Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

April 2006

A Monthly Archive (61 entries)

"Summers!" "Superintendant Chalmers!"

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Economics has hit the big time: The Larry Summers scandal has inspired the best Simpsons episode of the season! Principal Skinner puts his foot in his mouth by talking about the gender gap in mathematical ability, and hilarity ensues. Arguably... MORE

Waiting for Atlas

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Rumors of an Atlas Shrugged movie are once again circulating, and Brangelina may star. My dream is for Peter Jackson to make this his next trilogy. He can even recycle most of King Kong's New York! Hat tip to Catallarchy.... MORE

A Deserved Correction?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson denies that I was the only defender of desert at a recent Liberty Fund conference. Hmm. I seem to remember that one participant asked for a show of hands of all defenders of desert, and only mine went... MORE

Shocked by the Gender Gap

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
As I've said before, the data show that men think more like economists than women do. But today I came across some new data (or data I once saw and then forgot about?) showing a gender gap that is quite... MORE

More on Energy Idiots

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
I try to explain energy policy so that even a TV talking head might understand. Let's go s-l-o-w-l-y. Start by asking yourselves these questions: * Should the goal of U.S. energy policy be to raise long-term domestic energy production, or... MORE

Private Security

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports, UN's plans to take control of the troubled peacekeeping operations currently being led by the African Union, and NATO recently stated publicly that a force of its own in Darfur is ''out of the question." Meanwhile,... MORE

Universal Health Coverage

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Is universal health care coverage possible? Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review says nay. If you can't get an operation because your country's national health insurance system has you on a long waiting list, in what sense have you enjoyed "universal... MORE

Senate Republicans: Give More Money to Iran

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
The Reuters story says Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal on Thursday to soften the blow of rapidly rising gasoline prices by suspending a retail fuel tax and paying for the lost revenue by also suspending some oil industry tax breaks.... MORE

Which Monopoly?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Austan Goolsbee, one of the new members of the "Economic Scene" rotation at the New York Times (Tyler Cowen is another), writes In their fervor to free listeners from the shackles of their iPods, French politicians have abandoned one of... MORE

Macroeconomics Standing on One Foot

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw summarizes textbook macroeconomics in seven equations. I am not sure what I believe about macroeconomics these days. But let me Fisk the model from the perspective of what I believed when I was a Keynesian.... MORE

Solving the Entitlement Problem

Social Security
Arnold Kling
I claim that it is not hard. The solution, as I have argued for several years, is to raise the age of government dependency for workers now in their 30's and 40's. This is a painless solution, because (a) it... MORE

The Promise: See You Opening Day?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My favorite foreign director, Chen Kaige, has a new movie, The Promise, coming to U.S. theaters on May 5. He's best-known for Farewell My Concubine, which follows a duo of Chinese opera stars from their childhood in the 1920's, to... MORE

Global Warming

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
The Competitive Enterprise Institute used a recent Time Magazine cover story as a stimulus to give the non-alarmist view on global warming. Obviously, CEI has a particular viewpoint, but there are a lot of facts presented, so it seems to... MORE

Oil Hoarding

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
James Hamilton summarizes and comments on a blog discussion of the fact that oil futures prices are high relative to spot prices. He writes, There is currently very little spare capacity in global oil production, meaning that a supply disruption... MORE

Defending Desert

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from a Liberty Fund conference on Serena Olsaretti's Liberty, Desert, and the Market. (Here's Will Wilkinson's account). The big surprise: Only one libertarian out of more than a dozen was willing to defend the free market... MORE

Modeling the Man Date

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from a conference with Will Wilkinson where he mentioned that the New York Times had canonized the "man date": Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports.... MORE

The College Choice

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Concerning the choice of where to attend collegeTyler Cowen asks, If parents (and their children) are loaded with biases, is behavioral economics useful? I suspect the core bias is parents wanting to feel they have done everything possible to help... MORE

Happy Totalitarians

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
New Economist points to a lot of articles on the political economy of happiness, including Mark Easton's article in The New Statesman. Easton writes, North of the border, the Scottish Executive supports an organisation called the Centre for Confidence and... MORE

Progress and Displacement

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tim Worstall points to this interesting paper by BLS economists Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Teachers below the college level increased 1.4 times as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 1.6 percent to 3.8... MORE

Can Psychology Save the Death Penalty?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
There's a striking passage in Freakonomics that echoes an argument I've occasionally made myself: Namely, that the death penalty as it is now practiced couldn't have much effect because it is so unlikely to actually be imposed. [G]iven the rarity... MORE

Best Line I've Read in a While

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
comes from a book review of Richard Parker's biography of John Kenneth Galbraith. LBJ threw away one of his drafts for a speech with the remark: ‘Did y’ever think, Ken, that making a speech on economics is a lot like... MORE

The Foreign Aid Debate

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Cato Unbound looks at foreign aid. First, William Easterly writes, The two key elements necessary to make aid work, and the absence of which has been fatal to aid’s effectiveness in the past, are FEEDBACK and ACCOUNTABILITY. The needs of... MORE

Good for Whom?

