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February 2018

A Monthly Archive (61 entries)

The Double Whammy of Uselessness

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
While promoting my new book, I've repeatedly argued that foreign language requirements in U.S. schools are absurd and should be abolished.  For two distinct reasons.Reason #1: Americans almost never use their knowledge of foreign languages (unless they speak it in... MORE

You get what you pay for

Income Distribution
Scott Sumner
This tweet caught my attention: Jeff Bezos possesses $121.3 billion dollars. There are about 550,000 homeless people in America. If Jeff Bezos gave every homeless person in America $100,000, he would still have $66.3 Billion Dollars! Let that sink in...... MORE

A Balanced View of Trump

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
I rarely find a balanced view of Trump. I gave one about a month ago. I've now found another. Here's Richard Brookhiser on what William F. Buckley, Jr. thought of Trump: Buckley wrote about Trump the politician once, in an... MORE

Do deficits matter?

Fiscal Policy
Scott Sumner
I am seeing a disturbing rise in "free lunch" thinking. One place this increasingly shows up is in the case of "deficits". People seem to have trouble grasping that deficit spending implies future austerity. Let's start with an electric company.... MORE

Harassment: A Keyhole Solution

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Way back in The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford taught us the wonder of "keyhole solutions" for social ills:Keyhole surgery techniques allow surgeons to operate without making large incisions, minimizing the risk of complications and side effects. Economists often advocate a... MORE

Reminder: Talk at Webber International University

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
I will be speaking on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Webber International University, Babson Park, Florida. Topic: Economic Inequality: Popular Misunderstandings and Important Facts Place: Yentes Conference Center 1201 N Scenic Hwy Babson Park, FL 33827 If you're an EconLog... MORE

Henderson on Economic Inequality

Income Distribution
David Henderson
[L]et us consider two historical figures of twentieth-century American history. The first came to prominence in the late 1940s, when he invented a light one-man chainsaw, and sold more than 100,000 of them at a price that made him... MORE

There's no success like failure

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I've worked in several different types of organizations, and I've observed a growing tendency for managers to look for measurable metrics to assess productivity. Fortunately, I've generally been in a position where I didn't have to spend a lot of... MORE

Suppose I define socialism as, "a system of totalitarian control over the economy, leading inevitably to mass poverty and death."  As a detractor of socialism, this is superficially tempting.  But it's sheer folly, for two distinct reasons.First, this plainly isn't... MORE

Italian elections update

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
A government that doesn't do much is highly preferable than one that does harm. Italian elections are fast approaching: they'll be held on March 4. I think there is so far an unnatural/uncanny sense of composure surrounding the ballot. I... MORE

I LOVE the Olympics

Competition
David Henderson
I've heard many people on Facebook and elsewhere talk about how politicized the 2018 Olympics are. In this case, though, I think politics is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, I thought that Mike Pence had incredibly bad manners... MORE

We dodged one bullet. The Trump administration's proposal for a dramatic increase in regulation of the energy industry, support by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, has been rejected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Now there is danger of another bad... MORE

On Thursday, February 22, I'll be giving an evening talk at Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida. Topic: Economic Inequality Time: 7:00 p.m. Place: Yentes Conference Center 1201 N Scenic Hwy Babson Park, FL 33827 If you're an EconLog... MORE

It was great fun debating Eric Hanushek, truly a gentleman and a scholar.  Here's my opening statement. Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Is the education system really a waste of time and money, as my new book claims right... MORE

Posner and Weyl on Sponsoring Immigrants

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
University of Chicago professor Eric Posner and Microsoft employee Glen Weyl wrote last week about their intriguing proposal for immigration. It's titled "Sponsor An Immigrant Yourself," Politico, February 13, 2018. I like parts of it but I don't totally understand... MORE

Never reason from an interest rate spread

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Here's the Financial Times: Analysts have struggled to explain why the yen is rising when the gap between US and Japanese interest rates is widening further, with the US Federal Reserve tightening policy while the BoJ is pinning 10-year bond... MORE

Hurray for the Imminent End of Polio

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
More remarkably, the disease that was once a global scourge -- a thief of childhood everywhere -- has been all but eradicated from the earth. This year could see its complete disappearance outside of virus labs, experts say. This is... MORE

Henderson and Furman on Kudlow

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
My Wall Street Journal piece last Friday led to an invite to be on the Larry Kudlow show. I didn't know until I got on that I would be up against Jason Furman, former chairman of the Council of Economic... MORE

Question for Scott

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Question inspired by Scott Sumner's latest post: Why not just let the inflation target rise to 3% to provide wiggle room for conventional monetary policy during future recessions?Update: Read Scott's answer!... MORE

Please, don't experiment with monetary policy

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I am seeing an increasing number of pundits calling for policymakers to experiment with the economy. The basic idea seems to be to have (demand-side) policy run hot; to see just how much growth potential is out there. This was... MORE

