Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Increasing living donor liver transplantation: liver exchange and other options

 Here's an early online paper from the journal Liver Transplantation.

Can living donor liver transplant in the United States reach its potential?  by Alyson Kaplan, Russell Rosenblatt, Benjamin Samstein, Robert S. Brown Jr., 

First published: 26 June 2021   

Abstract: Living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is a vital tool to address the growing organ shortage in the United States caused by increasing numbers of patients diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. LDLT still only makes up a very small proportion of all liver transplants performed each year, but there are many innovations taking place in the field that may increase its acceptance amongst both transplant programs and patients. These innovations include ways to improve access to LDLT, such as through non-directed donation, paired exchange, transplant chains, transplant of ABO-incompatible donors, and transplant in high MELD patients. Surgical innovations, such as laparoscopic donor hepatectomy, robotic hepatectomy and portal flow modulation, are also increasingly being implemented. Policy changes, including decreasing the financial burden associated with LDLT, may make it a more feasible option for a wider range of patients. Lastly, center-level behavior, such as ensuring surgical expertise and providing culturally competent education, will help towards LDLT expansion. While it is challenging to know which of these innovations will take hold, we are already seeing LDLT numbers improve within the last two years.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Workshop on Behavioral Game Theory, University of East Anglia, July 15-16

 Here's the announcement:

"Our annual Workshop on Behavioral Game Theory offers leading researchers the opportunity to present current experimental research related to the topic of game theory: the study of strategic interaction using methods of game theory, experimental economics and psychology.  

"The workshop will last for two days on 15 and 16 July. There will be twenty invited speakers along with three plenary talks (see further information below).  



Daniel Friedman, UC Santa Cruz; Yaroslav Rosokha, Purdue University; Heinrich Nax, University of Zurich; Frank Heinemann, TU Berlin; Friederike Mengel, University of Essex; Andis Sofianos, University of Heidelberg; David Gill, Purdue University; Tridib Sharma, ITAM; Alexander Brown, Texas A&M University; Tatiana Kornienko, University of Edinburgh; Xiaomin Li, Caltech; Emanuel Vespa, University of California, San Diego; Evan Calford, Australian National University; Chiara Aina, University of Zurich; Yuval Heller, Bar-Ilan University; Alistair Wilson, University of Pittsburgh; Andy Brownback, University of Arkansas; Manuel Munoz-Herrera, NYU Abu Dhabi; David J Cooper, Florida State University & University of East Anglia; Filippo Massari, University of East Anglia; 

Plenary Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri, University of Pennsylvania; Yan Chen, University of Michigan; Jörgen Weibull, Stockholm School of Economics

Monday, July 12, 2021

Congestion in transit in supply chains: pipeline inventory

 The recovery from the pandemic is revealing as many supply issues as the pandemic itself did. Here's an article in Forbes about congestion in transportation

How Traffic Congestion In Chicago Is Backing Things Up In Los Angeles: Pipeline Inventory Is Now A Big Logistics Problem  by Willy Shih 

"As retailers try to bring a surge of imports into their distribution centers, they are exceeding the capacity of logistics providers to move them through choked hubs like the Union Pacific Global 4 intermodal terminal in Joliet, Illinois outside of Chicago. A shortage of truck chassis means its difficult to get containers out of the terminal to warehouses, that in turn leads to congestion that makes it is difficult to unload trains. According to a recent discussion hosted by the Journal of Commerce on top importers, that means the traffic has backed up to the marine terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach, and to a lesser extent Seattle/Tacoma. That’s why now would be a good time to understand what we mean by pipeline inventory.


"All those containers stuck at UP Global 4 are pipeline inventory for somebody, and rail congestion out of West Coast ports means pipeline inventory is building up there (and remember it’s on trucks and trains as well). The Port of Los Angeles Signal report for last week projects import volumes up 54.9% this week and 71.6% next week, with big jumps in on-dock and off-dock rail containers. So that furniture or freezer you are waiting for might be sitting in a container stack in a yard somewhere.


"The key question is will those goods stuck in pipeline inventory make it to the consumer while the demand is still there? The recent precipitous collapse in lumber prices suggests that as Americans shift towards a more normal consumption pattern, we might end up with a lot more of some goods than retailers planned. Neglect of pipeline inventory, or increased ordering to make up for the pipeline lag, is one of the major causes of the bullwhip effect in supply chains. Sophisticated retailers like Walmart or Target are probably always on top of how much inventory they have in the pipeline, but the challenge is will the demand still be there when those goods finally arrive? For fashion retailers, this could be “Hello, TJX” as they end up looking for help to liquidate excess inventory."

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Vouchers in kidney exchange chains: a report of initial experience at NKR

 Here's a report of the experience with kidney vouchers, pioneered at UCLA and the National Kidney Registry. That's a policy that has now spread more widely, in the U.S.  This paper reports data from the NKR for 2014 through January 2021, during which time 250 donors were given vouchers, 6 of which have so far been redeemed. Voucher donors start kidney exchange chains (like non-directed donors) that can later be redeemed by (e.g.) their family members.

