Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

December 2013

A Monthly Archive (69 entries)

Introducing Scott Sumner

Macroeconomics
David Henderson
Starting tomorrow, Econlog's new guest blogger will be Scott Sumner. Ever since we lost Arnold Kling, in the late summer of 2012, Econlog has needed a macroeconomics presence. Both Bryan Caplan and I post occasionally about macroeconomics, but we are... MORE

Why I Fight Write

Economic History
Art Carden
This is my last post of my my guest blogging stint for EconLog. I want to thank everyone at Liberty Fund who helped make this possible, and I especially want to thank EconLog permanent bloggers David Henderson and Bryan Caplan... MORE

Immigrants and their Motivations, Part 2

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Art Carden
Thanks to David for his very kind words. I've enjoyed my EconLog stint and will resume more regular writing for Forbes.com as well as a new gig with DepositAccounts.com in January. This isn't quite my last post; that will be... MORE

The Prideful Worker Effect

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Both economists and laymen often claim that unemployment statistics paint an overly rosy picture of the labor market.  Why?  Because they refuse to count discouraged workers as "unemployed."  To qualify as "unemployed," you have to look for a job.  But... MORE

Farewell, Art Carden

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
Guest blogger Art Carden, who has been with Econlog for the last 9 months, will be posting his last entry tomorrow. We wish him well. My two favorite posts of Art's are "I'm Proud to Be a Bad Person," (August... MORE

Should We Forgive Student Loan Debt?

Economics of Education
Art Carden
David Pritchard kindly directed me to this April 2012 article he wrote for Occupy.com, in part a response to this piece I wrote in October, 2011. Pritchard criticizes securities based on student loans and notes that they are subsidized; however,... MORE

How Bad Is White Nationalism?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
White nationalism is one of the most reviled ideologies on earth.  But what exactly is so awful about it?  Menachem Rosensaft's piece in Slate quotes some leading white nationalists, but never really explains why this nationalism is worse than all... MORE

Grow the Respect Pie

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I second David's praise for Noah's piece on respect.  But why talk about "redistributing respect" rather than "showing more respect"?  In econ jargon, why not increase the size of the respect pie instead of squabbling over the size of the... MORE

The Economics of Respect

Labor Market
David Henderson
In "Redistribute wealth? No, redistribute respect," Noah Smith argues that we should pay more respect to people who work in currently less-respected jobs. To that, I say a hearty "hear, hear." I also like the title, although I'm not sure... MORE

Immigrants and Their Motivations

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Art Carden
People fear that immigrants will compromise American culture and vote enthusiastically for policies that restrict our freedoms. Laying aside the fact that immigration restrictions are already a massive encroachment upon my freedom--why should I be prevented from hiring anyone I... MORE

The venerable Jeffrey Tucker did a Reddit AMA (AMA = "ask me anything") yesterday for the Anarcho-Capitalism subreddit. I asked a question on where people can best develop substitutes for what the state does, and the moderators asked me to... MORE

Who These Kids Are

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Fab Rojas' response to my last post, reprinted with his permission. I just read your post about the 10% of students who do nothing in a college course. They don't attend, take exams or other appear in any other capacity.... MORE

Welcome to the Police State

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
If all you've got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American... MORE

Who Are These Kids?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
About 10% of my enrolled undergraduate students literally do nothing in my class.  They attend zero lectures, do zero homework, and fail to show up for the midterm or the final.  Yet when I'm handing out grades, the official roster... MORE

Gifts, Efficiency, and Social Desirability Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Is cash the only efficient gift?  Pure economic theory points to two contradictory answers:1. Yes, because of the receiver's demonstrated preference.  Suppose gift X costs $100.  If you gave the receiver $100, would he still have spent the money on... MORE

Freedom of Speech: True and False

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
But, as a number of commentators (including conservatives) have pointed out, the First Amendment is irrelevant to the Duck Dynasty imbroglio for a very different reason. While constitutional protections for speech certainly extend to bigots, they protect only against government... MORE

Walter Oi, RIP

Labor Market
David Henderson
If you are an American male under age 66, you should take a moment and give thanks to economist Walter Oi, who died on Christmas eve. Why? Because he helped contribute to ending military conscription. Conscription ended on June 30,... MORE

Climate Stabilizers: How Do People Adjust?

