Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: January 2008

An Author Archive by Month (39 entries)

Economic Communication Prize

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Are you a great but untenured communicator of economic ideas? If so, here's a contest you should seriously consider entering. Good luck!... MORE

Arnold on Atlas: Where's He Right, Where He's Wrong

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Arnold has just read my favorite novel. Here's my reaction to his reaction:What I like is the "in your face" defense of businessmen and the unremitting attack on the "looters" of government. Rand is uncanny in her depiction of government... MORE

Tax Cuts Under Price Controls

Price Controls
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I was explaining Singapore's clever approach to fiscal stimulus to Russ Roberts at lunch. During the explanation, I realized that I should probably back up and explain how tax cuts works in markets with price controls. But since I... MORE

Writers' Strike Brings Great Writing to Network TV

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A strange unintended consequence of the writers' strike: Dexter is coming to network TV! Given the shortage of programming, CBS worked out a deal with Showtime to air the controversial, beautifully written series. Of course there's going to be some... MORE

Two Graphs About Dependency

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
People who are freaking out about the rise in the dependency ratio will normally point to the fact that the ratio of retirees to the working-age population is going to sharply rise. The following graph, taken from Social Security Administration... MORE

The Real Dependency Ratio

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
Most economists will tell you that the real problem with Social Security is demography. (Here's William Poole). The fraction of people over 65 will keep rising, implying a growing dependency ratio. The problem is that this is only the ratio... MORE

Miscommunication with Megan

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Megan McArdle's not happy with my defense of men against the charge of shirking on housework. If I held the view she ascribes to me - "that the partner in a marriage who cares less about something should always win"... MORE

I Have Conditions

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
If you don't like telling people No, a convenient alternative is setting conditions you know other people won't accept. Then the impasse is their fault, you see. Take free trade, for example:...Democrats do not flat-out oppose lower barriers to trade,... MORE

The Fallacy of Time Diversification: Mea Culpa?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
How many times have I made this argument:"At your young age, you have enough time to recover from any dips in the market, so you can safely ignore bonds and go with an all stock retirement portfolio." This kind of... MORE

How Can Guys Be So Lazy Around the House?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The Economist blog shares one of its "favourite strategies for ramping down the gender war":Men don't need to do more housework and childcare to achieve equality. Women just need to do less. My dad used to change the oil in... MORE

Advertising: What Is Not Seen

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Here's a gem from the first article in Henderson's Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:The rise of the self-service store, for example, was aided by consumer knowledge of branded goods. Before the advent of advertising, customers relied on knowledgeable shopkeepers in selecting... MORE

Harford Book Forum at Marginal Revolution

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Today I kick off Marginal Revolution's Book Forum on Tim Harford's new The Logic of Life. It's a great book, well-written and full of interesting arguments. In later posts (either here or at MR) I'll challenge several of his arguments... MORE

Henderson Beats Wikipedia

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I just got my copy of David Henderson's Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I've loved this book since the first edition, and now that I'm a contributor, I love it all it the more! But seriously, this book is fun to... MORE

Statistics is Not Right-Wing, But It is Elitist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here's a thought-provoking passage from Ian Ayres' Super Crunchers:Like me, Ben Polak is passionate about the need to inculcate a basic understanding of statistics in the general public. "We have to get students to learn this stuff," he says. "We... MORE

Medical Innumeracy in Super Crunchers

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Ian Ayres' Super Crunchers is full of neat material. But my favorite parts highlight the innumeracy of the medical profession. Most vivid example:[M]y partner, Jennifer, and I were expecting for the first time - back in 1994. Back then, women... MORE

Last week, Alex Tabarrok (who is co-authoring a principles textbook with Tyler Cowen) asked me for good examples of non-monetary incentives. Perhaps the best response is: "Do what I want, and I'll be your friend." Depending upon who makes the... MORE

The Red Herring of Principal-Agent Problems

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tim Besley's Principled Agents? is supposed to get a full issue's worth of attention from The Review of Austrian Economics in the near future. Here's my review essay, and here's my favorite part (endnotes and references omitted):[P]olitical agency problems are... MORE

The Bad Old Days of 1994

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
If you're a nerd over 30, you'll probably laugh at this. If you're a younger nerd, you had to be there. If you're not a nerd, why are you reading econ blogs on a beautiful Friday afternoon? HT: Don Boudreaux... MORE

What a Difference a Month Makes

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's what Chris Hayes wrote about Ron Paul last month:But even if the Paul campaign doesn't point the way toward some lasting, powerful, paleo-cosmo libertarian coalition (and, really, let's hope it doesn't), he is at least providing libertarians with a... MORE

"Bloggers As Illegal Immigrants": What Does Borjas' Analogy Really Show?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I just came across a particularly bizarre Borjas post, entitled "Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants":It is not uncommon to see a Journalist (with a capital J) launch into a diatribe against bloggers and sometimes even call for regulations to stop "citizen... MORE

One Million Dollars!