The Tragedy of Modern Academia

Incentives
David Henderson
Alternate title: Don Boudreaux explains my motivation in two paragraphs. Academic journals are the place to hash out new ideas, to note exceptions to established ideas, and to see how well or how poorly different ideas explain different slices of... MORE

Beach Critiques The Case Against Education

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Here are some detailed critical comments on my new book from Josh Beach, published with his permission. Dr. Caplan, I recently finished your new book.  It is a very important and timely book.  I found your arguments very clear, well... MORE

Why are non-whites so libertarian?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Scott Sumner
I hope the title of this post got your attention. If not, I hope the content will make you rethink some assumptions. Let's start with immigration: Are whites or non-whites more supportive of freedom to migrate? I could not find... MORE

Perspective on Yellen

Monetary Policy
David Henderson
Donna Borak of CNN Money interviewed me early in February for her piece on outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.The piece is "Yellen's historic legacy: Wise caution and a successful recovery," CNN Money, February 3, 2018. Here's the one sentence... MORE

Why Bryan Caplan Won His Gasoline Bet

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
For some reason, I didn't know about co-blogger Bryan Caplan's bet about gasoline prices with Tyler Cowen, but if I had, I would have taken his side of the bet. Here's why. Notice Tyler's argument, in Bryan's words: Why was... MORE

The Case Against Education: The EconTalk Podcast

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts' EconTalk episode on my new book is out.  In a world that prized substance as well as style, Russ would be the household name.  For me, the highlight was trying to convince Russ of the great value of... MORE

Searching for the Individual

Contributing Guest
by Pierre Lemieux North Koreans are oppressed and destitute. They have not known the Enlightenment, much less sung its virtues. So it is not surprising that a delegation from their government would look anything but individualistic. During the Winter Olympics... MORE

I Win My Long-Run Gas Price Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In July of 2008, the average U.S. price of regular gasoline was $4.062.  As usual, global hysteria followed.  And as usual, I was unperturbed.  So unperturbed, in fact, that I made the following bet with Tyler Cowen and David Balan:I... MORE

Caligula's Wish

Liberty
David Henderson
It was the spring of 1960, and a group of military officers had just seized control of the government and the national media, imposing an information blackout to suppress the coordination of any threats to their coup. But inconveniently... MORE

NYU Interview + AEI Debate

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Calvin Tran interviewed me at NYU.  Great fun, including the totally off-topic "Overrated/Underrated" segment.  See for yourself!This week, I'm debating the great Eric Hanushek at AEI.  Hope to see you there!... MORE

In order to do this post properly, I'd need a huge collection of every edition of various economics textbooks. Because I don't have that sort of collection, I'll rely on second hand sources and hope for the best. Please correct... MORE

Economics Everywhere Even in Sports

sports economics
David Henderson
Early February in even years not divisible by 4 is one of my favorite times. First, the AT&T golf tournament is here and, although I'm not a big fan of golf (cue Mark Twain), I get to see gorgeous... MORE

Me in the Los Angeles Times

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When I was in high school, I wrote quite a few letters to my local newspapers.  The Daily News published a few, but I don't think I ever cracked the Los Angles Times.  Until yesterday.  Highlight from my piece in... MORE

The Tea Party is Dead

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
"It has finally happened: The Tea Party is dead." So writes Matt Kibbe, one of the original organizers of the Tea Party, in "The Tea Party Is Officially Dead. It Was Killed By Partisan Politics." Reason, February 11. Matt... MORE

Don't use monetary policy to boost wages

Labor Market
Scott Sumner
I recently received notification of a new Brookings conference on wages: On February 28, The Hamilton Project at Brookings will host a forum to explore the most effective policy options to revitalize wage growth, including: the potential for boosting wage... MORE

We're Number 17

Liberty
David Henderson
Last year the Cato Institute, along with the Fraser Institute and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, published the Human Freedom Index 2017. In it, the authors, Ian Vasquez and Tanja Porcnki, assign scores to... MORE

Early studies of the impact of second hand smoke often found a statistically significant impact on heart attack rates. Or perhaps I should say, "Early published studies"; I have no idea what early unpublished studies found. When faced with this... MORE

Oxfam or Oxgov?

Income Distribution
David Henderson
There are two ways to close the gap [between rich and poor]. The first is to concentrate on making the poor better off. Mostly that has happened, thanks to liberalized international trade and reduced costs for shipping goods. Just as... MORE

A Safe Harbor on the Dark Side of Democracy

Regulation
Contributing Guest
by Pierre Lemieux Manufacturers or dealers often try to be on the safe side by being more nanny than the Nanny State. According to the Wall Street Journal of January 24, a California court will soon decide whether the likes... MORE

RIP Nick Phillipson

Obituaries
Alberto Mingardi
I was very sad to learn that Nicholas Phillips has passed away. Philipson was a magnificent historian of the so-called Scottish Enlightenment. He wrote a brilliant book on David Hume (The Philosopher as Historian) and a masterpiece biography of Adam... MORE

Richer than Rockefeller?

