Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: March 2009

An Author Archive by Month (40 entries)
SummaryIn this six-page chapter, Rothbard makes a sweeping economic case against "government in business."  He begins by noting the power of status quo bias:People tend to fall into habits and into unquestioned ruts, especially in the field of government. On... MORE

My favorite section in Ellen Galinsky's Ask the Children has children separately grade (A, B, C, D, or F) their moms and dads in twelve areas:1. Being there for me when I am sick?2. Raising me with good values?3. Making... MORE

Behavioral Genetics and the Single Economist

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In The Limits of Family Influence, David Rowe summarizes some evidence on spousal resemblance:[H]igh spousal correlation coefficients did not appear to be the result of social influence in the marriage; people who had been married a long time were not... MORE

Here's the conclusion of Daniel Akst's Wall St. Journal review of Parentonomics: It's a pity that Mr. Gans misses the chance to cover the most interesting question an economist might address in the parenting arena: Why he decided to have... MORE

Sacerdote Replies

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Bruce Sacerdote has graciously agreed to let me post this reply to my last post.  Here's Bruce:Dear Bryan, thanks for the heads up! I am perfectly happy with your description. I would make two key points. First, my effects are... MORE

Adjective-Coefficient Disconnect in Sacerdote

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm now writing chapter 3 of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, entitled "Que SerĂ¡, SerĂ¡: The Case for Guilt-Free Parenting."  It's basically a parents' eye guide to behavioral genetics.  As a result, I'm now reading and/or re-reading a bunch... MORE

SummaryIn 1973, when the first edition of For a New Liberty was published, Keynesians were still sitting pretty.  Five years later, the Keynesians had so much egg on their faces that Rothbard was inspired to add this entirely new chapter... MORE

Tonight I'm going to see Mikhail Gorbachev, last dictator of the Soviet Union.  I've heard he's really boring.  I plan to leave early.  Even so, I'm happy to pay $20 to see the most influential man of the second half... MORE

Despite the lack of a consensus in the comments on the right answer to my micro midterm question, I maintain that there's just one right answer.  The key point - and the reason I emphasized the words virtually and before... MORE

Question from My Last Ph.D. Micro Midterm

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Here's my favorite question from my 2009 Ph.D. Micro midterm: People occasionally argue that Western consumers are virtually "satiated" - before long, they will have everything they want.  Assume this claim is correct, and that labor productivity continues to improve. ... MORE

You Will Know the Disgrace

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Battlestar Galactica spoilers!]The series finale of Battlestar Galactica was a disgrace.  Contrary to the propaganda, we still don't "Know the truth," but I'm now confident that the writers didn't actually construct any truth for us to know.  All fanboy... MORE

What A Sensible Keynesian Would Say

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not sure if James Hamilton would call himself a "Keynesian," but this is exactly what sensible Keynesians should say:I emphasize that I am decidedly not suggesting that either fiscal or monetary policy stimulus are capable of solving all of... MORE

Wisest Sentence of the Day

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From Megan McArdle:Life is rather too short to spend it getting angry at remote strangers.To which I'd add: It's also too short to spend it getting angry at petty slights, not-so-remote strangers, friends, family...You might say, "Unfortunately, it's impossible not... MORE

Free Trade Petition

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
My old friend and mentor Tom Palmer urged me to sign this petition in defense of free trade with these words: "It is super important -- to me, but I think to everyone else, too."  The highlight of the petition:But... MORE

Since You Asked

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In his defense of non-betting, Tyler has said this:How would you feel about an obligation (if only a moral one) for scholars and commentators to publicly reveal the content of their investment portfolios?  Those portfolios are their real bets.  Yet... MORE

SummaryThis chapter, on "Welfare and the Welfare State," argues that the welfare state gives the poor perverse incentives.  A superficial reader might say, "However original this was in 1973 when it was first written, it's now old hat.  Clinton made... MORE

Indirect Effects of the Laissez-Faire Family?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Steve Sailer posted an interesting comment on my critique of Love and Economics: Sure, but you're missing the point about how laissez-faire families affect the genes that children wind up with. Identical twin Jane marries a boring guy with a... MORE

Love and Economics: A Guide from the Perplexed

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Jennifer Roback Morse was almost my colleague - she left the Public Choice Center in 1996, a year before GMU hired me.  She's a libertarian economist, a blogger, and passionate about the economics of the family.  I've only met her... MORE

What Does the Betting Norm Tax?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Tyler writes:Bryan Caplan believes that scholars should be ashamed if they do not publicly bet their views.  In contrast I fear this requirement would become a tax upon ideas.My knee-jerk reaction is to say, "Yes, a tax upon false ideas." ... MORE

Stossel Clip

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Alas, none of my words made the final Stossel clip on the bailout, but my colleague Pete Leeson and GMU alumna Lydia Ortega get good lines in.  Next time, maybe I'll get a haircut and see if that helps. :-)P.S.... MORE

