Past Events

Property and Freedom

Prof. Richard Pipes

December 19th 2010, Jerusalem

Richard Edgar Pipes is Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, at Harvard University who specializes in Russian history, particularly with respect to the history of the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War era he headed Team B, a team of analysts organized by the Central Intelligence Agency who analyzed the strategic capacities and goals of the Soviet military and political leadership. In 1981 and 1982 he served as a member of the National Security Council, holding the post of Director of East European and Soviet Affairs under President Ronald Reagan.

In his book "Property and Freedom" Richard Pipes offers a vigorous defense of a fundamental freedomprivate In his book "Property and Freedom" Richard Pipes offers a vigorous defense of a fundamental freedomprivate property.

"While property in some form is possible without liberty, the contrary is inconceivable," he says. Property rights give rise to the political and legal institutions that secure freedom. Their absence practically invites atrocity. The sinister regimes of Communist Russia and Nazi Germany were fiercely opposed to private property. Those regimes' "simultaneous violation of property rights and destruction of human lives," he emphasizes, "were not mere coincidences."

Economics and Religion

Prof. Carmel Chiswick

May 13th 2010, Jerusalem

Carmel Chiswick is Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her important contributions on the economics of Judaism, she has written extensively on the economic aspects of household work, family formation, the impact of immigrants, the emergence of professional occupations, and religion. She has worked with economists at several Israeli universities and has written extensively about economic issues related to the Jewish population.

In her presentation Prof. Chiswick provided an overview of the relationship between economics and religion. She first considered the effects of economic incentives in the religious marketplace on consumers' demand for "religion." She then showed how this demand affects religious institutions and generates a supply of religious goods and services. Other topics included the structure of this religious marketplace and the related "marketplace for ideas" in a religiously pluralistic society.

Democracy and Limited Government: Lessons for Israel

British MP, Douglas Carswell

24 January 2010 , Jerusalem

Why Israel has such a hard time getting a fair hearing in Brussels?

British MEP, Dan Hannan

24 January 2010 , Jerusalem

Capitalism Without Guilt: The Moral Case for Freedom

Yaron Brook, Aynd Rand Institute, USA

11 January 2010 , Jerusalem

Virtually everyone today regards the financial crisis as a failure of the free market. In this talk, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, will argue that in fact it is the un-free market that has failed. It was not capitalism that held interest rates below the rate of inflation, spurring massive amounts of borrowing and a housing boom. It was not capitalism that gave us Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which promoted subprime lending and helped fuel the boom. It was not capitalism that gave us deposit insurance and the "too big to fail" doctrine, which encouraged risky financial practices. These, and many anti-capitalist measures like them, Dr. Brook will argue, laid the groundwork for the financial crisis. The only cure, according to Dr. Brook, is to set the market free. But to do that, We must embrace capitalism as a moral system--one that should be defended without guilt.

Monetary Economics and Jewish Thought

Dr. Daniel Schiffman, Ariel University Center

21 December 2009 , Jerusalem

Dr. Daniel Schiffman received his B.A. at New York University and his Ph.D. at Columbia University. His Ph.D. dissertation, entitled "Shattered Rails, Ruined Credit: Financial Fragility and Railroad Operations in the Great Depression," was awarded the Allan Nevins Prize of the Economic History Association, for best dissertation in the economic history of North America. Dr. Schiffman specializes in economic history and the history of economic thought. He has published a number of studies on the evolution of monetary doctrine in Jewish religious thought, from the Middle Ages through the 20th century.

Man's Will and the Idea of Property Law in Jewish Law

Dr. Joseph Isaac Lifshitz, Shalem Center

7 June 2009 , Jerusalem

Joseph Isaac Lifshitz is a senior fellow at the Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Religion at the Shalem Center. He received his rabbinical ordination from Rabbis Yitzhak Kulitz and David Nesher. He holds an MA in Jewish history from Touro College and is pursuing a PhD in Jewish thought from Tel Aviv University. His areas of research include Talmud, Jewish law, Jewish history, and political theory. He is also the principal of the Rabbi Yitzhak Yechiel Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Farmers to Merchants: Religion, Human Capital, and Jewish History (1-1492 CE)

Professor Zvi Eckstein, Tel Aviv University and Deputy Governor at the Bank of Israel

29 March 2009 , Jerusalem

Zvi Eckstein received his PhD in Economics from the University of Minnesota in 1981. He is currently Professor of Economics at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics, Tel Aviv University, and Deputy Governor at the Bank of Israel. Professor Eckstein has published numerous articles in leading journals such as the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Monetary Economics and the European Economic Review.

