Friday, June 29, 2012

First publication


My first publication was published today! For some reason in Academia they really want people to publish and Tallinn University is no different.  I don't think anyone cares if anyone reads the articles; the main thing is that they are there.  In Estonia they have an interesting ranking system, so the goal is to get publications in the highest ranking categories.  This journal right now is a 1.2 which means it is a peer-reviewed journal, but not a world class one.  It's nice to finally have a publication to put on my CV; otherwise it is kind of awkward.  Right now I am just an assistant, to qualify for a lecturer I need to have at least a publication.  So hopefully at some point in the future I will be able to get a promotion.  One interesting point about the article, right before the submission deadline the prime minister of Moldova (the article is on Moldova-Russia relations) came to Tallinn, so I went to his speech and was able to ask him a question on my research area.  I remember in Tartu people kept telling me that my thesis wasn't science it was just a review.  I kept thinking to myself, what do they want me to do talk to the prime minister of Moldova or something?  Well it turns out that is what I did.  Coincidence? Blessing? Tender Mercy?  Anyway you take it, it helped me get my first publication. 








Vladimir Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Museums

Europe loves Museums, and Estonia is no exception.  They have some pretty nice ones and they are dedicated to building more.  At the end of the semester the institute goes to some nice activity, this year we went to the new Seaplane harbor museum, it was really nice.  Here are some pictures from google of some of the museums in Estonia.
 This is the palace in Kadriorg, it is an art museum now.  It was built during the Russian empire.


 This is a plan to build a massive national museum in the outskirts of Tartu.  It was such a bogus project that the EU decided not to fund it.  This one is really a head scratcher, why would Estonia build such a massive, expensive museum when the tax burden is high and people are poor?   Who knows.  Another question is why would they build it in the middle of no where?  I have lived in Tartu for 2,5 years but I never made it to this area because there is nothing there.  Some are talking about making it smaller and cheaper, I hope they do.


 This is the KUMU museum, another art museum.  This is a massive building, I have not been inside yet but I will some day.  I'm not sure how much it cost to build, but it was a really big investment for a small country.

 The open air museum is pretty awesome, it is a collection of old wooden buildings.  I haven't been since I was a missionary.  We almost went last time Mom and Dad came to visit, maybe next time!


This is the new seaplane harbor, it was really neat.  They remodeled an old air hanger and it was really neat.  They had a yellow submarine ride, and a real submarine inside, plus lots of other cool stuff.

There are other cool museums too, the museum of occupation, the toy museum and the list goes on.  We didn't get any visitors this summer (except Elder Mann, thanks for the visit), if anyone wants to come next summer the museums are waiting!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer plans

Jill had a great blog post about her summer plans so I thought I would also give an update on our summer plans.  Estonia is a wonderful place to be in the summer time.  Right now it is 10:50 at night and I am watching a beautiful sunset.  Even when the sun goes down it isn't totally dark.  I'm not sure when the sun comes up, but it is pretty early.  The weather is usually pretty nice, not too hot and not too cold.  So here is our summer plans

Matthew:
1. lots of work.  I have to try to get some articles published, prepare for classes in the fall and I am doing some translating work right now.  This will keep me busy.
2. Temple trip in July.  The summer temple trip is always the best church activity of the year, lots of people go and it is always great to be at the temple.
3. Deep Space Nine.  Right now we are half way through season 2, there are 7 seasons total, we will probably be done by the end of summer.  I am amazed at how awesome it is, by far the best Star Trek series. 
4. Tõrva.  It is always nice to get away from Tallinn and spend time in Tõrva.  They have a nice lake there with a huge 4 level jumping platform.  I won't be jumping off the top platform, but it will still be nice.
5. Saaremaa (the big island).  Hopefully we will go visit some of Maris' relatives in July.  I haven't been since 2004, but it was awesome.
6. Bremen Germany.  I am going to the ECPR conference, I should get reimbursed from the institute when I get back, otherwise Maris would probably not let me come back!
7. Party in the USA! Twin Falls, Utah, family.  It will be great to see everyone. 
8. No visitors!  The last few summers we have had visitors on cruise ships, but no one this year.  Maybe next summer? Any takers?

