Assorted links

by on August 13, 2011 at 8:36 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Should we like Japanese markets in everything?

2. Via Chris F. Masse, legal tender Star Wars coins, coming to Niue.

3. A government-lite proposal for principal reduction.

4. My Economist video, chat with Ryan Avent.

5. What guides how much people pay at pay-what-you-want restaurants?

By the way, Richard Clarida and Jeremy Stein are floated names, and likely nominees, but they haven’t been nominated for the FOMC just yet.

E. Barandiaran August 13, 2011 at 8:56 am

Sorry Tyler. Let me add this great post to your links. It links to several great references to the U.K. riots.

John Thacker August 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

Regarding #1, I’m not sure that readers gain from you linking to terrible critiques of libertarianism without comment. The claim that pay as you go is only better for the rich is belied by cell phone contracts, where pay as you go is preferred by people with less money, because they end up paying less.

Matt August 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

Tradable PARs! What a great idea! (this is coming from an underwater homeowner; not a banker)

Noah Yetter August 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

Re: #1 I see the author’s point but I’ll gladly accept a world of burdensome microtransactions if it means my government stops warmongering abroad and tyrannizing at home. Hell, getting rid of Civil Asset Forfeiture would be worth the trade all by itself.

TallDave August 13, 2011 at 10:12 am

3. Interesting, but this tends to turn homeowners into renters — they have no stake in ther home’s appreciation. The rational choice is for them to reduce maintenance to avoid spending their own money just to give the lenders more appreciation. And I don’t think any of this makes it any easier to sell a home, which is probably a big structural problem for labor mobility right now.

friends August 13, 2011 at 10:16 am

one of the things people hold against americans is that their friendships are supposedly driven calculating what you get from it, rather than being friends for friendship’s sake. same with dating and marriage, other nation’s people seem to stick together much more if the value of the friend, wife etc ‘drops’. a high divorce rate is a function of a value-optimizing society.

Anon August 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

Is this only American women or something?

steve August 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

When you live in a society with low trust where anyone might turn you into the stasi or KGB for having the wrong attitude or saying the wrong thing then friendships are long and enduring. Most often, they are simply the people you grew up with and trusted as a child before you understood the way the world worked.

In societies with high trust, friendships center more around common interests and activities. They tend to be more fleeting as your interests change. Over the course of a persons life in a high trust society they have many more friends if fewer life long friends.

A similiar dynamic occurs for societies with low mobility and high mobility. If you move away, you are less likely to maintain a friendship.

The U.S. happens to be a high trust high mobility society.

BM August 13, 2011 at 10:29 am

#4 Tyler, how was the tea?

Tyler Cowen August 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

Black! No milk or sugar for me.

Ben August 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I find it interesting that The Economist also does interviews “anonymously.” I listened more than I watched, but I didn’t notice any actual shots of anyone other than you.

Michael Orlowski August 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Regarding #1,

You can usually walk into a McDonald’s or Starbucks and get free Wi-fi without having to buy anything. You can walk into a mall and sit on a bench there without buying anything in the the mall. You can usually do the same is some bookstore which has a cafe. Having said that, I don’t think that the author made a good point.

Michael August 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Correct. The author conflates “free” with public, these are not the same thing. Italy is also much the same way as Tokyo, you can’t sit down without paying an explicit cost for the chair (on top of the cost of the coffee). Meanwhile, there’s lots of free places to sit in the US, bookstores, building lobbies, etc. The lack of seating has more to do with property costs than with government provision of them. The author then launches into a tangential discussion of “psychological costs”, with little connection to his earlier points. In my experience, there is a psychological weight in any highly dense environment- a product of the lack of personal space, regardless of if it is provisioned by the govt or the market. I’ll take my private quarter acre in the suburbs anyday over central park, thank you very much.

Tom August 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm


mark August 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I lived for three years in Osaka, and found his post bizarre. I love Japan, there are many good and bad reasons not to like living there as an ex-pat, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard that particular complaint.

anon August 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

5. In the mid-70s for about 6 months I hitched rides in the evening back from school (Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) to downtown , and took a bus if I ddin’t get a ride. The single most important factor seemed to be the weather ; in good weather I almost never got rides.

broseph August 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm

the shared appreciated cram/write down is not new or rare…at all.

from APR 2009

“1. Do principle write-downs to current market value for all troubled borrowers who can afford their home on current market terms…but in return for this (massive) accommodation…require them to give up 75% of future home equity appreciation back to the investors who took the loss resulting from the initial principal write-down…until the investors are made whole. After that point, allow the homeowner to keep any remaining equity upside.”

a simple date restricted google search turns up tons of these ideas….

the “new” component of hussman idea is it’s branded as “government-lite”…and he’s hussman, so his ideas get taken seriously.

about time.

Patricia Mathews August 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

The Japanese style of paying for everything is basically the way the entire Ferengi economy in Star Trek works – and the way Galt’s Gulch is set up.

And – in answer to the comment above – if you have a quarter of an acre in the suburbs and prefer it to a comfortable seat in a coffee shop or a park bench, you have that privilege. And those who don’t, well, we never promised them anything they couldn’t pay for, did we? Let them keep moving, or go back to their tiny little one-room apartment, and if that’s not good enough, let them get a second or third job.

Zansetsu August 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I don’t think the person in #1 is actually very familiar with Japan – I’ve lived in Tokyo for over 20 years, and do not recognize at all the city he describes. There are plenty of drinking fountains and free parks (the city is less green mostly because everything is excessively paved over with concrete – i.e. excessive “public goods” provision). You might get a different impression if you only walk around Roppongi or other expat areas, but that’s not the modal experience. You can find trash cans everywhere, usually in front of ubiquitous convenience stores. It’s still very easy to dispose of little bits of trash on the go. The government did clamp down on trash cans in train stations after the 1995 sarin attacks (that’s right, it’s more about government *intervention* for the sake of public safety), but things have more or less returned to normal today.

Robert August 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm

We should start taxing home debtors on forgiven mortgage debt. It’s outrageous. When all is said and done this will amount to a trillion dollar middle class tax cut, and they’ll still whine about taxes and want to ‘tax the rich’

Why should anyone bail out failed speculative investors?

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