Assorted links

by on January 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Russ Roberts interviews Jerven on measuring African poverty and progress.

2. Why is Colombia still a third world economy?

3. Economics of web cartoons.

4. Brad DeLong (?) transcribes a session on fiscal policy, with numerous luminaries.  Alternatively, here is Latvia vs. Greece.

5. Remedial courses for scientific misconduct.

dearieme January 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm

“5. Remedial courses for scientific misconduct.” Oh balls, throw the scoundrels out.

Roy January 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

God yes. A dishonest researcher can never be trusted again. Science has enough careerists, so now we need to coddle the stupid crooks too?

Andrew' January 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Well, maybe make science more inclusive on other dimensions so people don’t feel quite so compelled to cheat.

DocMerlin January 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm

They don’t feel compelled to cheat because of lack of inclusivity, but because of how the funding and status structure works.
If you have something actually revolutionary and new, its extremely difficult to convince anyone. If you show a really clean graph with data points in the right place, you get kudos.

Andrew' January 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm

That’s what I mean by a lack of inclusivity. It’s up-or-out to a degree…so to speak.

So Much For Subtlety January 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Roy, if you went over the results of the vast majority of important scientists, I bet you would find dozens of famous names who at one time or another fiddled their data. In fact I was talking to someone who told me that Gregor Mendel’s results were too good to be genuine.

It doesn’t mean they are bad scientists. Yes, we should not forgive or forget, but perhaps we shouldn’t totally destroy people’s careers either.

What we need to remember is that science is a collaborative effort. It is right and proper that results are checked. They should be checked. They must be. It is not one person who convinces the world with a brilliant idea, it is dozens of people working on that brilliant idea who do.

There is a problem with science in that there are too many people fighting for too few places. And like the US military discussed elsewhere, it is an Up or Out culture where enormous pressure is put on younger scientists. That is wrong. We should fix that so there is less pressure to cheat. We should punish people who actually do cheat. But we ought to forgive – and look with generous eyes on what might have been an honest mistake.

Rahul January 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Didn’t Kepler fudge some data too?

Roy January 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Kepler’s fraud was known from pretty early on and is a big part of his unsavory reputation. Also remember that Kepler was a magical practitioner as much as a scientist.

Roy January 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Yes, but this is a terrible problem, and as a working scientist it needs to be stopped.

You have no idea how much time and resources have been wasted because of scientific fraud. The fact that science is so prone to up or out, also means that the falsifiers can be easily replaced.

So Much for Subtlety January 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

But the ease by which they are replaced is the problem not the solution. It means they have little power to bargain with their superiors. It means they are under even more pressure to fake their results. Worst of all, it means they are not given the time they need to develop in to really good researchers.

Scientists who don’t check other scientists’ work are the ones who are wasting time and resources. The cheats actually do a public service. Not that I want to encourage them.

derek January 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

#2 Keep them stupid and poor, easier to manage. I guess it worked.

Having some knowledge of the Quebec Catholic school system mid quiet revolution, where people came out with the ability to write in an amazingly beautiful script, but not much else. Those from good families got a good education, and there was a path to influence through the church.

One nasty thing that characterized the whole social and political structure was the attitude that there was us, the smart, leaders, and them who either were to be exploited or helped. The Left at one time stood against that type of thinking, and were successful in overthrowing a regime in Quebec peacefully and changing the social expectations to close to social equality.

Now the Left builds structures in some way similar to the old Church with the inherent divisions. The whole discussion over the last while about inequality has been about money, but not about the social class assumptions. We will take from them and give to you. As long as you stay living over there. We really do care, trust us. So in an odd way countries who rejected the old strictures generations ago are becoming more and more similar to places like Columbia where you end up in the same place as you were born.

DocMerlin January 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I nominate this for the comment of the year.
+ as many points as I have to give,

Laurent January 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Canada has one of the lowest intergenerational income elasticity in the world. Your post implies that the province of Quebec would be an exception. I tried to verify your claim, but found no data regarding intergenerational income elasticity in Quebec.

