Pricey American universities look a lot more Hogwarts than their British counterparts. As one of the 10 most expensive private colleges in the US, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh almost oppresses visitors with neo-gothic grandness; yet it was the setting this September for one of the scratchiest academic arguments I have ever heard.
I was a guest of Carol Goldburg, the director of CMU's undergraduate economics programme, who had gathered a few colleagues to give their take on the presidential election. Here were four top economists huddled round a lunch table: they were surely going to regale me with talk of labour-market policy, global imbalances, marginal tax rates.
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