Voucher-Based Kidney Donation and Redemption for Future Transplant, by Jeffrey L. Veale, MD1; Nima Nassiri, MD2; Alexander M. Capron, JD2,3; Gabriel M. Danovitch, MD1; H. Albin Gritsch, MD1; Matthew Cooper, MD4,5; Robert R. Redfield, MD6; Peter T. Kennealey, MD7; Sandip Kapur, MD8

JAMA Surg. Published online June 23, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.2375


Importance  Policy makers, transplant professionals, and patient organizations agree that there is a need to increase the number of kidney transplants by facilitating living donation. Vouchers for future transplant provide a means of overcoming the chronological incompatibility that occurs when the ideal time for living donation differs from the time at which the intended recipient actually needs a transplant. However, uncertainty remains regarding the actual change in the number of living kidney donors associated with voucher programs and the capability of voucher redemptions to produce timely transplants.


Design, Setting, and Participants  This multicenter cohort study of 79 transplant centers across the US used data from the National Kidney Registry from January 1, 2014, to January 31, 2021, to identify all family vouchers and patterns in downstream kidney-paired donations. The analysis included living kidney donors and recipients participating in the National Kidney Registry family voucher program.

Exposures  A voucher was provided to the intended recipient at the time of donation. Vouchers had no cash value and could not be sold, bartered, or transferred to another person. When a voucher was redeemed, a living donation chain was used to return a kidney to the voucher holder.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Deidentified demographic and clinical data from each kidney donation were evaluated, including the downstream patterns in kidney-paired donation. Voucher redemptions were separately evaluated and analyzed.

Results  Between 2014 and 2021, 250 family voucher–based donations were facilitated. Each donation precipitated a transplant chain with a mean (SD) length of 2.3 (1.6) downstream kidney transplants, facilitating 573 total transplants. Of those, 111 transplants (19.4%) were performed in highly sensitized recipients. Among 250 voucher donors, the median age was 46 years (range, 19-78 years), and 157 donors (62.8%) were female, 241 (96.4%) were White, and 104 (41.6%) had blood type O. Over a 7-year period, the waiting time for those in the National Kidney Registry exchange pool decreased by more than 3 months. Six vouchers were redeemed, and 3 of those redemptions were among individuals with blood type O. The time from voucher redemption to kidney transplant ranged from 36 to 155 days.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this study, the family voucher program appeared to mitigate a major disincentive to living kidney donation, namely the reluctance to donate a kidney in the present that could be redeemed in the future if needed. The program facilitated kidney donations that may not otherwise have occurred. All 6 of the redeemed vouchers produced timely kidney transplants, indicating the capability of the voucher program."


I haven't managed to sign a data use agreement with NKR, because Stanford's policies don't allow researchers to cede editorial control of the final paper to the data owners, which NKR's agreement requires.  See earlier post:

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

Fishery regulation involves onboard observers at sea--a very dangerous job

 Next time you eat a salt water fish, spare a thought for how fisheries are regulated to keep them viable as a common pool resource.  There are catch limits, whose enforcement requires deep sea fishing boats to have onboard inspectors, called observers.  Apparently that's a dangerous job.

The Guardian has the story:

Death at sea: the fisheries inspectors who never came home.  by Bernadette Carreon 

"Being an observer, which involves monitoring fishing practices and catches to make sure boats follow the rules, is a dangerous job that can put observers in conflict with the crews on the vessels on which they are working, often hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometres from the nearest port.

"According to the Association of Professional Observers, there have been over a dozen cases of observers dying on the job since 2009 alone, including three involving Kiribati nationals."


The Association of Professional Observers maintains a site that includes a page on Observer Deaths and Disappearances, as well as one on Harassment of observers, for example in ways that may compromise their data. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Kidney exchange, arranged the old fashioned way

 Before the modern organization of kidney exchange developed in the early years of this century, using databases and algorithms, and connecting potentially widely dispersed patients and donors, a literal handful of kidney exchanges were arranged by hand and happenstance.  Alongside the thousands of exchanges that now happen, happenstance can still happen too. Here's a recent story from the Washington Post:

Two women chatted in a bathroom. They soon realized they were each a match for the other’s husband, who needed a kidney.  By Cathy Free

"Antibody tests revealed that each woman was an excellent match for the other’s spouse.

"So in March, seven months after that chance conversation, Wimbush donated one of her kidneys to Lance Ellis, 41, and Susan Ellis donated one of hers to Rodney Wimbush, 45."

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

School choice in Austria, by Greiner and Zednik in Die Presse

 Parents have big strategy sets (and can change the address at which a child is registered) to game the school choice system.

