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July 2016

A Monthly Archive (62 entries)

Econgirl on Compensation for Trade Losses

International Trade
David Henderson
Should some of my gains from In-N-Out Burger be Taxed Away to Compensate Taco Bell? Jodi Beggs, aka Econgirl, at the "Economists Do It With Models" blog, raises the issue, which more economists seem to be talking about lately, of... MORE

The new political divide

Free Markets
Scott Sumner
The Economist has a very good article describing how the 20th century's left/right political divide is now being replaced by a split between those who favor and oppose an open society: IS POLAND'S government right-wing or left-wing? Its leaders revere... MORE

In this rather entertaining video, Boris Johnson is taken to task for some of his rather flamboyant past witticisms. Johnson, now Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom since Theresa May ascended to the prime minister's office, is a writer and... MORE

Forced Labor in Venezuela

Price Controls
David Henderson
Well, Venezuela's government has now taken the next step--to forced labor. Here's Richard Washington, "Venezuela calls for mandatory labor in farm sector," on CNBC: A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a... MORE

Reasoning from a price change, example #213

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Noah Smith has a new post on interest rates: Traditionally, macroeconomists have believed that low interest rates encourage inflation. But first Japan, and now the U.S. and Europe have kept rates low for years now, and inflation has stayed stubbornly... MORE

Mao's Murderousness

Economic History
David Henderson
In the most important Marginal Revolution post this month, Alex Tabarrok quotes from Frank Dikotter's "Looking back on the Great Leap Forward," in History Today. If you're feeling bad about the two grim major-party choices for president in November, remember... MORE

Huemer's "On Liberty and Philosophy"

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've started scanning the early writings of my favorite philosopher, Michael Huemer.  I have quite a few in my possession.  First on the menu: his prize-winning graduate student essay, "On Liberty and Philosophy," which addresses the philosophical side of what... MORE

Risk of Nuclear War

Foreign Policy
David Henderson
In my recent post "Incentives Matter for Politicians Too," I wrote: One of my biggest concerns is that Hillary Clinton as President would purposely or accidentally get the United States into a war with Putin. The New York Times editors,... MORE

Pro and Contra Gauti Eggertsson

Labor Market
Scott Sumner
Rajat directed me to a post by Miles Kimball, entitled "Pro Gauti Eggertsson". He discusses Eggertsson's views on the role of inflation expectations in the recovery from the Great Depression. Like Miles, I'm a big fan of Eggertsson's work on... MORE

The Economist and Star Trek Beyond

Pop culture
Alberto Mingardi
I recently watched "Star Trek Beyond" and liked it a lot. Visually, I think it's one of the most astonishing science fiction movies ever. The USS Enterprise "parking" inside a space station is perhaps the single most impressive scene I've... MORE

Robin's Turing Test

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Robin recently tried an Ideological Turing Test for a subset of my critique of his Age of Em.  He understands me better than before, but there's still room for improvement.  "Correct" means Robin has described my view to a tee. ... MORE

Tyler Cowen on low interest rates

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
Tyler Cowen has a new Bloomberg column: Maybe Negative Yields Are a Sign of Prosperity Just when it seemed that negative yields could not spread any further, they did. Corporate bonds paying negative interest rates now account for about $512... MORE

Noah Smith on Milton Friedman

Free Markets
Emily Skarbek
In commenting on Milton Friedman's contributions to economics, it was once remarked that "attempting to portray the work of Milton Friedman . . . is like trying to catch the Niagara Falls in a pint pot." In yesterday's Bloomberg View,... MORE

Jeff Bezos on innovation

Entrepreneurialism
Alberto Mingardi
Jeff Bezos was recently interview by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Asked by digital editor Massimo Russo "what is the recipe for innovation", he gave a phenomenal answer: Easy: to improve our customers' experience. To be genuinely innovative, innovation needs... MORE

