Assorted links

by on January 27, 2013 at 7:31 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. There is no great stagnation.

2. What we now have less of.

3. An experimental economics look at Catalonian (?) independence (pdf).

4. Predictions about Massachusetts.

5. Fall in English crime appears to have resumed.

6. The statistics crisis in Greece.

7. Interview with Georg Baselitz (cranky).

8. Charter city proposal for Belle Isle, near Detroit.

Handle January 27, 2013 at 8:10 am

Is there an existing good metric for “Law Abidingness” = (Crime Rate) / (Standardized Law Enforcement Effort).

Standardized Police Effort would be some combination of real-per-capita expenditure, number of cops, sentences, the corrections system, prosecutions, various forensics and tracking technologies, etc.. (things that are anti-crime “force multipliers” I suppose).

For various societies and cultures, how much total law-enforcement effort is required to achieve certain crime rates. I want to see time-series of that. The marginal values of dCrime / dEffort would be interesting too.

The reason I’d like to see something like this is that while “falling absolute crime rates” may indicate improvement in the overall level of safety, one wonders, “At what cost?” A lot of people want to know about more that mere safety, but also what’s actually going on with the underlying culture? If people are becoming increasingly criminal, but the law and police are winning the arms race, that’s “safer” but is it actually “better”? Take your finger out of the dike for a second and whoosh.

dearieme January 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

“The ONS statisticians say they can’t be certain what lies behind this difference but that it could point to a gradual erosion of police compliance with national crime recording standards”: i.e. the numbers men suspect that the effect is bogus.

mike January 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

re #1, I really enjoyed the accompanying link to the works of Jonty Hurwitz. I only wish there was a prediction market where I could test my hypothesis about what kind of South African he is against the general public.

axa January 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

out of topic but and far from good journalism, but it links to the source…….”This is the year Latinos will overtake whites as the largest ethnic group in California.”

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2013/01/california_latino_takeover_demographics_biggest_ethnic_group_governors_office_2013_july.php

prior_approval January 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

‘”This is the year Latinos will overtake whites as the largest ethnic group in California.”’

And to think that it only took a war for whites to be able to outnumber Mexicans, back in the halycon days of American manifest destiny.

john January 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

Whites are an ethnic group.

OK, whatever they say. At least they’re not trying to Balkanize us!

(I do like the part about Latinos trying to keep us young.)

prior_approval January 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Well, at the time California became a part of the Union, white was a legal status – it meant you could not be property anywhere in the Unitest States.

Of course, Cailfornia as a part of the United States did not allow slavery of anyone – just like California when it was still a part of Mexico, before we acquired it.

Cliff January 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

We get it, the U.S. is so terrible because of its genocidal past, unlike your beloved Germa… oh, wait.

Anon. January 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

#2:

US GDP per capita at PPP: 48,328

France GDP per capita at PPP: 35,068

DocMerlin January 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

That is a /massive/ difference.

BC January 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

Also, leave it to Krugman to paint French underemployment as a good thing. Now that companies in the US are trying to convert full time workers to part-time to avoid Obamacare mandates, I guess we will start “catching up” to the French in terms of family time.

Quick question: if the cause of increased work hours is “inequality and the rat race” rather than women voluntarily moving into the workforce, then why have men’s work hours not increased, and even decreased slightly? Are men not part of the rat race?

Finally, one would conclude that women’s increasing work hours must correspond to less free time only if one doesn’t count unpaid work at home as “real work”, an unfortunately all too common attitude. If women are replacing unpaid work hours at home for paid work in the office, say by hiring a nanny or sending their kids to daycare while they work in the office, then that wouldn’t necessarily lead to a reduction of free time. Of course, Krugman uses the term “family time” instead of free time, perhaps to be able to count unpaid work at home as part of family time, while counting on readers to mistakenly equate less “family time” with less “free time”.

I have to hand it to Krugman though. This is by far the most creative spin on French underemployment that I have read. I wonder whether Krugman would now argue against stimulus because it might decrease Americans’ family time hours.

FYI January 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Yup, that is the usual ideologue Krugman. What I don’t know for sure is: does he know how weak these arguments are or not? Is he doing this because his ideology just takes over his rational side or is he consciously trying to manipulate public opinion?

Thor January 28, 2013 at 1:44 am

Not sure, but I don’t think it matters to his fans that his arguments are weak and selective. He is the conscience of liberals. (I’m a liberal but more of a centrist than PG.)

wrparks January 28, 2013 at 9:26 am

Laundry = family time.
Changing diapers = family time.
Cooking = family time.
Cleaning = family time.
Entertaining the milkman = family time

If I were a woman, I would be insulted.

Brandon Berg January 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

That aside, I’m not seeing a problem here. Men are working less. Women are working more outside the home, but that’s because it used to be that they didn’t work outside the home at all. Is he saying that women need to get back in the kitchen?

nobody important January 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm

family time is apparently not worth much.

