Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: November 2008

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Becker Embraces Unhappiness Research

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I don't know Gary Becker's stand on happiness research, but he clearly thinks that his fellow economists overlook the importance of unhappiness:Economists have underplayed the cost to individuals of mild to severe recessions in part because they have neglected the... MORE

An Ode to Speakers Corner (mocking the regulation of their public speakers' forum), Ode to Romancing Singapore (mocking the government's natalist campaign), and this cartoon mocking the government's use of security cameras:I've seen lots of political satire on professors' doors... MORE

Democracy in Singapore: How Is One-Party Rule Possible?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Americans often describe Singapore as a "dictatorship."  I've occasionally done so myself.  After further study, though, I've concluded that this view is simply wrong.  Singapore is a democracy in practice as well as theory.  Yes, the ruling People's Action Party... MORE

Singapore Gives Thanks

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Here's my favorite plaque in all of Singapore, displayed on the Dalhousie Obelisk:Which reminds me: If you're sharing today's meal with a protectionist, remember that the best side dish for a turkey dinner is an oversized helping of economic education. ... MORE

Roderick Long and the Tiny Gnomes from Neptune

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
When I was flying to Singapore I kept thinking about Roderick Long's Cato Unbound piece on "Corporations versus the Market."  Now that I've returned, I see there's been a ridiculously lively followup discussion.  I'm sorry to have missed it, but... MORE

Here's a question that got a big laugh around a Singaporean lunch table: "So, do most people here support Electronic Road Pricing?"  Not on your life!  If you want to see how S'poreans really feel about ERP, check out this... MORE

Singapore: Where Do I Start?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
If you'll forgive the allusion, I tempted to open with "I've seen the future, and it works!"  But the quote is apt: If Asia stays on course for the next three decades, China will be a massive version of Singapore... MORE

From the Cutting Room Floor: The Rationality of Donors

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
And here's a scene about the rationality of charitable donors, inspired in part by Landsburg's "giving your all" theorem: d.  Charitable GivingBennett and DiLorenzo (1994) argue that due to donors' rational ignorance, the market for charitable giving works poorly.  But... MORE

From the Cutting Room Floor: The Rationality of Juries

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The earliest draft of "Rational Ignorance vs. Rational Irrationality," (2001. Kyklos 54, pp. 3-26) was unpublishably long.  Here's one of my favorite "deleted scenes": e.  JuriesAnglo-American rules of evidence [almost] explicitly assume that jurors are not rational.  Judges weigh information's... MORE

The Lorelai Paradox

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last night my wife and I finished the final episode of the final season of Gilmore Girls.  If you haven't heard of it, it's a dramedy about a free-spirited single mom, Lorelai, and her studious daughter, Rory.  Since they're only... MORE

Here's James Hamilton at his most dismissive:Some of my colleagues still talk of the possibility of a liquidity trap, in which the central bank supposedly has no power even to cause inflation. Their theory is that interest rates fall so... MORE

How Are Stocks Like Bonds?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
From John Cochrane:The standard portfolio rule says that your stock percentage should rise with the expected return (stocks and bonds) divided by squared return volatility. So, if you were happy with a 50/50 portfolio with an expected return of 7%... MORE

When Do You Disbelieve a "Change of Heart"?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When a Nazi announces that he's had a change of heart, I just don't believe him.  Take the infamous David Duke.  In his youth, he wore a swastika.  Now he has a book that's subtitled a "path to racial understanding." ... MORE

Hoover Blasts His Opponents

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
You've heard what Hoover said in his own defense on November 5, 1932.  What did he say about his opponents?  His lead-in:I would again call your attention to the fact that with the Democratic victory in congressional elections of 1930,... MORE

"The American Disease": View from 1989

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Here's a striking paragraph from 1989:It was in Singapore that I first heard of the "American Disease," a primary symptom of which is living beyond one's means. A significant dimension of this pathology often is a slowing of productivity gains.... MORE

Hoover Sings His Own Praises

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Murray Rothbard opened my eyes to the real story about Herbert Hoover, but his quotation splicing makes me wince.  In my next two posts, I'm going to dissect one of Hoover's last major speeches before the 1932 election - his... MORE