In Die Presse (with the help of Google Translate):

Schulplatzallokation und strategisches Eltern-Verhalten, von Ben Greiner und Anita Zednik

[Allocation of school places and strategic parenting behavior by Ben Greiner and Anita Zednik]

"In Austria, economists have not yet often been involved in the design of allocation mechanisms. But here, too, there are many allocation problems that have room for improvement. One problem is the allocation of school places, both in primary and secondary schools. As a rule, only one school can be named as a preference, and many parents are uncertain whether their child has a good enough chance of being accepted at the most preferred school. As a result, parents often choose a safer school near where they live instead of enrolling their child in their favorite school. However, this uncertainty also leads to dishonest strategic behavior on the part of parents. Some parents change their child's address before registering for school, to secure higher chances of getting a place at your favorite school.


"Dr. Anita Zednik from the Vienna University of Economics and Business presented a study based on Viennese registration data that empirically documents such strategic behavior on the part of parents. Dr. Zednik analyzes the anonymized registration data of more than 300,000 Viennese children between September 2016 and August 2020 and identifies “moving back and forth”, i.e. cases in which a child registered at a different address in Vienna before registering and then returned to the original address after registering


"This strategic behavior also leads to more inequality in the distribution of school places. For children with a migration background and from households in which their parents do not have a university degree, proportionally significantly fewer moves back and forth are observed than for children with Austrian citizenship and from households with higher educational qualifications. The data show that it is time to take a closer look at the Austrian mechanisms for allocating school places. "

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

An interview in (not on) Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, largely about resident matching

 For those  readers of this blog who may have missed the May issue of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, here's an interview by the editor

A Conversation with ... Alvin E. Roth PhD, Economist, Game Theorist, and Nobel Laureate Who Improved the Modern Residency Match  by Leopold, Seth S. MD, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Volume 479(5), May 2021, p 863-866   doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000001758

The interview includes this long answer to a short question about the resident Match:

Seth S. Leopold MD: Many readers will dispute the idea that the Match is resistant to strategic manipulation (“gaming the system”); why do you believe it is, and why do you think this perception persists?

Alvin E. Roth PhD: That question requires a somewhat complicated answer. The Match is built around an idea of how to organize a simple labor market, and that idea had to be adapted to the complex structure of the modern medical labor force. A simple labor market would be one in which graduating medical students each seek a single position, positions are well described in advance, and applicants and residency programs can each rank-order all of their possible matches; that is, applicants can rank programs and programs can rank applicants. That simple market can be modeled mathematically, and it can be shown that a deferred acceptance algorithm with applicants proposing makes it a dominant strategy for all applicants to submit rank-order lists corresponding to their true preferences. (A dominant strategy is one in which regardless of what rank-order lists others submit, no applicant can do better than to rank residency programs in order of his or her true preferences. For instance, your chance of getting your second-choice program if your first choice rejects you is exactly the same as if you had listed your second choice first.)

"That’s a theoretical answer about a market that is quite a bit simpler than the modern market for residencies. The deferred acceptance algorithm for that simple market was studied by Gale and Shapley [8], for which Shapley shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics. (I had earlier shown that in a simple market, applicants can’t profitably manipulate their rank-order lists [16].)

"The actual modern market for residencies differs from that simple market in several ways. For one thing, not all applicants are seeking a single position. This can happen for several reasons, the most important of which is that couples can enter the Match looking for pairs of jobs; in 2020, for example, more than one thousand couples submitted rank-order lists consisting of pairs of jobs. There are also many more residency programs than an applicant can submit on a rank-order list, and many more applicants than programs can interview, so decisions have to be made beforehand that are more complicated than how to order the rank-order list. These complications may also add to confusion about the Match and about how the Match algorithm works.

"Computational studies of the Match nevertheless confirm that once interviews are over and an applicant has decided what programs to apply to, it is perfectly safe to submit a rank-order list that corresponds to the applicant’s true preferences [18]. To put it another way, there is no advantage to submitting a rank-order list that differs from an applicant’s preferences (and there is a danger in submitting a different rank-order list, because the Match will use the submitted list to make matches, in order).

"This fact doesn’t seem to have yet penetrated to everyone who participates in the Match [13]. For this reason, all those who advise medical students entering the Match should increase their advising efforts around this point.

"Note that the Match is only the final part of the transition to residency (or to fellowships). That transition starts with applications and interviews and includes various kinds of signals, like exam scores and transcripts and letters of reference. While the dominant-strategy property of the Match makes that part of the process strategically simple (that is, we can confidently advise students to submit rank-order lists in order of their true preferences), the other parts of the process (what rotations to take before applying, where to apply, how to conduct yourself at interviews) are not simple at all."

Monday, July 5, 2021

NRMP Position Statement On The (In)Feasibility Of An Early Match

 There has been some suggestion that dividing the resident match into early and late matches might be a way to address the congestion in applications and interviews that has bedeviled the transition from medical school to residency in recent years.  The NRMP now has a statement pointing out that there are serious problems with that idea.

