Assorted links

by on November 11, 2012 at 11:47 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Planet Money link on Honduran charter city programs.

2. Asia’s Great Moderation.

3. The central tension of the GOP coalition.

4. DIY satellite platforms.

5. Your first name is not as special as you think.  (When I was a kid the only other “Tyler” was Henry Kissinger’s dog, or so I had thought; now it is quite common as a name.)

6. Taleb on Pinker and peace, and Pinker’s response.

7. Litterman interviews Eugene Fama, who still deserves a Nobel Prize.

prior_approval November 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Still not noticing anything about how a long standing third party in America politics is continuing, slowly, to effect the political landscape.

A Libertarian Senate candiate broke 5% in a statewide election- Jonathan Dine 164,991 votes, or 6.08% of the electorate in Missouri.

And not a word of an interesting political result, as some people continue to talk about the failures of the one party to rise beyond seemingly endless minority status, while the Libertarian Party slowly gains true credibility, in part by not representing discredited Republican ideas and policies.

Yancey Ward November 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm

And if Akin doesn’t stick his foot in his mouth, Dine probably drops 130,000 votes.

This is less interesting and meaningful than you thought.

prior_approval November 12, 2012 at 12:30 am

No, it is just a test of how long the preapproval process seems to be for some information.

joshua November 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Libertarians and libertarian-leaners are having a greater influence, but not in the way that you think – they’re winning elections as Republicans

mw November 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

they’re having even more success losing elections as republicans

Anthony November 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm

My first name wasn’t terribly common while growing up, and still isn’t among people within a decade of my age, especially since most Anthonys of my generation go by Tony.

However, it’s been the number 1 or 2 boy baby name in California for a while now. So I hear my name called often when I’m places where there are children.

Nick_L November 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm
lemmy caution November 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

On average, you know one fewer person with your name than your friends do.

Careless November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Anthony has been a top 50 name for a century.

Anthony November 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

A libertarian candidate got 6% when the Democrat incumbent was widely perceived as corrupt, and the Republican challenger was widely seen as insensitive to women. That’s not terribly indicative of a trend, unless those perceptions will spread to other races and increase over time.

zbicyclist November 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Would the Libertarian have beaten out “Neither. Let’s just start over, shall we?” if that option had been on the Missouri ballot? I doubt it.

Yancey Ward November 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I didn’t find anyone else with my first name until I was in my late 20s, though I did meet someone in college who had it as a last name. The only people I have ever seen with my first name (with and without the e) are two actors and a football player, Yancy Butler, Yancey Arias, and Yancey Thigpen.

Richard A. November 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

3. “George W Bush masterfully led this coalition through the Medicare Part D episode only to attempt to spend his political capital on a phase-out of Social Security.”

Should not this be a tip off that Bush’s Medicare Part D was never about the elderly vote. Bush did what he did on Medicare Part D for the pharmaceutical industry.

Ricardo November 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

No. Gore proposed a prescription drug program in 2000 and Bush responded with his own. You may remember that the election rested on a handful of votes in — where else? — Florida. Do you really think Bush would have increased his chances of winning Florida by publicly saying that the government has no business subsidizing prescription drugs for people? Bush’s major Social Security initiative took off only after Bush was re-elected in 2004 and he was already a lame duck.

mw November 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

how much did gore’s liberal version put on the nation’s credit card compared to bush’s conservative version?

Andrew' November 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

As I told my crestfallen father, this is when the Republicans take whatever the essentially flat tax burden is (Romney paid what, 14%?) and make that the flat tax of the land. The major problem with the Republicans is they have yielded the rhetorical initiative to the Democrats, which is probably simply one of the incumbent advantages. For example, this “white man party” gibberish. If you simply stand for traditional Republican principles and only white men show up, then so be it. The problem is they aren’t.

infovore November 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

” If you simply stand for traditional Republican principles and only white men show up, then…” you will never win any election ever again

So Much For Subtlety November 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm

If you think the purpose of politics is winning. Robert Byrd did. That is why he joined the KKK. I am sure most politicians do.