Professor Eckstein will present his paper: "Farmers to Merchants: Religion, Human Capital, and Jewish History (1-1492 CE)" . From the end of the second century CE, Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring fathers to educate their sons. We present evidence supporting our thesis that this change had a major influence on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies ( 2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions of Jews that account for a share of the reduction from 4.5 to 1.2 million. Second, the Jewish farmers who invested in education gained the comparative advantage and incentive to enter skilled occupations during the urbanization in the Abbasid empire in the Near East (8th and 9th centuries) and they did select themselves into these occupations. Third, as merchants the Jews invested even more in education as a precondition for the mailing network and common court system that endowed them with trading skills demanded all over the world. Fourth, the Jews generated a voluntary diaspora within the Muslim Empire and later to Western Europe. Fifth, the majority of world Jewry lived in the Near East when the Mongol invasions in the 1250s brought this region back to a subsistence farming economy in which many Jews found it difficult to enforce the religious norm, and hence converted, as it had happened centuries earlier.

The End of the Cold War and the Rise of 'Catastrophism'

Daniel Wolf, Executive Director, First Circle Films, UK

8 February 2009 , Jerusalem

Daniel Wolf has produced over 200 programs in most factual genres and production methods, including documentary, current affairs, arts, history, popular factual, features, reality, and studio. Daniel was a founding-director of Barraclough Carey Productions, which became one of the U.K.s most successful independent production companies.

He later founded First Circle Films, which produced prime-time documentary series for BBC and Channel 4 over a seven year period. For many years, Daniel was with the BBC: eight years as producer/director; four years as Series Editor of Everyman, the BBCs documentary series on religion and ethical issues; and three years as Head, Network Television Features, BBC Bristol, the BBC's largest documentary department outside London. Daniel was Series Writer/ Producer/ Director of 'Messengers from Moscow' (1995) - the Pacem co-production for PBS and BBC on the Soviet perspective on the cold war, which was shown in twenty countries worldwide and won a Cine Golden Eagle - and also of 'Tourists of the Revolution' (2000), a BBC2 series on journeys to dictatorships.

Talmud on Transitivity

Professor Uzi Segal, Boston College, USA

21 December 2008 , Jerusalem

Uzi Segal completed his PhD in Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984. Currently, he is a Professor of Economics at Boston College. He has published studies in leading economics journals such as Econometrica, the Journal of Game Theory and the Journal of Economic Theory.

Professor Segal will present his paper "Talmud on Transitivity": Transitivity is a fundamental axiom in Economics that appears in consumer theory, decision under uncertainty, and social choice theory. While the appeal of transitivity is obvious, observed choices sometimes contradict it. This paper shows that treatments of violations of transitivity already appear in the rabbinic literature, starting with the Mishnah and the Talmud (1st5th c CE). This literature offers several solutions that are similar to those used in the modern economic literature, as well as some other solutions that may be adopted in modern situations. We analyze several examples. One where nontransitive relations are acceptable; one where a violation of transitivity leads to problems with extended choice functions; and a third where a nontransitive cycle is deliberately created (to enhance justice)

Economics in the Talmud

Nobel Laureate in Economics Professor Robert Aumann, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

9 November 2008 , Jerusalem

Robert Aumann was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1930, to a well-to-do orthodox Jewish family. Fleeing Nazi persecution, he emigrated to the United States with his family in 1938, settling in New York. In the process, his parents lost everything, but nevertheless gave their two children an excellent Jewish and general education. Aumann attended Yeshiva elementary and high schools, got a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1950, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1955.

He joined the mathematics department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1956, and has been there ever since. In 1990, he was among the founders of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University, an interdisciplinary research center, centered on Game Theory, with members from over a dozen different departments, including Business, Economics, Psychology, Computer Science, Law, Mathematics, Ecology, Philosophy, and others.

Aumann is the author of well over eighty research papers and six books, and has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford, Stony Brook, and NYU. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the British Academy, and the Israel Academy of Sciences; holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Chicago, Bonn, Louvain, City University of New York, and Bar Ilan University; and has received numerous prizes, including the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for 2005.