International Trade
Arnold Kling
I blame Tyler Cowen for pointing me to this post by Matthew Iglesias. one is constantly reading articles in the press condemning one European electorate or another for refusing to agree to "painful" reforms that are nonetheless "necessary." This example... MORE

Builders' Rights?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
When I scoffed at the idea that we should help low-skilled Americans by keeping out and deporting immigrants, some angry folks retorted: "We Americans built this country! That makes it ours, and entitles us to keep them out." Which makes... MORE

More Unhappiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
I continue to have philosophical disagreements with "happiness research." My latest essay takes on a recent paper by Alan Krueger and Daniel Kahneman. I write, With research into subjective well-being, economists are making statements about what constitutes the good life.... MORE

Communist Economic Policy: Stalinism or the Red Army?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Did the members of the Soviet bloc copy Stalin's economic policies after World War II because they were run by True Believers? Or were they just afraid of the Red Army? My knee-jerk reaction is to say "True Believers, of... MORE

Politics Gets Ugly

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Scandinavian economists Henrik Jordahl, Niclas Berggren, and Panu Poutvaara are conducting a survey on Beauty in Politics. Do we judge politicians by how they look, and, if so, how? Go here to help them find out.... MORE

Climate Science

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Amidst the usual riff-raff of comments on my previous post, I received at least one good suggestion, which was to look at the web site realclimate.org, and in particular their FAQ page.... MORE

Free Trade Equals Redistribution?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
George Borjas writes, Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another (employers). Whether or not such transfers are desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration... MORE

Trains versus Tulips

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from a relaxing trip to the famous Vanderbilt mansion, the Biltmore, in Asheville, North Carolina. The mansion was constructed at the behest of George Vanderbilt, grandson of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Biltmore is especially... MORE

Scientific Consensus or Religious War?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, Paul Krugman tackles the trashing of science by oil companies, Exxon in particular, to cloud research pointing to global warming. He quotes from the Krugman piece, which appears to be a typical type M argument. At the... MORE

Our Fiscal Future

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes, Economist Glenn Hubbard...reminds us that unless we see significant entitlement reform, taxes are heading higher... There is nothing very new here, but it is good to have Glenn saying it anyway. The history here is that Democrats... MORE

Population, Aging, and the Savings Glut

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Nicholas Eberstadt writes, China’s national pension system as of 2025 promises today to be more or less the same system that has always provided for the country’s elderly and infirm: namely, the family unit. But herein lies a problem: The... MORE

Dear Prudence

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Would a society made up of totally selfish human beings be worse than the society we have today? Could it even function? In last week's Inaugural James M. Buchanan Lecture, Deirdre McCloskey seemed to think that the obvious answers were... MORE

How to Achieve Backwardness

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Craig J. Richardson writes, But while many problems cited by the IMF and others are important, they do not provide a full explanation for how a country can lose fifty years of economic progress in only five years. In fact,... MORE

The Philosophy Major

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
In an ongoing discussion, Bryan writes, why are there so few libertarian academic philosophers? And why do economists across the political spectrum have so much more appreciation for the benefits of markets than the general public, the typical college grad,... MORE

Romney and Kling on Massachusetts Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In response to an op-ed by the Massachusetts governor in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, I write, These are the "near-poor," who are portrayed by the Governor as an oppressed class who badly needs support from the state. "We needed far... MORE

Economic Literacy Via Philosophy?

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I had lunch today with a friend whose daughter is planning to major in philosophy, with minors in religious studies and classics. My reaction was to say (to my friend's horror), "Sounds like she could be on the... MORE

Take a Guess

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
One of the most frustrating things about non-economists is their reluctance to guess. Latest example: Today at the repair shop. Mechanic: The freon's going to leak out unless we replace the compressor. Me: How fast? Mechanic: Don't know. Me: Could... MORE

Perry Mehrling, Fischer Black, and Finance

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
I crossed the river yesterday to listen to Perry Merhling give a talk based on his book on Fischer Black and on this paper. Warning: what follows is pretty geeky.... MORE

The French are Different

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Maybe the best take on the French labor strike comes from Charles Krauthammer. Yes, the old should be protected from precariousness because they are exhausted; the sick, because they are too weak. But privileged students under the age of 26?... MORE