But that doesn’t mean they are right.

Of course the Democrats won and always win the Whitest states in the Union. What is the African American population of Vermont or Conneticutt again?

infovore November 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

If you want to actually put your ideas into action, you have to win elections. Idiot.

So Much For Subtlety November 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm

No you do not. The Communists almost never won elections. Especially not in the First World. And yet many of the policies of the Communist Manifesto were passed.

Also, why would you want to join with the Gadarene swine just because that is the way the pork is flowing?

infovore November 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

OK, but do you have a mechanism in mind that would enable Republicans to put their ideas into action without winning elections? The Communists had massive powerful state apparatus explicitly for this purpose, along with willing agents able to emigrate to the USA and virulently infect our vulnerable institutions with their ideas. Conversely, the US media and other institutions have been effectively vaccinated against anything that remotely resembles “traditional Republican principles”. If you’re proposing a Republican “march through the institutions”, I’d love to know how you think that could happen.

So Much For Subtlety November 12, 2012 at 1:43 am

I love the idea of Chomsky being sent to undermine the United States. No, I don’t have and don’t need a mechanism. But if I wanted to suggest one I would suggest the Communists won in a free battle of ideas. The sending of infectious agents to the West had little to do with it. There is no reason why the Republicans can’t do likewise. Except they won’t.

You are missing the third alternative – the Boethius solution: reitre to the countryside, reflect on philosophy and await the barbarians.

As I said, if a herd of swine are charging towards a cliff, why would you want to join them?

Ricardo November 12, 2012 at 12:14 am

“Of course the Democrats won and always win the Whitest states in the Union.”

The Connecticut reference is a sign you haven’t done your homework. CT isn’t even among the top 10 whitest states in the country. Of the top 10 with the highest percentage non-hispanic white populations, Obama won 4 and Romney won 6 (West Virginia, North Dakota, Wyoming, Kentucky, Montana, and South Dakota). Two of the predominantly white states Obama won — Iowa and New Hampshire — were swing states.

So Much For Subtlety November 12, 2012 at 1:38 am

I don’t see what your point is. You are looking at a State that was 98% White in 1950 and what? Claiming because it is not so White now, it was never White? The Democrats have historically done well in the North East. Since the 1970s they have tended to have a lock on the region in fact. How is that controversial?

The rest merely proves my point. The Whitest states in America do not always go Republican. They are fairly evenly divided by the looks of it.

Although given that nearly half of the pre-school children in Connecticut are non-White, I think we can agree the situation will change.

Ricardo November 12, 2012 at 5:00 am

I would turn your question around and ask what the original point of your comment was. Statistically, race is one of the most important predictors of one’s vote in Presidential elections. Non-whites (and Jews) vote overwhelmingly for Democrats while the Republican share of the white vote this year is 60%. If we look at historically white states in the Northeast, we see that whites in New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire are not at all loyal Democrats but tend to split 50/50 between the parties; to the extent that the first two are Democratic strongholds, it is non-whites that tip the balance. This also goes for New Jersey and California where Romney won a majority of white votes. Massachusetts (and probably Vermont) is a different story where about 60% of whites vote Democrat.

Other than attacking the strawman claim that all overwhelmingly white states vote Republican, your comment does not address the statistical fact that both nationwide and in most states, the Republicans can count on at least 50% of the white vote. Your comment is in the spirit of the “ecological fallacy” — the fact that one or two overwhelmingly white states are reliably blue does not refute the fact that most whites overall (the vast majority of whom do not live in Vermont or Maine) lean Republican.

Miley Cyrax November 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Married women also leaned Romney. “Married party” may be a more apt description than “white man party.”

Jan November 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Married *white* women.

Engineer November 12, 2012 at 4:40 am

Among married people generally it was 56-42 for Romney.

