Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

October 2005

A Monthly Archive (44 entries)

See Saw II

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The sequel to Saw, the greatest fictional exploration of the Prisoners' Dilemma ever, is finally here, and it's fantastic too. It isn't as easy to pigeonhole the sick games being played this time around, but Saw II's got the original's... MORE

More on the Muslim Median Voter

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
From an interesting profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Nation: As Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris have argued in their book Rising Tide, the true clash of opinions between Islam and the West is not about democracy but sex.... MORE

Pension Bagholders

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
Roger Lowenstein writes The drawback to 401(k)'s, remember, is that people are imperfect savers. They don't save enough, they don't invest wisely what they do save and they don't know what to do with their money once they are free... MORE

Who Hates Muslims the Most?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Another interesting result from Pew's "Islamic Extremism" survey: Americans are, compared to other Western countries, pro-Muslim! Only 22% of Americans surveyed admit to unfavorable views of Muslims. I suspect that many people who hate Muslims won't admit it, but the... MORE

What Does the Median Muslim Voter Want?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm one of the staunchest defenders of descriptive accuracy of the Median Voter Model, and one of the harshest critics of the median voter. Democracy gives the people what they want, but what they want is based on systematically mistaken... MORE

Education as a Positional Good

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Chris Dillow cuts right to the heart of an issue I've danced around on this blog a number of times. Say I were to claim the following: lots of middle class parents care only about the relative quality of their... MORE

Revenge of the Game Theorist

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a fan of behavioral economics, but I've got to admit that behavior economists can be painfully condescending. "You only disagree with it because you haven't bothered to read it," is the subtext, and sometimes it's out in the open.... MORE

The Hockey Game of Life?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Robert H. Frank writes, [Nobel Laureate Thomas] Schelling observed that by skating without a helmet, a player increases his team's odds of winning, perhaps because he can see and hear a little better, or more effectively intimidate opponents. The down... MORE

The Incidence of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I recapitulate some basic economics in my latest essay. American firms will not become more competitive by shedding health care costs, unless in the process they can reduce the net compensation paid to workers. Cutting health insurance benefits and raising... MORE

Keep on Truckin', Stalin-Style

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Did central planners under socialism focus on economics or politics? Lazarev and Gregory present an interesting test in their article "The Wheels of a Command Economy." (Published in the 2002 Economic History Review, and popularized in Gregory and Harrison's piece... MORE

Bryan is a Pessimist

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
He writes How about my house?! Is that going to be "obsolete" in 18 years? Even if housing prices go down a bit and my kids are extremely successful, my house will be worth years of their expected wages. Your... MORE

Why Inherited Wealth is Getting More Important

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Arnold asks me: Which would be more valuable to Bryan's children--all his physical possessions, all his financial assets, or a large investment in their human capital? Probably 90 percent of his physical possessions will be obsolete by the time his... MORE

Admitting We Were Wrong

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: The two viewpoints might be summarized as follows: --Conservatives: Cutting taxes will help reduce the size of government. --Liberals: Big government is not really so bad. In the face of overwhelming evidence over the past five... MORE

Why Inherited Wealth is Less Important

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Bryan asks, we're a lot less focused on inheritance than we used to be. Why would that be? The Kurzweilian answer is that rapid technological change has made inheritance--apart from "inherited" human capital--less valuable. Which would be more valuable to... MORE

Bernanke's Nomination Ditto

Monetary Policy
Arnold Kling
I agree with Bryan that Bernanke is an excellent choice. He is knowledgable and articulate--just the other day I referred econlog readers to Bernanke's overview of recent productivity developments. Ben was a year ahead of me in grad school at... MORE

Bernanke's Nomination

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
My teacher Ben Bernanke has been nominated as Greenspan's replacement. While some libertarians think he's the Antichrist, in reality he's about the best that libertarians could reasonably hope for. As I wrote a few months back: I was a student... MORE

Kurzweil and War

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: Ray Kurzweil argues that the information component of goods and services is rising relative to the value of the physical resources employed in production. All of our products are becoming information-intensive. Computer software and pharmaceuticals are... MORE

The Economics of Inheritance in Vanity Fair

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The latest movie version of William Thackeray's Vanity Fair is more than watchable, and I don't think there's ever been a "chick flick" with so much economics in it. The basic setup is that poor but brilliant Becky Sharp uses... MORE

Bernie Saffran Memorial Conference

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
I attended an economics conference held in honor of Bernard Saffran, the Swarthmore economics professor who died last November. I took away observations in three categories: 1. current research: although Steve Levitt was not there, his style of economics permeated... MORE

What the Future Holds

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Nick Bostrom and Milan Ćirković asked me to write a chapter for their edited volume on Global Catastrophic Risks. Most of the other contributors are natural scientists who consider the risks of things like asteroids, nanotech, and nuclear war. But... MORE

Wisdom from the Great Depression: Who Said It?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Here are some surprisingly modern observations on the Great Depression from the year 1931: We live in a society organized in such a way that the activity of production depends on the individual business man hoping for a reasonable profit,... MORE

Housing and the Corruption Tax

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports In recent years, the difficulty of getting things built has made business harder for small, local builders and easier for big companies, with their greater resources, to gain control of the housing market. "The large... MORE