Growth: Consequences
Art Carden
I just read Ronald Bailey's article "Ugly Climate Models" to which co-blogger David Henderson linked below. From what I can gather, it looks like it's clear that the world is getting hotter and that human activity is contributing to it.... MORE

The Economics of Christmas: An Addendum

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
John Carney, over at CNBC, has a hilarious parody of some of the leading economics blogs. The topic: the economics of Christmas. I can't top it, but here is an addendum. Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality, "Worst Person in the World"... MORE

More Likely Than Not? This is Scientific?

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW 2nd UPDATE BELOW Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey, in the January 2014 issue of Reason, digs into how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with the fact that the globe has not warmed for the past... MORE

A Literary Theoretical Treatment of Prices

Alternative Economics
Bart Wilson
Let's see how far we can take the thesis that prices are like words, not by further deconstructing how individual words work, but by considering how a collection of words works in the discourse of a novel. I have never... MORE

Farewell to Bart Wilson, For Now

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Guest blogger Bart Wilson is signing off, for now.  He's been one of my favorite experimental economists for the last decade, and I've been pleased to see him bring his unique perspective to EconLog over the past month.  Out of... MORE

Brace Yourselves. The In-Laws are coming. With that in mind, here are a few things from my archive that you might wish to discuss in between bouts of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men this Christmas. 1. Christmas and... MORE

Why I love markets - and not just technology

Entrepreneurialism
Alberto Mingardi
I've taken the picture above because it explains why I love markets. Sorry if the quality is so-so: I am an even worse photographer than a writer. What you see there is a nice machine I have found in... MORE

How to Work in France

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
From the Christmas newsletter of a good friend of mine who just got a post-doc in France.  Reprinted with his permission. Names omitted to hinder bureaucratic retaliation.In early March I got accepted for a position in [city redacted] France, and... MORE

How the Welfare State Promotes Nativism

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
Two of the best writers in economics, and among the best thinkers, are Alan Blinder and his mentor, Robert Solow. They seem to share a common view of justice. It's a distributive view whereby the government takes from the well-to-do... MORE

Writing op-eds and blogging is a nice way to have a few nice things and to make sure the bills stay paid. Forbes has obviously been great for me, and I've written several pieces for the Washington Examiner. I've just... MORE

Why I Read Paul Krugman

David Henderson
Two commenters on a post I did recently on Paul Krugman, MingoV and Seth, want to know why I read Paul Krugman as frequently as I do. Specifically, MingoV wrote: Why do economists concern themselves with Krugman's recent writings? His... MORE

Some Explanations for the Curious Absence of Socially Conservative Economics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ross Douthat provides an array of explanations for the curious absence of socially conservative economics.  His top stories:1. There's more socially conservative economics than meets the eye.The first is that social conservatives actually do make such arguments, even if the... MORE

Economics in One Meme: Growing Again

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
At the beginning of 2012, I created a Facebook page called "Economics in One Meme." It went dormant for most of the Fall because the meme creator I was using (Quickmeme) got banned from Reddit and then changed its format... MORE

Earlier today, I read an article trumpeting the "success" of a charity drive that received a lot of donations and that raised a lot of money. I'm not going to link to the article because I don't want to single... MORE

DeMuth on Obamacare

Economics of Health Care
Alberto Mingardi
Chris DeMuth has an excellent article on Obamacare in the last issue of The Weekly Standard. DeMuth points out that the new American mandatory insurance system has shortcomings that are not necessarily related to the idea of mandatory insurance -... MORE

Higher Is Not Down

Macroeconomics
David Henderson
In a front-page report in the Wall Street Journal on low inflation in the United States (where the inflation rate for the past 12 months was only 1.2%) and in the euro zone (where it was only 0.9%), the authors,... MORE

What Are Cowenian Rights?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Negative theology tells us what God is not, but refuses to say what God is.  In his post on "The Politics of Science Fiction," Tyler Cowen embraces Negative Political Philosophy.  He tells us what rights we don't have, but remains... MORE

How Big of a Deal Is Social Security?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Karl Smith of Modeled Behavior has moved to DC, and yesterday he honored the GMU lunch with what will hopefully be the first of many visits.  During lunch, I asked Karl about a puzzling-to-me line from his latest post:Social Security... MORE