Maris:
1. Tõrva, Maris wants to spend as much time as possible home away from Tallinn!  She is not a city girl.
2. Reading, I can't keep track of all the books Maris has read, is reading or will be reading soon.
3. Young Women camps.  Maris will be going to a camp in Latvia for the youth (a mission activity) then there will be a girls camp for the young women in Estonia.  Also with her other activities it will keep her busy.
4. Working.  Maris has a nice editing job that keeps her busy.  Right now she is editing the next copy of the Liahona and soon the book our heritage. 
5. Movies.  Maris loves movies and she plans on watching lots of them this summer.
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers.  This is the summer of big concerts in Tallinn.  Recently there was a back to the 1990's concert with the Venga Boys and Sabrina.  Lady Gaga, Muse, Michael Buble are all coming as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Of course we can't go to all of them, so Maris is going to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with her brother, it should be a lot of fun. 
7.  Relaxing.  Maris has been pretty busy with finishing up school, teaching, editing and being young women's leader.  this summer should be a nice slower tempo for her. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Krugman vs. Estonia 2.0

I wrote an opinion letter for the New York Times, it was not published.  But it did get published on our institute's euroblog in an Estonian newspaper. I thought I would post the English version it here.  It said basically the same thing as what Jeff said in his comment on my last blog post.  Just for the record, I came to the same conclusion as Jeff before reading his comment. 


 
Krugman vs. Estonia 2.0
Paul Krugman’s recent blog about Estonia’s supposedly not so impressive recovery was followed by a surprising, and to be honest inappropriate, Twitter response by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves.  Unfortunately President Ilves decided to personally attack Paul Krugman rather than offer a rebuttal to his argument.  Paul Krugman was right to take up the issue whether austerity has been a good thing for Estonia, but he did it in the wrong manner.
As the battle between Keynesian economics and Austrian economics continues (austerity or stimulus), a similar pattern continues to emerge.  Austrian economics makes a lot of sense in theory but there are few real life examples to prove those theories.  Keynesian economics continues to be the dominant school of thought in most countries.  Estonia has given the Austrian school a real life example that proves their theories correct.  It is only logical that Krugman would attempt to debunk the Estonian austerity miracle.  Krugman in his blog entry unfortunately attempted to manipulate data to prove his point.  Estonia’s austerity policy and the results of that policy merited much more attention and detail than Kugman gave.  By comparing Estonia’s recovery to the tip of the boom cycle (2007), Krugman conveniently ignored the fact that the GDP growth, that lead up to 2007 was not sustainable.  It was built on a large property bubble and high levels of consumer debt, not production.  Also, Estonia’s recovery is real and significant.  The unemployment level is falling, wages are rising, and the economy is growing.  Best of all Estonia is virtually debt free and the economy will not be bogged down by future debt payments.
This does not mean that Estonia should be the poster child for austerity.  What Estonia did would be difficult for any other country to achieve (except for the other Baltic states).  Estonia did not own any state banks, so it did not need to provide an expensive bank bailout.  Estonia’s domestic market is not overly important to its macroeconomic outlook.  So while austerity measures did cause domestic consumption to fall drastically, the Estonian economy was still boyed up by European structural funds, strong export markets, and a large flow of capital from neighboring countries.  Estonia’s neighbors Finland, Sweden, and Russia weathered the storm rather well, this in turn made Estonia’s austerity miracle possible.   Estonia’s export market was strong, tourism and transit money continued to flow in, and many unemployed Estonians were able to find work abroad (mostly in Finland) and send their remittances back home to Estonia.  The US’s economy, for example, is more based on consumer spending.  If consumer spending were to tank due to austerity, there would not be other external funds to off-set the drop.  This could result in a nasty downward spiral with no way out. 
The austerity that the Austrian economists recommend is a very risky proposal that needs to be verified.  The lack of real examples to prove their theories correct is worrisome and this is why the example of Estonia needs further study.  The economic policies Estonia has pursued could be a case study that finally confirms what the Austrian economists have been preaching.  This is why it was extremely unfortunate to see Krugman devote only 65 words and misleading statistics to debunking the Estonian austerity miracle.  Even more disappointing was President Ilves, who choose to personally attack Paul Krugman rather than spend time explaining the values and achievements Estonia has accomplished.  Both Keynesian and Austrian economists should take time to study the Estonian example in detail to see if it can play a role in deciding which macro-economic theory can best help the world get out of this financial crisis.  While the first spat between Krugman and Estonia was entertaining, a second round is needed. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Krugman vs. Estonia

There was a very interesting spat between Paul Krugman and Estonian President Toomas Hindrek Ilves.  Estonia is the poster child for austarity advocates (austrian economists).  Krugman firmly believes in Keysnian economics.  Krugman posted a small blog about Estonia, and President Ilves then posted a very mean insulting Twitter post in response.  You can read all about it here.