About Myself

The Data

Background

I was born and raised in France, of an American father and French mother. I lived and grew up in Paris. My undergraduate education was mostly mathematical; I entered the École Polytechnique in 1984 (which makes me an "X84": classes are counted by year of admission). Polytechnique, also known as "X" in French, is a strange kind of engineering school. Founded during the French revolution, it was turned into a military school by Napoleon, and it has retained that status (this explains the cool uniform). Most graduates become engineers, and many work as senior civil servants, but a number devote themselves to research. Economists who graduated from that same school include Maurice Allais (X31, Nobel prize), Edmond Malinvaud (X42), Jean-Michel Grandmont (X60), Guy Laroque (X65), Jean Tirole (X73), etc. It doesn't follow that I'm as good as any of them, of course.

I came to the US in 1987 for graduate studies in Economics at Stanford University, where I did my thesis under Thomas Sargent, completed in 1992. I have been assistant professor of economics at Johns Hopkins from 1992 to 1997. My present employer is not in any way involved or connected with this site.

Interests

Heraldry

My Web site is essentially devoted to heraldry. I got interested in heraldry as a child in France, around age 8 or 9; I'll never know why, but my parents indulged me and found a copy of Menestrier's Méthode du Blason (1761) which I still have and use occasionally. My interests were partly linked to nobiliary matters, and for that reason my main focus was on Early Modern, rather than Medieval heraldry. For a while, I worked on identifying wax seals which had been found in the excavations of the Cour Napoléon preliminary to the expansion of the Louvre Museum, in Paris. At times, I identified arms 18th century glassware or China.

With college and graduate studies, my heraldic activities ceased completely. It was only with the appearance of the newsgroup rec.heraldry in 1992 that my interest was rekindled.

Music

Although I mostly lurk on rec.music.early nowadays, I used to participate more. My interest in music goes back a long way, though not as long as my interest in history. I started listening to classical music of my own volition at 13, with Beethoven's 7th. I spent most of my listening time in the Classics and Romantics: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler. My only Baroque interest was Bach. I became acquainted with the Early Music movement, and the pre-1750 repertoire, around 1984, under the influence of a new set of friends in college. I've been sliding back in time ever since... If you ask me about Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler I will still say I love them dearly, but that is not the music I spontaneously buy, or put on the player or go to a concert to listen to. I don't sing or play an instrument, and my formal musical education is sparse.

I was never much attracted to post-1945 music (Schönberg, Berg and Webern I also find difficult); but last year, I discovered minimalist music, with great pleasure. Most of contemporary music is still a bewilderment. I have no interest in popular music, I like jazz but don't know anything about it and listen to it only occasionally.

Other Interests

The newsgroups I read or have read include rec.music.early, rec.music.classical, soc.history.moderated, rec.heraldry, and sci.classics. I like the Fine Arts (I've been a member of the Metropolitan Museum of New York for several years, and now of the Chicago Institute of Art), modern ballet (I'd travel a long way to see Mark Morris perform), and travel. Oh, and cooking. There are newsgroups for all of the above, but there are only so many hours in the day, and some must be spent making a living.

Economics

One of the nice things about economics is that I am able to explore my interests in, say, music, or numismatics, or Latin, under the guise of economic research: why not study the economic history of Baroque and Romantic opera, or read what Medieval jurist thought about monetary theory, or study monetary policy in 17th century Spain. Some of my research topics have in fact originated from, or been stimulated by discussions in some of the above newsgroups. For example, check out page 17 of this book...

Odds and Ends