GiT November 12, 2012 at 8:30 am

That’s unhelpful. Can’t find data on “married women” divided by race, but…

Married Women: 46/53 (O/R)
White Women: 42/56 (O/R)

Given what else we know, married non-white women almost definitely broke pretty hard for Obama.

Engineer November 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

Assuming non-white marrieds preferred Obama, it’s striking that in each ethnic group, the married contingent was significantly more supportive of Romney than the unmarried contingent ( http://elections.reuters.com/#poll ).

It would be very interesting to get more insight as to why this is. Are married people thinking about the deficit? Are they more sympathetic to the notion of personal responsibility? Are single people concerned about an economic safety net? Are singles looking for a hip prez who understands the hookup culture and not a stodgy Mormon dad?

Finch November 12, 2012 at 10:23 am

> It would be very interesting to get more insight as to why this is.

My guess is it’s because being married makes you think long-term.

Brian Donohue November 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

Unhelpful? To whom? There are those who find eagerness to impute racist motivations to any conceivable Republican position to be unhelpful.

Of course YOU find this unhelpful.

lxm November 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I guess you only hear ‘small government, low taxes, free enterprise, self-reliance’, but it looks like millions of minorities and women hear something else. Either they are delusional and hearing things that aren’t there or you need a hearing aid.

So Much For Subtlety November 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Or they hear exactly the same thing. Is it just that if you’re not a White male, then taking stuff from White men and giving it to people who are not White and not men looks a damn fine policy.

African Americans voted against their economic interests as most people would normally understand them. African Americans did well under Reagan and George W Bush. They have suffered disproportionately under Obama. They still voted for him. But that just means they have a different set of economic interests.

GiT November 12, 2012 at 12:01 am

This presumes that the reasons African Americans did well under any of these presidents had something to do with the policies of these presidents.

So Much For Subtlety November 12, 2012 at 1:33 am

No it doesn’t. Although obvious that was the reason – a rising tide and all that. It presumes people usually vote for the guy in office when they are doing well and against him when they aren’t. Not in the case of African Americans. Some other reason needs to be found for their voting patterns.

GiT November 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

Economic intuitions are not economic interests. “Vote with the economy” is not voting for your economic interest, it’s voting… well, I’m not sure what. Nothing in particular. Feelings, vague impressions.

mw November 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Yes, it must be coincidence that Obama got 10% of the white vote in 40%-black MS and 60% of the white vote in 8%-black MA.

mw November 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Yes it must be coincidence that Obama got 10% of the white vote in 40%-black MS and 60% of the white vote in 8%-black MA.

Chris November 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I get what Taleb is saying but how do we model nuclear threat? It seems scary but no one has used one (other than testing) since a couple of months since the first one was created.I’d say that Pinker is correct that we are less violent and Taleb is correct that we live in dangerous difficult to model times.

Miley Cyrax November 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I often see Libertarian party cheerleading here, but is it more plausible/doable for the Libertarian Party to rise and compete head to head with the Democrats and Republicans, or for the GOP to adopt more Libertarian stances? More libertarian attitudes toward abortion, sex, and drug use would certainly help the GOP, more so than Hamleting over capturing the Latino vote.

For example, single women (something like 62/35 Obama/Romney) seem like low hanging fruit for the GOP, as a lot of them were driven to vote out of sheer antipathy for Republican social conservatism. Social conservatives will stick to the GOP for awhile anyway, so they wouldn’t need to worry about them.

Engineer November 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

More libertarian attitudes toward abortion, sex, and drug use would certainly help the GOP, more so than Hamleting over capturing the Latino vote. …. Social conservatives will stick to the GOP for awhile anyway, so they wouldn’t need to worry about them.

Social conservatives are the base of the GOP so they will be the ones choosing the platform and candidate (that’s why Giuliani was never going to succeed).

A more libertarian tendency is appropriate, but in the sense of “you do your thing and we do ours” rather than “hey abortion, drugs and sex are fine, we just want free speech and markets”.

