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November 2017

A Monthly Archive (64 entries)

Hartmann-Sauer ITT

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Back in June, progressive radio personality Thom Hartmann and Market Institute president Charles Sauer tried a version of my Ideological Turing Test on the air.  Sauer channels FDR; Hartmann channels Reagan.  Or at least they try.  Here's the result!... MORE

Risk of Death for Border Patrol Agents

Labor Market
David Henderson
Alex Nowrasteh has an excellent analysis of the risk of death of border patrol agents, something that has received a lot of attention in the last couple of weeks. Bottom line: the risk is very low. Alex finds that over... MORE

Powell's Senate testimony

Money
Scott Sumner
Jerome Powell recently testified in front of Congress. This caught my attention: So the Fed's balance sheet is about $4.5 trillion now, and we know that it will be much smaller than that when it reaches its new -- its... MORE

The November 29 issue of the Journal has some great editorials and one bad one. The Wall Street Journal's 3 editorial pages are 3 of my favorite pages of any newspaper. I want to highlight one excellent, one very good,... MORE

Why It Matters Whodunit

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In modern America, every mass murder has two essential characteristics.First, the number murdered.Second, the group identity of the murderer.And not necessarily in that order.  Whenever a mass murder pops up in the news, many viewers hasten to find out whodunit... MORE

Again on intellectuals and capitalism / 3 of 3

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Social media have democratised the way in which public opinion takes shape. There are a number of non-vocational wordsmiths that compete with professional ones and, when it comes to creating and maintaining a "following", it is not clear that the... MORE

Spot the Irony

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
The following is from C.J. Ciaramella, "New York Prosecutors Gave Themselves $3.2 Million in Bonuses With Asset Forfeiture Funds," Reason Blog, November 28, 2017: The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in New York doled out $3.25 million in bonuses to... MORE

Again on intellectuals and capitalism / 2 of 3

Politics and Economics
Alberto Mingardi
Instead of anti-capitalism we might talk about "economic orthopedics." "Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism?" is a central question for 20th century classical liberals, and I think confronting answers is a good way to clarify what makes for different "styles" of... MORE

Ideological Turing Test: Case Against Education Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm ending my seminar class on The Case Against Education with a game.  Students earn participation credit by volunteering to take a random Ideological Turing Test.  How it works:First, roll a d20 (20-sided die) to determine the topic: 1. What... MORE

Murder on the Orient Express

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Here's Bloomberg: President Donald Trump hailed his appointment of Jerome Powell to be the next Federal Reserve chair, citing Powell's "considerable talent and experience." Given the realistic alternatives, Powell was one of Trump's better appointments. If the economy goes south... MORE

Did Republicans Sabotage Obamacare Implementation?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
We show that personal experiences with the Aff ordable Care Act informed voting behavior and that these effects could have altered the election outcome in pivotal states, suggesting that Republican eff orts to undermine the law's implementation paid tangible political dividends. This... MORE

Consciousness is All-Important: The Case of Signaling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson has taught me a great deal about signaling, but we do have a fundamental disagreement on the topic.  His latest post cleanly captures it.  Robin's intro:Many people (including me) claim that we eat food and drink water because... MORE

Again on intellectuals and capitalism / 1 of 3

Pop culture
Alberto Mingardi
A few readers have reacted to my post on Gertrude Himmelfarb and "why intellectuals hate capitalism" and pointed out that we are not actually sure that capitalism is less popular among intellectuals than among other social groups. A few years... MORE

Why Don't You Say Things You Don't Believe?

