Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Information Goods, Intellectual Property

A Category Archive (240 entries)

Prize Bleg

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Cafe Hayek blogger Don Boudreaux has reminded me about the 2014 Coolidge Prize for Journalism competition. So, like him, I am asking you a favor. Please suggest, in the comments, your favorite blog posts or other articles (or both) of... MORE

Endogenous Sexism Explained

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Several people in the comments got the point of my endogenous sexism scenario.  Namely: Friends pass a stricter selection filter than spouses of friends.  If you think poorly of someone, you won't be their friend.  But if you think poorly... MORE

Endogenous Sexism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Suppose men and women are equally praiseworthy in every way.  Both genders are equally honest, fair, peaceful, hard-working, fun-loving, and so on.  With one key exception, both genders share the same trait preferences: The average man places as much weight... MORE

Your Big Doubts About the 10,000 Hour Rule Are Well-Founded

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Romer's "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance" (Psychological Review 1993) isn't just one of the most famous articles in the history of academic psychology.  Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, the article's bullet... MORE

Do Credential Scandals Support the Signaling Model?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Every now and then, the world suddenly learns that a perfectly competent worker faked his credentials.  Consider the case of MIT's former head of admissions:Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... admitted that she had... MORE

Why Does High-Pressure Salesmanship Work?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Minor spoilers].Just finished The Wolf of Wall St.   Though based on a true story, the ugly facts are usually easy to minimize: Most investment firms aren't run by stoned sociopaths, and most investment firms' customers make money.  But one... MORE

Frank on Phony Credentials

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Thomas Frank's essay on phony credentials is engaging throughout.  Lead-in: Americans have figured out that universities exist in order to man the gates of social class, and we pay our princely tuition rates in order to obtain just one thing:... MORE

The Ghetto of Talent

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Charles Murray has recently come under attack for the position he staked out in Human Accomplishment on gender and achievement.  He's ably defended himself by pointing out what he actually wrote.  In the process, though, I remembered my favorite part... MORE

Liability, Disclaimers, and Adverse Selection

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Suppose the law says that parking garages are liable for whatever damages occur on the premises.  However, there's a big loophole: Garages can disclaim liability by posting a big "ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK" sign.  What happens?Non-economists usually conclude that... MORE

Bartender, Cashier, Cook, Janitor, Security Guard, Waiter

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The human capital and signaling stories can both explain the existence of malemployment.  But malemployment research still provides some of the most compelling evidence in favor of the signaling model.  The latest draft of my The Case Against Education explains... MORE

Trust, Diversity, Credit Cards, and E-Commerce

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Modern social scientists are in love with trust.  Economists, sociologists, and political scientists all eagerly explain that high-trust societies work, and low-trust societies don't.  Trust is so beloved that many leftist social scientists have started to sound like social conservatives. ... MORE

Reply to Professor Erik Brynjolfsson

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
In the comments section of my post yesterday on health insurance, "The Pre-Existing Elephant in the Room," Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, Chair of... MORE

Here's an excerpt from the latest draft of The Case Against Education. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 The link between practical skill and worldly success is subtler than either mainstream defenders or contrarian detractors of modern education imagine.  The skillful do a... MORE

Academic Freedom: For Professors Only?

Economics of Education
David Henderson
This past weekend, I was engaged in a fierce debate on Facebook about academic freedom. What led to the debate was was a video that has gone viral. The video is of William Penn, an English professor at Michigan State... MORE

We're Number 12! We're Number 12!

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
In its ratings of economics blogs, "Top 200 Influential Economics Blogs - Aug 2013," Onalytica Indexes ranks Econlog as 12th out of 200! Congratulations to my fellow Econ(b)loggers.... MORE

Dehiring: Win-Win-Lose

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Suppose your firm has a mediocre employee.  He's not ridiculous, but he's worth a lot less than you pay him.  What does your firm do?Econ professors' knee-jerk answer is, "Fire him."  But people with real jobs often notice a rather... MORE

Tyler's Breakdown

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Today Tyler has a lengthy reply to my Twitter challenge:Would you state your human capital/ability bias/signaling point estimates using my typology?Unfortunately, Tyler gets off track almost immediately:[Bryan] does not clearly define the denominator there: is it percentage of what you... MORE

The Roots of Signaling Denial

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The signaling model of education fits first-hand experience.  It fits the psychology of learning.  It explains otherwise very puzzling facts like the sheepskin effect.  There are few theories in economics harder to doubt.  But many economists continue to do so. ... MORE

The Silence of the Bets

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Last week's post on "Bets, Portfolios, and Belief Revelation" sparked a long list of responses: Tyler (here, here, plus a ton on Twitter), Alex, Robin, Eli Dourado, and more.  Adam Gurri kindly aggregates here.  The quick version of my view:... MORE

Defensive Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold Kling pointed me to Lester Therow's 1972 Public Interest piece on "Education and Economic Equality."  In Therow's lingo, the "wage competition view" roughly equals the human capital model and the "job competition view" roughly equals the signaling model.  It's... MORE

Bastards and Stereotype Accuracy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a firm believer in stereotype accuracy.  I just finished re-reading my favorite chapters from Lee, Jussim, and McCauley's excellent Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences.  The book was published in 1995; Jussim's recent summary brings us up to date. ... MORE

Krugman on "Unproductive Finance"

Finance
David Henderson
In the last couple of weeks, Paul Krugman's blog has been a target-rich environment. In the next few days, I'll have one or two more posts on recent Krugman posts, but one this morning caught me eye. I'll quote almost... MORE

BAAAA! Tremble Before the Mighty Sheepskin Effect

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you get another year of education, how big of a raise should you expect?  The answer, it turns out, heavily depends on the year.  Years that typically lead to a credential - especially years 12 and 16 - pay... MORE

Your Sort Is Prohibited: A Licensing Dialog

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When you shop online, vendors usually give you a bunch of different ways to sort your options.  Take Amazon:One popular sorting option - especially for customers with low income - is "Price: Low to High."  You've probably used it yourself... MORE

Greg Mankiw's Story

Economic Education
David Henderson
I don't remember what I said next. But I kept talking, and she was polite enough to keep responding. When the train pulled into the station, we boarded, and I sat next to her. We chatted for the next few... MORE

The Subprime Crisis: Why Asymmetric Information Didn't Save Us

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Foote, Gerardi, and Willen's subprime manifesto is theoretically enlightening as well as empirically edifying.  Unlike many economists, they understand asymmetric information on an unusually deep level.  Standard adverse selection models suggest that the market for iffy mortgage-backed securities would never... MORE

Like most people, Tyler Cowen thinks that rising high school graduation rates are good news:The nation's high school graduation rate has risen -- to 78 percent in 2010, the Education Department says in its most recent estimate. That's obviously still... MORE

