Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: January 2010

An Author Archive by Month (40 entries)

Name that Blip Redux

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tom Ault makes an interesting point in the comments:I'd just like to point out that some commenters are looking at a graph of total government spending (the sum of federal, state and local spending) and drawing correlations based on which... MORE

Name that Blip

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's last post inspired me to double-check the long-term trend of government spending relative to GDP.  Here's a nice graph courtesy of www.usgovernmentspending.com:Aside from the two World Wars, the growth was almost linear until the early Reagan years.  Then it... MORE

Rand vs. Evolutionary Psychology: Part 2

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
"I want you to observe, that those who cry the loudest about their disillusionment, about the failure of virtue, the futility of reason, the impotence of logic - are those who have achieved the full, exact, logical result of... MORE

Huemer Flourishes

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mike Huemer is excellent as usual at the Cato Unbound Rand symposium.  Here's his take on the Objectivists' "survival vs. flourishing debate":The important question, however, is not which view is Rand's, but which view is more likely true. On this,... MORE

The Ivory Tower: Do Non-Leftists Want In?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Gross and Fosse have a supply-driven theory of leftist domination of higher education:A pair of sociologists think they may have an answer: typecasting. Conjure up the classic image of a humanities or social sciences professor, the fields where the imbalance... MORE

Implausible Wimps: A Reply to Hara Marano

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not a big fan of Hara Marano's A Nation of Wimps.  While I agree that overparenting is silly, I recently complained that she "implausibly claim[s] that overparenting does long-term harm to children by infantilizing them."  Marano kindly responds in... MORE

Clemens on Haiti

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Here at GMU Econ, Michael Clemens is "the one that got away."  We tried to hire him a couple years ago, but couldn't get him to yes.  His latest piece in the Washington Post is yet another reason to wish... MORE

The "Zero-Probability Fallacy" Fallacy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids has 58 5-star reviews on Amazon - and only one 1-star review.  But Olga, the book's lone detractor, makes a striking argument: The real innumerates are not paranoid parents, but people like me and Skenazy who... MORE

Gender Imbalances and Growth Reconsidered

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Most people oppose polygamy out of intolerance, but many social scientists offer a deeper objection: Polygamy simulates the allegedly awful social effects of high male/female ratios.  Arnold's particularly worried:If it were not for monogamy, the competition among males for females... MORE

Obamacare Passes By 6/30/10: Should I Bet Against It?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Intrade price of Obamacare passing by June 30, 2010 is 36.0.  I'm sorely tempted to bet against it's passage, even after reading the fine print:This contract will settle (expire) at 100 ($10.00) if a healthcare reform bill is passed into... MORE

"Big Corporations Almost Never Lose Money"

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
That's an actual quote from Galbraith's New Industrial State.  And somehow the last two years are supposed to show that Friedman was out of touch with reality?  I'm speechless, but fortunately Amar Bhide gives me a rhetorical bail-out in F2P2:Arnold... MORE

I Loved Free-Range Kids

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
While writing Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, I've been reading a lot of popular parenting books.  I'm pleased to report that I finally found one that I love: Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids.  Most of the competition tries to be... MORE

How I Would Have Sold Obamacare

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts and Will Wilkinson are baffled by Krugman's understanding of how the U.S. government works.  I think Krugman might actually be right.  Yes, there is division of powers.  But leadership, rhetoric, agenda setting, and commitment all work to some... MORE

Krugman is Good Again

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Krugman's latest op-ed brings back fond memories of the thinker he used to be.  As David Henderson points out, Krugman plainly admits that insurance regulation makes the adverse selection problem worse: Suppose, for example, that Congress took the advice of... MORE

Huemer on Rand at Cato

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mike Huemer, my favorite philosopher in the world, is true to form in the Rand symposium at Cato Unbound.  Highlights:Rand is the most popular libertarian thinker because of her great novels, not her comprehensive philosophical system:Rand, I believe, is the... MORE

Pyramid Power

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
In the latest Cato Unbound, Rod Long attacks Ayn Rand's view that actually-existing capitalism is highly meritocratic:Rand describes a "pyramid of ability" operating within capitalism, wherein the dull masses are carried along by the intelligent and enterprising few. "The man... MORE

Simon vs. Ehrlich at a Funeral

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I recently attended my first funeral.  Even though I never met the deceased, I cried.  The only good thing to say about death is that it beats severe, chronic pain.  I didn't need a lot of details about her life... MORE

Murphy's Catch-Up Contradiction

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Bob Murphy thinks that my recent posts on Soviet and European growth "seem contradictory": Now I'm not saying Caplan was wrong about the Soviet Union, and I'm not saying this new guy is wrong about Europe. What I am saying... MORE

Pregnancy Substitutes and Economic Growth

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy (including the surrogate's fee, in vitro costs, medical expenses, brokers' fees, etc.) is $75,000+.  But you can save a bundle by going to India, the growing world capital of fertility... MORE

Ignorance, Incentives, and Meaning

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
In "Making Babies - the New Biology and the 'Old' Morality," Leon Kass writes:[T]he cloned individual's belief in the openness of his own future may be undermined, and with it, his freedom to be himself. Ignorance of what lies ahead... MORE

Alabama vs. the E.U.