NRMP Position Statement On The Feasibility Of An Early Match

"For the past eighteen months the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) has been working closely with other national medical education organizations to examine the current state of the transition to residency. Conversations have focused on mitigating burdens for both applicants and programs in the selection and recruitment process and addressing uncertainty in the future of the interview cycle.


"Among the proposed solutions to current challenges in the transition to residency are calls for an early match. Specifically, NRMP has been asked to implement the Early Result and Acceptance Program (ERAP) pilot program proposed for Obstetrics and Gynecology, created through American Medical Association’s Reimagining Residency Grant, “Transforming the UME to GME Transition: Right Resident, Right Program, Ready Day One”. The stated goals of the ERAP pilot are to allow applicants to engage in strategic decision-making, reduce burden on programs while hypothesizing that the change will result in holistic review, and reduce necessary applications and interviews. ERAP calls for an early match to begin in September 2022 for the 2023 Match cycle. ERAP permits applicants to apply to a maximum of three programs in the early match with programs including up to 50% of their positions if they choose to participate. This statement outlines NRMP’s concerns about the structure of the ERAP pilot program, the lack of evidence supporting the proposed changes to the Match, the implications of an early match for the matching process, and preliminary findings of modeling an early match being conducted by experts in market design and the matching algorithm.

"The NRMP has reviewed the ERAP pilot program with consideration for whether changes to the matching process have the potential to inadvertently disadvantage Match participants. It is through that lens NRMP remains concerned with the following aspects of the ERAP pilot:

"Although voluntary, applicants may feel pressured to participate in an early match where up to half the available positions in a specialty may fill before the Main Residency Match® opens.

"There exists no mechanism for demonstrating how an early match will make visible less competitive applicants and those underrepresented in medicine, which is hypothesized in the project document.

"The proposed limit of three applications per applicant could force applicants to make compromises not present in the Match today. ...While the ERAP investigation team hypothesized that the application limit will increase holistic review by programs, there are no mandates to ensure that programs conduct holistic review nor are there restrictions on the number of applications programs may accept, interviews they may offer, or applicants they may rank. With no objective evidence to support the hypothesis, we cannot conclude that the proposed application limit would increase holistic review of applications.

"There exists no mechanism for safeguarding an applicant’s failure to match in the early match from programs as they enter the Main Residency Match, which could result in the applicant being viewed as less competitive.

"In addition to concerns about disadvantaging applicants, NRMP is mindful of possible behavior changes resulting from changes to the Match process that could affect Match outcomes for all Match participants.

  • "The structure of an early match does not allow for mixed-specialty couples ranking or multispecialty individual ranking, which may cause applicants to reconsider their specialty choices, fundamentally changing their career path.
  • "Programs may have insufficient information (e.g., clinical evaluations, MSPE, LORs) to evaluate applicants fully and fairly in the early match.
  • Programs may see a surge in non-traditional applicants as the early match provides three opportunities to enter training through either the early match, the Main Residency Match, or SOAP®. This may result in an increased number of applications or applicants who may otherwise not select the specialty.
  • Not matching in the early match is likely to increase the number of applications per individual in the Main Residency Match, as applicants enter a matching cycle with only half of the positions remaining available. This may increase stress, cost, and could adversely affect the wellness of applicants.


"it is important to first outline the core concepts of the match as a stable “market”. The Match was established in 1952, to solve a “congestion” problem in medical residencies involving applications, offers, and acceptances. In a May 2021 pre-submission working paper, Itai Ashlagi, Ph.D. and Alvin Roth, Ph.D. describe the consequences of congestion as “unraveling” where programs initially responded to congestion by making “exploding offers” that prevented applicants from considering many programs because they were pressed to accept an early offer, before knowing whether an offer from a more preferred program might be forthcoming if they waited. The authors note that NRMP’s matching process, in its current form, has four distinct properties that are relevant to managing the problems of congestion and unraveling and maintaining a stable matching market. Specifically, the NRMP matching process

"1. Is Uncongested: participants make all decisions (on Rank Order Lists) in advance, so there is no delay in processing offers, rejections, and acceptances, which is done by the computerized Roth-Peranson algorithm.

"2. Defers acceptances: preferences of applicants and programs are not finalized until all preferences have been considered, thereby producing stable matching: i.e., matching in which there are no “blocking pairs” of applicants and programs not matched to one another but who both would prefer to be.

"3. Promotes true preferences: it is safe for participants to state their true preferences when they submit their Rank Order Lists (ROLs).

"4. Establishes a “thick” market: most residency programs in most specialties participate in the NRMP Match, which also allows for multi-specialty applications and couple matching (including for mixed-specialty couples).

"The authors opine that an early match such as the proposed ERAP pilot followed by the Main Residency Match would not share three of the four important properties of the Match:

"1. An early match would dilute the thick market: not all positions would be available at the same time (and further, it would not allow applicants to express multi-specialty preferences, nor would it accommodate mixed-specialty couples).

"2. early match would introduce complicated strategic decisions into the formulation of ROLs: it would no longer be safe for participants to submit ROLs straightforwardly corresponding to their preferences.

