Assorted links

by on March 17, 2011 at 11:44 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. On right-wing economists and health care plans, John Goodman responds.

2. Should you stuff your little kid full of learning?

3. One hypothesis as to why they are selling expiring ebooks to libraries.

4. How to end the Great Stagnation there is no Great Stagnation.

5. File under “unlikely to prove expansionary for the global economy.”

6. Scott Sumner on Japan and the yen.

7. What kind of economic arguments work on TV? (pdf)

8. Dilbert markets in everything.

9. The forthcoming change in Japan’s working age population.

10. Michael Kremer symposium on development economics, RCTs, etc.

Joseph March 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

When I was in Marine OCS and The Basic School in Quantico Virginia we would have killed for that waterproof note pad. It was a constant struggle to record grid coordinates and whatnot in the rain and snow, which it was always doing one or the other when on field exercises.

Slocum March 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

#3: HarperCollins’ strategy puzzled me, because I couldn’t figure out how it would make any money for them. I thought any extra sales caused by ebook expirations would likely be offset by poor sales of the limited-durability ebooks.

Why would they sell poorly? Lots of people are going to want ebook versions of the next The Girl Who Played With Fire. Libraries could chooses to stick with physical books only, but they risk extinction that way, so they won’t. One approach is for libraries to buy the non-expiring ebooks that individuals do, but that won’t work because those are tied to a particular device (or at a least a particular account with a few registered devices). They aren’t loanable unless the library loans them out on a library-owned reader, which means high cost and patrons still have to come in to borrow a device with the book on it, so that’s not a solution. Which means if libraries want to be in the business of loaning ebooks electronically (and they have to be or they’ll die), they’re going to have to license library-specific versions that expire after limited checkouts. Which means publishers will be able to calibrate the cost of library versions vs personal versions in such a way as to maximize profitability. I would expect the per-checkout cost to be, eventually, not that much less than the personal purchase option. If a personal copy is $10, the 26-checkout library version will have to be something like $100.

E. Barandiaran March 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

# 6. Scott Sumner says he has never been in Japan but he loves the country and so he wants to show his surprise and/or concern about the amazing strength of the yen since last Friday. I have been in Japan several times but I want to forget the last one –because of the first disaster of Sendai in June 2002, when my Argentine national team failed to qualify for the final round of the World Cup (the decisive match was played against Sweden there). I still love the country but I’m not surprised about the strength of the yen. My theory of “money” is actually a theory of the payments system, that is, about how transactions are settled, and has nothing to do with money as a store of value and meaningless concepts of liquidity as in liquidity traps. The earthquake+tsunami disaster caused a breakdown of the payments system as much as it caused breakdowns in most public utilities. When the payments system breakdowns people end up holding more currency than anticipated –the same way that drivers have to spend more time in their cars waiting for traffic to resume. I understand that BOJ has been flooding the markets with currency but most likely they have underestimated the problem (there are some papers about how the Fed reacted successfully to this problem on 9/11). I believe that it will last only for a few weeks and then the yen will depreciate to its pre-disaster level.

Slocum March 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

#3. But on second thought, I don’t see how libraries and ebooks can really work. If checking an ebook out via my public library web site is as fast & easy as buying a kindle book from Amazon and the library per-checkout cost is lower (and ‘free’ to me), why would I ever go to Amazon to buy an ebook?

You might say that I’d buy those ebooks I wanted to be able to ‘own’ and read forever, but why–when I can go back to my library web-site and check it out again (for ‘free’)? That being the case–it seems that publishers will have to charge a per-checkout fee that’s very close to the Amazon ebook price. But that would be hugely expensive for public libraries and make them (the libraries) pointless. Why would we have an institution that buys ebook licenses in batches of 26 at $260 using tax money and then gives them away (each checkout having a $10 cost) for nothing to patrons — who then overuse the system because it costs them nothing out of pocket?

So maybe the only way publishers will be able to charge a lower per-reader price for library books is if they remain inconvenient. Either libraries will stick with paper OR you’ll have to physically go to the library to have your ebook reader loaded up. Then publishers will be able to price discriminate — price-sensitive people will have to signal by a willingness to keep schlepping books back and forth to the library.

Paul N March 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

#9 is stupid, suggesting Japan doesn’t have enough young workers – when in fact young workers are disaffected and chronically underemployed. It reminds me of the ridiculous proclamation of a “shortage of scientists and engineers” in the US, which may be roughly true for computer programmers, but essentially no other (young) technical people.

POWinCA March 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

@Joseph:

Dude! When did you go to Marine OCS? In the 1950s?

We had waterproof notebooks in Army OCS in 1989, bought from the Ft. Benning PX. I think it was just wax-covered paper.

They looked just like these:

http://www.waterproofpaper.com/military-paper.shtml

They even had the nylon covers just the right size. I still have mine in a box somewhere.

mbt March 18, 2011 at 5:31 am

risk extinction that way, so they won’t. One approach is for libraries to buy the non-expiring ebooks that individuals do, but that won’t work because those are tied to a particular device (or at a least a particular account with a few registered devices). They aren’t loanable unless the library loans them out on a library-owned reader, which means high cost and patrons still have to come in to borrow a device with the book on it, so that’s not a solution. Which means

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