Finance
David Henderson
I gave a talk late yesterday afternoon at the branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute operated by California State University, Monterey Bay. Thanks to Michele Crompton and her very competent aide, Leslie. The topic was Economic Inequality: Popular... MORE

Charlie Brown and the GOP

Fiscal Policy
Scott Sumner
When growing up, I was frequently told that the GOP was the "small government" party. Back in the early 2000s, the GOP finally gained simultaneous hold of the Presidency, the House and the Senate, for the first time in my... MORE

Benzarti estimates the perceived compliance costs to tax filers by computing whether there were "too few" taxpayers with itemized deductions slightly greater than the standard deduction threshold. Taxpayers who might save a few dollars by itemizing might decide that... MORE

An Awkward College Question

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose higher education had zero effect on students' careers or income.  How many people would still choose to go?... MORE

Beckworth interviews Neel Kashkari

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
David Beckworth's excellent Mercatus podcast series has come out with an interview of Neel Kashkari, who is President of the Minneapolis Fed. (The same interview includes an extensive discussion with vice president Ron Feldman as well, something I'll cover in... MORE

The growth of the "gig" economy generates worker flexibility that, some have speculated, will favor women. We explore one facet of the gig economy by examining labor supply choices and earnings among more than a million rideshare drivers on... MORE

Learning Transfer in Athletics

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Intriguing email from EconLog reader Jason Braswell, reprinted with his permission. Hi there. I'm a long-time reader of your blog who is currently reading your latest book. After reading your first section on the failure of cognitive skills to transfer,... MORE

Me at NYU

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'm speaking at NYU Thursday at 5 PM.  Hope to see you there.P.S. There's still time to buy The Case Against Education in time for me to sign it there!... MORE

Henderson on BBC Newsday

David Henderson
I will be on BBC Newsday tonight at 10:06 PST live. That's 6:06 a.m. tomorrow London time. Topic: Drop in stock prices.... MORE

Southern Blacks Voted With Their Feet

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
Millions of black people in the Jim Crow South were prevented from voting. That's the bad news. Fortunately, there's some good news. They were able to vote with their feet and millions of them did. In doing so, they... MORE

David Balan Reviews The Case Against Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Few people helped me more on my new book than economist David Balan.  Comments aside, he spent a whole day listening to me explain my spreadsheets.  That's what I call dedication.  But despite his generosity, his assessment of the project... MORE

The National Review on Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Scott Sumner
Dennis Prager of the National Review has a new piece entitled: Three Reasons the Left Wants Ever More Immigrants While the post is written as an explanation for why the left holds specific views on immigration, the post ends up... MORE

An Immigration Puzzle Solved

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
Of immigration and partial derivatives. To the surprise of some, the Republican Congress largely supports Trump's restrictionist approach to immigration. Apparently Republicans are favoring their nativist base over their traditional allies in business. Why? The Republican Party has long been... MORE

Liberty in David Hume: A Controversy

Economic History
Contributing Guest
by Daniel B. Klein Hume provides no concise definition of liberty. Meanings must be inferred from his usage. Nicholas Capaldi led a lively exchange at Liberty Matters on the place of liberty in David Hume, with Andrew Sabl, Chandran Kukathas,... MORE

Could Driverless Trucks Create More Trucking Jobs?

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
Answer: Maybe and even if they don't, it doesn't matter much. Timothy Taylor, aka The Conversable Economist, has an excellent post in which he reports on another study about whether driverless trucks could create more trucking jobs. I'll quote... MORE

Good News on the Economy

Regulation
David Henderson
The job numbers are out today and they show that 200,000 jobs were added in January. That's good. Even better is that 164,000 of those jobs--over 80%-- were on private nonfarm payrolls. Iain Murray at Competitive Enterprise Institute celebrates the... MORE

Monetary policy: The view from the markets

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Here's Bloomberg: "We are in a pretty good place right now economically, but we've got a monetary policy that still seems like it is in the remnants of a Depression era,'' Jes Staley, the chief executive officer of Barclays Plc,... MORE

I Win My Recession Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago, I made the following bet with a brave young economic pessimist, Jackson Taylor:$200 on whether or not America will have a recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth, in the next two years.... MORE

Government Innumeracy

Regulation
David Henderson
This week we've seen a striking example of government innumeracy that has a good chance of badly affecting government policy. The Food and Drug Administration wants manufacturers to package their medications in smaller quantities, such as eight tablets per package.... MORE

Reflections on Carey at Cato

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday's book event at Cato was great fun.  Though I had a chance to respond to Carey in person, here's a more complete version of my reaction to his critique.1. I'm puzzled by Carey's claim that colleges are exercising... MORE

A few weeks back I did a couple posts (here and here) on Friedman's highly influential AEA Presidential address, which was delivered 50 years ago. Today, I'll make a few more observations. This is from the very first page: In... MORE

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