wanted to learn something I went to a library. The kinds of breakthroughs we are seeing in biotechnology remind me of the way people were talking about electricity in 1900. Of course I don’t know - nobody knows - but my guess is that biotechnology in the 21st century could be similarly transformative to the way the full power of electricity only hit prime-time in the 20th century. The recent controversy about the NSA has shown that the role of information technology on society can be, or at least might become, double edged. There is climate change, another controversial and difficult topic, the exact impact of which we do not yet know. These are just a few of the challenges we can see, and we should remember that history has a habit of throwing curve balls at each generation that nobody saw coming. And among all this tumult, our search for common human peace and happiness on some level becomes more difficult, though no less important. A previous generation dodged the bullet of nuclear armageddon when things looked bleak, but for your generation the bullets are coming thicker and faster than ever before. The potential all of you in your generation are going to have for both good and harm is tremendous. 
I suspect many of you have heard sentiments along these lines before. However I also suspect that many of you will think something in response along the lines of `I know all that, but these things are for someone else to figure out, not me.’
That is a mistake. 
One of the things you can lose track of when you attend a top tier university like Berkeley is just how exceptional and amazing you really are. I’m blown away every time I talk to you. The way you ask penetrating questions, the way you improved so much between midterm 1 and 2, the way you challenge me to be a better teacher, it just knocks my socks off. You really are amazing. I’ve taught students all over the world, and I’ve never seen a group of students so talented. I’m not just talking about some of you. I’m talking about all of you. It’s a privilege to be your professor. Sadly, however, I know many of you don’t feel that way. The difficulty you all face is that as you look around at all your fellow students, it’s easy to have your eye drawn by people doing better than you. Or rather, I should say people who look like they’re doing better than you. In reality the true extent of how much people are learning can be difficult to measure. Sometimes failures and adversity are better preparations for long term success than effortless progress.
Why am I telling you all this? 
I’m telling you this because you all need to know that there is not some great pool of amazing people in some other place who are going to shape the way our species navigates the coming decades. The simple fact is that, like it or not, technology is going to change the way we live in the future, and you’re going to have to solve some very hard problems, as well as figure out how best to use new technology for good, while at the same time facing human dangers that have haunted humanity throughout history.
Part of the work of your generation is going to be technological, using scientific ideas to serve the interests of society, and part of the work is going to be fundamentally human, tied inexorably with qualities of the human condition - human emotion - that dominate the whole of history. These things are not separate, but are inexorably linked, and you are in a better place to understand that connection than me.
I can’t tell you what your particular role should be in the new realities of the 21st century. It’s up to you to decide if you want to make the focus of your life technological, focused on new innovations to drive society forward, or essentially human, focused on the age-old struggles of trying to get along, work together, and find happiness, or some combination of the two. 
However I can tell you this:
Whatever you decide to do with your life, it’s going to be really, really complicated. 
Science and technology is complicated. History and politics is complicated. People are complicated. Figuring out how to be happy, and do simple things like take care of our kids and maintain friendships and relationships, is complicated.
In order for you to navigate the increasing complexity of the 21st century you need a world-class education, and thankfully you have an opportunity to get one. I don’t just mean the education you get in class, but I mean the education you get in everything you do, every book you read, every conversation you have, every thought you think. 
You need to optimize your life for learning. 
You need to live and breath your education. 
You need to be *obsessed* with your education. 
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you are surrounded by so many dazzlingly smart fellow students that means you’re no good. Nothing could be further from the truth. 
And do not fall into the trap of thinking that you focusing on your education is a selfish thing. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s the most noble thing you could do.
Society is investing in you so that you can help solve the many challenges we are going to face in the coming decades, from profound technological challenges to helping people with the age old search for human happiness and meaning. 
That is why I am not canceling class tomorrow. Your education is really really important, not just to you, but in a far broader and wider reaching way than I think any of you have yet to fully appreciate. 
See you tomorrow,

Monday, September 09, 2013

Fundamental problems of the Center-Left

Two center-left governments on opposite sides of the globe (Australia, Norway) are losing power this month, despite both presiding over commodity-fuelled booms while other economies sank into crisis. 


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

WANTED: A MIRACLE IN GREECE (Collier, Sep 20, 1947)

Nothing less will defeat economic collapse and Communist inroads

Collier’s - Sep 20, 1947

TODAY an almost forgotten American mission has got to perform a miracle—or fail in its job. The miracle is to save Greece from economic disintegration and the inroads of Communism. The fight to save Greece is just beginning. The announcement of plans is not enough. What will go on in Greece this month and next is infinitely more important than are the debates which commanded the headlines last March and April.

Last January, I went to Greece as head of a mission charged with reporting on the economic situation and with determining what outside assistance would be necessary for the survival of the Greek nation. I know at firsthand the complicated and discouraging conditions which today are confronting Dwight Griswold and the American Mission for Aid to Greece. And I feel strongly that the American people should know precisely what these conditions are.

During a trip through the lovely Greek countryside, a peasant I talked with typified the Greek national psychosis. He was a weary and discouraged man, prematurely old, his face lined and wrinkled, his hands upturned in a gesture of mute despair.

"Four times in my lifetime my home has been destroyed," he said, "—by the Turks, the Bulgars, the Nazis and the guerrillas. Why should I build it up again?"