Age and Common Sense

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
Jim Flynn's latest book has fascinating info on age and intelligence.  But Sternberg, Wagner, Williams, and Horvath, "Testing Common Sense" (American Psychologist, 1995) suggest that Flynn misses an important part of the story.  There's a widespread perception that "common sense"... MORE

Signaling Rules: Today Hollywood, Tomorrow the World

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My dear friend and colleague Tyler Cowen thinks the signaling model of education is, roughly speaking, empirically irrelevant.  He's repeatedly urged me to stop barking up what he sees as a very wrong tree.  I was pleasantly surprised, then, to... MORE

Economics and Fallibility

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When students first hear about the famous Akerlof's "lemons model," they almost invariably misinterpret it.  "Aha," they think, "this is why used car dealers get rich ripping off unsuspecting customers."  The true point, of course, is that asymmetric information makes... MORE

Pacifism in 4 Easy Steps

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 As I said, this morning's Students for Liberty debate was a double-header.  Here's my two minute opening statement for Topic #2: War.Pacifism in 4 Steps  1.      In the modern world, there are no... MORE

Your Big Break, If Any

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I got my big break in the summer of 1993 when I met Tyler Cowen.  I was a summer fellow at the Institute for Humane Studies, and he was our weekly speaker.  We had time to chat afterwards, and I... MORE

Russ on Progress and Signaling

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts replies to my recent post on progress and signaling:Bryan wants to argue that conformity ossifies our behavior, but the world around us is full of non-conformity that eventually becomes no big deal. The first few people who bought... MORE

What Will the Neighbors Say? How Signaling Ossifies Behavior

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you suddenly discover a far better way of doing X.  Your discovery uses fewer resources, yields higher quality, and even has more positive externalities than Ye Olde Standby.  There's just one catch: your discovery is a discovery.  By definition,... MORE

Zero Price, Today Only: *Copyright Unbalanced*

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Garett Jones
Today is the first anniversary of Wikipedia's SOPA Blackout: A 24-hour shutdown to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.  To commemorate the anniversary, the Mercatus Center is making Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive To Excess available free for today only.  Download... MORE

David Brooks's Conservative Future Out of a Job

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Garett Jones
Derek Khanna, the author of the important policy brief on the excesses of copyright law, has been fired by the Republican Study Committee. The brief, which the RSC pulled from their website, is here. From the Examiner: The staffer who wrote... MORE

The False Advertising of the CFTC

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is suing one of my favorite websites and my primary source of news: Intrade.  The CFTC accuses Intrade of:[O]ffering commodity option contracts to U.S. customers for trading, as well as soliciting, accepting, and... MORE

John Kay on Manufacturing Fetish

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW The rear cover of the iPhone tells you it is designed in California and assembled in China. The phone sells, in the absence of carrier subsidy, for about $700. Purchased components - clever pieces of design such as... MORE

Why Not a Free Market in Educational Loans?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose investments in education are every bit as fantastic as we're supposed to believe: Ability bias and signaling are myths, so the entire observed education premium is causal and socially valuable.  Even so, it's hard to see why government should... MORE

Welcome Back, McArdle

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Megan McArdle is back blogging regularly. I happened to come across this one: "America Really is Exceptional." It's very good. Some highlights: I actually don't think that the latter point is true; if you plucked an average American (mean, median,... MORE

A Free Market in Health Care

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Last Saturday, my wife and I got a glimpse of what a free market in health care might look like. We were driving from Monterey to Santa Barbara to stay in a rented house for the week. Along the way,... MORE

You Might Be Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} p\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} v\:textbox {display:none;} • Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy...If you bothered to enroll in school or pay tuition, you might be signaling.If you worry about failing the final exam,... MORE

Status Quo Bias and Conformity Signaling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
All societies reward conformity.  Yes, there's often a sweet niche for eccentric geniuses.  But everyone else faces a stark trade-off: the more you want to succeed, the more you have to submit to social norms.  On an emotional level, this... MORE

The Interaction Between Status Quo Bias and Signaling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Human beings suffer from status quo bias: When they face different default options, they make different choices.  Offering "a burger and fries for $10, with $3 off without the fries" is economically equivalent to "a burger for $7, and fries... MORE

In a fascinating debate, Peter Thiel challenges Google's Eric Schmidt:Google is a great company.  It has 30,000 people, or 20,000, whatever the number is.  They have pretty safe jobs.  On the other hand, Google also has 30, 40, 50 billion... MORE

Arnold on the Current State of Computers in Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:Here is how I size up the current state of computers in education: My reactions, point by point:1. Note that in the music industry, the Internet has put record stores out of business. It has not put composers and... MORE

I'm Telling

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok suggests that sexual harassment is analogous to employee theft.  If this were so, however, victims of harassment would have an ridiculously easy remedy for their woes: Tell the boss.  When an employee tattles on a co-worker for stealing,... MORE

Tipping, Status, and Signaling

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Everything Arnold says about status goods and tipping points holds for signaling as well.  It's theoretically possible for bizarre new equilibria to emerge:Something that is a status good in one era can be the opposite in another. Think of smoking,... MORE

McKenzie's Defense of Apple

Business Economics
David Henderson
Interestingly, since 2010, when Apple and the publishers were supposedly conspiring against consumers, e-book sales have escalated by several hundred percent and as a percentage of all book sales, perhaps, in part, because of the so-called "anticompetitive conspiracy." That fact... MORE

Basic Research Does Not Equal Technology

Business Economics
David Henderson
One of the best articles by the late William A. Niskanen, which I used to great effect in my recent "Energy Economics" course, is his take-apart of "Bacon's Chain." The article is titled "R&D and Economic Growth: Some Cautionary Tales,"... MORE

On Monday, my colleague Virgil Storr heard my IHS lecture on "The Case Against Education," and sent me some interesting comments.  Here's full exchange, with Virgil's kind permission.  Quick question: Do we have good ways of figuring out who will... MORE

What Arrow Said About Education in 1973

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In the early 90s, I saw Ken Arrow informally debate Murray Rothbard.  Arrow was not impressive; all he did was repeat tired textbook arguments about market failure.  My subsequent encounters with Arrow's thought were no better.  Early this year, however,... MORE

Final Reply to Ridley

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley once again graciously responds in the comments.  Our differences appear to have largely evaporated.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not.But your challenge mistakes my argument. I have not argued that there is no positive correlation of innovation with population,... MORE

Rejoinder to Ridley on Innovation and Population

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley graciously replies to my critique of his Julian Simon Award Lecture in the comments.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not:First, I know of a lot of people who are not conventionally clever but who contribute to innovation by making... MORE

Ridley, Simon, Population, and Innovation

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley ends his excellent Julian Simon Award Lecture with a criticism: Having paid homage to Julian Simon's ideas, let me end by disagreeing with him on one thing. At least I think I am disagreeing with him, but I may be... MORE

A Puzzle for Human Capital Extremists Revisited

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A while back I posed the following puzzle to those who dismiss the signaling model of education:Why do students rejoice whenever a teacher cancels class?From a human capital standpoint, students' attitude is baffling.  They've paid good money to acquire additional... MORE