Economic Methods
David Henderson
I had an interesting back and forth with a commenter on my previous post, "Giving Thanks." I could have proceeded further in the comments but his style of argument is important enough and widespread enough that I've decided to post... MORE

Old classical macro plus reallocation

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
My vision of macro has several components: 1. A production possibilities frontier, which gradually shifts out due to productivity and labor force growth. That's the "old classical" part. 2. An AS/AD model that causes output to cycle above and below... MORE

Mass Killings and the Economic Approach to Human Behavior

Economics of Crime
Contributing Guest
by Pierre Lemieux Whether or not mass killings without Islamist terrorism are on an upward trend is a debated question. In their article "Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown," criminologists James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur argue that,... MORE

Giving Thanks

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
I dedicate this post, as I did The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey, "to the unknown civilization that is growing in the world." On this Thanksgiving Day, I feel thankful for many things. First, my daughter came home today... MORE

After moving to Mission Viejo in late July, I frequently experienced brief moments of euphoria. Sometimes I would almost burst out laughing at how ridiculously convenient my life had become. Now that I've been here for 4 months, I've come... MORE

International Adoption: The Personal Side

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arthur Brooks' personal experience with international adoption beautifully complements the science:When the moment of truth came, my name was called, I entered the room, and a Chinese official plopped a baby into my arms. I braced myself, and -- nothing... MORE

Summers on Growth, Trade, Immigration, Marshall Plan, and Tax Cartels

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
Larry Summers recently gave a speech at an event hosted by the Center for Global Development. It's quite good. His understanding of the big picture on economic growth is very impressive, as is his numeracy. What's a little surprising is... MORE

Ryan Murphy on government effectiveness and growth

Cross-country Comparisons
Scott Sumner
A decade ago I wrote a paper that looked at several definitions of neoliberalism, and found that what I called "egalitarian neoliberalism" was especially closely correlated with civic virtue. This model was based on the various indices of economic freedom,... MORE

Answer These Questions About the Reformation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
This semester, my homeschoolers are unofficially taking a GMU class on Religions of the West.  Here's a list of questions about the Protestant Reformation (and a few other topics) they composed to discuss with their professor during office hours.  Paternal... MORE

Himmelfarb on why intellectuals hate capitalism

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Alberto Mingardi
It is not the fault of capitalism that the common man does not appreciate uncommon books. ~Ludwig von Mises There are many gems in Gertrude Himmelfarb's Past and Present. The Challenges of Modernity, from the Pre-Victorians to the Postmodernists. One... MORE

by Richard McKenzie "Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree!" ~ The late U.S. Senator Russell Long (D-LA) Republicans are being excoriated by pundits, journalists and Democrats for proposing to lower the corporate income tax... MORE

The Ideological Turing Test in 3 Minutes

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Learn Liberty has just released a slick new video on my Ideological Turing Test.  Enjoy, share, and repent! ... MORE

Coulter on Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW Last week Ann Coulter wrote a piece on how immigrants to the United States helped Democratic candidates win in Virginia. She made a somewhat compelling case. It is this kind of concern that has made me more nervous... MORE

How much do government workers cost?

Fiscal Policy
Scott Sumner
Tyler Cowen directed me to an interesting question raised in his comment section (by "BC"): Do federal employees pay income tax on their wages? I know they do nominally, but that tax goes back to their employer, the federal government.... MORE

The third option

Money
Scott Sumner
Last week I attended the Cato Monetary conference in Washington. Jim Dorn always does a good job of finding interesting speakers. I couldn't help contrasting the event with the Peterson Institute conference that I attended last month. At the Peterson... MORE

Allan Meltzer, libertarian institutionalist

Obituaries
Alberto Mingardi
Chris De Muth has written a wonderful tribute to Allan Meltzer. It is a piece that accounts for a strong bond of personal friendship that goes beyond intellectual esteem. DeMuth brought Meltzer to the American Enterprise Institute as a Visiting... MORE

Taking Comparative Advantage Seriously

International Trade
Contributing Guest
by Pierre Lemieux Some geographical conditions can be changed by human entrepreneurship or government intervention. If hothouses have been built with a government subsidy and their cost is sunk, don't they now represent a comparative advantage? A recent Wall Street... MORE

Caplan on Communism

Terrorism
David Henderson
Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, "socialism" and "communism" were synonyms. Both referred to economic systems in which the government owns the means of production. The two terms diverged in meaning largely as a result of the political theory... MORE

A Vast But Dwindling Reservoir of Nativism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen and I have an ongoing dispute about "immigration backlash."  Reading these June Gallup poll results, I'm tempted to hail a "backlash to the backlash."Though preventing illegal immigration was one of the president's key campaign promises, the general desire... MORE

How should we evaluate Herbert Hoover?