The Science of Homeschooling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
While I'm homeschooling my elder sons, I've long wondered about how well it really works.  Sure, the critics are usually angry apriorists.  But advocates seem quick to repeat optimistic statistics without proper scrutiny.  What's really going on?The best piece I've... MORE

Remorse

Economics of Crime
Scott Sumner
Tyler Cowen linked to a Wonkblog post that suggested pot legalization has not had the negative effects that drug warriors predicted: National surveys have shown that teen marijuana use rates are falling across the country. But there haven't been many... MORE

A Cheap Economist Buys Lunch

Business Economics
David Henderson
Just Say No "These Are The Mind Tricks Restaurants Use To Make You Spend More Money." So reads the title of a recent article warning people about the various psychological tricks restaurants use to cause you to spend more. There's... MORE

Cosmopolitans and False Consciousness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Early this month, Ross Douthat derided the false consciousness of self-styled "cosmopolitans":Genuine cosmopolitanism is a rare thing. It requires comfort with real difference, with forms of life that are truly exotic relative to one's own. It takes its cue from... MORE

Incentives Matter for Politicians Too

Incentives
David Henderson
In a Facebook comment on my recent post on Peter Thiel and Donald Trump's foreign policy views, my friend Stephen M. Jones wrote (I quote with his permission): Tyler Cowen had an important post linking this article about Trump and... MORE

Immigrants and Everest

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Immigrants use less welfare than natives, holding income constant.  Immigrants are far less likely to be in jail than natives, holding high school graduation constant.*  On the surface, these seem like striking results.  But I've heard a couple of smart... MORE

Highs and Lows of the Republican Convention

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Watching and analyzing the Republican convention so that you didn't have to. I watched more of the Republican national convention than I usually do, mainly because it promised to be more interesting than the usual. It was. Here are some... MORE

The Fed's psyche

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Tim Duy always has something thoughtful to say about the Fed. This comment in his latest Bloomberg column caught my eye: But note too that Dudley looks disapprovingly on the 1994-1995 cycle. For policymakers at the Fed, that cycle has... MORE

Turkey's Failed Coup

Public Choice Theory
Emily Skarbek
Reflecting on the recent events in Turkey, Dani Rodrik wrote over at Project Syndicate that he never thought he would see such events "in a country that has come to hate military coups but still loves its soldiers". Knowing little... MORE

A Numerate Sermon on Terrorism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've long regarded serious fear of terrorism as a sign of deep innumeracy.  Deaths from terrorism remain a tiny share of the thousand-odd murders that happen on Earth on an average day.  Terrorism is special primarily because people overreact to... MORE

Peter Thiel on Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy
David Henderson
Thiel, who supports gay marriage, plans to say that although he does not agree with all the policies in the official GOP platform, he believes fighting over cultural issues such as "bathroom bills" is a distraction from more important matters.... MORE

Noah Smith and Zachary David refute the EMH

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Suppose markets are efficient at pricing assets. And suppose everyone believes they are efficient. In that case (some argue) no one would have an incentive to gather information, and trade on that information. But in that case, speculators and arbitragers... MORE

I Win My Cruz Bet with Steve Pearlstein

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In early February, noted journalist and GMU professor Steve Pearlstein bet me $50 at even odds that Ted Cruz would win the Republican nomination.  I have now officially won.Why did I make this bet?  Simple: At the time, betting markets... MORE

The Hyperbole of Backlash

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler tries to cure my immigration backlash confusion, but not to my satisfaction.  The overarching flaw: He equivocates between two different versions of "backlash to immigration."  Version 1: Letting in more immigrants leads to more resistance to immigration.Version 2: Letting... MORE

Cleveland Rocks?