From Cheating to Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok cleverly notes that cheating on exams would be pointless if the human capital model were the whole truth:Cheating works best if the signaling model is true. If education were all about increasing productivity and if employers could measure... MORE

Tyler Momentarily Embraces Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Loyal Marginal Revolution reader Nick_L asks Tyler:What's the most important economics question you ever asked?Tyler answers:"What is the required type font for submitting this dissertation?"I'm fond of saying that if I refused to study a foreign language in high school... MORE

A Signaling Theory of Suboptimal Telecommuting

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Americans spend a ton of time commuting.  According to happiness researchers, commuting is the low point of the typical day.  If you look at the jobs that people actually do, though, it's hard to understand why so many workers continue... MORE

Signaling Versus Educational Innovation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler wants to use my little signaling model to predict the future of online education.  At risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I'm afraid a much richer model is required to address Tyler's question.  In the interest... MORE

Is Rising Education a Symptom of Progress?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Workers in some countries are a lot more productive than workers in other countries.  One of the main differences is that people in more productive countries have more education.  When we hear that education in a country is going up,... MORE

Free for Now

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Recent issues of some journals from de Gruyter publishers, including Capitalism and Society, which published a paper of mine on PSST.... MORE

David Autor Signals Wit and Insight

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I don't normally associate MIT with "funny," but David Autor's notes on signaling definitely qualify:Testing signaling versus human capital models of educationDoes it seem plausible that education serves (in whole or part) as a signal of ability rather than simply... MORE

Why Haven't They Been Fired?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Three questions:1. What fraction of your co-workers are paid 125% or more of their true marginal product?2. What fraction of these overpaid/incompetent co-workers can you personally identify?3. Has the boss failed to fire these overpaid/incompetent workers because he doesn't know... MORE

Thomas Sowell on the Koch, Cato Controversy

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Why Oswald Rabbit Isn't as Famous as Mickey Mouse In his book, Knowledge and Decisions, one of my favorite books he has written, Thomas Sowell, in a section on "The Physical Fallacy," writes: A revealing episode in the early career... MORE

Hal Varian

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
He is the economist who co-wrote Information Rules and now works for Google. Nick Schulz and I had a video conference with him. He has a very interesting perspective on where things are headed with robotics, for example. Here is... MORE

What Is the Female Marriage Penalty?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married women earn less than single women.  In the NLSY, married women make 10% less, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?As I explained in my post on the male marriage... MORE

What Is the Male Marriage Premium?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married men make a lot more money than single men.  In the NLSY, married men make 44% extra, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?There are three competing economic explanations.  Each... MORE

The Elusive Pricing Model for Journalism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joshua Gans discusses a pricing model for long-form journalism that appears to be i-tunes-ish. Put simply, $0.99 makes sense in the world of $0.99 but it is less clear it will carry the weight in the would of free. I... MORE

Tattoos and the Labor Market

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
According to this amusing diagram in Cracked, facial tattoos mean "I will never have a job that pays taxes."  Many economists would presumably insist, "It's not causal.  The kind of people who tattoo their faces just have low productivity."  I... MORE

Sharks--or Angels?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
ABC calls it the Shark Tank...Sharks are evolutionarily ancient, the current versions not that much different from when our ancestors diverged from theirs 460 million years ago. They are highly evolved killing machines, programmed for nothing but predation, achieving little... MORE

Brown M&Ms and Hotdogs

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Russ Roberts has a fascinating video by a great storyteller about why Van Halen had a contract in the 1980s that put a high penalty on having brown M&Ms in the dressing room. I'll leave the reader to watch it.... MORE

Did Napster Reduce Music Quality?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
One purely consequentialist argument that defenders of tough copyright laws have made is that without strong enforcement of copyright, the incentive to produce new high-quality music will be lower than otherwise. The argument makes sense on its face and the... MORE

A Search-Theoretic Critique of Georgism

Tax Reform
Bryan Caplan
Economist Henry George famously advocated a 100% (or near 100%) "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land.  Many modern tax economists, most notably Joseph Stiglitz, conclude that George's logic was sound: Since the unimproved value of land is perfectly... MORE

Conversation with David Weinberger

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Below is a teaser. The full conversation is here. Nick Schulz and I discuss with him Too Big to Know, his new book. Yes, there will be a podcast version. I just need a place to put it--my own web... MORE

What Happens When Signaling Gets Cheaper?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold: My understanding of the signaling model is that it depends crucially on the relative cost of signaling to people with and without the desired trait. You want the cost to be high for someone without the trait and low... MORE

Signaling and Costs

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, when you make signaling cheaper, agents' natural response is to signal more intensely or on another dimension. My understanding of the signaling model is that it depends crucially on the relative cost of signaling to people with and... MORE

De-fund College Libraries

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joshua Gans writes This is disappointing on a number of fronts. First, BE Press never informed us. They did send out a letter to paying subscribers but not to authors or to people who serve on their editorial boards; both... MORE

A SOPA Analogy

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
I've been trying to understand what the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would or wouldn't do. Would it simply protect intellectual property? Then I'm somewhat sympathetic. Why just "somewhat?" See my previous post and the links therein. Or would it... MORE

Jeff Tucker on Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Might it be that some of the users' shared content on Megaupload was copyright protected? Absolutely. It is nearly impossible not to violate the law, as shown by SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith's own campaign website, which used an unattributed background... MORE

Tyler's Embarrassing Question and Major Concession

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler's has renewed our debate about signaling (see here for earlier rounds):It is an embarrassing question for signaling models to ask: with what lag do employers get a good estimate of a worker's marginal product?  If you say "it takes... MORE

Moneyball

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
David Henderson
I'm tooling along in an American Airlines flight from JFK to SFO and I just finished watching the movie Moneyball. I had blogged about the book (here and here), but this is the first time I've actually seen the movie.... MORE

Access to Academic Research Papers

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, Kevin Drum takes a courageous and rare stand on the internet, arguing that yes, downloading millions of files from JSTOR while evading attempts by both JSTOR, and the owner of the network you're using, to stop you,... MORE

Robert Frank's Narrow View on Schools

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
When I posted on Facebook a link to my recent blog post and book review [scroll down to the third page] of Robert Frank's latest book, a George Mason University economist friend wrote, "David, your critique is spot on, but... MORE

Modern Common-Pool Resources

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, The Milgrom, Levin, and Eilat argument is also intriguing because it points out an inherent conflict between property rights and innovation. For example, those who invent something today and seek out a patent must often be concerned... MORE

Tabarrok on Innovation

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts and Alex Tabarrok converse for an hour. Recommended. It brings out/reinforces points from Alex's ebook.... MORE

Patent Trolls

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael J. Meurer have the ugly data. We find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010. During the last four years, the lost... MORE