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Super-Economy serves Krugman some fine economic ridicule:Alabama has the same per capita income and slightly faster growth rate as the Social Democratic EU.15, which Krugman wants us to believe is a "Dynamic" region that the US should "learn from". Has... MORE

Evil Shortage: Why the Evil Empire Fell

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Arnold says that the Soviet Union fell due to the "moral rot" of corruption.  As long as we define "corruption" broadly, as Arnold seems to do, I think he's dead wrong.  Soviet moral rot was worst in the Thirties, when... MORE

The Solow Model and Soviet Growth Optimism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong makes a determined effort to explain why Samuelson and his fellow textbook writers' optimism about Soviet growth was a reasonable extension of the Solow model.  My point-by-point critique:Economists who used PPP and production functions to predict that the... MORE

Pro-Soviet Neocons?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Yglesias has an interesting reaction to my post on pro-Soviet economists:If you look at the issue through an international relations lens, or through a focus on US domestic politics, you'll get a different picture. The main political tendency inclined... MORE

Yoram Bauman has responded to my review of his Cartoon Introduction to Economics in detail.  One of my main complaints:Klein and Bauman shouldn't have run away from self-interest in chapter 1.  Yes, I know that textbooks love to claim that... MORE

Rand vs. Evolutionary Psychology: Part 1

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
"I want you to observe, that those who cry the loudest about their disillusionment, about the failure of virtue, the futility of reason, the impotence of logic - are those who have achieved the full, exact, logical result of the... MORE

Moral Knowledge: A Question of Timing

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand writes:No philosopher has given a rational, objectively demonstrable, scientific answer to the question of why man needs a code of values.  So long as that question remained unanswered, no rational, scientific, objective code... MORE

I doubt that Arnold's Recalculation story is more than a smidge of the current world recession.  But I can certainly imagine shocks where he'd be dead on - and there are few shocks I enjoy imagining more than the triumph... MORE

The Origin of the Word "Relationship"

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
To my ears, the word "relationship" has long sounded like psycho-babble invented circa 1950.  It's hard to imagine anyone in the 19th-century discussing their "relationships."  Tonight I decided to finally investigate my hypothesis.  I was almost dead on: According to... MORE

False hope is not a free lunch.  I've said it before:I suspect that students with who believe in malleable intelligence are more likely to go to graduate school despite low test scores. They'll probably get better grades because of their... MORE

Dan's Great Question about Bernanke

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Dan asks a great question in the comments:Does anyone know if Bernanke has given a defense of his change in perspective? Has anyone even challenged him on the apparent contradiction between his actions as Fed chairman and his academic work?Anyone?... MORE

Scott Sumner asks:If there are any GMU professors reading this, I have a question.  Are academics allowed to present someone else's paper in a seminar (if we correctly identify the author?)I was inclined to say no, but Scott's post on an... MORE

The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Nice, but Short on Ridicule

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
There's a lot to like in Klein and Bauman's The Cartoon Introduction to Economics.  It's fun, it's funny, and it teaches a lot of economics.  But although I'm a huge fan of economics, comedy, and graphic novels, I can only... MORE

Human Sex Ratio Doesn't Run in Families

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have three children, all sons.  On a gut level, I feel like there's a systematic factor at work.  It must be my overpowering machismo, right?  But it looks like my gut is dead wrong.  At least in the NLSY,... MORE

A Really Obvious Way to Bend the Curve

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy usually exceeds $75,000.  Since insurance won't cover much if any of these expenses, most people who hire an American surrogate are fairly well-off.  Fortunately, there's a much cheaper option: Do... MORE

The Books I Wish My Colleagues Would Write

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My New Year's resolution for Robin Hanson got me thinking about the book projects I wish my other colleagues would pursue.  Digest version:1. Tyler Cowen should write that I call a "book of answers" with the working title Social Intelligence:... MORE

My New Year's Resolution for Robin Hanson

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I don't make New Year's resolutions.  If I think I ought to change my behavior, I do so without delay.  Fortunately, that doesn't stop me from making resolutions for other people.  Here's a resolution I just proposed for Robin Hanson:In... MORE

When I praised the growing division of maternal labor, the supposed reductio ad absurdum of baby selling came up.  My reply:I see nothing wrong with selling your baby - born or unborn - to loving parents.Until recently, though, I didn't... MORE

Sumner, the Stock Market, and Price Controls

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Sumner replies at length to my question, "Why did financial markets like Nixon's price controls so much?"  His easiest answer is that Nixon's infamous August 15 speech did a lot more than impose price controls.  It also devalued gold by... MORE

When Michael Barone inventoried the top scares of the decade, I kept thinking, "Is that all you've got?"  I'll grant that the Naughts were scarier than the Nineties; the 1991 collapse of the USSR was like waking up from a... MORE

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