Political Economy
Amy Willis
I don't know about you, but my feeds are dominated by the RNC in Cleveland this week...I'm not following the circus closely at all...But I do think this is an opportune time to reflect on what economics can tell us... MORE

A Badly Misleading Title

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
I'm back from my 18-day trip to my cottage in Canada and so, once again, I will be posting almost daily. I hate many things: one of them is price controls and another is badly misleading titles. Three Felonies a... MORE

Free, good and happy

Cross-country Comparisons
Scott Sumner
Tyler recently linked to a study that used data on happiness in 22 OECD countries (all majority white). Only 6 countries scored above 8.00 in the happiness survey: Denmark: 8.35 USA: 8.32 New Zealand: 8.22 Australia: 8:05 Switzerland: 8.01 Finland:... MORE

7th Grade: The Homeschooling Experience

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My sons and I have finished our first year of homeschooling.  It was a great success by all vital measures.  My two students were vocally much happier than they were in regular school.  They also learned vastly more, covering over... MORE

Uncertain about uncertainty

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I've always been a bit skeptical when people point to "uncertainty" as the cause of economic distress. High unemployment? Uncertainty about ObamaCare! More often, the problem is bad monetary policy, and the only "uncertainty" is just how much NGDP instability... MORE

Slavery in the Age of Em

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson:Bryan Caplan made strong, and to me incredible, claims that econ consensus predicts all ems would be fully slaves with no human personality. As he won't explain his reasoning, but just says to read the slavery literature, I've done... MORE

Zachary David on NGDP futures targeting

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Jim S. directed me to a Zachary David post criticizing my NGDP futures targeting proposal. He links to my Mercatus paper on the plan, but seems to ignore its contents. Most of the objections that he raised are answered in... MORE

Observations from Europe

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Just got back from a month in Europe, where I was a visiting professor at the University of M√ľnster, teaching a short course in Advanced Public Choice.  Along the way, we drove to London for the Institute of Economic Affairs... MORE

Decentralization in Turkey

Political Economy
Scott Sumner
I've always been a fan of Swiss-style decentralization. The following is from an Economist article on Turkey: Countries such as India and China have witnessed similar urban explosions, but Turkish cities stand out for also offering an impressive quality of... MORE

The costs of inflation and recession

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Noah Smith has a good post on the costs of inflation and recession, but I don't quite agree with this: Many people seem to think that inflation and recession are equal, symmetric dangers. This is implicit in the idea of... MORE

Midweek Musings

Economic Education
Amy Willis
Until this week, I hadn't heard of Pokemon Go (I know, I know...But I was on vacation last week.) But apparently, not only is everyone playing it, it's also "everything that is wrong with global capitalism." Seriously? The analogy to... MORE

The Irish miracle

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
There's been a lot of recent discussion of the new GDP statistics out of Ireland, which show 2015 RGDP growth of 26.3% and NGDP growth of 32.4%. Almost everyone agrees that the data is somewhat fishy, but it's not clear... MORE

Hayek's Views on Emergence

Austrian Economics
Emily Skarbek
In an interesting new paper, my colleague Paul Lewis discusses the origins of Hayek's views on emergence in his work on theoretical psychology and The Sensory Order. Hayek published The Sensory Order in 1952, but he developed the core ideas... MORE

Don't Worry About Canada Becoming a 'Petrostate'

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
But imagine that Canada's oil production grows so much that it becomes as important to Canada as oil is to Saudi Arabia. Is that bad? No. First, Canada is a vibrant democracy with competitive political parties and a fair amount... MORE

Great Moments in Sunk Cost

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
The third book I finished on my vacation at my cottage in Canada is Trudeau Revealed by David Somerville, BMG Publishing, 1978. It's surprisingly good, in that the author quotes extensively from Pierre Trudeau's writings in the 1950s and 1960s,... MORE

The Signs of Signaling

Bryan Caplan
How can you empirically distinguish between human capital and signaling?  In this talk, I explore not only the basics of the issue, but the subtleties.... MORE

I'm happy to see that Bryan Caplan is planning a new book on poverty, as his forthcoming book on education already looks like it will be a classic. He asked for "constructive criticism" in a recent blog post, so I'll... MORE

When I watched the video of Philando Castile die from gunshot wounds inflicted by a police officer in the course of a routine traffic stop, a deep sickness swept over me. Sadly, this feeling was not the result of a... MORE

