29 thoughts on “Appearances

  1. Ehhh? $500 a ticket? – must be some star pulling power (Quiggin and Keen?). Be careful Prof – there may be some dangerous species of economists there at that price. I think Id rather the festival of dangerous ideas but something tells me the really dangerous ideas could be at the Conference. Misnomer?

  2. Alice, at the festival of dangerous ideas you will need to fork out $20. That is more reasonable than $500, but do you think you will learn something you have not already read on this blog?

    Click to access fodi10_calendar_03.pdf

    I notice Ross Gittens is also there; I wonder if he will be tempted to see “The great neo-classical iconoclast” in action?

  3. @Tony G
    I think Id rather be at the festival for honest ideas Tony. I place a bet right now of $50 that Quiggins and Keens presentation in the Gold room is fully booked out at the conference (because most of the others look boring with a capital B). Some of the ususal finance maths model peddlers masquerading as economists. Oh when will they go away?

  4. Clearly the finance maths model pushers hope a few bank execs will be there…..
    wonder what the lunchtime hall stalls cost – if $500 is the entrance fee? Must be more again. What do they have to sell at an economists conference? Maybe those placebo aura balancing rubber bangles could be the new firepower pill – hmmm maybe a higher grade plastic for the RBA to sell to other countries to print more money to buy up global financial institution toxic debts.

    I know this is off topic again but as we converse about meaningful economists meetings, it looks like the PPS that is supposed to deliver the Waratah trains is in trouble and the banks are backing away from its finance as the first P part of the latest Keneally Govts PPS may already be insolvent (before we even got one train)…and the banks can smell it.

    I hope the zombies wake up at the conference.

    ….someone stop me.

  5. WTF – $500, these people are on a different planet. The hoi polloi are not welcome here.

    So you have to pay $500 to hear how fair and just capitalist society is. Naturally at these prices, everyone in the room will agree – as they rattle their jewelry and sip their martinis dry.

    I do hope the h’orderves are at the right standard.

  6. Good to see that they are sticking to their economic principles – user pays ‘n’ all that.
    Five hundred smackers?? I’d rather donate that to charity, quite frankly. Not that I wouldn’t want to have a listen if I was in Sydney, just $500 is a bit steep.

  7. I sincerely wonder why $500 also…however I suspect if we look deeply enough yours and my taxes is paying for a lot the entrants to go (public academic subsidies and funding of conference attendance) to shake hands with bank managers and lick boots for an even higher paying job…

    (Quigs and Keen aside) – honestly our taxes would be better off paying the latter two to go to a conference without the rest of the “finance maths modelling martini drinking egoistic hail fellow well mets”.

    If every university was really thinking they would split their finance and economics departments and get rid of those who spend their life fawning to financial instutions with pretty models on how to make an even bigger leveraged buck at the expense of everyone else’s savings.

    I dont see why finance and economics should be lumped togther in many uni institutions.

    We need surgical intervention and economics conference fees shouldnt be just for the rich bankers.

  8. You people don’t understand economics. $500 is obviously the utility-maximizing point where the demand and supply curves intersect, arrived at via the unintentional benevolence of rational self-interest. But just wait til you see the Australian Conference of Economists’ bargain sponsorship opportunities!

    Gold Sponsors $14,000 of Conference or Dinner
    Benefits to Sponsor
    • Verbal acknowledgment as a Gold Sponsor at the Opening Session
    • Prominent signage during the Conference
    • Full page advertisement in the Registration Brochure
    • Full page advertisement in the Program Book
    • Four complimentary full registrations
    • Two display tables in preferred position
    • Logo displayed on the Conference website
    • Logo displayed in the Registration Brochure
    • Logo displayed in the Program Book
    • Logo displayed on an individual Sponsors slide at the beginning and end of every session
    • Hyperlink on the Conference website
    • Satchel insert
    • Delegate list at the time of the Conference

    Of course, agents being heterogenous, the ACE also gives corporations the opportunity to become “silver” or “bronze” sponsors at suitably Pareto-optimal prices.

