The second meeting of the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity under new leadership started Thursday, with some interesting papers on the housing and financial crises. Rarely do you get an academic meeting that is so timely: in attendance were anxious Treasury and Fed officials checking Lehman's stock price on their Blackberries. But there were also other interesting papers. The LaPorta and Shleifer paper on the informal sector goes straight into my development syllabus for the Spring. And oh, there was also a paper on real exchange rates and growth, which one of the distinguished panelists said would put the entire economics profession on the wrong side of 200 years of history if correct. Ho-hum.