Proving You're Qualified; or Not

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I was excited when Proving You're Qualified: Strategies for Competent People Without College Degrees showed up on my desk.  Unfortunately, the book fell far short of my high hopes.  You have to read over half the book before the author,... MORE

Alex Tabarrok Talks His Book

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Interviewed by Nick Schulz. there is plenty of risk in sending a kid to college! Forty percent of students don't graduate within six years (and probably never will), many more graduate with degrees that won't help them much in the... MORE

The Intellectual Property Mess

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Warren Toomey writes, Although AT&T quickly settled its legal disputes with Berkeley Software Design and the University of California, legal wrangling over intellectual property claims to various parts of Unix and Linux have continued over the years, often involving byzantine... MORE

Usage-Based Pricing for Books

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joshua Gans suggests the model. How would this occur? I imagine that there is a vast exchange available -- maybe we could call it a library -- where all books ever written are available. Publishers nominate reading prices for their... MORE

The Signal of Protest

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
If you were an employer, would you want to hire an Occupy Wall Street protester?  Probably not.  In fact, it's hard to imagine an employer seeing a protester on TV, then thinking, "I've got to hire him!"  Protesters are arguably... MORE

Krugman on How Blogs Have Changed Economic Debate

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Second, even for more academic research, the journals ceased being a means of communication a long time ago - more than 20 years ago for sure. New research would be unveiled in seminars, circulated as NBER Working Papers, long before... MORE

Billy Beane Arbitrage

Business Economics
David Henderson
Byran posted this morning on Moneyball. Here's what Charley Hooper and I wrote on it in our 2006 book (we probably wrote this segment in 2004), Making Great Decisions in Business and Life. Billy Beane Baseball One of the most... MORE

The Great AI Shift?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Jaron Lanier says, If you had talked to anyone involved in it twenty years ago, everyone would have said that the ability for people to inexpensively have access to a tremendous global computation and networking facility ought to create wealth.... MORE

Transforming Education and Health Care

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Marc Andreessen gives his view of the world. It includes, Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries.... MORE

Larry Summers on the New Commanding Heights

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He says, Look, the most rapidly growing sector of jobs over the last decade, and in the forecasts for the next decade, is health care, and education is in the top five. So we need to embrace that. We need... MORE

Dynamic Free Markets

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
One interesting post and one interesting news article, seemingly unrelated, but actually quite related: both contain evidence of the dynamic wonders of free, or somewhat free, markets. 1. Making markets work even better: LucyPhone, a smart-phone app and an online... MORE

Bryan's Challenge

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
He wrote, Name the most credible measure of idea production that isn't at least moderately positively correlated with population. I think this is a somewhat imprecise formulation. First of all, "moderately positive" is vague. It could be a very low... MORE

Innovations and Resistance

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Matt Rognlie writes, an Apple or Google could come along and bargain with several national newspapers to assemble a cheap bundle of online subscriptions. Since the bundler would have a very strong incentive to provide a reasonable price for customers,... MORE

Alan Bock, RIP

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Alan Bock, a pro-freedom editorial writer for the Orange County Register, died yesterday. I first saw a blog post about his going to a hospice just yesterday. That was fast. Alan was 67: I had actually thought he was younger.... MORE

My Response to Nick Schulz

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
I'm used to stories about Brad DeLong deleting comments from his blog that he doesn't like. [Please: this is not an invitation for you to post all your frustrations about Brad DeLong.] It appears (and correct me if I'm wrong,... MORE

The Case Against News

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
By and large, I think news is a waste of time.  If I want to increase my factual knowledge, I read history - or Wikipedia.  News, I like to say, is the lie that something important happens every day.  Most... MORE

Thank goodness for international trade and the web. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece telling us what the New York Times essentially told us if anyone cared to notice: the New York Times admits that it enabled the U.S. government's... MORE

You Call this Stagnation?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, The deeper point is that the revenue growth/utility growth gradient has fundamentally changed, due to the "real shock" (as they call it) of the internet. Facebook is fun but it doesn't produce a proportional amount of revenue,... MORE

Book Marketing Bleg

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Soon I'll start devoting all of my discretionary work hours to marketing Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  If you've got practical suggestions for me, please share.  P.S. If you just want to cut out the middleman and buy a... MORE

An Influential Blogger has Died

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Denis Dutton founded Arts and Letters Daily in 1998. I believe that when I launched "Great Questions of Economics," the blog that preceded EconLog, I cited ALdaily as one of my influences. I cannot find where I wrote that, but... MORE

The Best Analogy I've Read This Month

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Consequently, the entire discussion based on what would happen if all journals forced all papers through the no revisions process is misguided; it is like saying that Taco Bell should not exist because it would be a bad thing if... MORE

Goldsmith and Friedman on WikiLeaks

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
If I were being provocative, I would have titled this, "Does Bill Kristol Think the U.S. Government Should Murder Bob Woodward or Bill Keller?" My Hoover colleague, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor, has written an excellent post on WikiLeaks.... MORE

Miron and McArdle on WikiLeaks

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
On his show this Sunday on Fox Business, John Stossel had as panelists David Boaz, Jeff Miron, Larry Elder, and Megan McArdle. They handled most of the issues beautifully. But there was one clearcut exception: WikiLeaks. Jeff Miron said that... MORE

The Morning Newspaper

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
1. Tyler Cowen writes in the New York Times, Wealthy people will always be able to buy most of what they want. But for everyone else, if we stay on the current course, the lines are likely to get longer... MORE

The Amazon Boycott: Blaming a Victim

Business Economics
David Henderson
Antiwar.com, where I write a monthly column, has decided to boycott Amazon. Their reason is that Amazon banished WikiLeaks from its servers shortly after a staffer at the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Joe Lieberman,... MORE

Grisly Statistical Discrimination in The Road

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Last night I saw The Road, a truly bleak post-apocalyptic movie.  [Warning: Minor spoilers.]  As I watched, I realized that I was witnessing a mighty counter-example to my views on the propriety of statistical discrimination.  In the movie, about 80%... MORE

Sociology and Signaling

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Back in 1995, I attended an IHS seminar for graduate students.  We heard some lectures, practiced our public speaking, and did mock interviews.  The last activity was pretty traumatic.  It's hard for a second-year grad student to role-play someone who's... MORE

More on Fox News

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Because I found Daniel Kuehn's latest comment on my previous post mainly on-target, but I also realize that many people don't read too far into the comments, I want to add this paragraph from another piece I wrote, "The Wayback... MORE

One and a Half Cheers for Fox News

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Senator Jay Rockefeller made a splash Wednesday by suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission shut down the Fox News Channel and MSNBC. My guess is that he mentioned MSNBC because he wanted to sound equally oppressive of both left and... MORE

The Mixed Blessing of Price Discrimination

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Gabriel Rossman gives an excellent explanation of price discrimination in the context of cable TV bundling. He writes, A switch to a la carte will probably result in an increase in consumer surplus per unit demanded but a drastic decrease... MORE