So Much For Subtlety November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

For example, single women (something like 62/35 Obama/Romney) seem like low hanging fruit for the GOP, as a lot of them were driven to vote out of sheer antipathy for Republican social conservatism. Social conservatives will stick to the GOP for awhile anyway, so they wouldn’t need to worry about them.

What social conservatism? Romney was no threat to abortion whatsoever. And everyone knew it. The Democrats were just determined to our-Willy-Horton the Republicans. And they did.

The single mother vote is probably not low hanging fruit. They were the third strongest group for Obama this time. They were the second in his first election. Only African Americans are more determined to vote for Obama. It is just the takers and makers argument. The single Mothers of America depend on the government for hand outs. They will always vote for the party that promises them more hand outs. Obama is offering them free health care, well not really but sort of, and Romney might make them pay for their birth control. No contest.

The Republicans cannot win this demographic.

TheAJ November 12, 2012 at 12:03 am

The Republicans cannot win this demographic.

the “takers” demographic? They sure do. Look where the 65+ vote went. Oh yeah, they don’t count. Real America

So Much For Subtlety November 12, 2012 at 1:31 am

The single mothers demographic. I would assume the elderly are always torn. On the one hand they love their free medicare and social security. On the other hand, they are the richest community in the West. And they tend to hate young people. So it is no surprise they turn out for the Republicans in mildly strong numbers.

MD November 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Hahaha please keep thinking that. In fact, please tell as many people as you can. It’s so pleasing to watch you people shoot yourself in the foot.

Cliff November 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Volokh conspiracy has a lot of good commentary in this regard. Libertarians will do the most to influence policy by doing pretty much anything but participating in the Libertarian Party. I would like to see the LP run candidates in uncontested elections and libertarians vote for the LP in non-swing states, otherwise forget about the LP.

Something Cleverish November 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Agreed on Fama deserving a Nobel. His models are quite useful in cliometrics and economic history.

Jacob November 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I was all set to disagree with you and then I stopped to think for a moment. Well played, sir.

Rich Berger November 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I am still waiting for Tyler to criticize Obama. I guess it’s a mood affiliation thing.

Something Cleverish November 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm

We need Obama to keep the NY bankers in check.

Engineer November 12, 2012 at 4:43 am

> I guess it’s a mood affiliation thing.

Or a “academics need to walk the line to be taken seriously” kind of thing..

Andrey November 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Colonialism? No. It is even more dramatic. It looks like genetic engineering. Colonialism does not haunt me, transgene countries do.

NNM November 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I say: Advantage Pinker.

Thank you Tyler for posting his rebuttal—yet again you show your intellectual chivalry.

Something Cleverish November 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm

No. 5: Cheers!

Saturos November 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm

3. Schrodinger’s Tax Plan LOL!! I disliked the mathematically impossible meme, but even I give kudos for that one!

Elambend November 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I used to think meeting people that I shared a birthday with was neat until I fou d out it was one of the most common birthdays. (early sept)

Careless November 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Now I know that my parents had uncommon sexual patterns, and it’s your fault.

Lewis November 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I started out as a huge Taleb fan and read almost everything he’s written, and in the process came to the conclusion he’s 90% a crackpot. Taleb actually does this misrepresentation constantly, because he has gotten to the point of only being able to read anything through the lens of Black Swan thinking. There is nothing in the world, to him, not explainable by ignorance of black swans. If something is related to power laws and cuts against the grain of academia Taleb will believe in it.

He believes that avoiding the news can prevent alzheimer’s disease. He believes Tesco should be banned from giving bonuses to its managers (!), and yet he’s a Ron Paul fan. He believes in the gold standard. He opposes free trade and says it was responsible for the Irish potato famine. He praises knights and feudal society generally. He predicts that nations will be replaced by city-states in the next 25 years. He thinks jogging is bad for you. Any of these things could possibly be good ideas, but my point is that Taleb does not practice any of the epistemological humility that he extols but rather makes up theories of the world right and left.

