My educational day in Chicago

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I was sitting in the park across the street from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business this morning, after a visit with Steve Levitt and before a lunch date with Dick Thaler. (Am I a friggin’ econonamedropper or what?) At least, I was trying to sit there and answer some e-mails, but every time I stayed more than about two minutes on a bench I was swarmed by yellowjackets. At some point during my periodic escapes from evil stinging insects, I noticed a big crew of valet parking guys operating in front of the school.

I learned from my seatmate on a flight to Winston-Salem a couple weeks ago that High Point University in North Carolina offers students free valet parking and car washes. And other colleges are getting on the valet act. I thought Chicago’s business school was the latest in this line of student-panderers, but it turns out this was just a special set-up for corporate recruiters.

My non-valet parking spot was blocks and blocks away. But it wasn’t all that hard to find a space where one could park all day for free—Hyde Park is no Berkeley or Cambridge in that regard. It’s a little surprising and disappointing, in fact, to find out that parking spots at and near the University of Chicago aren’t all auctioned off to the highest bidders.

What else did I learn during my quick visit to Chicago?

1) If there is a flu pandemic, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will play a major role in spreading the disease. I normally rent with Hertz, but for some reason there were no cars available at the Midway Airport Hertz. So I had my first Enterprise experience. It was a positive one. But every one of the recent college grads I dealt with during the renting process felt obliged to shake my hand.

2) Cass Sunstein may want to consider moving to Seoul. Thaler says the book he co-authored with Sunstein, Nudge, is huuuuuuuge there. Plus there’s no Glenn Beck.

3) Some economists at the University of Chicago reeeeaaaally didn’t like Paul Krugman’s article about the state of macroeconomics. Big surprise, I know. Still, it was interesting to hear first-hand how aggrieved people felt (not any of the U of C economists mentioned in this post, I should add).

4) The Delta Shuttle from La Guardia’s Marine Terminal to Midway totally rocks. It’s got to be one of the lowest-stress flying experiences available today.

5) Steve Levitt can hit a golf ball shockingly far. That’s what Gene Fama says, at least.