Idea Rents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, What if ideas rather than land are the fixed factor? Wages and profits stagnate. Some "idea landlords" receive enormous pecuniary returns, while others do not. I think that the standard estimate is that innovators earn less than... MORE

EconZen

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
If no one practiced statistical discrimination, no one would have any reason to engage in signaling.... MORE

For Ye Have Signaling Always With You

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Many economists assume that market forces will somehow figure out a way to make signaling costs disappear.  But as far as I can tell, they never explain why signaling costs would be easier to eliminate than any other costs.  And... MORE

David Friedman on Eggs and Quality

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
I had missed David Friedman's post last week on eggs and quality. The whole thing is worth reading. He points out that even though the British government doesn't require vaccination of hens against salmonella, 90 percent of egg producers have... MORE

Books Pertaining to Information

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen recommends five. I thought about what books I might recommend, and I realize that I have stopped reading books on information technology. Unless you count Cowen's Age of the Infovore, I may not have read any in this... MORE

From the AER

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The regular issues of the American Economic Review rarely interest me, but the papers and proceedings issue is often better. This year, covering the meetings held in January and arranged by Robert Hall, is particularly good. It seems as though... MORE

The Baumol Puzzle

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
When you buy a car, should the price include a licensing fee to the ancestor who invented the wheel? That question is implicit in William Baumol's new book. I think that the answer is obviously "no," but it is less... MORE

Good News from David Friedman

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Earlier this week, David Friedman announced that he is considering a third edition of one of my favorite books ever: The Machinery of Freedom. I'm not a big fan of the title but I love the contents. One of my... MORE

Market Socialism and the iPad

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Recently, I wrote about market socialism. Why don't individual firms use market socialism? That is, instead of managing through command and control, senior management could set shadow prices for various inputs and outputs, and then allow the managers of individual... MORE

Life Without Lies

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Invention of Lying spoilers!]The supposed premise of The Invention of Lying is that human beings never evolved the ability to lie.  While I greatly enjoyed the movie - it's the best cinematic critique of religion since Life of Brian... MORE

Oddly

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Tyler:Oddly, even from intellectuals, you rarely hear what is one of the strongest arguments for the bill, namely that personal genome sequencing might mean -- how many years from now? -- that many more people have pre-existing conditions than we... MORE

Becker on Adverse Selection via Regulation

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
The problem of adverse selection: Insurance companies can't perfectly tailor rates to risk.  The standard government "solution": Forbid insurers from tailoring rates to risk.  Yet another example, courtesy of Gary Becker:Since private insurance companies are not allowed to charge higher... MORE

Insuring Kenyan Cattle

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
A new insurance scheme has been launched in northern Kenya which offers herdsmen a chance to protect their livestock against drought. The initiative uses satellite technology to check the pasture available for the herders. This is from "Satellite Images Help... MORE

Price Discrimination Explains Everything

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Trying to explain cable TV bundling, James Surowiecki writes (his name makes me dyslexic), The appeal of bundling is partly that it reduces transaction costs: instead of having to figure out how much each part of a package is worth... 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

In Praise of Facebook

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
Over the Christmas holiday, I was talking to a young man I know who works for Facebook. He said that he ultimately wanted to go to graduate school so that he could be of service to people. I told him... MORE

Super-FP2P

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
If Nick and I ever do a sequel to From Poverty to Prosperity, we should interview Hal Varian. Watch this talk, which has several interesting observations, particularly about how businesses are restructuring on the basis of new communication technology and... MORE

Kling-Schulz on Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
In From Poverty to Prosperity, we write, One broad alternative to restrictive patents and copyrights would be for a patronage model to support the development of new recipes...People with friends or family members afflicted with a particular ailment could form... MORE

Against Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
David K. Levine and Michele Boldrin write, Is intellectual property needed as a shield for the weak against the strong? Those of us who have yet to make our name in the media markets should fear obscurity rather than piracy.... MORE

Snap Judgments vs. Apathy

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I say it's silly for parents to worry much about other parents' opinions of them.  They're probably too tired and distracted to pay any attention to you, anyway.  Robin demurs:Bryan presumes we care less about the judgments others make when... MORE

Update on Suicide Bombers and Life Insurance

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Quick reply to two interesting comments: John Jenkins writes: Does the average suicide bomber make the decision to commit suicide more than 1-2 years in advance? If not (and I would guess that "no" is the right answer), then doesn't... MORE

The Law of Inflated Expectations

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Do you want to know the clearest sign that someone is a bad driver?  If they think everyone else is a bad driver.  Why do these people imagine that everyone else is a bad driver?  Because they have unreasonably high... MORE

How Arnold Underestimates Reputation

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:I think that reputation matters when exit matters. That is, if people will switch suppliers based on word of mouth, then reputation will be important.This sounds eminently plausible, but it's misleading.  Imagine a world where we all choose our... MORE

When Doesn't Reputation Work Well?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Paul Krugman can't believe how much I trust in the power of reputation to keep health insurers honest.  He's right about one thing: I think reputation works wonders - not just in insurance, but throughout modern economies.  I could talk... MORE

Insurance, Reputation, and Kristallnacht

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
In 1938, Jewish businesses and synagogues through Germany were burned and looted in a massive pogrom.  Historians call the incident Kristallnacht.  The Nazis naturally blamed the Jews.  So the Nazis were horrified when they realized that Aryan-owned insurance companies were... MORE

A Closer Look at Adverse Selection and Mandatory Insurance

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
If an economist wants to ward off the spirit of laissez-faire insurance policy, all he has to do is repeatedly chant "moral hazard and adverse selection."  The funny thing about this two-part mantra, though, is that the "moral hazard" part... MORE

An Unanswered Question on the Economics of Suicide

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
What don't more people with painful, terminal diseases commit suicide?  Religion dissuades some of them - that's the point of Hamlet's famous soliloquy.  But most people quickly ignore religious teachings when they seriously cramp their style.Some people might worry about... MORE

The Walled Garden That Never Was

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I'm old enough to remember the days when many people seriously believed that America Online's gated content was the wave of the future.  Over at Cato Unbound, Adam Thierer takes apart Lawrence Lessig, influential past prophet of techno-doom:Had there been... MORE

Up in the Valley

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Marc Andreessen is the least depressing person I've heard in a long time. Listen to the whole thing. He is ready to throw the whole legacy banking system under the bus, and instead go full speed with online banking. I'm... MORE

Douglas Rushkoff on the Inauguration Event

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Some excerpts from his 1999 book, Coercion: Why We Listen to What "They" say. Chapter three is called "Spectacle."... MORE

The Good News Will Cost You

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
A standard rule of Internet content is that unless it's pornographic, you don't have to pay for it.  But I just stumbled on a weird counter-example.  If you want to read even the main stories on the Good News Network,... MORE