"3. An early match would not produce a stable matching: there would be mutually disappointed blocking pairs of mismatched applicants and programs. This would also make it less safe to report ROLs that straightforwardly corresponded to preferences."

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Trans as a gender identity

 New freedoms continue to be recognized.

It is not so long ago that sexual orientation and then same sex marriage were at the forefront of the cultural clash between individual rights and freedoms, and social repugnance.  Those battles aren't over, but the rights of individuals to love who they love have won important legal and cultural battles.

Lately, sexual identity is drawing increasing attention, with a growing recognition that some people's brains aren't wired the way their genitalia would suggest.  Two articles in the NY Times help (me at least) to understand some of the issues.

The first is written under a pseudonym by the mom of a transgender child, who notes that many people are trans starting as young children.  The second, by a trans man, argues that we should think of transgender a a gender identity of its own, not as a transition from one traditional gender to another. 

Where in the World Are All the Trans Children? Everywhere. By Marlo Mack

"I learned that while many transgender people do not transition until adolescence or adulthood, significant numbers of young children are aware of their gender identity from a very young age. Dr. Kristina Olson, a psychologist at Princeton University who studies gender development in children, says, “Research shows that there are a set of trans people who first identify with their gender by the toddler or preschool years and continue to do so throughout their lives.”


"But if transgender children are a global phenomenon, so are their struggles. Just as in the United States, parents who have spoken publicly are often harassed and threatened. (For safety reasons, I am not naming them.) Nearly all saw relationships with friends and family members disintegrate when their children came out as trans. Several families immigrated to countries that felt safer for their children. “When my daughter is older,” said one mother who left Mexico for the United States, “I’ll tell her the real reason we left.”

"These kinds of moves are likely to become more common, as courts and legislatures around the United States and in other countries chip away at transgender rights, restricting access to gender-affirming (and lifesaving) medical care for children like mine. On my social media feed, parents around the world are asking one another: Where can we go now? Where will my child be safe?

"It is not always easy to stay hopeful while raising a transgender child in a world that so rarely chooses to welcome her. I wonder what I would do if my own state passed a law making her medical care illegal. I worry about where she will be able to live and travel safely when she is older. I worry about the children who live in places where being transgender remains a crime.

"Yet I am hopeful, because I have witnessed the ferocious, protective love of parents around the world. And that is not a liberal Western fad."


What I Saw in My First 10 Years on Testosterone  By Thomas Page McBee

"I also wanted it known that despite the media fixation on a trite narrative about what it meant to be trans, I was not “a man trapped in a woman’s body or any cliché like that,” as I emailed my friends and family. I was a man and I was born trans, and I could hold both of those realities without an explanation that could be written on the back of a napkin.

“I will not become a different person,” I wrote in that email, defiantly and, as it turns out, correctly. “I am myself. I just want to feel more like me.”

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The art of money laundering through the art market

 What looks like privacy to some looks like secrecy to others.

The NY Times has the story:

As Money Launderers Buy Dalís, U.S. Looks at Lifting the Veil on Art Sales. Secrecy has long been part of the art market’s mystique, but now lawmakers say they fear it fosters abuses and should be addressed.  By Graham Bowley

"Billions of dollars of art changes hands every year with little or no public scrutiny. Buyers typically have no idea where the work they are purchasing is coming from. Sellers are similarly in the dark about where a work is going. And none of the purchasing requires the filing of paperwork that would allow regulators to easily track art sales or profits, a distinct difference from the way the government can review the transfer of other substantial assets, like stocks or real estate.


"In January, Congress extended federal anti-money laundering regulations, designed to govern the banking industry, to antiquities dealers. The legislation required the Department of the Treasury to join with other agencies to study whether the stricter regulations should be imposed on the wider art market as well. The U.S. effort follows laws recently adopted in Europe, where dealers and auction houses must now determine the identity of their clients and check the source of their wealth.

“Secrecy, anonymity and a lack of regulation create an environment ripe for laundering money and evading sanctions,” the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a report last July in support of increased scrutiny.

"To art world veterans, who associate anonymity with discretion, tradition and class, not duplicity, this siege on secrecy is an overreaction that will damage the market. They worry about alienating customers with probing questions when they say there is scant evidence of abuse.


"What is the origin of such secrecy? Experts say it likely dates to the earliest days of the art market in the 15th and 16th centuries when the Guilds of St. Luke, professional trade organizations, began to regulate the production and sale of art in Europe. Until then, art was not so much sold as commissioned by aristocratic or clerical patrons. But as a merchant class expanded, so did an art market, operating from workshops and public stalls in cities like Antwerp. To thwart competitors, it made sense to conceal the identity of one’s clients so they could not be stolen, or to keep secret what they charged one customer so they could charge another client a different price, incentives to guard information that persist today.


"Auction catalogs say works are from “a private collection,” often nothing more. Paintings are at times brought to market by representatives of owners whose identities are unknown, even to the galleries arranging the sale, experts and officials say. Purchasers use surrogates, too. 