However, one could look at Gini coefficients and their evolution. This is usually closely related to intergenerational income elasticity. What we observe is a story that does not fit with your claim. In the 1996-2009 period, Gini coefficient have increased much more in Canada than in Quebec. From 2002-2009, Gini coefficients have even gone down. Quebec also has the lowest percentage of its population with less income than the poverty line in Canada. A story where this happens in sync with a higher intergenerational income elasticity than Canada is certainly not intuitive.

(source: http://www.budget.finances.gouv.qc.ca/Budget/2012-2013/en/documents/poverty.pdf )

By the way, the poverty rate of one-parent households with children has decreased dramatically during this period, a direct consequence of universal child care and generous maternity-leave insurance. Indeed, their median market income (excluding government transfers) has almost doubled during this period, in constant dollars. On the other hand, one will observe poverty rates going up for people over 65 in the past years. I do not know why.
( (http://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/donstat/societe/famls_mengs_niv_vie/revenus_depense/index.htm )

derek January 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I was describing the change in Quebec that happened from the ’60s to the ’80s, a massive change. I remember from high school, on the parent teacher days seeing young lads close to six feet tall accompanied by their father and mother who were barely above 5′. This was not the case in the rest of the country at that time. Since then the middle class has stagnated as Canada recovered from it’s overspending and has faced the competitive world markets with little success. The results are as you describe. The exceptions are the resource based economies in the west.

Consider my point that Quebec of the 60′s and early 70′s were pretty close to the situation in Columbia. A decade or so earlier than that it would be something like one of the more peaceful middle eastern countries.

Laurent January 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I might not have expressed myself clearly. I agree with much of your claims concerning the quiet revolution.

I disagree about that last part, about Quebec become more like Columbia. Low intergenerational income elasticity is a sign of high mobility. In other words, there is little correlation between income of an individual and that of his parents. Low Gini coeffficients are a sign of low inequality. Gini coefficients and intergenerational income elasticity are highly correlated. Both seem to be quite low in Quebec. Quite the opposite of “becoming more and more similar to places like Columbia where you end up in the same place as you were born.” My point was that outcomes for the lower and middle-class households are much better now than in 1996.

derek January 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Ok, I understood backwards. Thanks.

Ray Lopez January 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

@#5: Why Are We a Third World Country? Juan Jacabo Pavejau National University of Colombia Note: Downloadable document is in Spanish <– there's the reason. Who would read such a no-doubt multiple variable regression analysis paper if it's not in English? Get with the 20th century man! I don't expect people to understand Greek so I post in English. As for blaming the Catholic church, that's like blaming your parents. Probably Columbia should blame the drug lords for a form of Dutch disease that kept people fat and lazy with narco-dollars.

So Much For Subtlety January 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I don’t think it is so much blaming the Catholic Church. Although he probably could. It looks to me more like blaming the government for not giving people like him a lot more money.

Academic investigates social ills. Decides the solution is to give academics a lot more money. Film at 11.

king kong January 10, 2013 at 12:23 am

People, if you are going to talk about Colombia, the country, at least spell it right! It is Colombia, with two “o”s.

axa January 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Using english to talk about this topic would be considered smug in Latin America, since the goal reader seems to be Colombian people. It’s a delicate issue having to deal with 19th century nationalism.

Blaming catholic church may look stupid and naive for people not living in Latin America. But, when you realize all the influence church has in people’s live, even the “scientfic & academic” people, the claim is not as stupid as it seems. Even in 21st century.