This hopelessness is typical. The whole country, from top to bottom, is in the grip of a gray, unrelieved, profound lack of faith in the future--a lack of faith which produces simple inertia for the present. From the large textile manufacturers in Athens to the small shopkeepers and farmers in the northernmost part of Macedonia, people are paralyzed by uncertainty and fear. Businessmen will not invest. Storekeepers will not lay in supplies. Peasants will not repair their ruined houses. One official told me that 150,000 homes had been totally destroyed in Greece and that only 1,300 had been rebuilt in 1946.

My most depressing experience in Greece was a visit to Kalavryta, the Lidice of Greece. This was the village high up a narrow gorge near the Gulf of Corinth where, in December, 1943, a small band of Greek resistance forces ambushed a squadron of Nazi occupation troops. The German reprisal was an unbelievable act of horror and brutality. The 1,200 men of the village were herded into an open field, where from the vantage point of higher ground, they were forced to watch their homes and shops burned from the incendiary volleys fired simultaneously into each structure. When the conflagration reached its height and the Greeks sought to break away from their Nazi guards, machine guns from concealed emplacements massacred the helpless lot of them.

Meantime, the women, old men and children were concentrated in the largest building—a school. It was the last to be ignited. Legend has it that the screams of the women and children were too much for an Austrian officer and he shot the lock off the door. Liberated from the blazing school, the survivors fled to the hills and returned later that night to recover the bodies of their men on the hillside, and buried them in the village cemetery.

The despair in Greece today is crucial, because our whole program of aid is based on the assumption that the people will be able to snap out of the prevailing inertia. We are not stepping up the amount of outside assistance enough to make the future much different from the past. During 1946, Greece got about $330,000,000 from UNRRA and the British; our aid of $350,000,000 barely exceeds this. And, at the same time, we are banking on the ability of the Greeks to more than double their exports. So, far from having too liberal an amount of money for use in Greece, we are operating on an exceedingly narrow margin. Indeed it may soon become apparent that estimates of $350,000,000 which my group made are too conservative, and that additional funds may be necessary. Mr. Griswold will find that conditions have rapidly worsened since the first mission went out last January. There has since been a widespread drought which has substantially reduced local grain production. The military activity has been stepped up. And our own price level has risen to shade the value of the dollars Congress has made available. The $350,000,000 loan will not go as far as we had hoped and planned. At best, we will get up to the minimum reconstruction level. At worst, we may have trouble maintaining a level of decent subsistence. If the American mission is to end this deep sense of national hopelessness, it must resolve two controversial situations—the civil war and the present government.

One winter day in Macedonia, as I was standing on a riverbank, hundreds of low-flying geese suddenly appeared out of the clouds, flying in formation and honking wildly as they came. I remarked casually to a Greek standing with me that they must have fine shooting in Macedonia.

"Men have been so busy shooting one another in this part of the world," he answered sadly, "that they have had no time for the geese."

So long as this state of mind continues, the prospects for economic reconstruction are dim. You cannot devote your full energies to repairing docks, building bridges and maintaining roads when you are likely to be shot in the back any moment. The greatest obstacle to the reconstruction of Greece is the continuance of the civil war. There can be no permanent solution of Greece's economic future until the present military burden is reduced—until money and men are released for productive purposes. There can be no permanent solution of Greece's psychological paralysis until the menace of external aggression is removed. I am convinced that the Russians know this even better than we do. The Communists know that the revival of guerrilla warfare will put us badly on the spot in Greece—so they are working overtime to revive it. That is why, it seems to me, Russia's U.N. delegate Andrei Gromyko vetoed the U.S. proposal to establish a semipermanent frontier commission in the Balkans.

The plain fact appears to be that the U.S.S.R. does not want a pacification of frontier conditions in the Balkans. For such pacification will be an almost indispensable condition for American success in helping bring about Greek economic recovery.

This brings up the question of the Greek government. The present regime obviously must constitute the set of tools through which we work. We cannot kick ofl: by naming a new team. Adoption of these means would contradict the ultimate ends we wish to accomplish in Greece and elsewhere; furthermore, blatant intervention of this kind would supply potent ammunition to Soviet propaganda about American imperialism.

But we can—and must—do something to sharpen these tools. Chief among these tools is the Greek civil service. The late King George of Greece, in my first talk with him, referred to many government employees as "camp followers" and "coffeehouse politicians" and described the whole civil service as a kind of pension system for political hacks. These were harsh words, but not unwarranted. The civil service is overexpanded, underpaid and demoralized. The low salaries have been augmented by a completely baffling system of extra allowances by which a few civil servants probably get as much as four times their base pay. At the same time the bulk of them do not get a living wage. Many of them are forced to supplement their government pay by taking outside jobs. Imagine the effects in Washington if officials in government departments worked part time for local lawyers or lobbyists or industrialists.

The curiously short working week— usually 33_hours, consisting of mornings only for 6 days a week—facilitates the economic double life which so many government workers lead. The result is complete disorganization. I have never seen an administrative structure which, for sheer incompetence and ineffectiveness, was so appalling. The civil service simply cannot be relied upon to carry out the simplest functions of government— the collection of taxes, the enforcement of economic regulations, the repair of roads.

Thus the drastic reform of the civil service is an indispensable condition to getting anything else done in Greece. But the civil service is just the beginning. There is the far more intricate and explosive question of the political leadership of the country.

Candor will compel me to make some frank statements about this government, but what would you have America do? Would you have prayed with Henry Wallace for the defeat of the Greek aid bill so that you could exchange the present inefficient, rightwine regime for a police state on the Tifo model? I rather doubt it. Because whatever it is, the present Greek government is not a totalitarian dictatorship, and besides, it does not seem to me that the nature of the government is relevant to the question of external aggression. We can't take the position that it is all right to commit acts of aggression against governments we do not like, and only bad to commit such acts against goverrments we approve.

