Start Summit

PanelEvery now and then, I get invited to speak at a conference. This year’s highlight so far was the Start Summit in St.Gallen, where I had a nice panel discussion with Daniel Gasteiger from valid Valid and Mona El Isa from Melonport, both blockchain startups. These are interesting times with a lot going on. Will Switzerland keep its competitive edge in the crypto space?

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Tax Wealth and not Capital Gains

In Switzerland, the capital gains of private citizens are not taxed. Instead, there is a moderate wealth tax. I always suspected that this is the preferrable system in comparison to that of other countries that do the opposite. The main reason is a systemic one: with a capital gains tax, those who use their capital most productively, most notably successful entrepreneurs, pay the highest taxes. With a wealth tax, much more tax revenue comes from lazy rich who sit on idle capital without knowing what to do with. The result is a situation in which capital is better allocated and the economy grows faster. Maybe that is one of Switzerland’s success secrets?

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The Code is the Model

My article The Code is the Model has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Microsimulation. In it, I argue that non-trivial computational models are best specified by their source code. This bold claim has prompted two critical replies, one by the editor Matteo Richiardi and one by computer scientist Dan Tang. But most importantly, Matteo has taken the opportunity to adjust the submission policy of the Journal of Microsimulation. In future, authors will be asked to submit source code and executables along with their papers. This is a big step forward, and I hope that more editors will follow Matteo’s lead.

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My CEF 2015 paper is available on paper

After having been published “online first” last summer, my 2015 paper An agent based simulation of the Stolper-Samuelson effect” has finally been formally published by Springer, on paper. This was somewhat faster than what John Cochrane experienced recently, but unlike him, I did not send my paper to a top tier journal (because it is not a top paper). Nonetheless, this confirms Cochrane’s point that journals should be seen as an archive of scientific research, and not the place to look for the latest ideas.

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Simulations as Test Environments

Today, the top post of hacker news was an artificial intelligence steering a car in the computer game Grand Theft Auto V. This is a great illustration of the power of simulations: even if not entirely realistic, they can provide an excellent test environment - in this case for testing the Deep Drive self-driving car AI.

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Comment in NZZ

Today, Neue Zürcher Zeitung published my comment about the blockchain as an opportunity for Swiss finance.

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Publication in Computational Economics

The paper “An Agent-Based Simulation of the Stolper-Samuelson effect” got accepted for publication in Computational Economics. Originally, this was a term paper Friedrich Kreuser and I wrote for the course Computational Economics and Finance by Karl Schmedders in spring 2014, and that I presented at CEF 2015.

The paper is about replicating a well-known phenomenon from classic economic theory, namely the Stolper-Samuelson effect, in an agent-based simulation. We succeeded at doing so with high accuracy thanks to the adoption of a few new algorithmic ideas. Interestingly, the agent-based simulation is much faster at finding the correct result than Mathematica or Matlab can solve the corresponding equation system from the classic theory.

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FinTech made in Switzerland

Manual Stagars is creating a Swiss FinTech documentary and talked to me about the blockchain and opportunities for Switzerland. (28 minute video)

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Presentation at CEF 2016 in Bordeaux

I presented my paper Seemingly Equivalent Firm Decision Heuristics (the slide deck) at the Computating in Economics and Finance Conference (CEF 2016), with some of the best-known computational economists in the audience, including Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, Herbert Dawid, Christopher Carroll, Matteo Richiardi and Blake LeBaron. Overall, the paper was well-received despite its limited scope (or maybe exactly because of it :) ).

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“What I cannot create, I do not understand.”
Richard Feynman