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Professor Tom Miceli presented a lecture on “The Economics of Professional Sports” to the UConn Alumni Association of Greater Hartford on Tuesday, February 7, at Rentschler Field. The motivation for the talk was the recent movie Moneyball, which described how the Oakland Athletics used computer technology to assemble a winning team using players who had been overlooked by other teams. Professor Miceli described how the labor market for professional baseball players works, and how the Athletics were able to identify and sign players who had been undervalued by the market. He also pointed out that this innovation only provided the Athletics a temporary advantage because other teams quickly copied their strategy by hiring their own computer analysts. In fact, Professor Miceli argued that the quick diffusion of new ideas—like the use of computers or the signing of international players—is desirable from the league’s perspective because it prevents teams from gaining a long-term advantage, which would undermine the goal of maintaining competitive balance.
Professor Thomas Miceli’s latest book, “The Economic Theory of Eminent Domain: Private Property, Public Use”, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. A brief description of the contents of the book is as follows:
This book surveys the contributions that economic theory has made to the often contentious debate over the government’s use of its power of eminent domain, as prescribed by the Fifth Amendment. It addresses such questions as: When should the government be allowed to take private property without the owner’s consent? Does it depend on how the land will be used? And what amount of compensation is the landowner entitled to receive (if any)? The recent case of Kelo v. New London (2005) revitalized the debate, but it was only the latest skirmish in the ongoing struggle between advocates of strong governmental powers to acquire private property in the public interest and private property rights advocates. Written for a general audience, the book advances a coherent theory that views eminent domain within the context of the government’s proper role in an economic system whose primary objective is to achieve efficient land use.
A recent article published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics ranked Professor Thomas J. Miceli 26th in the world based on publications in the top three real estate journals over the period 1973-2008. Professor Miceli’s research in this area has focused on the operation of the real estate brokerage industry, and property law as it relates to real estate markets. In addition to being professor of economics, Miceli is affiliated with the Real Estate Center in the Business School, which is ranked first in the world in terms of publications in the top real estate journals.
Jang C. Jin and Eden S. H. Yu, “World Rankings of Real Estate Research: Recent Changes in School Competitiveness and Research Institutions,” Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, forthcoming.
On June 28, 2010, Michael Stone defended his dissertation entitled “Three Essays on the Economics of Tort Law.” Stone’s dissertation focused on three distinct areas relating to tort law: the enactment of caps on punitive damages, the impact of taxable costs statutes on settlement rates, and the optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. In the first of these papers, Stone utilized hazard analysis to uncover some support for an economic model justifying caps on punitive damages, though there was evidence that political pressure by the legal services and insurance industries played a role in cap enactment. In his second essay, Stone utilized an ordinary least squares regression with a wild bootstrap and HC3 correction to find some evidence that taxable costs statutes (laws which permit the victorious party at trial to recover authorized litigation-related expenses from the losing party) decreased the rate of settlement. And, in his final essay, Stone produced a theoretical model which weighed the benefits of deterrence against the costs of litigation and advertising to obtain an optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. Each of these works was prepared under the tutelage of his major advisor, Professor Thomas Miceli.
This fall, Stone will be heading to Quinnipiac University as a visiting assistant professor of economics.
Recent graduate Brian Volz, advised by Prof. Thomas Miceli, has accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Brian will be leaving UConn, where he currently teaches Intermediate Microeconomics and Public Finance, to join the Assumption College faculty for the Fall 2010 semester. Brian’s research focuses on discrimination and productivity in the professional sports industry. His research on discrimination in professional baseball has been published in the Journal of Sports Economics. He also recently presented his research at the Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Brian plans to continue his research on labor and sports economics as a member of the Department of Economics and Global Studies at Assumption College.
Assumption College is a private, Catholic college with 2,150 undergraduate students. Assumption offers a classic liberal arts education where economics is one of 39 undergraduate majors. Brian will be one of seven full time faculty members in the Department of Economics and Global studies. He expects to teach a variety of courses including Microeconomics, Labor Economics, and Public Finance.
Professors Metin Coşgel and Thomas Miceli have recently published an article titled “State and Religion.” The paper develops a theoretical and empirical analysis of the historical relationship between government and religion. The authors argue that an important function of religion throughout history has been to help legitimize the state, thereby reducing both its cost of tax collection and its susceptibility to being overthrown by popular revolt. In this sense, the model is an effort to formalize Marx’s famous dictum that religion serves as “an opiate of the masses.” The model also tries to explain why some regimes, notably communist, have tried to suppress religion. If the actions of the state are contrary to religious doctrine, for example, the state may find it necessary to suppress practice of that religion in order to maintain power. The paper uses a rich set of cross-country data on the relationship between religion and state, as well as examples drawn from history, to evaluate the predictions of the model.
This article, which was published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Comparative Economics (UConn working paper version), is part of a larger research agenda that Professors Cosgel and Miceli have recently embarked upon that seeks to examine the interaction of religious, political, and legal institutions from an economic perspective.
Initiated by Lanse Minkler (Economics) (IDEAS) and Shareen Hertel (Political Science) (IDEAS) in the fall of 2004, the Economic Rights Group (ERG) has grown to include sixteen UCONN faculty members and nine “Affilitate” scholars. Participating Economics faculty also include Samson Kimenyi, Susan Randolph (IDEAS), Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS), and, most recently, Thomas Miceli. But the group also features a wide range of scholars from departments and schools like Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, to Law, Social Work, and Medicine. The ERG operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights Institute, itself a result of the Human Rights Initiative of the university.
The central purpose of the ERG is to investigate issues surrounding the fundamental human right of to a decent standard of living, as described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group meets four or five times a semester to discuss seminal readings, and increasingly to consider original research generated by ERG members. Some of that research is included in the nascent ERG Working Paper Series. Additionally, the group meets at an annual day-long workshop to intensively investigate a specific topic annually. At this past April’s most recent ERG workshop in April 2009, for example, ERG members and affiliates presented their research on the state of economic rights in the U.S. The topic of the 2009 workshop mirrors the upcoming conference to be sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, entitled Human Rights in the USA.
Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference will take place from October 22 to October 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. While we often think of human rights violations as only occurring elsewhere, the purpose this conference is to assess the state of human rights right here at home. There will be three economic rights themed panels: Economic Rights and Poverty; Katrina Through an Economic Rights Lens; and Researching Economic Rights in the USA. The entire UCONN community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state-of-the-art research in human rights.
Professor Thomas Miceli has recently published the second edition of his popular law and economics textbook, The Economic Approach to Law (2009, Stanford University Press). He has also just completed the manuscript for a book on eminent domain, tentatively titled “Private Property, Public Use: The Economic Theory of Eminent Domain.” Professor Miceli is a nationally recognized authority on eminent domain, and this book is the culmination of nearly twenty years of his research on this controversial topic. He has previously collaborated with Professor Kathleen Segerson to publish two books and numerous articles on eminent domain and the closely related issue of regulatory takings.
On April 17, 2009, the Economics Department convened for its annual awards banquet to honor undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty. This year’s award recipients were:
Omicron Delta Epsilon inductees
Anthony Craparo, Jr.
Louis D. Traurig Scholarship
Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize
Rockwwod Q. P. Chin Scholarship
Economics Department Scholarship
Audrey Beck Scholarship
Audrey Beck Scholarship
W. Harrison Carter Award
Abraham Ribicoff Award
Albert E. Waugh Scholarship
Grillo Teaching and Service Award
In addition, the following undergraduate students have been inducted in Phi Beta Kappa, the undergraduate national honor society:
Congratulations to all recipients!