Economic History
Scott Sumner
The Economist recently reviewed a biography of Herbert Hoover: Why was it that Hoover, hitherto so talented at overcoming crises, was unable to overcome the Great Depression? Perhaps he had come to believe his own propaganda about ordinary people collectively... MORE

All Roads Lead to Open Borders: Slides

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Here are the slides from today's talk on my graphic novel.  Enjoy!P.S. Comments welcome.... MORE

About That Loss of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Someone tells you that you have to buy something, and levies a penalty if you don't. So you buy it. Then someone else countermands the first person's order. You no longer have to buy it. So, assuming it's not because... MORE

Why Question the Protestant Reformation?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A reader asked me, "Would you mind clarifying exactly what your takeaway message was in your Reformation post?"  I'm happy to oblige.Popular views about the Protestant Reformation are absurdly sugarcoated.  It's tempting for libertarians to jump on this sugarcoating... MORE

Scott Alexander on David Friedman's New Book

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Scott Alexander takes us through a whirlwind tour of David Friedman's book, hopefully soon to be published but available in draft form here, titled Legal Systems Very Different From Ours. I often find myself impatient with Alexander's meandering style but... MORE

Kling on Bruno Leoni

Book Club
Alberto Mingardi
Arnold Kling has published on EconLib a fine article on Bruno Leoni's Freedom and the Law. Leoni passed away fifty years ago, on November 21. The Liberty Fund has kept in print Freedom and the Law, Leoni's book which originated... MORE

Do the right thing

Economics of Health Care
Scott Sumner
My daughter is now taking her first college economics class. Occasionally I like to provide her with examples from everyday life. For instance, my wife spends a lot of time on the phone with insurance companies, mostly dealing with complex... MORE

All Roads Lead to Open Borders: An Advance Look

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
At Wednesday's Public Choice Seminar, I'm giving a sneak peak at my next next book, All Roads Lead to Open Borders: The Ethics and Social Science of Immigration (co-authored with Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal).  This... MORE

Should Fed bond holdings be restricted?

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
George Selgin has a new post discussing three pieces of legislation being considered by the Senate. Here's one: The Independence from Credit Policy Act (H.R. 4278), introduced by Rep. French Hill (R-AR), is intended to restrict the Fed's asset holdings,... MORE

Without Government Who Would Hassle People Who Help the Poor?

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
A Malibu church that has helped the homeless for years has been asked to stop feeding people who are down on their luck. No, this is not the Onion. This is from a news story about the city government... MORE

Saturday Afternoon Video: Henderson on Thaler on RT

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
My interview with RT about Richard Thaler, 401(k)s, and humans and icons is posted here. It starts at about the 6:00 point. I wrote about Thaler's Nobel earlier here. Make sure you watch it to the end of my segment.... MORE

Over the years I've done many posts pointing out that income distribution data doesn't mean what people think it means. I spent the first 8 years of my adult life in the bottom 20%, and more recently I've been in... MORE

The Case Against Education Now Available for Preorder!

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My next big book, The Case Against Education, is now available for preorder.  Yes, I know, it's been a long time coming: I actually posted the first page on EconLog ten years ago, and have been working on the project... MORE

Cowen on the Republican Tax Cut Bill

Taxation
David Henderson
Tyler Cowen has written a mainly excellent piece on the Republican tax cut bill. I want to add to part of his analysis and challenge him on one of his numbers. But first some highlights. Tyler leads with this paragraph:... MORE

David Beckworth interviews Doug Irwin

International Trade
Scott Sumner
Doug Irwin is one of my favorite economists, and David Beckworth's recent interview of him is well worth listening to. Here are a few points that caught my attention: 1. Special interest groups create inertia, which makes it hard to... MORE