There is within Greece a vigorous and critical political opposition. There is a free press. The Communist paper is published daily in Athens, and each morning in my mailbox I received an English translation of the mimeographed bulletin of the EAM bitterly denouncing the present regime. It is not at all a liberty-loving regime in the American sense, but it is paradise next to its neighbors of the north and their much vaunted "new democracy." Obviously the existence of freedom of expression is no excuse for other governmental delinquencies. But it does signal the possibility of peaceful and democratic change.

On the other hand, the fact remains that this present government has not, on the record, shown any affirmative philosophy or any inclination to do the things necessary to end their nation's travail. On my first day in Greece, I had a talk with General J. G. W. Clark, the intelligent and somewhat sardonic head of the British Economic Mission.

"When visitors on arriving in a new country," he began by saying, "run into a sandstorm or a hurricane, they are always told how unusual the weather is. But the situation you are running into here in Athens—the monetary crisis, the possible civil service strike, the pending fall of the government—is the normal postwar political climate of Greece.

So far as I could see, the Greek government had no effective policy except to plead for foreign aid to keep itself in power, loudly citing Greece's wartime sacrifices and its own king-size antiCommunism as reasons for granting the foreign aid in unlimited quantities. It intends, in my judgment, to use foreign aid as a way of perpetuating the privileges of a small banking and commercial clique which constitutes the invisible power in Greece.

The reaction to President Truman's speech of March 12th, calling for aid to Greece, was characteristic. In January and February of 1946, desperation had produced a spate of good intentions and noble resolutions within the Greek government; but the instant effect of the assurance of American aid was not to stimulate the government to further efforts, but to give it the relaxed feeling that it was delivered from the necessity of having to do anything at all. So it declared a national holiday; there was dancing in the streets. And at the same time it shelved a plan for the immediate export of surplus olive oil—a plan which had stepped on the toes of some private traders.

Demetrios Maximos, the present Prime Minister, is a kindly, well-intentioned old man, with, I think, an earnest desire to help his sufiEering people. He is very small and frail, with a mustache and a goatee, carefully dressed and wearing oldfashioned button shoes. He speaks English with precision and is something of a scholar. But, though a man of good will, Maximos is a prisoner of the errors of his predecessors and of more forceful men in his own cabinet.

The Influential Tsaldaris - Pre-eminent among these is the VicePremier and Foreign Minister, Constantin Tsaldaris. A Greek politician of long standing, Tsaldaris has avowedly embraced the principles of a generous amnesty policy toward the guerrillas, has constantly urged the fullest participation by the United Nations in Greece's border difficulties, and in general has been a persistent pleader abroad for the Greek cause. Yet his conduct of internal affairs when he was Prime Minister was not such as to advance Greek recovery significantly. His administration was characterized by the abandonment of measures of domestic economic policy which might have been of some real benefit to the masses of Greek people.

But even Tsaldaris advocates another election in Greece when and if the border is stabilized. He professes to recognize that the Greek people are weary of the game of political musical chairs, where the same personalities merely shift their positions when a cabinet crisis develops. There have been seven changes in the Greek government since liberation, but Tsaldaris and his Populist (extreme right) cohorts remain dominant.

An even more controversial figure is General Napoleon Zervas, the Minister of Public Order. During the war Zervas ran a small "resistance" group around whose activities hangs the smell of Nazi collaboration. Today Zervas is foremost among those who want to exploit the present situation, not only to eliminate Communist-inspired aggression from across the borders, but apparently to rub out everyone in Greece who is critical of the present government. He is undoubtedly the figure behind the recent wave of arrests which took in not just Communists, but, according to informed observers in Athens, anti-Communist liberals as well.

I was told in Washington recently by a well-informed Greek friendly to the present regime that these after-dark roundups of Zervas' were not the repressive tactics of a police state, but only legitimate precautions of self-preservation. Of the 1,600 arrested in this last raid, more than 500 were subsequently released, he told me with great pride, because there was no basis for the charges against them.

Then, behind the government, is a small mercantile and banking cabal, headed by Pesmazoglu, governor of the National Bank of Greece and a shrewd and effective operator. This cabal is determined above all to protect its financial prerogatives, at whatever expense to the economic health of the country. Its members wish to retain a tax system rigged fantastically in their favor. They oppose exchange controls, because these might prevent them from salting away their profits in banks in Cairo or Argentina. They would never dream of investing these profits in their country's recovery.

The shipping interests are in a particularly scandalous position. Today the Greek merchant marine is enjoying a boom and the shipowners are raking in the profits. But the bankrupt Greek government is benefiting almost not at all from this prosperity. Seamen's earnings continue to come into Greece, but owners' profits for the most part are locked away elsewhere.

Any enterprise should be expected to pay a fair amount of taxes to the government under whose protection it operates —and particularly in this case, where the Greek shipowners are making most of their profits out of Liberty ships sold to them by the U. S. Maritime Commission after the Greek government had guaranteed the mortgages. The yearly earnings of a Greek-owned Liberty ship will probably run between $200,000 and $250,000. Of this, only the ridiculously small amount of $8,000 goes to the government in taxes. Foreign experts have urged the government to raise the tax requirements to about $30,000. But the political strength of the shipowners has prevented any effective action.