Merijn Knibbe January 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm

About Latvia vs Greece: fiscal consolidation in Greece has been as fast as in Latvia. The UK has a deficit as large as the Greek one. Greece has, considering the change in nominal wages and the number of self employed, the most flexible labor market of the EU (really!). Greek exports did much better than those of the Baltic states.

http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/chronicles-of-the-second-great-depression-1-the-initial-increase-in-government-deficits/
http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/chronicles-of-the-second-great-depression-2-the-size-of-government-deficits-in-europe/
http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/chronicles-of-the-second-great-depression-5-changes-in-government-expenditure-and-revenue-5-graphs/
http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/government-deficits-in-the-eu-2011-large-in-ireland-not-too-high-in-the-eurozone/

Ray Lopez January 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Thank you Merijn Knibbe–it’s hard to get data on Latvia. I did find the below just now but I get conflicting numbers, but here is what I scraped off the net: Latvia ‘crisis’ Current Account Deficit: -20%, Greece ” ” : -14% to -18%; Latvian government deficit vs Greece: -3.5% in 2008 (Latvia) vs -9.9% (Greece); in 2009: -10% (Latvia) vs -16% (Greece); in 2010: -7.7% (Latvia) vs -10.8% Greece; in 2011 -3.4% to -4% (Latvia) vs -9% Greece. Latvia is less than 25% of Greece in population. All in all, Latvia has done slightly better because I think they are near dynamic countries like Germany, Netherlands, etc. Greece by contrast is next to less dynamic countries like Bulgaria, Turkey (not much trade with them), Italy (ditto), Albania, ex-Yugoslavia, etc. Still good points made by the article as indeed too much bureaucracy in GR.

Andrew' January 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm

4. “Brad DeLong (?)” I think that’s the correct spelling.

dearieme January 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm

It’s spelled Broad DeLarge.

Frank Youell January 9, 2013 at 11:44 pm

It’s actually Brad DeLete

TallDave January 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I’ve seen it spelled Bad DeWrong so often that’s starting to look right.

I think something similar to happened to the coach of the Patriots.

Lion of the Blogosphere January 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Columbia is one of the most prestigious universities. How can it be third world?

IVV January 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Have you ever been to that part of Manhattan?

JCE January 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

tyler, did you read the entire paper on colombia? do you have any particular opinion?

also, i wonder what acemoglu and robinson would think of this sentence: “These hypotheses are interconnected and fundamentally based on one underlying deficiency: lack of quality education.”

PD: derek you perfectly describe colombian society when yo say: “One nasty thing that characterized the whole social and political structure was the attitude that there was us, the smart, leaders, and them who either were to be exploited or helped.” It’s spot on. It also perfectly characterises the way economic policy is conducted

JCE January 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm

well, looking more closely at the colombia paper is seems much less impressive than the title and abstract would suggest. one of the theses it evaluates is whether colombia is a third world country because because colombians are not punctual. also, the bibliography is rather unimpressive; i expected one much larger and comprehensive.

here’s some info on the author, who is not an economist but a public accountant (that’s not to say that only economists are qualified to weigh on this issue) issuehttp://www.bogota.unal.edu.co/fcm/Novedades/Actividades_Academicas/Homenaje_a_toda_una_vida_academica_al_profesor_Juan_Jacobo_Pavajeau_Esteban-594

TallDave January 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm

1. They should start by eliminating the ridiculous notion of “relative poverty” and start talking about absolute standards of living worldwide. (Of course, this would mean people would have to start caring more about the Chinese person living on $1K than the American living on $10K, so it will never happen.)

2. Low trust.

3. I have that t-shirt. No one ever gets it.

4. Latvia is small, but it sure seems to be working well.

5. It’s too late to save climate science. Hell, they even gave Gleick his job back.

TGGP January 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Gleick’s field isn’t actually climate science, but rivers or something like that.

Sam January 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

@ 4
Paul Krugman’s words somewhat into the transcript are worth reading. He addresses the market monetarist view and the question of the fiscal multiplier more directly and concisely then I have seen before.

Claudia January 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I agree…though I think the whole session is worth reading. I often have to read Krugman’s blog quickly due to its tone but this was a joy to read. Now the one problem with brilliant speakers is they now how to buff up the rough edges in their logic too well. And yet he covered himself with the “we are absolutely sure of nothing” caveat and a Pascal’s wager for stimulus. (The Latvia post on its own didn’t take much shine off here.)

