EconLog small logo

Bryan Caplan: October 2008

An Author Archive by Month (46 entries)

Left versus Right: What's the Big Deal?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Call me crazy, but I think that McCain and Obama are basically the same.  You might like to persuade me otherwise, but you've got to understand where I'm coming from.  First, when I classify people's politics, I think in terms... MORE

If This is Polite Society, What is Rude Society Like?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong sounds like he advocates ostracizing Douglas Holtz-Eakin for (a) working for McCain and (b) calling Obama a "redistributionist."  At least that's how I read Brad's approving quotation of an unnamed source saying:Someone needs to tell Holtz-Eakin he can't... MORE

Channel Charles Murray

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
No one in the Cato Unbound exchange on Charles Murray's education book responded to my closing questions.  I asked Murray:In your view, why precisely does the market financially reward students for taking lots of classes that at best seem distantly... MORE

Stossel Parody

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The parody of John Stossel "Should Some People Not Vote?" has five times the Youtube count as the original.  Why am I not surprised?P.S. I wish I was as persuasive as the guy who's supposed to be me...... MORE

Corrupt Bargains

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A standard complaint about libertarians is that they want to commodify the sacred.  I've often heard, for example, that selling organs is just plain wrong.  Money has no place here (unless "here" is Iran); the only legitimate motive for an... MORE

Are We in a Liquidity Trap After All?

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I argued that we're not in a liquidity trap.  But then Greg Mankiw pointed out that the two series on his webpage had different endpoints, leaving the matter again in doubt.  Now Jeff Hummel says that excess... MORE

Where Is the Political Flynn Effect?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
According to IQ tests, we're getting smarter.  But when I was reading Warren Harding's "Return to Normalcy" speech, it seemed way over the heads of a modern audience.  The anomaly inspired me to plug Harding's words into an online grade... MORE

Government Conspiracy to Silence Mankiw

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw calculates that McCain's tax plan slashes his return to work by 83%.  Obama's plan slashes his return to work by 93%.  Doesn't anyone in politics want Greg to keep working?  The funny thing about his post is that it... MORE

Precogs at the Onion

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
No joke - The Onion really did run this story for Bush's first inauguration:Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address... MORE

Whatever Happened to Gridlock?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Until recently, the nice thing about American democracy was that it was hard for policy to rapidly get worse.  What happened?  Robin Hanson points to the amazing epidemic of deference to doom-saying economists.  Is that the real story?  If it... MORE

Recession During the Cold War: What Was It Like? What's Wrong With Us Now?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Unemployment is 6.1%, and we're running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  It makes me wonder: What were recessions like during the Cold War?  Back in those bad old days, the Worst Case Scenario was truly grim.  With... MORE

We're Not in a Liquidity Trap

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw shows two diagrams that many will misinterpret as evidence that we're in a Keynesian liquidity trap.  What's a liquidity trap?  Roughly speaking, it's a situation where monetary policy has no effect on aggregate demand because interest rates are too... MORE

Tabarrok Truth-Tracker

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has often said that his co-blogger Alex Tabarrok is the best truth-tracker in our lunch posse.  Alas, Tyler fails to take his own assessment seriously.  See their exchange on the myths of the credit "crisis":Phase 1. Alex summarizes the... MORE

The Underground Economist

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
No, not The Undercover Economist.  The Underground Economist.  That's the theme of a new symposium that Dan Klein, intellectual entrepreneur extraordinaire, is soliciting for Econ Journal Watch:Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella Notes from Underground (1864) is a classic of introspection and confession.... MORE

EconLog Welcomes Guest Blogger David Henderson

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I first encountered the mind of David Henderson when I was 18 years old, and read his introduction to a Cato reprint of Yale Brozen's "Is Government the Source of Monopoly."  I liked Brozen's essay, but it was Henderson's intro... MORE

Economic Crisis: Lessons from 1932

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of... MORE

Department of "What?"

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's an eyebrow-furrowing 1-star review of an anti-Obama book I haven't read.  I guess the reviewer is serious, but you tell me:There will always be skeptics and nonbelievers. In "The Obama Nation," Dr. Corsi makes clear he is no believer... MORE

Is Obama the Next FDR?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've previously said that I'll count myself lucky as long as Obama doesn't turn out to be the next FDR.  Now the affable Paul Rubin's arguing that my luck won't hold:Barack Obama is one of the most liberal members of... MORE

How to Scare a Kid

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
What's the best way to scare a kid?  You wouldn't just put on an ugly mask and chase him.  He might think it was a big joke and start laughing.  To be confident of a successful scare, you'd lay some... MORE

Why Don't the Chinese Learn from Singapore?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I can vaguely understand why Western democracies won't deign to emulate Singapore's miraculously cheap and effective health care system.  But when the Chinese ignore Singapore and copy Western socialized medicine, I can only roll my eyes in disgust:China has unveiled... MORE

Taxation Under Tiebout

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
The economist Charles Tiebout is famous for analogizing local government to perfectly competitive firms.  His model inspired this question on my last public finance midterm: If the Tiebout model were correct, how would you expect local governments to raise revenue? ... MORE

Why Are Bartenders So Rude?

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
This past year I've often found myself in the company of avid barhoppers.  Since I don't drink, it's no surprise that I don't appreciate the experience.  But I'm surprised by how truly awful the experience is - why pay good... MORE

Becker on the Pundits that Cried "Wolf!"