It will be the job of our mission to get action out of this government. In their efforts, the members of the mission can expect that the book will be thrown at them. They will receive every conceivable excuse and will be held up by every conceivable form of bureaucratic obstructionism and incompetence.

General Zervas will cry that the big thing is to fight the Communists by arresting every liberal, and the Communists will help him by spurring on the civil war.

And another, more insidious, form of pressure will be brought against the members of the mission. The social lobby—the smart international set, with its headquarters at Cannes, St. Moritz and the Kolonaki Square of Athens— will begin to operate. Many of them are charming people, speaking excellent English, who will be genuinely anxious to be of service to the American mission, but who, above all, will seek to convert the mission into another means of safeguarding their own prerogatives.

I still remember one ornate dinner when a leading banker entertained me in his luxurious Athens apartment. There were three liveried butlers, several magnificent wines, astoundingly good food. One guest during dinner became rhapsodical over the beauties of marine life and the high sport of spear-fishing under water with goggles. The contrast between the superb feast in the apartment and the starving children in the streets was simply too pat and cruel.

These are the obstacles which the American mission faces in Greece. Can we succeed in achieving our objectives?

Such a prophecy depends on how we measure success, and will require a great deal of elaboration of what really constitutes our objectives. We cannot evaluate progress in Greece by usual Western standards. There will be no quick or easy solution of the many social or economic maladjustments. My own brief experience in Greece convinces me that the American people will be greatly in the debt of Mr. Griswold and his colleagues if an atmosphere can be created and maintained wherein the Greek people have an opportunity in the near future for free political choices.

This raises the delicate problem of the intervention by one nation in the internal affairs of another. We have to face that question frankly. British officials freely admitted to me that the British Economic Mission served no useful purpose because its functions were merely advisory and it had no sanctions with which to enforce its recommendations. "Our fatal error," said one official, "was to condone incompetence because of political considerations." Yet obviously we cannot treat Greece as if it were a colonial possession or a conquered country.

My own answer to that question is provisional and pragmatic. I feel that the Greek state, in having requested assistance and supervision, is to that extent setting a limitation on its own sovereignty. If we are to make a heavy investment in Greek recovery, it is common sense to suppose that this implies the means to make the recovery effective.

These actualities have been recognized by the Greek government and embodied in the Greek note of June 15th to the United States and the U.S.-Greek aid agreement of June 20th. The note and the agreement spell out specific objectives of reform and reconstruction. It will be the legitimate business of the American mission to take all the steps necessary to secure compliance with the terms of the contract. To get down to cases, if a Greek minister resists or obstructs measures necessary for Greek recovery, or perverts American aid to antidemocratic purposes, I cannot believe that our mission would stand by impotent.

"The mission should make sure that the Greek people are kept fully informed of American aims and efforts and of the nature of the difficulties encountered," one of the wisest of living Greeks said to me. "If the practice followed up to now is continued—that of shielding the incompetence and unwillingness to cooperate of Greek ministers behind a veil of secrecy—the mission may lose the initiative in Greece. The mission must establish direct contact with the Greek people from the very beginning and appeal to public opinion for active support. I see no other means of exerting pressure for necessary measures that are bound to be strongly resisted by the present Greek regime."

The first step, of course, is to bring an end to the present internal warfare and to refute the Soviet propaganda line that the U.S. is financing a civil war in Greece. The best available means of doing this is to have a real amnesty. The Maximos cabinet was finally prevailed upon to adopt an amnesty program which looked plausible on paper; but, as a member of the Greek cabinet told me, the appointment of General Zervas as Minister of Public Order completely destroyed anyone's inclination to take the programs seriously. The amnesty must have enough safeguards to bring out of the hills everyone who is not an outright Communist agent.

Then we must follow through on the program of economic reconstruction. The American mission will supervise closely the money spent for this. Then, over a longer period, will come political democratization. A program of political reconstruction and reform cannot, in its nature, be put into effect overnight. It is dependent on the restoration of economic stability, and so must be a step-by-step process. Once the economic program begins to roll, we can do our best to foster and develop elements of the center and the non-Communist left.

There are democratic resources in Greece which have not yet been fully tapped. Damaskinos, the archbishop of Greece, a man witli a massive, disinterested wisdom on political conditions, carries great moral force in all camps. Sophoulis, the head of the Liberal party, though past the prime of his active political life, also has great moral stature in the country. Varvaressos, the Greek representative in the International Bank, is a man of conspicuous ability; and some of the younger politicians, like Kanellopoulos and the younger Venizelos, show promise.

These Elements Inspire Hope

There are forces of real democratic vitality in the country at large. The agricultural co-operative movement seemed to me an unusually robust and promising movement. The student movement has vigor; and, if Clinton Golden, formerly of the C.1.0. and now on Dwight Griswold's staff, can free the trade-union movement from the grip, on the one hand, of government stooges, and, on the other, of Communists, that may well develop into a bulwark of democracy.

We are facing a situation unprecedented in our history," and we will simply have to develop a new and American means of coping with it. The British formula in such cases was always collaboration with the native ruling classes —buying their support by confirming them in their power to exploit the masses, and relying upon them to hold the people down with gendarmery and whips.

This formula is not only repugnant to American traditions. It is also impractical. No system would deliver the Greek people more speedily into the arms of the Russians. We must work out a formula for starting from the bottom and working up—not starting from the top and working down. Russia is standing patiently by, hoping to get into Greece by a base on balls. It is confident that Greek incompetence and Greek reaction, combined with American inexperience and American gullibility, will doom the efforts of the American mission. We will soon be so frustrated by inefficiency, vacillation and simple knavery, Russia hopes, that we will grow disgusted and indifferent and finally walk out. Then guess who will walk in!