Clay Shirky Podcast

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Great Interview with Russ Roberts and Clay Shirky. I find lots of the interview fascinating. One of Shirky's comment on Wikipedia is that it is low-cost to remove vandalism, and that helps to drive out vandalism. I hope he is... MORE

The Age of Non-government Public Goods

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Clay Shirky says, all of Wikipedia, the whole project—every page, every edit, every line of code, in every language Wikipedia exists in—that represents something like the cumulation of 98 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin... MORE

Optimal Citation in the Google Age

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
One of the best examples of path-dependence is the format of academic citations. Who cares what city a book was published in? Who ever did? But in the google age, tradition is even sillier. Volume numbers? Page numbers? These days,... MORE

Two from Will Wilkinson

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
He suggests that there are no limits to growth. In a special issue of the American Economic Review about thirty years ago, some physical chemists wrote that once the energy problem is solved, nothing is scarce. If material X is... MORE

David Friedman on Property Rights

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
He wrote, The right to decide whether or not I turn on the lights in my house is worth more to me than to my neighbors, so in principle I should be able to buy their permission. The problem is... MORE

Unchecked Government Marches On

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
Without irony, the Washington Post headline blares, FTC Wants to Know What Big Brother Knows About You The crime under investigation is targeted advertising on the Internet, where firms use databases to try to serve ads that are relevant to... MORE

Not on Fire for Kindle

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
[UPDATE: I found the web browser on the Kindle. You have to go to the Kindle home, select menu, then select "experimental." Of course, I am one of those troglodytes who uses a PC client for email. But once I... MORE

Chris Anderson Podcast on Economics of "Free"

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
There are several interesting topics covered in this podcast between Russ Roberts and Chris Anderson. The general topic is the disruptive impact of computers and communication technology, and in particular the tendency for prices to fall to zero for things... MORE

Wilkinson and Shirky

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Want to see two bright, good-looking guys discuss economics and media? Then watch the latest episode of Free Will, with Will Wilkinson interviewing Clay Shirky. The topic is one of my favorites, and these are two of my favorite thinkers.... MORE

Creating a Life: Why Bad Publicity Wasn't Good Publicity

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I really enjoyed Sylvia Hewlett's Creating a Life, but feminists were outraged. (Check out all the 1-star reviews on Amazon). Normally, I'd expect all this negative publicity to be great for sales. All publicity is good publicity, right? But Hewlett's... MORE

Costs and Benefits of the Patent System

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Patent Failure is a new book by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer. Here is a lecture by Bessen. The book's introduction emphasizes the importance of what the authors call "the notice function." An efficient property system notifies non-owners of... MORE

What is Revolutionary Science?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Bruce Charlton and Peter Andras write, a research foundation working in a specific scientific field might at present spend 100 million dollars per year – and might spread this money among ten 10 million dollar program grants. In all likelihood,... MORE

Hal Varian on Modern Capital

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
He writes, The only thing one could do with those railroad tracks was carry trains. It would have been fantastic if the miles of excess railroad tracks could have been transformed into highways to service the new growth industry coming... 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

The Internet, New York, Detroit, and House Concerts

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Edward L. Glaeser and Giacomo A.M. Ponsetto write, This paper advances the hypothesis that improvements in transportation and communica- tion technology can explain both the decline of Detroit and the reinvigoration of Manhattan. While we present some suggestive evidence, the... MORE

Kindle-nomics

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joel Johnson writes, the $400 premium just to get the Kindle reader isn't the last fee you'll pay. I'm not talking about paying for eBooks from Amazon, which are priced typically at $10 or less, but for the additional fees... MORE

Woodheads and Spam

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Steve Hsu writes, Both the malware and spam problems are a kind of tax on the overall internet population caused by the least sophisticated users (I won't reference IQ here, but there is certainly a correlation). It's the least sophisticated... MORE

Paul Graham on Software Patents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
A commenter on a previous post mentioned a couple of essays by Paul Graham. He is one of my favorite writers, and it's been too long since I visited his site. Here is an essay on software patents. One thing... MORE

Viacom vs. Google/YouTube

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Paul Kedrosky writes, if Viacom wins this suit and busts YouTube--and there is a very good chance it will win; it is, after all, uncontested that this is Viacom's media property we are talking about--that won't change what consumers want... MORE

Online Content Bundling

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Steve Levitt asks In general, it doesn't seem like a good idea to give your product away if you are a company, but given that most newspapers do, why doesn't the WSJ? ...Either the WSJ is making a mistake or... MORE

Drug Patents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
This week's econtalk, featuring Richard Epstein talking about patent issues with respect to pharmaceuticals, I found to be really taxing mentally. I have thought a great deal about these issues, yet Epstein was talking faster than I could absorb. Also,... MORE

The Internet, Punditry, and Scholarship

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
My latest essay includes an analysis of the comparative advantage that I have using the Internet. The Net boosts my salience the most. In an environment where what counts is reaction time, I do well. Hal Varian does the "worst"... MORE

Journalism, Blogging, and Truth

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
David Warsh writes, Classified advertising, especially help-wanted and houses for sale, near-monopolies for daily newspapers for more than a century, have been especially hard-hit. Consolidation in the once-exotic world of trade magazines has been the rule. Significant revenues from other... MORE

Silent Signals

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I didn't know logicians had a name for it, but they do: it's called the Argument from Silence. The argument from silence (also called argumentum a silentio in Latin) is that the silence of a speaker or writer about X... MORE

True Love and the International Marriage Market

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Tyler asks his readers to help a 51-year-old American male find a high-quality wife in the international marriage market: What traits should he look for in a foreign woman? He should avoid countries which lost the Cold War. Avoid women... MORE

Prediction Markets?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Eric Crampton
I'm a fan of Hanson's idea markets. Imitation as flattery: I put together a Marsden grant proposal (New Zealand's NSF) to start up election stock markets here that would subsequently be expanded into policy and decision markets. Unfortunately, the grant... MORE

A Nice Statement of My Position on IP

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Some economists would argue that any contracts voluntarily entered into should be enforced. That is what lead them to argue that, if I agree not to redistribute your book, then I should be bound by that agreement. In this view,... MORE

The Anti-IP Crusaders

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine write, Intellectual property law is not about your right to control your copy of your idea - this is a right that we have just pointed out, does not need a great deal of... MORE

The Future of Mass Media

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Jim Pinkerton writes, Every country with ambitions on the international stage will soon have its own state-supported media. ...In addition, around the world, states will want to "help" their media. Not satisfied with what the free market is bringing about,... MORE

The Mystery of Classism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Don Boudreaux stands accused of being a snob. He said: Service-sector jobs are the most desirable. Until his retirement, my dad had a manufacturing job: he worked as a welder in a shipyard. Like most parents, his dream... MORE

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obsfucation

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I'm a fan of Rick Harbaugh's work (with Nick Feltovich and Ted To) on counter-signaling. The motivating paragraph of "Too Cool for School" still blows me away: Contrary to this standard implication, high types sometimes avoid the signals that should... MORE