Teaching Economics

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes, In my utopia, everyone would study the principles of economics in high school, just as everyone now studies American history. Understanding basic economics is essential for being an intelligent voter. I would be out of a job... MORE

Intangible Capital

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Carol Corrado, Charles Hulten, and Daniel Sichel write, the fraction of output growth per hour attributable to the old “bricks and mortar” forms of capital investment (labeled “other tangible” capital in the lower panel of table 5) is very small,... MORE

Mass Health Care, Left and Right

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Here is a Leftist critique of the new Massachusetts health care plan. the linchpin of the plan is the false assumption that uninsured people will be able to find affordable health plans. A typical group policy in Massachusetts costs about... MORE

The Gender Gap of Economics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Men think more like economists than women do. According to my calculations in "What Makes People Think Like Economists?," (Journal of Law and Economics 44(2), October 2001, pp.395-426) being male has roughly 16% of the effect of a Ph.D. in... MORE

AIDS in Africa: Too Bad to Be True

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've long been skeptical of the statistics for AIDS in Africa. The whole story had a quasi-Soviet flavor to it. The main difference: Soviet growth statistics were too good to be true, while African AIDS statistics were too bad to... MORE

Ed Glaeser on Paternalism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Ed Glaeser writes I present three simple models that show how endogenous cognitive errors increase the advantage of private decisionmaking over public decisionmaking, which suggests that recognizing the limits of human cognition pushes us away, not towards, paternalism. In these... MORE

Mass Delusion on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In today's Wall Street Journal, the author of a new book on health care policy writes (subscription required--free version here), The elected leaders of Massachusetts have come up with a novel solution for the vexing problem of paying for health... MORE

Single-Payer vs. Socialism

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Ezra Klein writes, Once and slowly: Medicare operates within America's private health system context, bargaining with private providers at near-market rates. It's new drug plan is entirely operated through private insurers, and Medicare as a centralized market isn't allowed to... MORE

Economists are deeply suspicious of lexicographic preferences - that is, preferences which are supposed to take absolute precedence over other preferences. "You can't be serious." If you have a lexicographic preference for lifespan over other goods, for example, you would... MORE

Patent Law

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Two Three views. First, Michael Rosen writes, Well, first, as almost everyone involved in the patent reform debate acknowledges, we must fully fund the PTO. ...There are not nearly enough examiners to review, revise, and recognize incoming patent applications. There... MORE

Medicare is Part of the Problem

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
One of my essays on health care. suppose that the goal of health care reform is to reduce our health care budget to the level that would prevail if our per capita health care spending were the same as in... MORE

Arlo on Happiness Research

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Inspired by Marginal Revolution's Axel and Tyrone, my evil twin Arlo has a post on happiness research: It's obvious why we need happiness research. Think of the problem of getting from resources to happiness as taking two steps. First, you... MORE

Massachusetts Health "Plan"

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I don't know exactly what the legislators of Massachusetts voted for, and I suspect that neither do they. Here is the story. The measure does not call for new taxes, but would require businesses that do not offer insurance to... MORE

The Common Sense of Scapegoating

Game Theory
Bryan Caplan
Suppose your long-term enemy has compromised himself somehow. You're in a position to demand satisfaction, but his position is too strong to actually get rid of him. What could you do instead? In practice, a common solution is to insist... MORE

Housing Bubble Revisited

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, Gary and Margaret Hwang Smith spend a lot of time musing about real estate... In a paper the two presented at the Brookings Institution this week, "Bubble, Bubble, Where's the Housing Bubble?" they said that... MORE

Revealed Preference vs. Happiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, The neuroscience shows that satisfaction of the highest ranked preference does not imply the greatest hedonic satisfaction. It does not imply any hedonic satisfaction. Take a look at this paper, “Parsing Reward,” [pdf] by Kent Berridge and... MORE

Still More on Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
My latest essay uses the N-word. What should you call someone who wants government to provide for our education, competitiveness, and health care but whose concern about "us" stops at the border? The obvious label would be national socialist. But... MORE

Greg Mankiw has a Blog

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, This blog is an experiment, primarily aimed at interacting with students in Ec 10, the large introductory economics class that I teach at Harvard. Other students and teachers using my textbooks may find it of interest as well.... MORE

Accreditation of Colleges

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Inside Higher Ed reports, Dickeson’s paper suggests, because accreditation is the primary system responsible for gauging the performance and ensuring the success of higher education in the United States. If the quality of American higher education is slipping, as the... MORE

Should I Take to Drink?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I'm the kind of patient who tries doctors' patience. A memorable check-up from a few years ago (before Robin Hanson convinced me they were a waste of time): Doc: Do you smoke? Me: No. Doc: Do you drink? Me: No.... MORE

Return to top