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Jan 17, 2014

Business Professor Becomes Founding Editor of New Economics Journal

Dr. Barkley Rosser (Professor of Economics and Kirby L. Cramer, Jr., Professor of Business Administration) is now the Editor-in-Chief of a new quarterly publication: Review of Behavioral Economics (ROBE).

Originally initiated by entrepreneur and publisher, Zac Rolnik, ROBE strives to educate the public about the importance of behavioral economics. According to the editorial aims of ROBE, “[t]he journal is open to a variety of approaches and methods, both mainstream and non-orthodox, as well as theoretical, empirical and narrative.”

In explaining the journal’s importance, Dr. Rosser says, “We don’t want to have another giant crash that destroys the world’s economy like we did in 2008. To the extent that policy makers understand how people behave, in things like financial markets and so on, maybe we can make sure that we don’t do certain things that let things happen like that. Behavioral economics is very important. This journal has a niche. We are going to cover certain things that other journals don’t cover.”

Rosser, who stepped down from editing the highly successful Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (JEBO) in 2010, mentions that the first issue of ROBE is “a smash hit.” He adds that the inaugural issue has “very good papers by very well-known people.”

The inaugural issue of ROBE features a variety of behavioral economic topics, including: Robert Frank’s “expenditure cascades” which has been cited by many media outlets and recently Wikipedia; a heuristic for the protection against tail events written by Constantine Sandis  and Nassim Taleb, author of the best-selling book, The Black Swan; “Generalized Impulse Balance: An Experimental Test for a Class of 3 x 3 Games,” written by Thorsten Chmura, Noble Prize winner Sebastian J. Georg, and Reinhard Selton; and an article discussing experimental economic behavior that was co-authored by Vernon Smith, who received the Noble Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 and presented at JMU in December 2013.

In their expenditure cascades paper, Frank and co-authors, Adam S. Levine and Oege Dijk, discuss what makes people happy. They believe that in the real world, happiness is determined by how we compare ourselves to others. Noting that if we compare ourselves to a person who spends a lot of money, it compels us to spend a lot of money. “The man is happiest whose wife’s sister’s husband makes less money than he does,” the authors claim. These three economists hope to shed light onto individual savings rates and income by pointing out the inadequacies of popular economic models of consumer behavior and developing and testing their own theory.  

The views of the featured economists in ROBE may not fit into the realm of conventional economics, but Dr. Rosser hopes that ROBE will follow in the footsteps of Herbert A. Simon, the father of behavioral economics. As an experienced founding editor, who says he was “known for publishing unusual, innovative papers while at JEBO,” Rosser believes that he has “the ability to attract good heterodox articles, and make judgments on their intellectual appeal” and that ROBE “could be the journal that’s both heterodox and respected.”







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