I think Americans have enough resourcefulness and perseverance to lick the problem. If we are defeated in Greece, it will be a crushing moral and strategic blow to our new international role solar plexus. But, if we can leave Greece in a state of economic and political health, we will have brought new hope and new faith to freedom-loving people everywhere in the world.


Assessing the Impact and Phasing of Multi-year Fiscal Adjustment: A General Framework

Ran Bi, Haonan Qu, and James Roaf
IMF Working Paper, 182, June 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Spain attempts to reform the higher education and research system


Next month Antonio Cabrales will leave his homeland with a heavy heart. Unlike others departing recession-hit Spain, the professor of economics at Carlos III University of Madrid is not emigrating for purely economic reasons.

Although a 20 per cent real terms pay cut recently imposed on Spain’s academics may have hastened Cabrales’ departure, he says that his main reason for moving to University College London, where he takes up a new post in September, is Spain’s stagnant university system.

Cabrales, who boasts a formidable record in teaching and research, says he believes that Spain’s academy offers few incentives or rewards for its most talented and hard-working academics.

With professorial salaries largely controlled by the state, there is “little difference [in pay] between someone who is extremely productive and someone who does nothing”, Cabrales claims.

“That is why I’m leaving to come to the UK. I’ve been waiting for 20 years for things to change, but I’ve stopped waiting.”

In fact, moves are finally afoot to address some of the issues troubling Cabrales.

A panel of experts appointed by the Council of Ministers, which is the Cabinet of the federal government, delivered its long-awaited review of Spanish higher education earlier this year. It proposes major reforms to university governance, academic pay and research funding.

It was commissioned to address widespread concern that almost two decades of heavy state investment in higher education had failed to yield significant results.

Not a single Spanish university features in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and no Spanish citizen has won a Nobel prize in the sciences in the past 100 years.

“Spain has thrown a lot of money at research,” observes Luis Garicano, professor of economics and strategy at the London School of Economics and a member of the higher education review panel.

“There has been a ton of cash spent on infrastructure – Spanish laboratories and university buildings are much bigger and better than those at UK universities.

“We also spent money on attracting talent from abroad, but we are now in a moment of massive financial constraint.”

What the country’s sector needs now is not large-scale investment but rather fundamental reforms of universities, Garicano argues.

Taking executive power out of the hands of academics and giving it to smaller, UK-style university councils is one of the panel’s key recommendations.

“The only way to succeed as a president at the moment is to allow people not to work,” insists Garicano, who says that Spanish rectors avoid making tough decisions because they will be voted out if they become unpopular with staff.

Under a new structure proposed by the expert panel, rectors would not be elected by staff and students. They would instead be chosen by a slimmed-down university council (a maximum of 25 members in contrast to 40-plus members under the current system), of which only half would be academics from the institution. At present, nearly all university governors are academics.

A quarter of council members would be “distinguished individuals with no political ties” selected by regional governments, which provide a large proportion of higher education funding. Others would be business leaders or academics from other institutions chosen by the governing board.

Centralising executive power in the hands of university rectors is seen as a way to allow them to tackle weaknesses in the Spanish system, such as the issue of the absentee academics who still draw a full professorial salary.

At many institutions, highly paid lawyers and politicians who began their professional life in the academy remain on the payroll but contribute little to academic life, says Garicano.

“It’s old-fashioned absenteeism. Several ministers in Spain are full professors because it’s a very prestigious role, but [they] will never teach or publish anything,” he adds.

Rectors would also be empowered to pay higher salaries to high-flying or especially dedicated professors who choose to opt out of the civil-servant status traditionally held by academics.

This route would allow universities to reduce the red tape, including a lengthy accreditation process, that has prevented Spanish universities from hiring the best academics from across the world, Garicano claims.

“If Albert Einstein had applied to a Spanish university after his seminal 1905 research papers, he could not have been appointed professor – that is still true today,” Garicano says of the arcane box-ticking required to achieve tenure.

“You could have the best scientist in the world and they could not get a professorial post in Spain.”

Panel moots REF-style assessment

Allied with plans to give universities more autonomy and flexibility, the review panel recommends the introduction of a funding model similar to the UK’s research excellence framework to reward world-class research and provide accountability for research expenditure.

“There are some outstanding academics doing great research, but they are fighting the system,” Garicano argues.

“As it stands, you have a lot of academics doing pretend research, writing papers no one will ever read to achieve their numbers, and not doing any teaching either,” he explains.

Introducing a more competitive method of funding research would inevitably mean that some universities receive more money than others – a system likely to create about “four or five world-class universities and a lot of very good teaching universities”, Garicano predicts.

“It is very much against the egalitarian spirit of the country, where every university has to be the same,” he acknowledges.

But will ministers kick the commission’s provocative recommendations into the long grass as the government seeks to deal with the country’s dire economic situation?

Garicano thinks that unlikely, believing that austerity has only strengthened arguments for his panel’s proposals to promote, attract and retain Spain’s most talented academics.

“What happens now is you fire all the people who are young and good but on short-term contracts, while all the people who have been there for ever keep their jobs,” he explains.

“There is no merit involved in these austerity cuts.”

Highly rated young scientists trained at top US universities who returned to Spain under its early career programme have been particularly hard hit by budget cuts, says Cabrales.