Intellectual Property Absolutism vs. Pragmatism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Greg Perkins writes, The crucial distinction between discovery and invention lies in their object: facts of nature are what they are and exist waiting to be discovered, while inventions are objects which would not exist without a creator. So intellectual... MORE

Which Monopoly?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Austan Goolsbee, one of the new members of the "Economic Scene" rotation at the New York Times (Tyler Cowen is another), writes In their fervor to free listeners from the shackles of their iPods, French politicians have abandoned one of... MORE

Modeling the Man Date

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from a conference with Will Wilkinson where he mentioned that the New York Times had canonized the "man date": Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports.... MORE

Patent Law

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Two Three views. First, Michael Rosen writes, Well, first, as almost everyone involved in the patent reform debate acknowledges, we must fully fund the PTO. ...There are not nearly enough examiners to review, revise, and recognize incoming patent applications. There... MORE

News Without Paper

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes, What would a new-era newspaper look like? First, I think I'd skip the "paper" part. I've visited a lot of newspaper offices, and many of them proudly display the printing presses that produce their product, just... MORE

Pushback on "Fair Use" for Patents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Michael Rosen and Thomas J. Van Gilder write, The patent system has not developed such a mechanism ["fair use"]. This is so in part because patents tend to deal more with the physical implementation of ideas rather than their expression.... MORE

The Blackberry Patent Dispute

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
I offer my two cents. Some of the problems with patent laws could be fixed by developing standards for "fair use." Under a "fair use" standard, there would be circumstances where one company could use another company's patented ideas in... MORE

You're Not Fooling Anyone: The Futility of Libertarian Euphemisms

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday GMU had a mini-debate between Dan Klein and Pete Boettke on "Is It Time to Retire the Label 'Austrian Economics?'" Dan said Yes; Pete said No. Dan's proposal, roughly, was to (a) expand the set of heroes to include... MORE

Economic Theory for the Socially Perplexed

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Why is getting along with other people so complicated? Shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm have explored this question with hilarious results. But last week Rick Harbaugh of Indiana University came to speak at GMU, and convinced me that... MORE

Lemons for Valentine's Day

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Match Point, yet another Woody Allen movie about adultery, reminds me of a question I've often wondered about: Why hasn't the lemons problem killed adultery? To be more specific, why would any women want to steal a man who lies... MORE

Mmmm... Lunch

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
A story in the Washington Post says, A Verizon Communications Inc. executive yesterday accused Google Inc. of freeloading for gaining access to people's homes using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.... MORE

Insurance versus Charity

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
One of the most effective ways to take the sting out of charity - for recipients and involuntary donors alike - is to give it a new name: "insurance." If you buy fire insurance and your house burns down, you... MORE

Pricing the Internet

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen steps into an old issue, of how Internet usage ought to be priced. In purely economic terms, the idea of charging Google or other "bandwidth hogs" does not sound outrageous. The casual assumption here is that bandwidth is... MORE

Econbot?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
"New Economist" writes, The latest issue of First Monday carries an article by Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig which shows that on at least basic historical facts, the internet can provide a surprisingly accurate indication of the historical consensus...... MORE

Your Zip Code or Yourself

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Auto insurance regulations in California are going to change. At first glance, the changes look completely reasonable: Insurers will have to base rates on the driving records of the people insured. From the Daily News: Moving to end years of... MORE

Old News

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen points to this essay suggesting that newspapers convert to nonprofit status. Over three years ago, I wrote The newspaper business is going to die within the next twenty years. Newspaper publishing will continue, but only as a philanthropic... MORE

The Big Lie

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I'm a trusting person by nature, so it's useful for me to reflect on how deceptive people can be. The following excerpt really helped focus my attention. It's from a speech given to the Associated Press in 1933 by Adolf... MORE

The Music Copyright Tax, Revisited

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes The conclusion seems right to me - file-sharing increases social-welfare, so in theory a win-win solution is possible, but in practice the increase comes at the expense of music firms. That reminded me of Zimran ("winterspeak") Ahmed's... MORE

The Last Mile will be Wireless

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports, Google Inc. unveiled the latest such effort Friday with a proposal to provide free, wireless high-speed Internet access in the city of San Francisco. The service would allow users to bypass fee-based connections of cable... MORE

Practicing What I Preach: How I Fight Statistical Discrimination

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
In a recent post, I said: If you really want to improve your group's image, telling other groups to stop stereotyping won't work. The stereotype is based on the underlying distribution of fact. It is far more realistic to turn... MORE

Suckers of the World, Bet!

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I repeat the adage "All publicity is good publicity" every chance I get. So I shouldn't have needed iSteve to explain why Matthew Simmons was smart to make a sucker bet with John Tierney: What I realize now is that... MORE

Don't Call Me Stupid

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I've proposed several alternatives to the adverse selection explanation for missing insurance markets. Here's another, with a somewhat Hansonian flavor: In part, people buy insurance so they don't "look stupid" when something bad happens to them. If you get in... MORE

In Search of Another Theory of Missing Insurance Markets

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
When economists notice that nobody sells insurance for X, they have a standard explanation: adverse selection. Why can't you buy flood insurance? Supposedly, because the highest-risk people will be first in line to buy it, which raises premiums, which encourages... MORE

Crashing Into Stereotypes

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I normally wouldn't want to watch a movie in which "A series of racially charged events connects the lives of a disparate lot of Los Angelenos," (full review here) but the reviews of Crash were so glowing that I made... MORE

Contrarian Like a Conformist

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson is guest blogging this week at Marginal Revolution. In his first post, he explains how he chose his big post-tenure research project: He took the unconventional step of asking other people what they thought, and averaging their responses:... MORE

The Food Court Economy

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
In the second essay in a series, I write, Think of the economy as a restaurant, or, better yet, as a Food Court. Behind the Food Court there is a farm, where plants and animals grow spontaneously in adequate but... MORE

Economics of New York City

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
The prolific Edward Glaeser writes, 28 percent of Manhattan’s payroll goes to workers in a single three-digit industry. 56 percent of Manhattan’s payroll goes to workers in four three-digit industries. New York’s 20th century success primarily reflects its ability to... MORE

Detect Lie

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
In the game Dungeons & Dragons, there is a magic spell called detect lie (or at least there was back in the first edition). A couple of my favorite high school gaming sessions revolved around the player characters flinging accusations... MORE

Siegel for the Long Run

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
An interesting interview with Jeremy Siegel. In 50 years the United States will be more aged than all of Florida is today, but we will be, existing in a younger world. So, what I see is exactly the same pattern.... MORE

Normality Signaling: A Test Case

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My student Howard Wu passed along an interesting anecdote on signaling that you're normal. True story: In my company once we received a resume sent along with a dress shoe. And the cover letter says: "now that I have a... MORE

