Assorted links

by on April 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Brink Lindsey on frontier economics, and a related comment on education.

2. Advertising markets in everything.

3. Short Gary Gorton bit on CDS and excess transparency.

4. What is the consumer surplus from computers?  And is retirement stagnating?  And engines of stagnation.

5. Optimism about solar power.

6. In case I hadn’t made it clear, contrary to its critics the city of Brasilia works reasonably well.

mobile April 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

#2. How much would I be willing to accept to get that done to my house?
How much would I be willing to pay my neighbors to not get that done to their houses? Is there a homeowners association willing to, say, impose a 50% “income tax” on these displays and make everyone in the neighborhood better off?

anon April 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

#5: Before floating off on a cloud of optimism, you should do a rough calculation of the energy and power needed.

First, a gallon of gasoline burned in a car delivers about the same transportation oomph as 10kW-hr discharged from a battery. Left as an exercise for the reader, please feel free to assume 25-33% thermal efficiency for internal combustion and 100% for electrical storage and motor. Or just look at the Nissan Leaf, it has 24 kW-hr battery and a 70 mile range, more or less. So I think it’s safe to assume it would get on the order of 30 mpg with a gasoline engine.

Second, at 240 VAC, it will take roughly 42 amps continuously for an hour to move that 10kW-hr (assuming a 1.0 pf). To put this in perspective, a typical wall outlet is 15 amps at 120VAC — the same power delivery as 7.5 amps at 240 VAC. In other words, you’d have to run the equivalent of six wall outlets on separate circuit breakers at full blast for one whole hour to fill up a one gallon-equivalent “gas tank” of a battery. What is a fast recharge? 10KW (one gallon, roughly 30 miles range) in 15 minutes? Well, multiply that power requirement by 4…so now you need a 40 KW circuit (i.e., 168 amps at 240 VAC). Yep, that’s big power, and would probably need to be delivered at a higher, currently non-standard-for-households voltage.

Now, do you think the wire from your house to the pole out front can support that? What happens when your neighbors also install the same capacity? And the shopping malls and office buildings — recharging hundreds of cars?

While you are at it, keep working backwards to the power plants figure out much power generation it’s going to take to replace our gasoline consumption of, IIRC, something like 390 million gallons per day. And remember that at high noon, you get about 1kw per square meter total from the sun, and in most places you get about 6 kW-hr per day per sq. meter total insolation….and at typical efficiencies, maybe 2 kw-hrs actual electricity per square meter.

dirk April 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Yeah, the optimism seems to be in cheaper solar cells, but it isn’t all about efficiency. After you have placed solar cells everywhere practical, how much energy will they generate in aggregate? Won’t we need a few more planets to place solar cells on just to supply enough energy for this one?

Mercy April 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Not at all, there’s a map going round showing the amount of space you’d need to cover in solar cells to meet the world’s energy needs: it’s a tiny dot in India. What the map fails to mention however, is the number of planets you’d need for the mines to build those solar panels…

spencer April 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Is Buttonwood of the economist right about older employees costing business more for health insurance? I doubt it.

Especially if the employee is over 65 when they drop the insurance provided by their employer and go on Medicare. At this point older employees save the business money on health insurance.

I keep telling my wife to ask her employer to share their savings because she is on Medicare, but she won’t do it.

Paul Johnson April 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

#3 But isn’t there another problem – that in the insurance industry (or casinos for that matter) betters are reqired to have the capital to pay off their bad bets. Not with CDS.

Jamie_NYC April 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm

You are “not required” in a sense that you can go bankrupt instead. I don’t see what the problem is.

This is an old story of bureaucrats raving against the market because they believe they know better, and because some ‘nobodies’ out there are preventing them from realizing their noble dreams.

Hasdrubal April 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

#2: Reminds me of driving through the country and seeing barns painted up with billboards for things like Mail Pouch tobacco. The rents for property owners have increased significantly, though, the olden days put their ads on the side of your barn in exchange for painting the rest conventionally. That’s got to be worth less than a few months’ worth of mortgage payments.

Aaron April 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Paul,
CDS traders have to post collateral in most trade agreements, and so do have to fund part of their trade. These trades are also subject to more and more strict capital treatment. You can’t just write as much protection as you want without being able to pay up. Neither your regulators nor your counterparties would let you.

Jim April 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Solar is the power of the future.

And it always will be.

Ronald Brak April 15, 2011 at 3:17 am

Mercy, just how many mines would we need for solar cells? Given that coal requires over 200 grams of material per kilowatt-hour produced and solar PV requires less than 1, we should need significantly fewer planets full of mines for solar power than the current number of planets we have devoted to coal mines.

anon April 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

naive comment.

That one gram implies how many cubic feet of overburden, ore, etc. before refinement?

Also, how much energy does it take to mine, refine, and mfr. that solar cell?

My guess is quite a bit being that the going rate for a 1.5 m^2 cell is $600.
http://www.homesolarpanels.org/bpsolar3215b215watt20voltpvmodule.aspx

That’s going to give you at best 2-3 kw-hr per day. Pricey toy.

anon April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

forgot to add — you’d need 5 or more of those to charge your Nissan Leaf enough for a 30 mile drive each day and nothing else…as long as it doesn’t rain. All bets off if you get a hailstorm.

Floccina April 15, 2011 at 8:45 am

#1
Yglasius writes:
“But it’s also the case that throughout our history, America has traditionally been the best educated country in the world. ”

But the other day (I cannot find it) on NPR a commutator claimed the USA has never done well in those international comparison tests. He said that we were near the bottom on the very first one.

Also by some measures we do better that anyone else today:
http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/12/amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa.html

Heinz Roggenkemper April 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

#5 It would be necessary to understand what the assumption about number of battery load cycles are. This is a big issue, and not even mentioned in the article, so it is hard to share the optimism.

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