Here's a related State Department report on how art sales have been used to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Russian oligarchs:


Friday, July 2, 2021

International (Stonybrook) Virtual Conference on Game Theory July 5 - 8, 2021

  The program this year looks unusually great. (If it doesn't show up well on mobile, click on the link instead...)  The event is hosted by Virtual Chair and will take place on the platform.

International Conference on Game Theory

July 5 - 8, 2021

All times in Eastern Time (GMT -4)

Click on the talk title for more information.

Monday, July 05

09:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:30

Jon Kleinberg  (Cornell University)
Algorithmic Monoculture and Social Welfare

10:30 - 11:00

Annie Liang  (Northwestern University)
Data and Incentives

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 11:45

Navin Kartik  (Columbia University)
Improving Information from Manipulable Data

11:45 - 13:00

Poster Session

13:00 - 14:00

Robert Wilson  (Stanford University)
Large Auctions

14:00 - 14:15


14:15 - 14:45

Peter Cramton  (University of Cologne)
Lessons from the 2021 Texas electricity crisis

14:45 - 15:15

Srihari Govindan  (University of Rochester)
Toward an Axiomatic Theory of Stability

15:15 - 16:15

Reception for Robert Wilson


Tuesday, July 06

09:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:30

Michael Kearns  (University of Pennsylvania)
Between Group and Individual Fairness for Machine Learning

10:30 - 11:00

Rediet Abebe  (University of California, Berkeley)

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 11:45

Jamie Morgenstern  (University of Washington)

11:45 - 12:15

Irene Lo  (Stanford University)

12:15 - 13:00

Meet the Speakers (Monday and Tuesday)

13:00 - 14:00

Jean Tirole  (Tolouse School of Economics)
Safe Spaces: Shelters or Tribes?

14:00 - 14:15


14:15 - 14:45

Éva Tardos  (Cornell University)
The Virtue of Patience in Strategic Queueing Systems

14:45 - 15:15

Stephen Morris  (MIT)
Conflation of Impressions: Market Thickness versus Efficiency


Wednesday, July 07

09:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:30

Maria-Florina Balcan  (Carnegie Mellon University)

10:30 - 11:00

Benjamin Brooks  (University of Chicago)
A Strong Minimax Theorem for Informationally-Robust Auction Design

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 11:45

Daniela Saban  (Stanford University)

11:45 - 13:00

Poster Session

13:00 - 13:30

Michael Jordan  (University of California, Berkeley)
On Dynamics-Informed Blending of Machine Learning and Game Theory

13:30 - 14:00

Moshe Tennenholtz  (Technion--Israel Institute of Technology)
Data Science with Game Theory Flavor

14:00 - 14:15


14:15 - 14:45

Renato Paes Leme  (Google Research)
Interactive Communication in Bilateral Trade

14:45 - 15:15

Constantinos Daskalakis  (MIT)


Thursday, July 08

09:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:30

Marina Halac  (Yale University)
Monitoring Teams

10:30 - 11:00

Eran Shmaya  (Stony Brook University)

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 11:45

Yiling Chen  (Harvard University)

11:45 - 12:15

Tim Roughgarden  (Columbia University)
Transaction Fee Mechanism Design

12:15 - 13:00

Meet the Speakers (Wednesday and Thursday)

13:00 - 14:00

Paul Milgrom  (Stanford University)
Reprise of Nobel lecture (Auction Research Evolving: Theorems and Market Designs)

14:00 - 14:15


14:15 - 14:45

Shengwu Li  (Harvard University)
Investment Incentives in Near-Optimal Mechanisms

14:45 - 15:15

Susan Athey  (Stanford University)

15:15 - 16:15

Reception for Paul Milgrom

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Data for the people: Emily Oster in the NY Times

The NY Times writes about Emily Oster, who has pioneered a new way for an economist to be a public intellectual, by bringing to a general audience her skills at assembling and interpreting data on a wide variety of subjects, including parenting (is it ok to drink a glass of wine while pregnant?) and the Covid pandemic (how to decide when schools should reopen?)

She Fought to Reopen Schools, Becoming a Hero and a Villain. The economist Emily Oster offers loads of data-driven advice about children and Covid-19. Many parents live by her words. Others say she’s dangerous. By Dana Goldstein

"This steady stream of counterintuitive advice has made Dr. Oster a lodestar for a certain set of parents, generally college-educated, liberal and affluent. Many had first latched onto her data-driven child-rearing books. Her popularity grew during the pandemic, as she collected case counts of Covid-19 in schools and advanced her own strongly held views on the importance of returning to in-person learning.

"Some parents said, half-seriously, “Emily Oster is my C.D.C.”