The Mankiw-Krugman Non-Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Here's news I can use: Krugman talked smack about Mankiw, Mankiw politely proposed a bet, and Krugman ignored his offer.  Which reminds me - I'm still waiting for Andy Kessler to accept my bet on the bailout.I have a dream... MORE

Don't Miss the Next Stossel

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
The next John Stossel ("Bailouts, Big Spending, and Bull," Friday at 10 on 20/20) is going to be a tour de force.  Not only will you get to see me with big hair and big beard, you'll also learn about... MORE

Changeling, Feminism, and Szasz

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Changeling is another counter-example to my rule that true stories make bad movies. (spoilers ahead)  It's a long, sad tale: A child gets abducted, the police say they've found him, the mother says "That's not my son!," the police say... MORE

EconLog Book Club Resumes Next Week

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
Since it's spring break, I figure we'll take a week off from the EconLog book club.  Next week: Rothbard on the welfare state.... MORE

Change I Believe In

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Writing in the Washington Times, my former student Ben Powell advocates change I can believe in: America's move to act swiftly and boldly misses the point. Bank bailouts and fiscal stimulus bills don't work because they strive to maintain the... MORE

Democracy in Middle Earth

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Eric Crampton was there with me on opening night for The Fellowship of the Ring.  Now this former EconLog guest blogger is a professor in Middle Earth, a.k.a. New Zealand.  And he's finally started his own blog, Offsetting Behavior, to... MORE

Is Greed in the Genes?

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
Behavioral geneticists will tell you that intelligence and personality are highly heritable.  But at least for economists, intelligence and personality are mainly interesting insofar as they predict that variable that "really" counts - income.  How heritable is that?Quite.  This 2002... MORE

Watchmen Non-Spoiler

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I give the Watchmen movie 3.5/4 stars.  This isn't because I'm a big fan of comic book movies.  Indeed, I greatly prefer Rachel Getting Married to the supposedly excellent Spiderman 2.The deal-breaker, for me, is a simple question: "What exactly... MORE

Two Mea Culpas

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
If there's one thing I've learned from Tetlock, it's that you should openly admit your errors and update your beliefs in response to evidence.  So let me now share two mea culpas with you.1. Last September, I wrote:If the bail-out... MORE

Quality Comment

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Chris Auld just posted an excellent comment on Brad DeLong's blog.  Brad showed his readers a few graphs on the income-voting connection.  Chris went to the original data:Basically, the poor were more likely to vote for Obama, but once household... MORE

Ayn Rand Villains Walk the Earth!

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Last night I was part of a John Stossel panel of bailout/stimulus critics.  It's supposed to air a week from Friday; you'll definitely see my face, but whether you'll hear my voice is up to the editor.During the session, I... MORE

The Art of Equanimity

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Alan Moore notoriously refuses to watch the film adaptations of his graphic novels.  His main rationale:If a thing works well in one medium, in the medium that it has been designed to work in, then the only possible point for... MORE

The Monetary Mechanism

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold continues to surprise me. In reply to Scott Sumner, my co-blogger asks: "[I]f you suddenly found yourself with twice as much cash in your wallet, would you double your spending?"This is a good question, but it has a standard... MORE

SummaryIn this chapter, Rothbard makes the case for the abolition of public schooling.  While he somewhat surprisingly views Friedman's voucher system as "a great improvement over the present system in permitting a wider range of parental choice and enabling the... MORE

Jim Rogers: What He's Saying, Where He's Gone

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Jim Rogers, investment biker and co-founder with Soros of the Quantum Fund, says we should let AIG fail:"Suppose AIG goes bankrupt, it is better that AIG goes bankrupt and we have a horrible two or three years than that the... MORE

Vertical LM is Not Vertical AS

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:I think it really is possible to have fluctuations in employment. Bryan's thinking applies in a frictionless economy that is always at full employment, but I don't think it applies in reality.Frankly, this is a straw man.  I believe... MORE

Is U.S. Defamation Law Going Singaporean?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Law prof legend Richard Epstein just escaped a ridiculous defamation suit.  His offense was writing the following blurb for the back cover of Bulldozed: "Kelo," Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land:Like a Greek tragedy unfolding, Carla Main's book... MORE

Why People Hate the Octomom

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I assumed it was mostly anti-population Greens, but on closer examination the main haters seem to be fiscal conservatives.  But if she gets her own reality show and makes millions, will they withdraw their complaints?  Critics might respond that Octomom... MORE

Fiscal Futility: Helping Brad Understand

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong pleads perplexity:I simply do not understand their arguments that government spending cannot boost the economy. As far as I can tell, they are simply burying their heads in the sand.At the start of 1996, the US unemployment rate... MORE

Department of Double Standards

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
All ideology aside: If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that "Events decisively prove that... MORE

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