Ray Kurzweil's economics

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I discuss the economics of accelerating growth in my latest essay. If output per person in 2025 is more than 5 times what it is today, then the economy will have won the race. That means that all of the... MORE

Health Care Documentary

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
This documentary attempts to make vivid the weakness of the Canadian health care system. It begins by showing how attached Canadians are to the principle of government-provided health care, but then exposes the consequences in terms of waiting times, suffering,... MORE

Who Wants to Privatize Lenin?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Who is most open to privatizing Lenin's mummy? You might think that it would be people to suffered under Communism, and want to turn their backs on anything tainted by it. But "Goodbye Lenin (or not?)" a fascinating paper by... MORE

Licensing Rents

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Morris M. Kleiner writes, Even in the 1950s, licensing covered less than 5% of the American workforce. Now more than 20% of the U.S. workforce is covered by state licensing laws...prices in regulated occupations have increased more--and the earnings of... MORE

Is the Econ Ph.D. a Free Lunch?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
While your earning a Ph.D. in economics, you learn two big lessons: 1. There's no such thing as a free lunch. 2. You are in serious pain. On reflection, though, I've decided that both of these lessons fall short of... MORE

The Real Chiang Kaishek

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong recently described Chiang Kaishek as a "twentieth-century Chinese nationalist, socialist, general, and dictator." By itself, this description is rather surprising. The legendary Chinese anti-Communist was actually a socialist? But not only is Brad right about this; you could... MORE

Tom, Tyler, Bob, and Rob

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
While of course all of George Mason's Department of Economics was once again desperately rooting for Gordon Tullock to win the Nobel Prize, Thomas Schelling and Robert Aumann are welcome substitutes. They don't teach at GMU, of course, but our... MORE

Heroic Stature for Sale

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Eureka! I've been wanting to blog on my renewed love of the Hero System role-playing game for a while, but only five minutes ago did I find a solid econ segue way. In the spirit of Tyler Cowen's "Markets in... MORE

Carter's Policies Not Just in Iraq

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Bryan thinks that Iraq is the victim of Carter-era energy policy. But we in the United States have no reason to feel secure from such economic idiocy. James Hamilton notes that energy legislation now under consideration wants to punish price-gouging,... MORE

Was Jimmy Carter Elected President of Iraq?

Price Controls
Bryan Caplan
I just caught a story on Cap'n Arbyte that has to be read to be believed: Gasoline price controls in Iraq are responsible for retail gasoline shortages and a withering decline in refining capacity. BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) — The country... MORE

Privatize Lenin!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt drew my attention to a new push to bury Lenin's mummy. As usual in Russian politics, both sides are wrong. The economically sensible and morally beautiful choice would be to auction off Lenin's corpse on eBay, and use... MORE

The Sensible Knave's newborn daughter was born a couple months early. But not only is she doing well, she's giving her dad some thought-provoking ideas about international health comparisons. The highlight: In a tragic sort of way, inferior prenatal care... MORE

Social Choice Theory: A Case of Moral Blindness

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Steven Brams of NYU presented his latest paper on approval voting at GMU Wednesday. While it was better than most papers in the field of social choice theory, its main effect was to help me realize what's wrong with the... MORE

Tyler's Tough Macro Test

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen has some tough macroeconomics questions, including Which aspect of the macroeconomy does real business cycle theory find most difficult to explain? I would say that the apparent success of Keynesian stabilization policy in the United States since 1945... MORE

Controlling the Gender Gap

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman links to a tantalizing summary of Warren Farrell's Why Men Earn More. As best as I can tell, Farrell's got 25 new control variables to add to the standard wage regressions. He... claims to have identified twenty-five tradeoffs... MORE

Ethics and IQ

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I claim that IQ research makes libertarian policy conclusions more compelling, but Tyler Cowen isn't convinced: When Bryan says "IQ matters a great deal" I hear "inelastic factors of production." IQ won't change much in the short run, and perhaps... MORE

Oil Econ

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Anthony de Jasay writes, Some miracle of an unexpected kind will very likely occur one day to make some renewable energy source economical, but until it does, responsible oil companies will make haste slowly toward biomass, solar or wind power... MORE

The Status of Amateur Sociology

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Or, rather, some amateur sociology about status seeking, in my latest essay. I suspect that the most likely alternative to economic motivation is a worse motive: status-seeking. I believe that is more important to curb our lust for status than... MORE

The Inelasticity of IQ

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Unlike referees for academic journals, the blogosphere produces a lot constructive and thought-provoking criticism. Check out Biopolitical and Tyler Cowen's responses to my recent post on IQ. Biopolitical immediately brought up an issue worth elaborating on: I can see no... MORE

The Last Mile will be Wireless

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports, Google Inc. unveiled the latest such effort Friday with a proposal to provide free, wireless high-speed Internet access in the city of San Francisco. The service would allow users to bypass fee-based connections of cable... MORE

Faith-based Investing?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues that people who reject blind faith in religion are nonetheless guilty of blind faith with respect to the stock market. He believes in the stock market because he is told to do so. — automatically allocating... MORE

Does It Matter If IQ Matters?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Lots of people loathe IQ research. But even people who are open-minded about IQ often puckishly say "So what?" It doesn't really matter if the IQ is the main determinant of earnings, or economic growth, or anything else. All that... MORE

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