  9. I do really have a problem with $500 entrance fees and sponsorships in the 000s paid to a private firm who apparently organises the conference -DKC International – a private conference and event management firm.

    So far I count one gold, two silver and two bronze sponsors, a satchel or two and a couple of name badges – all of them government departments – total sponsorship advertised by DKC according to rates charged in their brochure = 80K approx.
    I dont know what DKC International does with this money and the entrance fees do not pay for accommodation and flights either – I imagine most attendees would be employees from the public sector, meaning flights and accomm also covered from the public purse.

    I dont know what DKC does with the sponsorship monies… but it concerns me that moneys of this order are being handed over to private sector firms by government department officers from the Australian Treasury, The Productivity Commission, NSW Treasury and ACCC.. when there are such urgent public infrastructure needs in this country and simply – there are hungry children and there are people in need and there are rising numbers of homeless.

    I suppose the sense of entitlement of some of these government officials / attendees is so great that they cannot even recognise what a fiscally responsible government or a public minded delegate is anymore.

    We do need a new paradigm – delegates and public sector officials who are aware that their conference attendance is funded by public expenditure for the public good not a private reward for their personal enjoyment.

  10. @Alice

    The income from the event goes to the hosting state branch of the Economic Society. This can seem like a windfall but generally isn’t. The state branches run at a loss for six of seven years and make up the loss every seventh year when they host the conference.

    The conference organisers get paid for performing the service of organising the conference, just like the restaurant where the conference dinner is held gets paid for cooking and serving meals to the delegates.

  11. @Uncle Milton

    The public service could organise such an event with a team of three, working part-time in the leadup, with a few extra hands for satchel stuffing, and mailout.

    Staff cost: 3 @ 4weeks equivalent each @ 65,000 pa (average) = $30,000

    Extra staff: 20 mandays @ $45,000 pa = $3,500

    Staff cost, with some financial extra comes out at $40,000.

    The charge on the taxpayer is over $55,000, so they have $15,000 for open sandwiches, audio visual hire, and coffee urns etc – and they still charge $500 entrance?

    If the convened this event in public facilities (which universities claim they have built), after venue hire, the fair-ticket price would be a tenth of the current rate.

    Its a big rip-off.

    How many attended in previous years?

  12. @Chris Warren
    Of course universities have public facilties they could use…like lecture halls. Why arent they held in ppublic facilities seeing as they are mostly attended by public delegates and its in the public interest.

    I agree Chris. The entrance fee is exorbitant and why shouldnt more be able to attend at a lower price?

  13. Alice :
    More you might be interested in Chris…fancy us thinking $500 is a rip off??

    Looks like one capitalist enterprise trying to feed off others.

    If the economists’ annual gab-fest receives average revenue of 800 from 200 takers, then, with most of their costs covered by fees and sponsors, someone is laughing as they walk away with over $100,000 super profits.

  14. @Chris Warren
    I agree Chris…again.

    This whole public sector attendance at hoi polloi conference thingies is getting way out of hand…

    For my money I know where Id rather go and thats the Festival of Dangerous (but honest) ideas. More interesting too and I bet it draws a bigger private sector crowd who is paying willingly…not unwillingly and without being there.

    The only talks I wonder about is Andy Leighs who is talking about why Canberra is the best city in Australia (is that dangerous?)… and Rebecca Huntley who is speaking about why Australian men are the worst husbands in the world and why its women’s fault. That is dangerous. Im not taking responsibility for that.

    Where is Anne Summers when you need her?!.

  15. As I’m busy trying to organise one of these conferences myself, I can assure readers that it’s very hard to do it for less than $500 a head. Certainly the suggestion of 100k profits is way OTT.