That said, my vantage point says a part of his argument has to be wrong. He put his dig in once again about the ills of macro in the last 30 years. He mentioned two points of more insightful macro … 1978 and 1958. He focused on 1958 which I can’t speak to, though I suspect 1958 macro-man would have botched the monetary-financial response to the crisis. But I can say 1978 macro-man was quite active in this cycle. One of about that vintage was in charge of macro projections at my work, which included overseeing the stimulus responses that I and many others worked on. It’s not (as some academics suggest) that macro policy folks have been stuck in a time warp, rather we sampled from the cutting edge what actually worked. So of course, no one was literally in 1978 (or 1958) mode but it’s not like the macro-men who taught me beautiful theory in grad school were writing down our policy forecasts either. In any case, my point is 1978 macro was surprised here too. Fine not as much 2006 academic macro, but still surprised. And to be honest, I think Krugman is too.

CarlosH January 9, 2013 at 3:26 pm

#2 Tyler, please read the links before you post them. Your posts are supposed to save our time, not to waste it.

Jack January 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm

@5: I agree with the commenters at the top: There is no room for scoundrel scientists. In most fields, there are more PhDs than tenure track jobs (or good, well-funded research scientist positions). Toss em out. There are better people waiting in line.

Adam January 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

*webcomics

Brian Donohue January 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm

#3. Excellent link.

mulp January 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Why didn’t Colombia develop like the US?

Simple, it did not have big government that was determined to do land redistribution from the landowners to immigrants who would generate profits for the capitalists of industry.

To accomplish the rapid land redistribution of fast growth required great transportation systems, and while roads were a key part of transportation, they were too slow and too expensive for capitalist industry – shipping millions of tons of raw and finished goods required more than roads. Thus railroads became a priority that the capitalists required big government to create – public taking of land for redistribution for private profit.

Big government took private land and then gave a square mile of land for every mile of rail line built with government subsidized loans which accomplished multiple objectives:
1. vastly increased demand for steel for the rail
2. vastly increased demand for timber for the ties and telegraph poles
3. vastly increased demand for labor
4. vastly increased demand for food shipped to widely dispersed laborers
5. vastly increased demand for rail cargo and passenger transport everywhere

Colombia has failed to develop because the property rights of landholders have been respected, mostly by granting land rights to absent landlords who merely sought rents on the land. Economic “reforms” have only increased absent landlord control of Colombia. Seriously, if you are a shareholder in a mining or farm production company with land rights in Colombia, do you want any of your profits to be used to provide jobs and opportunity for any Colombians? Isn’t it in your interest that your corporate holdings in Colombia be increased by using government policy to take as much of the remaining public common for your private profit because you do not live in Colombia and have reason to care about the children of Colombia?

A landowner based economy does not care about individuals and their economic well being. The capitalist depends in increased demand for goods that become capital because capital formation requires increased capital formation. When people survive on a $1 a day, they will be a lot better off on $5 a day, but most of the extra $4 a day will be local labor driven production and consumption. To get to $50 a day level requires buying a lot of capital assets, things like cars, appliances, big houses to hold them connected by the expensive capital of water pipes and copper wire, or alternatively the capital to produce water and electric power by the household. The ability to afford capital requires the job opportunity to manufacture the capital to be owned.

Colombia has developed like the US South landowner economy, compared to the capitalist industrial economy of the North and Left Coast which were tightly connected by railroads by 1880.

To build an industrial economy without rail requires a willingness to subsidies road transport so the poorest 50% of the population can benefit from the transport system. You can’t buy a car and gas before you have the factory job producing the cars and gas, and are then paying the taxes to pay for the roads. The private railroads in much of the world are built to profit the corporation that is the absent landlord controlling the mining and the port where resources are exported. Keeping labor poor is good for profits.

Roy January 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Colombia was settled before independence. The USA wasn’t. This has nothing to do with land reform.

Stealing Indian land was the foundationof both countries, that is not what is today considered land reform.

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