Mr. Caplan Goes to Singapore

Upcoming Events
Bryan Caplan
I leave for Singapore on Saturday.  I will be giving two public lectures there on Tuesday, 11/18:A seminar on The Myth of the Rational Voter at the Civil Service College from 9:30 to 11:30 AM.A lecture on Selfish Reasons to... MORE

What If I Were Dr. Doom?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Nouriel Roubini says the market will fall another 20-25%, and advocates a bailout for U.S. automakers.  In fact, while he recognizes a line-drawing problem, he seems to favor a bailout for any firm that involves "systemic" risk.I wonder: If I... MORE

Twilight of the Twilight of the Gods

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've been an opera fan for two decades, and I've never heard of macroeconomic events affecting the world of opera - until now.  The DC Opera is cancelling (or at least delaying) the American Ring:"Seven years ago, Washington National Opera... MORE

Why the Left Should Not Forgive the American Voter

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Paul Krugman says that the American people just ended 14 years of monster rule.  If he's right, though, what does that say about the rationality of the American people?  I don't see how those who agree with Krugman could draw... MORE

In Defense of Rationalist Clubs

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Inspired by Pascal Boyer's latest piece in Nature, Robin Hanson reminds us that he's a preacher's son:We feel a deep pleasure from realizing that we believe something in common with our friends, and different from most people.  We feel an... MORE

Reword This Question

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A few weeks ago, Larry Bartels presented a new paper here arguing that governments around the world spend less than their citizens want.  Most of his evidence comes from the international ISSP survey, which asks:Listed below are various areas of... MORE

Compensation for Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I've previously argued that if you're worried about the effect of immigration on the wages of low-skilled Americans, reducing immigration is overkill.  It is more efficient and humane to simply impose a surtax on immigrants, and use the revenue to... MORE

Probably even smarter - only physics, math, and c.s. have higher average GRE scores.  We even beat electrical engineers.  Sorry, dad, but facts are facts. :-)Nevertheless, the fact that economists are smart is much less important that the fact that... MORE

Hoover: The Myth of Free Trade

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
These days a lot of economists blame the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act for worsening the Great Depression.  Herbert Hoover considered this hypothesis back in 1932 - and angrily rejected it.Note: When Hoover says "our opponents set up the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill,"... MORE

Epicurus and Elections

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
If I let electoral results upset me, I would be miserable all the time.  No matter who wins, I lose, because I am light-years away from the views of virtually all electable politicians.Fortunately, I long ago achieved philosophical detachment.  I... MORE

The Pump, the Pension, and the Pain

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The financial crisis was a huge hit for practically everyone.  Even if you owned no stock - directly or indirectly - you're still on the hook for the bailout.  When the price of gas spiked, in contrast, the typical American... MORE

How McCain Could Have Won

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my RA, Brian Blase, made the smartest point about political strategy that I've heard all year.  In fact, if Blase were McCain's right-hand man instead of mine, the Republican candidate's probability of victory would be about 40% instead of... MORE

Watch Walter Block Defend Common Sense, Part 2

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
This is truly insightful:[I]t has long been my experience that whenever any person reasonably but not fully sophisticated in economics sees the findings of these studies [of economic freedom], he invariably objects on the ground that his own country is... MORE

Watch Walter Block Defend Common Sense

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
Seriously.  He shines in this response to Paul Craig Roberts on economic freedom indices.  Highlight:Then there is this entirely inept, misleading, and even insulting equation of the "American taxpayer's situation today with that a 19th century American slave."  Did you... MORE

Block and Me on FRB

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
A little while back I had another email exchange with the tireless Walter Block.  The subject: The moral legitimacy of fractional reserve banking.  With my permission, Block has posted an edited version of our entire dialogue.  The highlight: Block asks... MORE

I recently relayed one of Murray Rothbard's great Herbert Hoover quotes.  When I was tracking the quote down, though, I noticed something weird in Rothbard's work.  The online 5th edition of Rothbard's America's Great Depression (p.187) states: "To portray the... MORE

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