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Remember the scene in the first Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil tries to hold the country hostage for one million dollars? That's how silly the presidential candidates' "economic stimulus packages" sound to me. And that's what I got to... MORE

Economists for Self-Improvement

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Is lack of self-control a problem in your life? Or just a convenient excuse? If it's the former, stickK.com is now happy to take your money to solve your problem - whether its losing weight, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, or... MORE

How Globalization Will Save Your Life

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
I second Arnold's recommendation of Alex's column in Forbes. But for me, the highlight is the way that he explains the link between population and economic growth, and the demand and supply of innovation. First, demand:The cost of developing drugs... MORE

An Amazing Map

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Check this out: The 50 U.S. states have been renamed for countries with similar GDPs. You'll learn as much about America as you will about the world.... MORE

North Korean Refugees and the Olympics

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I recently saw a bumper sticker that basically said that we should use the Beijing Olympics to shame the Chinese into releasing hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees. This seems like a worthy cause that even American opponents of... MORE

Randian Scene of the Year in There Will Be Blood

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just saw There Will Be Blood, and I can't stop thinking about it. The best scene is amazingly Randian for a movie based on an Upton Sinclair novel. Set-up: Daniel Plainview, the atheist oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis, needs... MORE

Singapore: The Deal-Breaker

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The world - including the U.S. - can learn a lot from Singapore. (See here and here). But would I want the U.S. to become Singapore - that is, to replace our current package of policies with theirs? No. The... MORE

Another Very Fair Review of My Book

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Scoff if you must, but I take great joy from most of the negative reviews of my book, especially the ones that analyze my psychology. They are often eerily perceptive. Here's a highlight from the latest one on Amazon: What... MORE

In The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford highly praised the health care policies of Singapore. But it wasn't until I read the section on health care in Ghesquiere's Singapore's Success that I realized how amazing the official numbers are. If the... MORE

As I've argued before, the best way to fight negative stereotypes is for people unfairly subject to the negative stereotype to use in-group peer pressure to raise the bar. In short: "Stop making me look bad!" Over at Agoraphilia, Glen... MORE

Singapore: "Automatic Stabilizers" Done Right

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Tax cuts are a popular cure for unemployment, but there are strong reasons to doubt that they are a good way to achieve this goal. As I explained a while back:Where does the money come from? If the central bank... MORE

Elasticity Bleg

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
What is a standard estimate for the wage-elasticity of labor demand? Anyone?... MORE

Twilight of My Liberal Idol

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I've been singing Krugman's praises for years. Anyone who could write The Accidental Theorist has a lot of credit in my bank. But his latest column on the failure of betting markets is so beneath him, it hurts to read:[P]rediction... MORE

Political Scapegoating: How Farmer-Voters Respond to Bad Weather

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Punishing politicians for bad weather seems like the height of illogic. But punishing politicians for responding poorly to bad weather makes perfect sense. The governor of Louisiana doesn't create hurricanes, but he can deal with a hurricane well or poorly.... MORE

Can Ron Paul Ensure a Democratic Victory? Will He?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ron Paul is highly unlikely to be the next president. But could he become the Republicans' Nader? Suppose after being knocked out of the primaries, Paul runs on the Libertarian Party ticket. He's got a big war chest, and enthusiastic... MORE

Pathological Individualism?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from LA, and Ron Paul's signature was everywhere. A random "Who is Ron Paul?" billboard. A mini-rally at the Palm Springs public market. A button on the collar of my flight attendant. I have to admit... MORE

An Iranian Communist Gets It Right in Persepolis

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Of course I'm going to like an animated movie based on an autobiographical graphic novel about the Iranian Revolution. But virtually every critic who's seen this movie agrees: Persepolis is excellent. Don't miss it. My favorite part is when the... MORE

Faces versus Policies

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold already quoted my favorite section from my Sunday editorial in the Washington Post, so let me quote my second favorite part:Pundits love telling us that voters are "fed up" with politics as usual. Candidates follow suit, insisting that --... MORE

A lot, but Tyler's written a very fine postcard version:The Austrian story is that "the government distorted price signals to the market." Are those two accounts really so different? Do we need metaphysics to resolve that question? Take the classic... MORE

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