Ray Lopez January 27, 2013 at 9:12 am

@6: Same in Argentina, China: statistics are politics; science as politics: in Italy they are prosecuting geologists for not predicting an earthquake. If the prosecution-mad USA, which incarcerates more people than China, catches up with this trend, watch out! Jail break your cell phone–go to jail @8: Detroit Free City: I saw this in the comments of this blog a few weeks ago. Do try and keep up TC :-)

DocMerlin January 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

“Jail break your cell phone–go to jail”
This just became a crime.

Alexei Sadeski January 27, 2013 at 11:15 am

No it didn’t.

Unlock =/= Jailbreak

Slocum January 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

#2. I’m not sure it follows that ‘family time’ is necessarily just total_time – hours_worked. In my (admittedly limited) observations of French daily life, it seems that ordinary activities remain more labor intensive than in the U.S. Fewer online purchases, more time spent in daily shopping and schlepping, driving and parking slower and more of a hassle. And this, for example, suggests U.S. leisure hours have been increasing (though there’s no comparison done to leisure hour trends in Europe):

http://www.economist.com/node/5476124

john personna January 27, 2013 at 11:04 am

Americans often “busy themselves” with leisure activity. Vehicle miles traveled has been falling though, and “Figure 2. Trends in the Distribution of Person Trips per Person by Gender and Trip Purpose” at nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf says the decline is mainly from a reduction in “Family and Personal Errands.”

Slocum January 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Right — the trend for ‘Family and Personal Errands’ (unpaid work) is down, while the trend for ‘Social and Recreational’ (e.g. leisure) is up slightly.

bjssp January 27, 2013 at 9:30 am

It’d be nice if Kling tried to find the numbers cited in the Journal’s editorial, but he doesn’t. And before anyone says that I should look myself, I have already started, and it’s a standard practice to link to specific numbers and claims. Given the WSJ editorial page habit of skewing anything and everything to support its claims, color me skeptical for now.

Also, it’s not clear if the tax changes will be constitutional, but if they are, it seems possible that with the proposed progressive measures, middle class and lower class tax payers could come out ahead here, although the changes to the credits and deductions make this picture murky.

Yancey Ward January 27, 2013 at 11:21 am

http://www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2013/app_13/hsummary.htm

I just added up the 10 biggest line items under MassHealth alone and accounted for almost 30% of the entire state budget (there are more than 50 line items). Health and Human services itself is half the state budget for FY 2013 (though not all of that is health care).

bjssp January 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm

The Sunshine Review, which I forgot about, discusses these matters for all states in a relatively simple format, although it’s far from complete. For FY 2013, the state will spend $15.14 billion, which is about 43 percent of the state budget. Looks like the editorial page managed to get one right.

http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Massachusetts_state_budget

Well anyway, what’s the right comparison? Surely health care costs have beome more expensive all around since 2000. How much have they gone up compared to other parts of the budget, and have some of those parts of the budget gone down?

Yancey Ward January 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I think the point is still valid- health care spending is squeezing out every other part of the budget, none of which are getting cheaper to do themselves. Either Massachusetts finds a way to put a cap on health spending growth, keeps raising taxes, or it will increasingly have to give up funding other state functions. Now, Patrick and the legislature are re-promising to make health care more affordable, again. People rightly doubt this re-promise. In fact, one really doubts even the commitment to do so given the new tax proposal.

bjssp January 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

It does look like it’s taking up more and more of the budget, but to be sure, we need to be asking why they might be spending less on other areas and whether that’s in relative or absolute terms in addition to why health care costs have gone up so dramatically. I’d also be very curious to see comparisons to other states. Not that it necessarily makes the increases okay, of course, but if we are seeing similar growth all across the country, then perhaps Massachusetts is doing relatively well, considering how many more people are insured.

There’s a disturbing lack of context when these things are described. Why, I am not sure.

mulp January 28, 2013 at 5:06 am

Romney was motivated to act on health reform because health care costs in Mass were the highest in the US which made it the highest in the entire universe given the US is the highest in the universe for a nation, and rising at about 10% per year.

However, Romney believed in market pixie dust – get everyone insured and uncompensated care costs will go down and insurers will ration the rest.

Except for-profit insurers make more profit the higher the revenue going through their coffers as long as they cooperate to keep industry costs high….

Mass public and private sectors are actively engaged in controlling health care costs, something Mitt Romney took no action on as governor because it is a hard management problem and contrary to his political philosophy. Government is picking winners and losers based on cost and quality of care. With the number of employers providing health benefits higher than ever, employers support government acting to control health insurance premiums and health care costs.

Basically, individuals and businesses are in the same boat and can’t get away from paying for health care costs, so everyone wants them controlled without reducing quality. The only individuals and businesses not in the system are overwhelmingly poor, so they can’t be made to pay.

Rich Berger January 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

From 2006 to 2012, state budget is up 6.8% in real terms, while health care is up 25.5%. See here – http://browser.massbudget.org/CompareCurrentYear.aspx?typ=Past&bgt=15,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,27,56,55&infl=CPI&c1=15&hf=Past#topOfTable

Obamacare, here we come!

Floccina January 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

The population is aging so it is natural that more will be spent on healthcare and less on education.