“Postdoctoral researchers also want to come back to Spain, but there is no possibility of it,” he adds.

“One of the best young physicists in Europe, [a Spanish academic] who had won a big prize, was recently in the news because he could not come back because one of the few reinsertion posts had been cut.

“That is the difficulty with flat cuts. You should cut those things that are not so important, but that is not happening.”

Aid cuts decried by students’ union

However, it seems that the reforms, put forward in February, may be delayed while the Education Ministry fights other battles, particularly over a proposal to introduce higher grade requirements for university students claiming financial aid.

Student groups have argued that the plan under discussion could prevent as many as 83,000 young people from attending university and could cause more than 30,000 students now in the system to lose their grants as richer self-funded students gain admission on lower marks.

“The ministry wants to set up two doors for us to enter our higher education system – one for the rich and one for the poor,” says Inés Sánchez, secretary general of CREUP, Spain’s national students’ union.

Nevertheless, Garicano argues that raising tuition fees – a proposal he made to the review panel, which rejected it as unpalatable – might be the best way to address the woes of Spain’s universities.

Garicano, co-founder of Nada es Gratis (“No Free Lunch”), a blog dedicated to economic analysis of Spain’s problems, says a UK-style system of income-contingent repayable loans and grants would help to establish Spain as a global player in higher education.

“Students should be the first ones to realise the system right now is not preparing them properly for the world,” he says.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Second Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece (March 2012)

Occasional Paper 94, March 2012

European Commission
Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs

You can read the full report here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013






No. 11–345. Argued October 10, 2012—Decided June 24, 2013

The University of Texas at Austin considers race as one of various fac­tors in its undergraduate admissions process. The University, which is committed to increasing racial minority enrollment, adopted its current program after this Court decided Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306, upholding the use of race as one of many “plus factors” in an admissions program that considered the overall individual contri­bution of each candidate, and decided Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 244, holding unconstitutional an admissions program that automati­cally awarded points to applicants from certain racial minorities. Petitioner, who is Caucasian, was rejected for admission to the University’s 2008 entering class. She sued the University and school officials, alleging that the University’s consideration of race in admis­sions violated the Equal Protection Clause. The District Court granted summary judgment to the University. Affirming, the Fifth Circuit held that Grutter required courts to give substantial defer­ence to the University, both in the definition of the compelling inter­est in diversity’s benefits and in deciding whether its specific plan was narrowly tailored to achieve its stated goal. Applying that standard, the court upheld the University’s admissions plan. (... full text)

Monday, June 10, 2013


June 2013, International Monetary Fund
IMF Country Report No. 13/156


The primary objective of Greece’s May 2010 program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) was to restore market confidence and lay the foundations for sound medium-term growth through strong and sustained fiscal consolidation and deep structural reforms, while safeguarding financial sector stability and reducing the risk of international systemic spillovers. Greece was to stay in the euro area and an estimated 20-30 percent competitiveness gap would be addressed through wage adjustment and productivity gains.

There were notable successes during the SBA-supported program (May 2010–March 2012). Strong fiscal consolidation was achieved and the pension system was put on a viable footing. Greece remained in the euro area, which was its stated political preference. Spillovers that might have had a severe effect on the global economy were relatively well-contained, aided by multilateral efforts to build firewalls.

However, there were also notable failures. Market confidence was not restored, the banking system lost 30 percent of its deposits, and the economy encountered a much-deeper-than-expected recession with exceptionally high unemployment. Public debt remained too high and eventually had to be restructured, with collateral damage for bank balance sheets that were also weakened by the recession. Competitiveness improved somewhat on the back of falling wages, but structural reforms stalled and productivity gains proved elusive.

Given the danger of contagion, the report judges the program to have been a necessity, even though the Fund had misgivings about debt sustainability. There was, however, a tension between the need to support Greece and the concern that debt was not sustainable with high probability (a condition for exceptional access). In response, the exceptional access criterion was amended to lower the bar for debt sustainability in systemic cases. The baseline still showed debt to be sustainable, as is required for all Fund programs. In the event, macro outcomes were far below the baseline and while some of this was due to exogenous factors, the baseline macro projections can also be criticized for being too optimistic.

The report considers the broad thrust of policies under the program to have been appropriate. Rapid fiscal adjustment was unavoidable given that the Greece had lost market access and official financing was as large as politically feasible. Competiveness-boosting measures were also essential, as were fiscal structural reforms to support deficit reduction. However, the depth of ownership of the program and the capacity to implement structural reforms were overestimated.

Greece’s SBA suggests the need to explore the case for refining the Fund’s lending policies and framework to better accommodate the circumstances of monetary unions. A particular challenge is to find ways to translate promises of conditional assistance from partner countries into formal program agreements.

There are also political economy lessons to be learned. Greece’s recent experience demonstrates the importance of spreading the burden of adjustment across different strata of society in order to build support for a program. The obstacles encountered in implementing reforms also illustrate the critical importance of ownership of a program, a lesson that is common to the findings of many previous EPEs.

Other lessons drawn concern the need to find ways to streamline the Troika process in the future and for Fund staff to be more skeptical about official data during regular surveillance. The detailed nature of the structural fiscal conditionality in the Greek program also bears scrutiny given the premium attached to parsimony in Fund conditionality.  (...Full report)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Comparison of salaries of University Professors around the world

This is the best information available I have found, so far.  