I don’t know why the world has made Taleb as such a celebrity for his prescience about the financial crisis. If Scott Sumner is right, the aspect of the financial crisis related to Taleb’s criticisms–too much faith in certain models of debt performance–is irrelevant to the awful, economy-wide crisis that most of us worry over…the one that lead to a slowdown in natural gas drilling totally unrelated to housing or finance.

Ricardo November 12, 2012 at 1:11 am

Yes, I was also surprised to see him advocating the gold standard and city-states as forces for stability. If they are so stabilizing, why aren’t they being used anymore? He conveniently discards Black Swan thinking whenever it makes him look more iconoclastic to do so. Ironically, the case made against the gold standard by people like Eichengreen closely matches the sort of Black Swan arguments Taleb makes in other contexts: namely, that the gold standard attains some measure of currency and price stability in the medium run but at the cost of being extremely vulnerable to great depressions or populist revolts triggered by deflation.

Engineer November 12, 2012 at 4:33 am

Taleb largely owes his celebrity to his exotic background and literary (rather than analytical) skills..

His book of aphorisms is quite entertaining and often insightful. When he was working on it, he Twittered out the whole thing one aphorism at a time.

JasonL November 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

This is harsher than my take, but kind of yeah. Sitting here in 2012, did we really learn that the world is critically fragile in 2008? I think he is brilliant in the narrow take of how the assumptions in models go wrong, but he is very dismissive of upside and efficiency and the broader he takes his argument the less plausible it gets. Overall, we can’t be that fragile or we wouldn’t be here.

Tom November 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

If Nobel’s are for how much research you subsequently incited, you could argue for one going to Fama. If they’re for actually being correct, he should never have one. He and his disciples have a terrible investment record. If you want to see someone who understood how to invest, look to Keynes. His investing record does not often get brought up, but it was superb.

Jayson Virissimo November 12, 2012 at 4:01 am

Ironically, Keynes’ was almost completely wiped out in his currency speculating days by a black swan.

Cyrus November 12, 2012 at 6:02 am

But Keynes was better positioned than many members of Congress to profit from inside information, so outsized returns should be expected.

Brian Donohue November 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

Ricdiculous reasoning. The whole point of Fama’s analysis is that it is extremely difficult to beat the market. Your criteria for evaluating financial economists is odd. Surely, Warren Buffett doesn’t consider himself an economist- he isn’t.

prior_approval November 12, 2012 at 2:21 am

Just discovered a much better link concerning advice tot he GOP (and it even ties in to some commenters here) –
http://www.ericgarland.co/2012/11/09/letter-to-a-future-republican-strategist-regarding-white-people/

Donal November 12, 2012 at 10:47 am
Douglas Levene November 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

I thoroughly agree that Fama is long past due for a Nobel. Those who think that he was all wet, that his ECMH is ridiculous and that of course smart people can outwit the market: tell me this: what will the yield be on US sovereign 30-year bonds be one year from today?

PK November 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Wrong logic. Unpredictability is no proof of market efficiency. If markets were completely insensitive to information and purely randomly driven, returns would be unpredictable as well. Academics often fail to realise this.

Sometimes it’s possible to outwit the market, but I wouldn’t try to play with T-Bond 30Y yields. I don’t care for T-bonds, I don’t need them. I do care about DJIA 30, and not at all times. Only on certain occasions it’s worth to take a bet.

Brian Donohue November 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Sometimes it’s possible to get lucky and then tell yourself you have outwitted the market.

Even if you have actually outwitted the market, consider: If I pour hundreds of hours of research into the market for blue jeans and, as a result, I stumble across a bargain, have I outwitted the market? Have I demonstrated the inefficiancy of the blue jeans market?

Al Abbott November 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

#5 First Names
Here is an interesting site on popularity of names over the years:
http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager

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