Brian Donohue January 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

#2. Krugman, I think, accurately identifies the obviously different trade-offs between time and money made by Americans and Europeans. Don’t we all know this?

I believe what France has less of, ultimately, is sustainability. We shall see.

NAME REDACTED January 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

France has African colonies (in all but name) that sell it raw materials at below market rates. This is why they have been fighting so hard in Africa recently.

MikeAZ January 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

I don’t. And I’m guessing other people here don’t know Krugman’s obviously identified different trade offs between the US and Americans. Why don’t you summarize and provide a link?

Maybe you mean sustainability, but I don’t really know what sustainability is – or rather I think there isn’t a clear meaning to it in this application. But if I’m wrong, then I’d love to hear it.

—-
I’ve seen calibrating models argue this is a direct result of the tax structure, higher income taxes via the substitution effect induces fewer work hours in favor of more leisure or perhaps more home production as is suggested elsewhere here.

I’d be happy to hear some other ideas though.

Brian Donohue January 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Allow me to define ‘sustainability’, the way I understand it in this context.

I’m thinking about how well the lifestyle you aspire to lines up with your resources.

If it helps, think of Greece as an example of what happens when there is a mismatch here that goes unaddressed for too long, and austerity becomes an extremely painful thing that happens to you rather than a somewhat painful policy choice.

I think most of the developed world is on a borderline unsustainable pace. Most European countries, including France, are showing more advanced symptoms than the US.

Balance sheets, reflecting the true liability for promises already made, tell the story. But politicians and economists don’t care about balance sheets, since they’re unlikely to provoke a crisis in the next 6-9 months, which is the extent of their vision.

Matt January 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

If that umbrella comes in a brass handle model, it will also be good for punching people in the face.

William January 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

Did you choose to write “Catalonian (?)” to indicate that you already know that the correct adjective is Catalan?

Check Wikipedia or try searching “Catalonian independence” in google. (“Did you mean…?”)

Millian January 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

It is misleading to present data for France as if it were representative of Europe. France, famously to us on this side of the Atlantic, introduced a 35-hour working week, whereas most European countries have a 40-hour week.

Far be it from me to accuse Prof. Krugman of cherry-picking data to suit his case, though.

Claudia January 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Millan, funny I did not see you calling out the in-house data cherry picker on yesterday’s UK data potpourri (though to be honest I don’t understand the aunt-uncle exchange you added to). As I see it the line between illumination and deceit can be thin and often depends on who’s right. Where I work, if I make an argument with one chart, I have to produce the caveat chart too…lest I am being misleading and not sufficiently humble. Economists like Krugman or TC are not basing their economic opinions off one chart (a few cryptic arguments), it’s coming from a whole series of charts, episodes, conversations, and personal beliefs. Sure the chart was a visualization of Krugman’s views. You could tear that one down and he’d pop a new one up. You might as well as argue over a vivid case. Btw, the WSJ op-ed by Boudreaux and Perry and that seems to have started this blog round-robin was not exactly setting the empirical bar high. Rarely have I seen distributional patterns refuted with aggregate data, neat trick though NSFW.

Rahul January 28, 2013 at 3:58 am

#7: Georg Baselitz

I think Spiegel loves to do cranky interviews. Or maybe it’s only because they interview Germans?

mulp January 28, 2013 at 4:30 am

4. … good prediction… “The only way to make zero-deductible health insurance available at low cost is with a large subsidy; how much will depend on negotiations with insurance companies.”

Well, I rank that as a failed prediction.

Mass does not provide “zero-deductible health insurance at low cost with a large subsidy”.

In the most recent status report, Mass non-elderly with incomes below 500%FPL had out of pocket medical expenses of at least 5% 18% of individuals and 10% or more 6% of individuals. I can’t imagine anyone calling 3-5 weeks of income out of pocket for medical to be “zero deductible health insurance”.

20% of Individuals over all in Mass report an unmet health need, with 26% of those under 300%FPL, and 23% with chronic health problems.

15% of the insured have problems paying medical bills.

How can anyone have medical bills if they have zero deductible health insurance as Kling claims??

Perhaps Kling would like to argue that high deductible health insurance costs a lot more than its proponents claim it will. Except that would be a prediction contrary to what he thinks should be true and in line with the real world.

david January 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

RE #3: “Conflict involves potentially large losses. In the way we model things, the losses from conflict will be inefficiencies that need not occur. The study of how these inefficiencies arise and how they can be avoided is the main motivation for our work.”

Wouldn’t the most obvious explanation for these inefficiencies be one of political economy? The payoff of interest in these decisions is not that of the community, but that of the the decision-makers. Conflict can be power-increasing for leaders. This doesn’t explain the experiment results, but might have greater explanatory power over real world outcomes.

Floccina January 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

#2 Women usually work plenty hard to produce for in home consumption when they are not in a taxed economy job. In fact women often decide to work in the taxed economy because it is easier more enjoyable work than what they did at home. People in Europe work more for in home consumption that we do because the taxes are higher

JCW January 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

#8: Is anyone else here going to go home and have a Robocop marathon?

Paul Verhoeven just keeps looking more visionary.

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