Lessons of the South Asian Swastika

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When he was living in Burma, graphic novelist Guy Delisle noticed quite a few swastikas.  Indeed, much of south Asia is full of swastikas.  It's not because they're Nazi sympathizers.  The swastika was a south Asian symbol until the Nazis... MORE

Other People's Money

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
David Henderson
I was talking to a friend the other day about good movies that drive home basic economics. One of his favorite was Other People's Money, starring Danny Devito as Lawrence Garfield, Gregory Peck as Andrew Jorgenson, Penelope Ann Miller as... MORE

Eliezer Yudkowsky has a great post over at Less Wrong, presenting an imaginary dialogue with a central banker: Frequently Asked Questions for Central Banks Undershooting Their Inflation Target I recall reading this dialogue years ago, but I am not sure... MORE

The Peculiar Political Economy of Reverse Grandfathering

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've spent the last seventeen years trying to max out my mortgage interest deduction.  So when I first read about the new Republican tax plan, my heart sank.  Curses!  Will all my careful scheming be brought to nothing? From the... MORE

Big Brother Does Not Always Help, or Only at a Cost

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Contributing Guest
by Pierre Lemieux The history of Puerto Rico, its current travails, and the theories of its famous governor Rex Tugwell provide a good illustration of a simple conclusion of economic analysis. The Economist of October 19 observes that, one... MORE

Henderson at Adrian College in Michigan

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
I will be giving my speech "How Economists Helped End the Draft" at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. I couldn't find anything about it at Adrian College's web site, but the above poster gives... MORE

Price Gouging is Fine but Humans are Better

Price Controls
David Henderson
When we economists argue against laws that prohibit price gouging during emergencies, we point out, correctly, that such laws create shortages, reduce the incentive to conserve, and discourage suppliers from supplying more. This month's Econlib Feature Article author, economist Michael... MORE

Reminiscences of Rand and Buckley

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
I very much enjoyed Russ Roberts's Econtalk interview with Jennifer Burns, author of Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market. Some highlights along with, at times, my comments. Burns: And then this realization she'd actually been quite influential in the conservative... MORE

Let's go back a couple years to see just how radically this country has changed. Jeb Bush is running for president, proposing a tax reform with a top marginal tax rate (MTR) of 28%. Marco Rubio is proposing a top... MORE

Per Capita Growth

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
We often hear about the growth rate of real GDP in various countries. But it's important to know, especially when the growth rate is low, what the growth rate of real GDP per capita is. Take Japan, which has had... MORE

Catalonia and common sense

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
If we can't live without states, then, it may be better to have actually _more_ of them. As the President of the Catalonian region and wannabe government Carles Puigdemont flew for Belgium, the entire cause of Catalan secessionism appears endangered.... MORE

by Richard B. McKenzie Professor Tullock's point is simple: the federal government should have long been wary of politically seductive proposals that carry rents The late economist Gordon Tullock was ingenious in devising arguments that were both easily understood and... MORE

Jerome Powell as Fed chair

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I have a new piece in the Washington Post, entitled "Trump wants a non-economist to lead the Fed. That could be dangerous": Consider this recent comment by Powell: "In contrast, the [Federal Open Market Committee's] easing of monetary policy increased... MORE

Two and a half weeks ago, I posted on Kevin Hassett's speech in which he claimed that a substantial cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate would suck in capital from the rest of the world. The higher amount of... MORE

The Value of the Reformation: Reply to Somin

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
My friend Ilya Somin has written a detailed critique of my doubts about the Protestant Reformation.  Here's my reply.  He's in blockquotes, I'm not. 1. Even had Luther stayed loyal to the Pope or been quickly crushed, it is likely... MORE

Just a quick reaction now, but I'll have much more to say later. This is based on a brief news article, not a detailed reading of the proposed tax bill. 1. There is more tax reform than I expected. I've... MORE

Touchy-Feely Bull in a China Shop

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm delighted to report that - after experimenting with conventional high school - my elder sons have resumed homeschooling.  Their complaints were numerous, but our whole family was taken aback by their school's disinterest in academics.  Math aside, every class... MORE

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