Assorted links

by on January 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Mandatory menu labeling may not work.

2. New results on intelligence and attractiveness.

3. Honduras is considering Romer's "charter city" idea, here, and here (both in Spanish).

4. Why aren't more people buying into the high-risk health insurance pools?

5. The endgame for the euro and what the Germans are thinking (see also the first comment, and by the way Crooked Timber has an entire symposium on Germany).

6. Who are the best Chilean poets?: RB on literature and exile.

7. The division of labor.

8. Robin defends uploads, Lee responds.

9. Scott Sumner on the dangers of a gold standard; I agree completely.

Michael F. Martin January 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

There is a non-trivial argument to be made that U.S. creditors' slavish devotion to gold standards for sovereign currencies was responsible for the popular unrest that put Hitler and Mussolini in power. Those same creditors' grandchildren ought to be ashamed for their lack of perspective.

Michael Nielsen January 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The Galaxy Zoo 2 author list (51,000 people) is fun to look at:… Foldit listed "& Foldit Players" (all 75,000 of them) on their recent Nature paper:

dirk January 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

9. The "recent upswing in conservative articles discussing the idea of going back to some sort of gold standard" may be suggestive that the alt right is more influential than some have recently posited.

Jens Fiederer January 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

For people who don't read Spanish, it sounds like those charter cities would require constitutional amendments in Honduras, at least in the first article.

Kevin Postlewaite January 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

7. Wow: a few more papers like that and all of our Erdos numbers are going to be negative.

dearieme January 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

"fiat currencies are a scam": an alternative view would be that this conclusion is so obviously true that even a stupid schizophrenic has noticed.

dirk January 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

There are many who would like to hit the self-destruct button on our society. Return to the gold standard would be a way to do it.

dirk January 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

7. Worker hoarding apparently continues in Europe.

Andrew January 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

So, France hoarded some gold a while back and that makes it TEOTWAWKI?

All some of us want is gold treated as other capital gains should be treated, that is taxed at zero.

They don't charge us taxes in deflation or pay us during inflation. Gold IS money. And my offer still stands, give me that and Scott can have The Fed.

JWill January 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

RE Menu labeling: Information is ALWAYS a necessary, but not sufficient, component of behavioral change. I am really put off when "incentive"-interested economists, who also happen to have libertarian leanings, seem so giddy when efforts to force information disclosure do not by themselves lead to major changes. Of course they don't. But without transparency, there is no point in even trying.

dirk January 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

2. Doug is right. Since the effect was greater in males, how do we know that the smarter respondents didn't simply have better Game?

Anderson January 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Btw, when I saw my browser tab, "Marginal Revolution: Ass…," I had to pause and check just what post I was commenting on, because I sure didn't remember that.

liberalarts January 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm

@Stephen: Suppose that we moved to your system, and a house cost 100 oz., and a worker earns 50 oz. for a typical wage. The worker borrows 100 oz to buy a house. Then, industrial demand or India Central Bank demand doubles the global price of gold. Now, a new house goes for 50 oz and the worker earns 25 oz. The worker's real debt load has just doubled, and he may default. Meanwhile, s similar worker in Canada borrows $100,000 for a house on his $50,000 income. The price of gold doubles in Canada too, say from $1,000 to $2,000, do to the industrial demand for gold. His real debt load and wage remain unchanged, and he is unaffected, except for his purchase of rings necklaces. It is hard to argue that the gold scenario is better than the Canadian one. Over the last 3 years, gold has been much, much, much less stable than fiat dollars have been, relative to most goods.

Roy January 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

1) Well I'm sure calorie labeling had no effect at "Taco Time" the only mexican chain I know of that serves tater tots, oh I'm soory: "Mexi-Fries"

a January 19, 2011 at 11:58 pm

"The endgame for the euro and what the Germans are thinking "

In the article it's pretty clear that the author is divining what the Germans are thinking by supposing they are thinking what he is thinking.

Maybe the euro will collapse. Maybe it will split up. OTOH maybe the US will collapse. (BTW I'd define electing Sarah Palin to be Presidenet as "collapse".) IMHO the Anglo-Saxons are so anxious about the euro because it deflects attention from their economic mismanagement which caused the crisis.

ofis koltuklari January 20, 2011 at 12:38 am

The article seems to imply, though, that only skill-based migration will be allowed. This is not a charter city, it's a classic free trade area.

andy January 20, 2011 at 2:17 am

"Over the last 3 years, gold has been much, much, much less stable than fiat dollars have been, relative to most goods."

Which may as well be a statistical artifact; ignoring the banking sector, just mere price-stickeness can be quite a strong stabilization force. Prices are denominated in fiat currencies, not in gold. And if you turn to previous periods, the once quoted paper mentioned that the price-level statistics from 19th century may not be quite 'consumer-price-index', but rather 'commodity-price-index', which makes the comparison somewhat problematic.

Andrew January 20, 2011 at 3:23 am

Pardon me, but from 1929 to 1933 gold hoarding brought Hitler to power? That's pretty impressive.

Isn't it possible that the causality runs at least partly the other way?

Yancey Ward January 20, 2011 at 8:00 am

Really, does not a single person question why gold is actively penalized by governments? If fiat isn't fundamentally a scam, why do we have legal tender laws?

IVV January 20, 2011 at 9:02 am

Yancey Ward:

I'm afraid I don't understand your point. Fiat money is a scam. A gold standard is also a scam. Gold can be actively penalized whether or not there's a gold standard. Do you believe there is some way that money can be declared independent of our choices of what money is?

None of this changes who is rich or who can claim how much on production. So the question is: does a gold standard maximize production? If not, why bother trying to create a gold standard?

ORB January 20, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Maybe the euro will collapse. Maybe it will split up. OTOH maybe the US will collapse. (BTW I'd define electing Sarah Palin to be Presidenet as "collapse".)"

You're comparing the potential for the collapse of a currency and/or dissolution of an economic union to the broad collapse of the United States, which you would define as something as trivial as the election of Sarah Palin?

That's intended to be a serious response? It is astonishing that this sort of derangement is unavoidable wherever I go on the web, almost regardless of the topic.

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