The following sections present comparative data on salaries. After some general obervations about the relation between salaries and the organisation of university systems in different countries, we provide figures for different countries in absolute terms, adjusted to the cost of living and compared to GDP per capita. We also show salary progression by experience and gender.
These sections are constantly being updated with new information, given the wide interest in salary issues. As with all the ACO web pages, we invite you to send us comments and useful information and links on salaries in academia. To comment contact us by email.

Information on salaries across countries

Comparing salaries across countries requires some preliminary observations. Salary levels vary both across and within countries. Depending on national legislation and university governance, salary levels can be either fixed rigidly by the state or decided by universities.
In 2007, Bruegel calculated 'setting autonomy' by ten European countries and assigned values between 0 and 1. Many countries (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland) had no autonomy (0). Sweden was the country with the highest autonomy (1), and The Netherlands (0.2), Denmark (0.5) and the UK (0.8) are located in between. The total for the ten European was 0.3 (Bruegel, 2007: 5).
Another issue is salary dispersion. There may be significant variations of salary at entry-level positions in universities in systems where universities are more or less free to set their own wages. Even within the same system salaries may vary according to seniority and/or merit. In systems where salaries progress mainly with seniority this progression is visible and can be measured. This is not true in those countries where salaries are fixed according to merit (e.g. record of publications).
In liberalised systems where universities are free to set their own wages, salary growth can be influenced not only by the dynamics of internal competition in the academic market, but also by external competition by non-academic agents, including private economic actors.
Overall, we can say that salaries are higher in systems where either 1) universities are autonomous, compete in the academic market and use salaries to attract and build a strong faculty, or 2) the state fixes high salaries. The UK and the US are typical examples of the first model. Switzerland is a good example of the second model. Universities from these three countries also dominate in the Shangai system for ranking universities.

Average gross salaries

The table below provides a comparison of avarage gross salaries across countires. Titles of academic positions differ form country to country but for means of comparison we have unified them into five categories. In countries where the position or its equivalent does not exist, the space is left blank. For more information on salaries as well as the start and maximum salary level, follow the link to the individual country pages.
Note that Ph.D. Candidate is included as a position, even though it is mostly in the Scadinavian countries that Ph.D. Candidates are considered employees with contractual rights equivalent to other academic positions.


Average Gross Salaries, €/month


Junior Lecturer/
Assistant Professor
Senior Lecturer/
Associate Professor

Belgium (2007)
Canada (2007)
Denmark (2007)
Finland (2007)
France (2007)
Germany (2007)
Ireland (2004)
Israel (2007)
Italy (2004)
Netherlands (2004)
Norway (2005)
Poland (2006/2007)
Russia (2007)
Spain (2003)
Sweden (2006)
UK (2007)
Ukraine (2006)
USA (2006)
* These figures refer to respectively 'senior lecturer' and 'associate professor' positions.
** This figure refers to the undifferentiated 'lecturer' position.
** These figures refer to respectively the 'professor' and 'chair' positions.
All figures are gross. For taxing comparisons see: All countries provide different social benefits, social security, child care, family allowance, etc, to their citizens.
The salaries are provided by institutions or ministries in the respective countries.
For more detailed information salary levels see the individual country links.
Note that in the different countries there are various ways to top the salary with bonuses and other means of income. This is especially true in the case of Spain and the U.S. where the salaries comparatively seem very low, but the actual salary can be much higher depending on the productivity and outside activities of the individual.

In April 2007 the European Commission published a comparison of researchers salaries across Europe, based on an online survey. The following chart gives the average salaries adjusted to the cost of living in each country:

Average weighted total yearly salary per countries (2006 in €) 
Country Average weighted total yearly salary adjusted Country Average weighted total yearly salary adjusted
Austria 62.406 Latvia 10.488
Belgium 58.462 Lithuania 13.851
Bulgaria 3.556 Luxembourg 63.865
Croatia 16.671 Malta 28.078
Cyprus 45.039 Netherlands 59.103
Czech Republic 19.620 Norway 58.997
Denmark 61.355 Poland 11.659
Estonia 11.748 Portugal 29.001
Finland 44.635 Romania 6.286
France 50.879 Slovakia 9.178
Germany 56.132 Slovenia 27.756
Greece 25.685 Spain 34.908
Hungary 15.812 Sweden 56.053
Iceland 50.803 Switzerland 82.725
Ireland 60.727 Turkey 16.249
Israel 42.552 United Kingdom 56.048
Italy 36.201
Source: European Commission, 2007: 43.

The report found bropad differences between salaries in the EU and associated countries, which however were reduced once salaries were adjusted to the cost of living in each country. As expected, countries with a high cost of living were those that paid researchers better. Low-medium salary levels were reported in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region, while high-very high salaries were paid in Central Europe and the Nordic countries.
A few countries (Austria, The Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland and Luxembourg) offered avarage salaries in line with the U.S. considering the cost of living.
Other countries outside the EU (Australia, India, Japan) all have average higher remuneration than the EU-25 area considering the cost of living. In Australia and Japan salaries are similar to those of the U.S. The only country in which the average salary was well below the EU was China.
See the report for further info

Salaries compared to GDP per capita

The ratio between the average salary for researchers and the average GDP per capita (adjusted to the cost of living) varies from country to country. Data show different degrees of investment on research by different countries. For example, with declining values Japan, the UK and the US all provide researchers with salaries higher than their country GDP per capita. Spain and Sweden pay around the same as the average GDP, and Italy pays less.