Interest is Special, Says Special Interest

Microeconomics
Art Carden
Regular readers of EconLog know that I, like Bryan Caplan, try to follow Rolf Dobelli's advice and Avoid News. Here's one reason why. Scan the headlines and look for claims about programs that are Obviously Good Ideas, according to Some... MORE

Public intellectuals often talk about "conservative economics."  The truth, though, is that conservative economics is essentially non-existent.  Academic economists range from liberal to libertarian.  While Republicans are rarely libertarian, Republican economists are the exception that proves the rule.This is a... MORE

Briggs and Tabarrok provide strong evidence that gun ownership increases suicide risk.  The response to their research provides strong evidence that readers swiftly twist research to suit their prejudices.  A slight caricature of the two standard reactions:Reaction #1: Crusade.  Guns... MORE

George Mason University's Economics in Action

Economic Education
David Henderson
David Chandler Thomas is a Ph.D. student in George Mason University's economics program. I had highly recommended him to the program after having been his thesis advisor. (San Jose State University, where he earned his Masters' degree had asked me... MORE

Denver Post's Media Bias, Part Two

Revealed Preference
David Henderson
Was the murderer a socialist? Can a high school student possibly use that word correctly? A point that a commenter made on my post yesterday about the Denver Post's bias was so important that it deserves its own post. Commenter... MORE

Media Bias, Case No. 15239

Revealed Preference
David Henderson
Arapahoe High gunman held strong political beliefs, classmates said That's the headline of the Denver Post news story about Denver high school murderer Karl Pierson. OK. He had strong political beliefs. Given that that's the headline, wouldn't a good reporter... MORE

Et Tu, Economist?

Labor Market
David Henderson
Is this from The Economist or from Yes, Prime Minister? Scepticism about the merits of minimum wages remains this newspaper's starting-point. But as income inequality widens and workers' share of national income shrinks, the case for action to help the... MORE

Labor Economists vs. Signaling

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
From chapter 4 of my book in progress, The Case Against Education. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Signaling has been one of economists' more successful intellectual exports.  After Spence and Arrow developed the signaling model of education in the 1970s, the idea... MORE

Emporiophobia at Christmas

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Art Carden has written a wonderful post about Christmas. These days, we were told as kids, we should learn to be thankful for all the good in our life: love and friendship that we honor by giving big and little... MORE

Krugman's Kontradictions or Contradictions?

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
Blogger and frequent Econlib Feature Article contributor Robert P. Murphy has coined the term "Krugman Kontradiction." I believe, and I think Bob agrees with me, that Krugman is very clever and crafty. (Or should that be Klever and Krafty?) And... MORE

A Fortune Cookie for Ron Unz

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Ron Unz is crusading to raise the minimum wage.  He also publicly admits that he's never opened an economics textbook.  Most econ professors would be inclined to lecture him about his intellectual irresponsibility.  But under the circumstances, less is more. ... MORE

Exchange and the Human Condition

Economic Education
Bart Wilson
Humanomics is almost over. All that remains are a third of the oral final exams. (Yes, oral final exams for first semester freshmen. Two professors, one student, and a video camera. Good times all around.) For the first time we... MORE

Ambition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Most researchers oversell their results.  After re-reading Dale and Krueger's latest piece on the selectivity premium, however, I suspect that they are greatly underselling their results.  They haven't just undermined the value of academic selectivity; they've confirmed the value of... MORE

I, Christmas

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
Obligatory head-shaking at the commercialization of Christmas? Check. Now on with the post. While procrastinating on Twitter getting ready to dive head-first into a series of research projects this morning, I came across this video from WestJet Airlines (HT: Jon... MORE

Econ as Incredulity

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
What is economic theory?  Is it a body of proven truths?  Or a set of hypotheses whose only merit is that they've so far been successfully tested against the facts?  Most economists openly embrace the latter position, but secretly believe... MORE

Elizabeth Warren Channels Milton Friedman

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
Elizabeth Warren Opposes Corporate Social Responsibility On Facebook and elsewhere, many of my libertarian friends have claimed, quite correctly in my view, that Senator Elizabeth Warren, in this letter, is bullying various heads of major banks. She realizes that she... MORE

Was Going to War with Japan a Good Idea?