"But others — teachers, epidemiologists and labor activists — criticized her, pointing out that she was not an infectious disease expert, nor did she have any deep personal or professional experience with public education. "

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Evolutionary Models of Financial Markets in the PNAS

 Here's the relevant part (with links) of the PNAS Table of Contents for June 29, 2021; Vol. 118, No. 26 

Evolutionary Models of Financial Markets Special Feature


Introduction to PNAS special issue on evolutionary models of financial markets

Simon A. Levin and Andrew W. Lo

Social Sciences — Economic Sciences

How market ecology explains market malfunction

Maarten P. Scholl, Anisoara Calinescu, and J. Doyne Farmer

Moonshots, investment booms, and selection bias in the transmission of cultural traits

David Hirshleifer and Joshua B. Plotkin

Social Sciences — Economic Sciences - Biological Sciences — Evolution

Evolution in pecunia

Rabah Amir, Igor V. Evstigneev, Thorsten Hens, Valeriya Potapova, and Klaus R. Schenk-Hoppé

The origin of cooperation

Nihal Koduri and Andrew W. Lo

Evolved attitudes to risk and the demand for equity

Arthur J. Robson and H. Allen Orr

Social Sciences — Economic Sciences - Physical Sciences — Statistics

High-frequency trading and networked markets

Federico Musciotto, Jyrki Piilo, and Rosario N. Mantegna


Social finance as cultural evolution, transmission bias, and market dynamics

Erol Akçay and David Hirshleifer

The landscape of innovation in bacteria, battleships, and beyond

Terence C. Burnham and Michael Travisano

Sunsetting as an adaptive strategy

Roberta Romano and Simon A. Levin

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

‘Harm Reduction’ Gains Federal Support.

 Another shot has been fired in the American war against drugs, this time in the battle between those who insist that drug abuse is everywhere and always a criminal problem, and those who think that even drug abusers might be entitled so some support in their personal fight against fatal overdosing.

The NY Times has the story.

Helping Drug Users Survive, Not Abstain: ‘Harm Reduction’ Gains Federal Support. By Abby Goodnough.

"Overdoses have surged during the pandemic. Now, for the first time, Congress has appropriated funds specifically for programs that distribute clean syringes and other supplies meant to protect users."


"Overdose deaths rose by nearly 30 percent over the 12-month period that ended in November, to more than 90,000, according to preliminary federal data released this month — suggesting 2020 blew past recent records for such deaths. The staggering increase during the pandemic has many contributing factors, including widespread job loss and eviction; diminished access to addiction treatment and medical care; and an illegal drug supply that became even more dangerous after the country essentially shut down.


"Now, with the nation reopening, the Biden administration is throwing support behind the contentious approach ... known as harm reduction. Instead of helping drug users achieve abstinence, the chief goal is to reduce their risk of dying or acquiring infectious diseases like H.I.V. by giving them sterile equipment, tools to check their drugs for fentanyl and other lethal substances, or even just a safe space to nap.

"Such programs have long come under attack for enabling drug use, but President Biden has made expanding harm-reduction efforts one of his drug policy priorities — the first president to do so. The American Rescue Act includes $30 million specifically for evidence-based harm reduction services, the first time Congress has appropriated funds specifically for that purpose. The funding, while modest, is a victory for the programs, both symbolically and practically, as they often run on shoestring budgets.


"Still, many elected officials and communities continue to resist equipping people with supplies for drug use, including the recent addition of test strips to check drugs for the presence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which shows up in most overdose deaths. Some also say that syringes from harm reduction programs end up littering neighborhoods or that the programs cause an increase in crime. Researchers dispute both claims.

"West Virginia just passed a law making it far more difficult for syringe service programs to operate, even though it is seeing a surge in H.I.V. cases driven by intravenous drug use. North Carolina’s legislature weighed a similar proposal this spring, and elected officials in Scott County, Ind., whose syringe exchange helped curb a major H.I.V. outbreak six years ago, voted this month to shut it down. Mike Jones, a commissioner there who voted to end the program, said at the time that he feared the syringes it distributed could be contributing to overdose deaths."


Earlier post: 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Monday, June 28, 2021

Kidney exchange (including global kidney exchange), discussed at the European Society of Organ Transplantation meeting in Milan, Tuesday 29 June

 ESOT: The 20th Congress of the European Society of Organ Transplantation, meeting (by Zoom) in Milan, Italy (so the talks start at 9am pacific time, noon Eastern time in U.S., tomorrow)

Models of kidney exchange and chains

Tuesday 29 June 18:00 (CEST) 

18:00 – 18:12 Kidney exchange in UK Lisa Burnapp 

18:12 – 18:24 Kidney exchange in EU: where we are? Peter Biro

 18:24 – 18:36 Kidney exchange in US Michael Rees 

18:36 – 18:48 Ethical and legal issue in kidney exchange Frederike Ambagtsheer 

18:48– 19:00 Discussion Panellists 

19:00 Conclusions Nizam Mamode

Registration is free via

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Can same sex couples adopt and foster children in need? It's complicated...