Click here to see the graph

Salary progression by experience and gender

The table draws on the Commission's study and reports researchers' annual salary average in the EU and associated countries by gender and years of experience.
The table draws on the Commission's study and reports researchers' annual salary average in the EU and associated countries by gender and years of experience.
Total country annualy salary of researchers in EU25 and associated countries, by gender and level of experience (2006, all currencies in purchasing power parities)
of experience
(by gender)
 0-4 y.
 5-7 y.
 8-10 y.
 11-15 y.
 >15 y.
Austria 34.473   
Belgium 27.767
Bulgaria 2.045
Croatia 9.862
Cyprus 22.234
Denmark 43.117
Estonia 4.825
Finland 23.369
France 30.223
Germany 22.143
Greece 13.462
Hungary 6.902
Iceland 45.664
Ireland 26.428
Israel 16.329
Italy 12.244
Latvia 12.000
Lithuania 7.356
Luxembourg 24.742
Malta 24.364
Netherlands 22.518
Norway 49.031
Poland 5.921
Portugal 10.512
Romania 3.813
Slovakia 5.547
Slovenia 16.424
Spain 16.416
Sweden 28.591
Sweden 28.591
Switzerland 39.599
Turkey 7.674
Source: European Commission, 2007: 47

Here too the report found wide differences between countries. For example, in the UK one can expect a high progression moving from the first (0-4) to the last (>15) stage of the career stages considered by the report. At the same time, Denmark offers higher salaries already in the first stage but progression is limited (around 90%) compared to the UK (around 235%).
Women earn less than men, with significant differences in all the countries. In some (Estonia, Czech Republic, Israel and Portugal) the gap is above 35%. In others (Bulgaria, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Malta) it is below 15%.
See the report for more info.


Bruegel (2007), 'Why Reform Europe's Universities?', Policy Brief Series, 2007/04.
European Commission (2007), Study on the Remuneration of Researchers in the Public and Private Commercial Sectors (pdf).

Salaries in Economics in US Academia 2010-11



The American academic market for young economists is undoubtedly the most interesting and sought after. Salary packages are competitive in most universities, and not necessarily in the top-ranked ones.
Each year, The American Economic Association sends out to selected institutions the Universal Academic Questionnaire (UAQ), an annual survey of US economics departments. The American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings includes a few tables assembled from the latest UAQ responses. Even though the accuracy of these results depends on the willingness of individual departments to collaborate, it is, nonetheless, a good indication of the working conditions to be expected in the American job market for economists.
All the figures in the tables below refer to academic-year salaries (calendar-year salaries are converted into academic-year salaries by multiplying by 0.818) and in USD. 1 USD = 0.734 Euros on 28 September 2011. The number of surveyed institutions is indicated in round parentheses; satndard deviations for salaries in square parentheses.

Salaries of tenure-track academic economists by degree-granting institution

The US academic market for economics is highly segmented and either focuses on teaching activities (institutions granting mainly BA and MA degrees) or on research activities as well (most institutions granting PhD degrees).
The Table below shows the salaries of tenured faculty at different institutions, based on the highest degree awarded in economics. Of course, universities granting research-based degrees (PhD) attract the most talented economists and offer the best salary packages.

US academic-year salaries of tenure-track academic economists

   Full Prof Associate Prof  Assistant Prof
PhD Institutions  $159,816 (76)
$117,231 (76)
$100,451 (83)
 MA Institutions  $106,953 (33)
$84,803 (31)
$79,492 (40)
 BA Institutions  $103,262 (148)
$80,382 (30)
$74,677 (37)

Salaries of Associate and Full Professors at PhD-granting institutions

The National Research Council (NRC) rankings of economics graduate programs divide programs into tiers. The top three tiers include:
  • Tier 1 (ranked 1-6): Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale;
  • Tier 2 (ranked 7-15): Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Rochester, California-Berkeley, UCLA, and Wisconsin-Madison;
  • Tier 3 (ranked 16-30): Illinois-Urbana, Boston University, Brown, Cornell, Duke, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, New York University, North Carolina, Texas-Austin, Virginia, California-San Diego, University of Washington, and Washington University-St. Louis.
Not unsurprisingly, as the Table below shows, the lower Tier (lower numbers), the lower the average salary.

US academic-year salaries of tenure-track Associate and Full Professors in PhD granting universities by NRC Tiers (2010-11)

  Full Prof  Associate Prof 
Tiers 1-2 (ranks 1-15)   $224,010 (6)
$151,417 (5)
 Tier 3 (ranks 16-30)  $180,518 (8)
$133,932 (8)
 Tier 4 (ranks 31-48)  $171,024 (9)
$131,678 (9)
 Tier 5 (ranks 49+)  $140,714 (45)
$104,758 (42)

Employment conditions for new Assistant Professors

The Table below provides a fuller description of the employment conditions of newly hired Assistant Professors at US academic institutions offering different degrees in economics. In addition to the salary, compensations include: guaranteed summer compensation (over all years), other cash benefits to employees, such as a signing bonus. They do not include fringe benefits, moving expenses, computer that remains the property of the institution. Finally, the Table also summarizes the teaching load for each new Assistant Professor (courses per year), which is inversely correlated to the highest degree on offer.

Employment conditions for new Assistant Professors (2010-11)

   Salary Add. compensation Teaching load 
 PhD Institutions $111,878 (83)
$39,378 (81)
3.5 (86)
 MA Institutions  $83,834 (26)
$14,333 (7)
4.6 (35)
 BA Institutions  $73,431 (10)
$4,214 (9)
5.8 (11)


Scott, C. S. and Siegfried, J. J. (2011): “American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics”, American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 101 (664–667).