Monday, October 11, 2010


Congratulations to the recent Nobel Prize winners in Economics! I know, it's not called that, but you know what I mean. There's a plethora of sources you can read to learn more about the winners.

Also, how about some other interesting articles? Monetary views, shale, the Great Depression, currency wars, and China/India/Brazilian growth. I don't really agree with that last one at all, but it's an interesting topic.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

A couple of my favorite videos to commemorate the day.

The Muppets

Robin Williams

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bachmann and the global economy, Zimbabwe constitutions, Google's money, and currency standards

Wait... what? Who is this Michele Bachmann person and why don't she understand what 'global economy' means? Politicians confuse me sometimes.

I imagine (best as I can) that things are scary, right now, in a country that needs a new constitution. Zimbabwe has been through a lot, and it's hard to trust those who are making the new document... I doubt they have a significant number of constitutional scholars working on it. Is it a liberal American bias to demand experts be involved in decision making?

I imagine that, upon doing further research, Google discovered that you can't throw money at a problem to fix it. Also, they have less power than they think they do (I'm looking at you, Google China).

While a monetary basket might be a better standard than the dollar, any attempt to make such a basket would be highly political rather than economic in nature. Countries will likely continue making their own decisions in determining currency standards rather than deferring their sovereignty. Though, I suppose, the international lending agencies could make it a requirement of aid.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Google, unemployment, sports, and loans

More data on Google! This from the World Bank.

Here's a chart showing the duration of unemployment, for the unemployed.

Some Houston sports hotshots (not those) talk about how their sports businesses are going.

Angry Bear has an interesting graph of the number of loans given by banks. I'd like to see the graph go back a few (maybe seven) more years.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cell phones, optimism, health care systems, and latin america

SCSU also talks about the cell phone industry. Phone-carrier exclusive contracts are frustrating! I wonder when we'll move on from that.

Professor Emerson at Oregon State tells us that we have reason to be optimistic about the economy. I wonder what he thinks about the relationship to inflation.

The WSJ Numbers Guy tells us about the problems of ranking health care systems in different countries. I don't think geography should come into the mix, personally.

The IMF examines why latin america did better during this crisis than during past crises and also other emerging markets. I read a similar observation about Chile, before.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Health care, unemployment, and gifts

Small businesses pay more than large firms for the same health care policies. A quarter of the uninsured are employees in firms smaller than 25 workers.

More, rising unemployment means less health care coverage.

The Game Theorist tells us that gift giving is a bad idea. I'm not sure he's taken all of the externalities into account, though.

Krugman tells us that the health care bill will lean liberal because the facts do. I didn't know facts played such a large part of politics.

Monday, May 24, 2010

HFT, education, pedigree, and health care

An interview about high frequency trading. Recently, I've been more and more interested in similar topics.

Does education hurt your real income or help it? Data can be tricky.

Tyler Cowen thinks about pedigree bias in economics. Economics professors in top schools are very likely to have come from top schools themselves.

SCSU Scholars talks about innovation in health care. I've mentioned this before--technological advances in health care are unlike others. The equipment hasn't gotten smaller or cheaper. There seems to be different incentives at play than economists typically assume. More, given two procedures that give similar results, a doctor will often choose the more expensive procedure, since he can charge more for it. Consumers, meanwhile, don't know their options.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Samuelson, Greece, fair trade, and academic journals.

A tribute to Samuelson, from an ex-coworker.

Rodrik uses Greece as a teaching tool for the world economy. Economic globalization, politcal democracy, and the nation-state: pick two. I wonder if the EU will be more careful in the future.

An Economist debate on fair trade. It's an interesting debate, but Bhagwati in particular never fails to impress in my opinion. I think the benefits of free trade are less clearly documented in the media, and public opinion (of developed states, especially) ends up mattering more than it should.

What kinds of articles get published in journals? Empirics seem to be winning the day. I thought people use to think academia was divorced from real life...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Historical GDP Growth v Top Marginal Tax Rates

How about this chart?

Should we raise the top marginal tax rate?

Is there a positive correlation between the top marginal tax rate and GDP growth? Cursory analysis says yes.

Also note that for over 60 non-consecutive years (70 years with an 8 year gap in the middle), the top marginal tax rate was over 50%.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Water, Google, Christianity, and Energy

A new chip can cleanse water to be suitable for drinking. The eight inches of these (postage stamp sized) chips can produce four gallons of water per hour, while using as much electricity as a light bulb. If these things become mass produced and affordable, that'll rock the developing world! What a news report to hear in the same week as World Water Day.

Google pessimists ask what the point was, while tech-savvy Googlers are unaffected. Can Google incite larger change?

These maps of Christianity make me think about how religious views intersect with political views.

How will traveling wave reactors affect the energy scene? On a side note, TED is pretty neat.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Job Advice, Saving Money, and the Planet

Jon Brooks gets a job! And this is how he did it. Job seeking advice is abundant this time of business cycle.

Also, remember that you need to save money for retirement. After you find a job, that's something you need to think about. That way, you can become the richest man in the world.

I can't say that I agree, but a couple of ecologists are worried about how our current economic model interacts with the world. I can't say I agree, but it's worth thinking about, certainly. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Climate change, exchange rates, education, and new frontiers in economics

John Whitehead on climate change. The science hasn't been settled. Professor Whitehead doesn't go into this, but the consequences haven't been settled either.

Chavez is still trying to fix his economy, this time by playing with his fixed exchange rate. The blind lead the blind.

Tyler Cowen makes a partial list of over- and under-explored areas of economics. There are a lot of really interesting under-studied areas of economics.

Ed Glaeser looks at the link between GDP per capita and school enrollment in 1900. Education benefits seem to be very, very persistent.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Caballero's story

David Beckworth considers the proximity of economists to the financial system and their view of the effect of interest rates in the housing and credit boom. The idea is that, essentially, business economists see the Fed's lowering of interest rates as a key factor in the boom because of their keen, first-hand knowledge of the situation, rather than academic economists who have less contact. I'll ignore the obvious problems of Professor Beckworth's hypothesis to point out something that struck me as odd: Cabellero's story. Caballero seems to believe that the demand for safe assets rose...

By 2001, as the demand for safe assets began to rise above what the U.S. corporate world and safe mortgage‐ borrowers naturally could provide, financial institutions began to search for mechanisms to generate triple‐A assets from previously untapped and riskier sources. Subprime borrowers were next in line, but in order to produce safe assets from their loans, “banks” had to create complex instruments and conduits that relied on the law of large numbers and tranching of their liabilities.

... does this make sense? So, financial institutions poorly measured risk, sure. But, in order for complex instruments to be made from subprime loans, more subprime loans had to be made. Meaning, there had to be incentives for subprime borrowers to receive subprime loans. Does Caballero really believe that lower interest rates couldn't have been among these incentives? And that had interests rates been higher, there wouldn't have been less incentive? Ricardo Caballero's story can't be the one held by most academic economists, can it?