Russia's Current Economic Situation and its Prospects

Dr. Yevgeny Volk, Heritage Foundation, Moscow

25 May 2008 , Jerusalem

A native of Russia, Volk is an international security and economics expert who heads Heritage Foundation's Moscow Office. He serves as a liaison between Heritage Foundation and the Russian reformers, as their nation struggles to become a more democratic, free-market society. Volk is a former deputy director for the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies and previously was Advisor to the Committee on Defense and Security Issues for the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation. Volk also has served at the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations

The Work Ethic and the Welfare State

Professor Arye L. Hillman from Bar Ilan University, Israel

21 May 2008, Jerusalem

Arye L. Hillman is professor in the department of economics at Bar-Ilan University where he holds the William Gittes Chair. His research focuses on political economy and public policy. He is the author of Public Finance and Public Policy: Responsibilities and Limitations of Government (Cambridge University Press, 2003, 2nd printing 2006, translations in Chinese, Japanese) and The Political Economy of Protection (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1989; reprinted in 2001 by Routledge). A full list of publications can be found at http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hillman.

Dr. Hillman has taught at Princeton and UCLA. He received his PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He is an editor of the European Journal of Political Economy published by Elsevier and a a former president of the European Public Choice Society. In 1995, Dr. Hillman was awarded the Max-Planck Prize in Economics for contributions to political economy.

Ethnic and Linguistic Rights

Professor Bengt-Arne Wickstrom from the Institute of Public Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

13 March 2008, Jerusalem

Professor Bengt-Arne Wickstrom has been Professor of Public Economics at Humboldt University in Berlin since 1992. Earlier, he held chairs at Johannes-Kepler-Universitat in Linz, Austria, and at the University of Bergen, Norway. His fields of research include welfare theory, especially economic theory of justice, public-choice theory, evolutionary economics, as well as the theory of pension systems. Some representative publications are: "Decentralization and pressure-group activities" in Optimal decisions in markets and planned economies (R. E. Quant and D. Tr?ska, Eds.), Boulder: Westview Press (1990), "Precedence, privilege, preferences, plus Pareto principle: Some examples on egalitarian ethics and economic efficiency" in Public Choice (1992), "Politically stable pay-as-you-go pension systems: Why the social-insurance budget is too small in a democracy" (with Johann K. Brunner) in Journal of Economics/Zeitschrift fur Nationalokonomie (1993), "Equilibrium selection in linguistic games: Kial ni (ne) parolas esperanton?" (with Werner Guth and Martin Strobel) in Understanding Strategic Interaction: Essays in honor of Reinhard Selten (Wulf Albers et al., Eds.), Berlin etc.: Springer-Verlag (1996) and "The use of scandals in the progress of society" (with Manfred J. Holler) in Homo oeconomicus (1999).

The Return of Inflation and the Mandates of Central Banks" "Ethnic and Linguistic Rights

Gabriel Stein, Director at Lombard Street Research, London

17 February 2008, Jerusalem

The past fifteen years have been characterised by what some commentators call The Great Moderation. The salient points of the Great Moderation are low and stable inflation and low business cycle volatility. In this, it differs not only from previous decades, but also from previous low-inflation decades, which were characterised by substantial volatility on both counts (prices and output). The Great Moderation is a result of a number of coinciding factors. The most important of these are the shift to independent inflation-targeting central banks; and the downward pressure on prices of traded goods resulting from globalisation, notably the entry into the world economy of a large low-cost workforce, primarily from China and India. However, we may now be past the benign phase of globalisation and entering what for prices is a malign phase. Increased demand for resources and rising wages in the low-cost countries will push up global inflation. A key question is how central banks will react.

Gabriel Stein graduated from the Stockholm School of Economics with an MSc in 1980. In 1981 he worked for the International Relations Department of the Israeli Ministry of Finance. From 1982 to 1991 he ran his own economics and public affairs consultancy - Stein Brothers - first in Stockholm and from 1990 in London. He joined Lombard Street Research in 1991 and together with Brian Reading set up the World Service. Gabriel is a Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute in London.

The Socially Responsible Leader

Donald Siegel, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of California at Riverside
David Waldman, Professor of Management at Arizona State

25 December 2007, Jerusalem

Should Corporate leaders care about anything but the maximization of profits? Or should CEOs engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? These questions were the subject of lively forum at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS). The debate at JIMS was led by Donald Siegel, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of California at Riverside, and David Waldman, Professor of Management at Arizona State University. Professors Siegel and Waldman kicked off the debate by presenting their latest research on CSR and their different definitions of what constitutes a socially responsible leader.