 When religion and non-discrimination contest with each other in court, the decisions sometimes rely on the details of the case:

The WSJ has the story:

Supreme Court Exempts Catholic Foster-Care Agency From Nondiscrimination Law. Catholic Social Services is entitled to city contract despite Philadelphia ordinance requiring contractors to treat same-sex couples equally, court rules  By Jess Bravin

"The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that a Catholic social-service agency was entitled to a Philadelphia contract even if its religious views prevented it from compliance with local policies forbidding discrimination against same-sex couples.

"The court’s decision, by Chief Justice John Roberts, was a narrow one, stopping short of fundamentally extending the accommodations for religious exercise that Catholic Social Services—and several conservative justices in concurring opinions—argued the Constitution required.

"The city of Philadelphia contracts with private agencies to screen foster parents for children in need. While a broad nondiscrimination policy is written into its contracts, Chief Justice Roberts observed that the agreements also authorize the city’s human-services department to grant exceptions.

"Catholic Social Services, which for decades has received city contracts, was entitled to such an exception, the chief justice wrote, because the city can grant them for secular reasons. The city’s interest in equal treatment for same-sex couples—and in caring for children in need—wasn’t impaired, the court found, because some 20 other agencies with foster-service contracts are available to work with married LGBT foster parents."

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Covid and COVAX, lessons being learned for the next pandemic

 From the Lancet:

A beautiful idea: how COVAX has fallen short by Ann Danaiya Usher, June 19, 2021DOI:

"At the pledging summit for COVAX on June 2, 2021, hosted by Japan, Gavi finally reached its US$8·3 billion ask for the procurement and delivery of vaccines for the 92 eligible low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) this year. However, even with full financing, the COVAX roll-out has moved much more slowly than that in high-income countries (HICs). Speaker after speaker at the summit lamented the gross inequity in access to vaccines. “Today, ten countries have administered 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines, but, in poor countries, health workers and people with underlying conditions cannot access them. This is not only manifestly unjust, it is also self-defeating”, UN secretary general António Guterres told the gathering. “COVAX has delivered over 72 million doses to 125 countries. But that is far less than 172 million it should have delivered by now.” Of the 2·1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide so far, COVAX has been responsible for less than 4%.


"COVAX, managed by Gavi, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and WHO, was designed to stand on two legs: one for HICs, which would pay for their own vaccines, and the other for 92 lower-income countries, whose doses would be financed by donor aid.

"In the so-called self-financing leg of COVAX, HICs were asked to pay upfront by mid-September, 2020, for the option to buy vaccines for their own populations. The UK, for example, paid £71 million for 27 million doses from COVAX, and Canada paid CA$220 million for 15 million doses. Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and South Korea also bought vaccine options from COVAX as self-financing countries.

"In the other leg of COVAX, vaccines for lower-income countries would be financed with donor grants through an Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The poorest of the 92 countries would receive them at no cost. Team Europe (led by Germany) and the USA have together provided US$5 billion to the COVAX AMC, Japan has given US$1 billion, and the UK, US$735 million. Most of these funds have been pledged only in the past few months.

"The grand idea of COVAX was that the combination of these two funding streams—the self-financed part and the aid-financed AMC—would give the facility the means to invest in research and development of several promising vaccine candidates. Additionally, as a pooled procurement mechanism, COVAX would have the financial muscle as a buyer to drive down prices for all participants. Once any of the COVAX portfolio vaccines had successfully undergone clinical trials and proved themselves to be both safe and effective, both self-financing and AMC countries would be allocated vaccines at the same rate, proportional to their total population size.


"Everyone knew that rich countries would enter into bilateral vaccine deals, Yamey said. But it was hoped that they would also buy into COVAX as insurance in case some vaccine candidates did not prove successful. Most of them did not. In the end, “three dozen countries bypassed COVAX and made huge deals directly with manufacturers. They were very lucky that the vaccines worked out. And since they cleared the shelves, there were not enough doses left for COVAX”, he said.


"The report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response also pointed to the harm caused by the slow mobilisation of resources for COVAX: “Had COVAX had sufficient and readily available early funding it would have been better able to secure enough immediate supply to meet its aims”, it states.


"The original notion of a global vaccine hub more or less collapsed, and COVAX ended up using a traditional aid-financed approach, which has left lower-income countries wholly at the mercy of wealthy nations and profit-driven companies.

“It is still this model of seeing how much money you can bring in and then seeing what you can negotiate with industry based on that money”, said Elder. “The promise of COVAX from the beginning that it would be the most attractive buyer for industry because it represented the ‘global need’ obviously did not pan out.” For any future iterations of COVAX, Taylor has argued that since national leaders have a responsibility to protect their own populations, vaccine nationalism is inevitable and this should be integrated into the design from the start.

"Several global health experts point to the failure to recognise supply constraints as a major obstacle to global vaccination and emphasise diversifying and scaling up manufacturing from the beginning. This lack of recognition was a serious flaw in the COVAX design, said Gostin. “Supply shortages should have been anticipated and ramping up supplies should have been baked into the design of COVAX from the start.