Here's Neil Irwin of the NYT, expressing some rather unoriginal views that you might see in 100 other media outlets: What lesson should a card-carrying member of the economic elite take from the success of Donald J. Trump, and British... MORE

All the Shah's Men

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
On my summer vacation, I read more books and fewer blogs. The first book I've read this vacation is Stephen Kinzer's All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. It's excellent. I saw Kinzer... MORE

Peter Conti-Brown on the Fed

Law and Economics
Scott Sumner
I just finished Peter Conti-Brown's excellent new book on the Fed. Brown looks at the Fed from the perspective of a political scientist and legal scholar, not an economist, and this produced a lot of interesting and fresh insights. Is... MORE

Incentives on Set

David Henderson
As I said in an earlier post, my friend Robert Anthony Peters "gets" economics. It has helped him in various situations as an actor. (Parenthetically, one thing I had not been aware of is how low actors' pay can be... MORE

Harold James on globalisation and migrants

International Trade
Alberto Mingardi
Harold James has a piece on the backlash against globalisation and the immigration debate. For James, antipathy for globalisation isn't anything new, but whereas at first it used to be nostalgia for economic nationalism, by now it has morphed into... MORE

The second domino

Money
Scott Sumner
Soon after the Brexit vote was announced, I made this comment: This time around the UK was probably hurt somewhat; British stocks are down around 4% as I write. But French and German stocks are down 7% to 8%. The... MORE

Every year when I go to my cottage in Canada, I invite a friend along, either at the start of the season (when he helps me open the cottage) or at the end (when he helps me close.) This year,... MORE

Aggregate demand is not consumption

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I occasionally see commenters talk about how monetary stimulus and/or low interest rates would merely shift demand from the future to the present. That claim never made any sense to me. Now I see that Paul Krugman is equally perplexed:... MORE

Robert Murphy on Economic Calculation

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
In Mises' view (later elaborated by his follower Friedrich Hayek), a modern economy is far too complex to be centrally planned. Even putting aside concerns about dictatorship and shirking, a socialist system cannot implement an efficient use of society's scarce... MORE

Krugman on monetary offset and China trade

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Scott Sumner
Back in February I wrote a very long post, which was somewhat skeptical of a study (by Autor, Dorn and Hanson) of the impact on Chinese exports on US employment, during the period from 1990 to 2007. Other pundits seemed... MORE

Is Education Good for the Soul?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Four years ago, Jacob Levy inspired me to explain how I love education.  This blog post eventually became a whole chapter in The Case Against Education on "Is Education Good for the Soul."  Here are the slides for a recent... MORE

Weekend Grab Bag

Economic Education
Amy Willis
July 1st is a big day for the US, though it seems to be passing quietly by so far... Fourteen cities, states, and counties, and the District of Columbia all introduce higher minimum wages. Predictions? Read more on minimum wages... MORE

Tom Friedman on Brexit and Trump

Regulation
David Henderson
In the previous post on Tom Friedman, I neglected to mention that hours earlier he had flown in to San Francisco from Europe. That meant that he was likely in the air when the Brexit results came in. He led... MORE

Anthony de Jasay on Pope Francis

moral reasoning
Alberto Mingardi
On EconLib, Anthony de Jasay has an excellent couple of articles on Pope Francis (one and two). The title might upset a few readers, though: "Che Guevara in the Vatican." Jasay points out perceptively that this latter-day arch-critic of capitalism,... MORE

Supply and demand: Handle with care

Labor Market
Scott Sumner
I recently did a post that discussed a "shortage" of skilled labor in Spain, despite 20% unemployment. Companies were having trouble filling positions such as nurses, computer programmers, etc. Several commenters suggested this made no sense; if there was a... MORE

A Lesson in Opportunity Cost

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
I'm at my cottage in Canada, where I've come every summer since I was 7 months old except for 5 interspersed years in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, when other things were going on in my life. It's Canada... MORE

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