Second Thoughts About Stats vs. Personal Experience

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I can't believe I took so long to discover Thomas Gilovich's excellent How We Know What Isn't So. I've read almost all of the semi-popular books in cognitive psychology, and this turns out to be one of the best. All... MORE

Hanson Link Fix

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My initial link for Hanson's working paper was incorrect. It's now been fixed. If you couldn't find it before, here it is. My apologies.... MORE

Terrorism Betting Markets: Inquiring Minds Know

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
A new working paper by Robin Hanson observes: "When a controversy erupts in the media, and widely differing views are expressed, it is natural to wonder which opinion is the one more favored by those who are most informed about... MORE

Why Be Normal?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Economists love to pour cold water on new ideas: "If your plan is so great, why aren't people already doing it?" And usually we're right to do so. Most of the economy's backseat drivers aren't fit to run an apple... MORE

Death of Newspapers

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports that newspapers are struggling. "Print is dead," Sports Illustrated President John Squires told a room full of newspaper and magazine circulation executives at a conference in Toronto in November. His advice? "Get over it," meaning publishers... MORE

Giles and Stereotype Accuracy

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
The weakest part of Martin Giles' Why Americans Hate Welfare is his dismissive treatment of stereotypes. He cites a number of psychological experiments on the emergence of baseless stereotypes. But he at best downplays the growing literature on stereotype accuracy.... MORE

Pricing and Marginal Cost

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Don Boudreaux looks at cases where prices should be above marginal cost. Jones builds the bridge and charges tolls to pay for it. When the bridge is not congested, the marginal cost of allowing each driver access to the bridge... MORE

Lovecraft, Sutter, and the Media

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
The master of horror is of course not Stephen King, but H.P. Lovecraft. (My personal favorite is "The Dunwich Horror"). Lovecraft lived a life of aristocratic penury, and he wasn't too happy about it: "He who strives to produce salable... MORE

Nobel Prize-Winner Makes Intermediate Error

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
In Globalization and Its Discontents, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz tells us: Behind the free-market ideology there is a model, often attributed to Adam Smith, which argues that market forces - the profit motive - drive the economy to efficient... MORE

The Long Tail

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Chris Anderson writes, What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries... MORE

Becker-Posner on Drug Patents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
A good intro to the economic issues surrounding pharmaceutical patents, from Richard Posner and Gary Becker. Posner writes, Invention is a cumulative process; a new invention is usually an incremental improvement on an existing one. So the more patents that... MORE

Cost of Digital Storage

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Phil Bowermaster looks at the cost of storing all of the books in the Library of Congress catalog. The initial scanning work is the only part of the plan that's likely to present much of an expense factor. According to... MORE

Ideas and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Charles I. Jones writes, The nonrivalry of ideas implies that increasing returns to scale is likely to characterize production possibilities. This leads to a world in which scale itself can serve as a source of long run growth. The more... MORE

Barbell Labor Market?

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane predict that computer automation is leading to a split in the labor market. Good jobs will increasingly require expert thinking and complex communication. Jobs that do not require these tasks will not pay a... MORE

Copyright Law and Utilitarianism

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Richard A. Epstein has written an interesting essay on copyright law. He concludes, But for years now, my own private campaign has been to insist that the strength of the natural law theories rested on their implicit utilitarian (broadly conceived)... MORE

Red Sox Technologies

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
What do you call a technology that looks promising but always lets you down? In this essay, I point out that one example is micropayments. Another example, I argue, is virtual classrooms. Most web-based education software seems designed to enable... MORE

Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Here are some interesting comments on intellectual property that have appeared recently. Lawrence Lessig defends drug patents. I don't know if the alternatives would be better - I don't believe patents are bad in every case. But I do know... MORE

Government and Research

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I argue that we should not fear losing our technology edge. In doing the cost-benefit analysis on government funding of scientific research, one factor that should not be given weight is national competitiveness. I can see worrying... MORE

Hayekians vs. Stiglitzians

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
I contrast Hayek and Stiglitz on the importance of imperfect information. Hayek would have the government tolerate messy competition. His point is that with the optimal outcome unknown, government resolution of issues shuts off the learning process that market competition... MORE

Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
N. Stephan Kinsella argues against the concept of intellectual property. On the utilitarian argument for intellectual property, he says, It is debatable whether copyrights and patents really are necessary to encourage the production of creative works and inventions, or that... MORE

Economics of Content

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Clay Shirky writes that the Internet helps to break the link between fame and economic success for writers. For an author to be famous, many people had to have read, and therefore paid for, his or her books. Fortune was... MORE

Robots and Comparative Advantage

International Trade
Arnold Kling
Using the theory of comparative advantage, James Miller explains why robots cannot replace humans completely. Now, assume that in our simple wine/cake world robots begin large-scale manufacturing. They could easily change the relative prices of wine and cake. Perhaps if... MORE

Information Goods and Income Distribution

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
James Miller has an interesting thesis concerning information goods. Since most of the cost is up-front research and development, he argues that these goods will be priced attractively for mass consumption. As easily copied informational goods become more important to... MORE

Terrorism Futures

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
A number of economists and others are defending the idea of a futures market to predict terrorism. This idea was abandoned after Senators objected to it. Hal Varian writes, The Iowa Electronic Markets has been predicting election results for 12... MORE

Price Discrimination and Information

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Andrew Odlyzko has an interesting article on price discrimination in the information age. He sees the databases that companies are gathering (from supermarket membership cards, for example) as tools for charging on the basis of price sensitivity. price discrimination will... MORE

Drug Price Discrimination?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Derek Lowe compares the fact that prescription drugs cost less outside the U.S. to the phenomenon of price discrimination by airlines. Most consumers [of pharmaceuticals] in the US don't realize that they're subsidizing the lower prices for everyone else, whereas... MORE

Comment of the Week, 04-09-03

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
The signal-to-noise ratio in our comments continues to be very high. See the Economics of Hydrogen thread and the imperfect markets thread, for example. But I give the comment of the week award this week to Robert Musil. A brief... MORE

Lessig on Copyright

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
In 1998, Congress extended copyright terms on both new and existing works. Lawrence Lessig tried unsuccessfully to have this extension overturned by the Supreme Court. In this interview, Lessig explains the weakness of the economic argument for the copyright extension.... MORE

Anti-anti-economics

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
In Suits and Geeks, I discuss some information-age economic issues. As Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian wrote, "Technology changes. Economic laws do not." My essay concludes, My goal is to see ignorance reduced on both sides of the Suit-Geek divide.... MORE

Is Copyright Necessary?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Douglas Clement does an outstanding job of providing background on the way that economists have dealt with the issue of copyright in the context of economic growth. (An earlier version of Clement's article first appeared here.) Clement's article revolves around... MORE

The Economics of Web Logs

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
EconLog is a Web Log, or Blog. My view is that some of the value of blogs comes from the collective filtering that they provide. I sketch a sort of economic model, in which everyone lives on a circle, with... MORE

Return to top