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
I wrote about the topic in this blog title back in 2006 at antiwar.com. My piece is titled, "I Don't Have to Fight You." Here is an excerpt that relates to Pearl Harbor: Last December, I attended a round-table academic... MORE

Selgin's Thermostat Analogy

Monetary Policy
David Henderson
Once, while a good friend was visiting me on a particularly cold winter's night, the temperature in the poorly uninsulated living room of my old Victorian house dropped to a distinctly chilly 62 degrees. "Can't you make it any warmer?"... MORE

Zwolinski's Weak Case for a Guaranteed Minimum Income

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Philosophy professor Matt Zwolinski has written an article making the case for a guaranteed minimum income, guaranteed, that is, by the government. That, in itself, is not surprising. What makes it somewhat surprising is that Matt is a libertarian and... MORE

Nelson Mandela, RIP

Labor Market
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW: I just heard from a KQED news producer a few minutes ago that Nelson Mandela has died. Mandela was a great man. The obvious reason was his courage and persistence in fighting against Apartheid. The somewhat less-obvious reason... MORE

Levatter and Brennan Converge

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
My friend Ross Levatter, whose article I lauded in my previous post, often makes fun of me for being so optimistic. By the way, as I told him recently, the best argument I've ever seen against my optimism was this... MORE

Phase-In: A Demagogic Theory of the Minimum Wage

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Increases in the minimum wage are usually "phased-in."  Instead of raising the minimum wage overnight, the law usually specifies a series of steps.  The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increased the prior $5.15 minimum wage in three steps:  ...to... MORE

Weight and velocity of money

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Alberto Mingardi
I highly recommend Dollars, Euros, and Debt by Vito Tanzi (I hope Palgrave may soon release a cheaper, softcover edition). Tanzi, a well-known economist, was for twenty years the head of the Fiscal Affairs Deprtament at the IMF. His last... MORE

Levatter on Brennan

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
As regular readers know, I generally focus on economic issues. Often I do it as an economist; often I do it from a libertarian perspective. But I want to point out a powerful essay on a philosophical issue, "The Brennan... MORE

I want to maximize bang for my charitable bucks; good stewardship demands it (here's one way, for example). Should I, therefore, participate in Christmas toy drives or other holiday giving opportunities? Or should I instead spread my giving more evenly... MORE

Thank you for vaping

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
The war against tobacco has been fought vigorously by the European Union. Lately, the European Commission has been pushing for changing the Tobacco Products Directive, in an even more restrictive sense. To dissuade young people from picking up smoking, health... MORE

Looking for Love in the Laboratory

Economic Education
Bart Wilson
The last experiment in Humanomics is a variation of a treatment in an article by Mary Rigdon, Kevin McCabe, and Vernon Smith. In my version, people are paired to play the following extensive form game: Person 1 makes the first... MORE

In his partial defense of the Pope's views on economic policy, Ryan Avent writes: Neither did economic growth magically free American slaves or end Jim Crow. There was nothing inevitable about the end of institutionalised racism in America, and without... MORE

This morning, I skimmed through a textbook on Alabama history that I picked up at Goodwill earlier this semester so I can bring myself up to speed on some of the major facts, themes, names, and dates in Alabama history... MORE

What should students learn in their introductory economics courses? Are we, as Mike Konczal argues, "teaching economics backwards" (HT: Justin Wolfers via Twitter)? I'm sympathetic to Konczal's argument that we need to focus more of our attention on the institutions... MORE

We often hear people, including businessmen, lament the fact that the government doesn't seem to be run like a business. Many of them want it to. In one of the two December Feature Articles, "Why Government Doesn't--and Can't--Manage Resources Like... MORE

Evil in Plain Sight

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
12 Years a Slave is a great chance to feel morally superior to monstrous slavers of yore.  But it is also a time to reflect: Will our descendents ever look back on us with contempt for our blatant wickedness?  If... MORE

What is Service?

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
This morning I was in a hurry to make it to my Sunday morning walk and hadn't had time to make breakfast. So, on the way home from getting coffee for my wife and daughter, I stopped at McDonald's for... MORE

Do-It-Yourself vs. the Minimum Wage

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
After my Intelligence Squared debate, I had a long chat with my opponent Ron Unz about his latest cause: a huge increase in the minimum wage.  For Unz, the disemployment effect of a high minimum wage is a feature, not... MORE

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