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Why did so many people ignore so many warnings of impending economic crisis?  Gary Becker's got a nice story: We're usually right to ignore such warnings:While Roubini and others who warned about weaknesses in the mortgage market and other parts... MORE

Sub-Prime Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Cato Unbound, I praise Murray for highlighting the fact that many "investments" in education end in foreclosure - also known as "dropping out":[L]abor economists normally estimate the return to completed education.  It only takes a small drop-out rate... MORE

Gasoline Delivery: Inside the Black Box

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I had two lucky breaks at the gas station.  First, they cut the price while I pulling up to the pump.  Second, a delivery man was refilling the station's tanks, which gave me a chance to ask him some... MORE

Murray and Me

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Cato Unbound, Murray seems to be missing how much I agree with him:I guess I'm asking my colleagues to step back from a system that worked for them and consider the large majority of young people who are... MORE

Klein Answers the Davos Question

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The Davis Question asks: What one thing do you think that countries, companies, or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?Dan Klein vlogs his answer: Deregulate the drug approval process.My answer, of course, would be... MORE

Howard Stern Gets Hansonian

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson tells us that politics isn't about policy. I think he exaggerates, but in the interest of fair disclosure, here's an amusing Howard Stern clip to back Robin up.HT: Mark Steckbeck... MORE

Paul's Nobel: Nicht Ein Unrecht

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Gordon Tullock is always my first choice for the Nobel prize, but Paul Krugman's win is, as the Germans say, nicht ein Unrecht - not an injustice. Yes, he's often screamed himself silly, but the best fifth of Krugman's corpus... MORE

Panic Puzzle

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last week was the most plausible example of a psychologically-driven financial panic that I've ever lived through. I have to think that most of the people who sold did so because they were scared by falling prices. Falling prices, in... MORE

Scratch Beginnings and the Philosophy of Immigration

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Scratch Beginnings is a chronicle of recent college grad Adam Shephard's fascinating self-experiment:I am going to start almost literally from scratch with one 8' by 10' tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag, $25, and the clothes on my... MORE

Chuck's Great Question

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's a great question from Chuck in the comments:Do you have a reply to those who might say that the rationality of voters is largely irrelevant since election outcomes can be predicted by macro factors like income and GDP growth?Yes,... MORE

Stossel and Me

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My 20/20 segment - or at least part of it - is already up on Youtube.  The title: "Should Some People Not Vote."  It would have been nice to get more airtime, but it's an honor just meeting Stossel and... MORE

Why Charles Murray Should Take Signaling Seriously

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I critique Charles Murray's work on education at the latest Cato Unbound.  My thesis: Murray is great on the facts, but muddled on theory.  He's one of the few scholars to notice the flimsiness of the connection between higher education... MORE

I've often catalogued the errors of my dear friend Tyler Cowen. (See here, here, here, and here for starters).  But I can't stand to see him attacked unfairly.  The unfairest of the unfair: The strangely common charge that Tyler is... MORE

Bet Update

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
It looks like I have two takers in the comments: Michael K and Steve Roth.  To seal the deal, I just need you guys to email me and give me enough info so I can identify you "in real life"... MORE

See Blindness

Bryan Caplan
It's been years since I saw a movie like Blindness.  I spent the last half hour savoring that rare thought: "I have no idea what's going to happen next."  The premise: A plague of infectious blindness erupts, and turns the... MORE

Frankly Fundamentalist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
One good thing to come out of the bailout: Barney Frank gave me another nice example of what I call "democratic fundamentalism."  If you don't want politics in this process, you probably shouldn't be handing it over to 535 politicians.... MORE

The Bailout Will Lose Money, and I'm Ready to Bet On It

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
I'm locked and loaded to bet on the bailout.  My muse is none another than H.R. 1424, section 134:SEC. 134. RECOUPMENT.Upon the expiration of the 5-year period beginning upon the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of... MORE

From Mark Steyn's America Alone:As for the allegedly inevitable superpower of the coming century, if China ever does achieve that status, it will be because the People's Republic learned more from British Hong Kong than Hong Kong ever did from... MORE

What Samuelson Said About Inflation in the 70s

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
New Keynesian economics has been around for so long that it's hard to remember what Old Keynesian economics was like.  Here are two quotes (via Garett Jones via Robert Hetzel) from Samuelson to remind us of the days when... MORE

In a forthcoming issue of Critical Review, several of my critics basically say, "Make up your mind, Bryan.  Are voters ignorant, or are they dogmatic?"  My response: "Both."  It may seem strange, but it doesn't take a lot of knowledge... MORE

That rhetorical question is the title of my new piece in the Economists' Voice.  My favorite part:Once researchers accept the fact that noneconomists tend to see international trade as azero-sum game, though, the democratic longevity of protectionism becomes easy to... MORE

A new op-ed by John Lott finds that elite economists join the general public in opposing the Paulson bailout:Interviews conducted with a dozen prominent academic economists, Obama supporters as well as McCain supporters, found little support for the bailout bill.... MORE

Here's another section that didn't make it into the final draft of my book:Mutual cancellation of errors does happen on occasion. Beliefs about inflation are my favorite example. Most economists who tally the costs of inflation conclude that - at... MORE

What the Bail-Out Crowded Out

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Amidst all the chaos, I forgot to remind readers about the premiere of season 3 of the incomparable Dexter. (Here are all my previous posts on the show). If you like drama infused with philosophy, psychology, and (of course) economics,... MORE

Return to top