  16. To follow up, I’d guess that this event has 300 participants, and that the venue costs 50k. The conference company might be getting 50k to run the website, administration and so on, but that doesn’t go as far as you might think. Lunches and morning and afternoon teas would probably run to $30/person/day for three days, or around 25k all up. That leaves a profit of 25k, assuming nothing going wrong, for an event that takes a year of organisation for a volunteer committee.

    That said, I should have advised people that they could probably wander in to a single session without paying.

  17. Prof,
    I know you say there isnt that much profit in the economics conference (but the question remains… should there be any? Is btreakeven not sufficient? It is a publicly funded event) – surely the universities could host a conference and save 50K on the venue?

    They could rotate as hosts. Do academic conferences really need to be held at Darling harbour venues?

    The same goes for the many other public sector conferences held at venues like Darling harbour – we have in the past built public meeting rooms and lecture halls (eg I know there are large conference rooms in many unis). Plus many unis have gone to considerable expense to make their surroundings more salubrious of late!

    It may not be quite as elegant as Darling Harbour but if 50K can be saved then it should be saved.

  18. @Alice The society that runs the conference puts on free events all year. And, as I’ve experienced, a big event that goes wrong for some reason can leave a society with a debt that takes years to work off.

    Back in the good old days, universities would host these events (and other things like folk music festivals, of which I ran quite a few in my day), and charge little or nothing for the venues, but those days are long gone. For a small conference, on-campus works reasonably well, but for anything needing more than a few rooms, it doesn’t seem to work out.

  19. @jquiggin
    says “and charge little or nothing for the venues, but those days are long gone.”

    I know Prof..I was around in the 70s and 80s…those days are not so long gone (from early 90s maybe) but they are gone and I regret their passing.

    Lots of people including students got extra benefits from the good old days. Now that the profit motif has been shifted centre forward in universities I can hear the plaintive cry “oh but any profit we make from the hiring of a venue will be ploughed back into the uni”.

    Sadly lots of people, students and community groups included can no longer get the benefit of public access to uni facilities at an affordable price. The problem I have is that given taxpayers essentially fund the cost of the profit making activity and get no direct return, they have no say in how “the profits are ploughed back into the university”.

    It defeats the purpose of taxation to redistribute in the public interest and for the public welfare …if for example it is reivested in a higher order of h’orderves at the next conference (increase in some of the public being wellfed?) or a superior accommodation standard for a select few to attend conferences.

    I recall students had more fun on campus in the good old days (Toga parties etc..and as you say folk festivals etc) and likely the publically employed cleaners didnt like it much the next day…but I am not a gringe.. and Id like to see the students have more than just study in their campus life again. It might even help reduce the drop out rates.

  20. jquiggin :
    As I’m busy trying to organise one of these conferences myself, I can assure readers that it’s very hard to do it for less than $500 a head. Certainly the suggestion of 100k profits is way OTT.

    The figure of $100 K comes out of the number of participants X the average revenue – likely reasonable costs.

    If it is “OTT” then there would be an alternative fees-costs model.

    Using the surplus to fund other loss-making ventures does not remove the 100K surplus from this event.

    Whether the surplus falls to the conference organisers or sponsors is another matter.

  21. Just to flesh things out a bit. In May this year the Labour History Society held a conference in
    the Haydon-Allen Tank, ANU and the cost was nominal, (so small I cannot remember) and they covered other costs by a raffle.

    Room hire, with all audio visual, for real thinking conferences is reasonable, it is only when certain ambitious capitalists smell an opportunity to stage premium showcase events for their own glorification at luxury facilities funded by taxpayers and attended by middle class on expense accounts or public service incomes. But these conferences by design end up one dimensional meet and greet affairs that are best soon forgotten.

  22. @Chris Warren
    And just to flesh things out even more, if as the Prof says there was ample opportunity to slip in to the Economics Conference and take up an empty seat without paying entry then there must be spare capacity at the venue…such that there is no need for conference organisers to hire secuity to check admittance ie its not a sell out.

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