Assorted links

by on July 5, 2013 at 10:33 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Me on Italian vs. French food (in German).

2.  The culture that is England, at first I thought this was parody, I guess she won’t be friends with me.  My favorite line was “I have to.”  Killer video.

3. 44-pp. overview of some Chinese financial institutions.

4. Interview with Knausgaard.

5. Amazon is now raising the prices of many books, including university press books.

6. A profile of Warren Mosler and Modern Monetary Theory.

7. Alex posts on income-contingent loans.

8. Thai Hitler fried chicken markets in everything.

Morgan Warstler July 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

Mosler and I had a back and forth around how to do the job guarantee. He lost…

http://www.morganwarstler.com/post/49828770506/sultans-and-their-fanners

As Sumner notes, if we do GI CYB, we won’t need NGDPLT for employment, it’ll just keep the econ growing at a clip that government shrinks.

After GI CYB, we get nothing from MMT.

Tom (Not that one) July 5, 2013 at 10:47 am

Please don’t judge all of England by Katie Hopkins. Every culture has d**kheads.

Tom (Not that one) July 5, 2013 at 11:17 am

Sorry, sorry – I misspelt ‘outliers’.

anon July 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Tempest in a teapot.

anon July 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hurricane in an airhead.

Is she “POSH”?

Nigel July 6, 2013 at 5:28 am

I’m not sure what constitutes ‘Posh’ these days.

Deep stupidity is probably not disqualificatory. I’m not so sure about the slightly estuarial accent and over applied makeup, though.

Silas Barta July 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

American moms aren’t any different about who they let their kids play with. They just hide the discrimination criteria better.

Choosy moms choose choosy mom neighbo(u)rhoods.

Sam July 5, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I’m not an American mom, but I am also choosy about who I let my children play with. Unpleasant children who are unkind or rude don’t get to come again. Name, skin colour and bank balance are not criteria. Intelligence and education are to a degree, but they are my children’s criteria, not mine – the children choose playmates that they enjoy talking to.

BC July 7, 2013 at 10:41 am

Shouldn’t the plea be to not judge all people named “Katie” by Katie Hopkins?

RM July 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

1. I wonder what she thinks of all the Mohammeds?

Rebecca July 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

Interesting that in all that debate nobody explicitly confronted her with her implication that intelligence is directly proportional to class, and so, presumably, wealth?

Andrew' July 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

I’m not sure that would move the needle to someone who views class positively.

Carl July 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Weird, I always just presumed that intelliegence is correlated with wealth. Don’t know about “directly proportional”.

Brain surgeons earn more money than waitresses. Not everyone is smart enough to become a brain surgeon. etc

RM July 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

Oops, I meant 2.

Marie July 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

#2 a kick.
She is looking out for her kids by making sure they only play with kids with upper class first names.
But she doesn’t judge by last names because she doesn’t actually *know* the last names of any of her kids’ friends.
Yes, this is the modern successful mom in any “developed” nation. You could tag the problems of the last three decades on this alone. . . . .

Affe July 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

Please baby jesus let Kate name her son Tyler or her daughter Charmaine…

Sam July 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Children in primary schools typically know each other by first name, even in “posh” schools. The children probably don’t know each other’s surnames, so when they’re telling mummy about what happened at school, it will be “Katie”, “Sam” and so on.

I imagine she does know the surnames of her kids’ actual friends, but might not know the surname of the Tylers and Charmaines that she’s avoiding. (Also, surname is a fairly poor indicator of social class these days.)

And whilst she might be a thoroughly unpleasant woman, the idea that people from certain backgrounds tend to choose certain names for their children is hardly a new one. If I told you I was going to meet LeDarius and Demarcus for coffee, you would immediately assume that they were American urban black men.

John Thacker July 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

I wouldn’t be surprised by what 5. is claiming, but as it acknowledges, they hardly offer convincing evidence, only some anecdotal evidence. (There’s also anecdotal evidence of sudden very deep discounts on books as well, particularly on Kindle editions.)

All the examples given in the article are still below list price stamped on the book– which does bring some similarity to the hotel or airline industries, where the “list price” is something that nearly no one pays.

David July 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

Alternate proposed title: “Amazon has raised prices on at least two books”

mike July 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

lol

Tom July 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

It also doesn’t mention that Amazon connects you to people selling used copies of a given book, often for far cheaper than Amazon’s price. Yes, you pay shipping, but you can still come out way ahead. The paperback academic work from Striphas that was cited as going up to the princely sum of $19, can be had used for as low as $8.70 plus shipping, or even $1.34 in the heftier hardcover. And all that pricing info is right there on the book’s Amazon page. To me, it appears that Bezos has not gotten the hang of being a ruthless monopolist yet. (To be fair, the author’s aren’t getting a slice of the used book sale, but in the short term, end users are getting a win.)

Roy July 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

$19 for an Academic title? That’s not an Academic title, an academic title is a book that cost me $107 used, because I couldn’t convince my University library to spend over $400 for a book only I, and hopefully some future grad student of mine, will ever look at. Actually $19 is a good price for a book from a genuine small press, the problem is academic publishers. And don’t tell me that the cost of production of the aforementioned academic volume was do to production costs. Springer doesn’t work that way.

If Mr. Hollock is worried about readers, he could price his kindle edition lower.

Rahul July 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Inter Library Loan? That worked awesomely for me most of the time.

Roy July 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I actually needed the book for more than a few months and there wasn’t even a single copy in my regional library association, library funding cuts can be murder, no matter how justified. I have a truly obscure subject. Honestly it would have been better if the editor had just emailed everyone a pdf instead of publishing a book, but then none of the contributors would have gotten a publication credit, and since I am posting anonymously, I’ll add he’s a raging jerk anyway.

anon July 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Love these lines:

For Mr. Hollock, the “Born to Lose” author, the issue is readers, not dollars.

“I see all these other books out there that are cheaper,” Mr. Hollock said. “I thought, ‘Man alive, I don’t know how I’m going to compete.’ ”

Easy solution at hand: self-publish and give your stuff away, or sell it as an ebook for 99 cents.

Bezos plan is to make as little profit as possible for as long as possible to keep competition away. Looks like it’s working.

Can’t wait for the protests about working conditions and pay to shift from Walmart to Amazon.

anon July 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

From the article:
“One small nonfiction publisher, which requested confidentiality because Amazon is a crucial account, said the retailer sold its books at a discount ranging from 25 to 35 percent for years. Then, despite steady sales, the discounts began to shrink. Their most popular book this week was 16 percent off.”

Publishers have traditionally given a discount from list price of between 50% and 60% to distributors. Many bookstores want at least a 45% discount when they buy from a publisher.

Solution for publishers is to offer a much lower discount and set a meaningful list price – Amazon will still carry the book. So will BN.com. Small publishers need to treat Amazon more like a book search engine and less like a sales channel. YMMV

Tom West July 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Perhaps we’ll see whether Amazon ends up killing the book industry altogether.

If they’ve managed to put the anchor price of a book in consumer’s minds below what a book can reasonably be sold for (and still have everyone in the supply chain make enough to keep them in business), then there’s every chance that the industry will collapse. (Of course, the boutique book business will always continue to exist – after all, there are still poetry books sold, they’re just not culturally relevant.)

Markets don’t have to exist if the price that consumers feel a product is worth is below the cost to produce it. Amazon has done its best to drop what a book is worth (in the eyes of buyers). We may now see the long-term fall-out.

Marie July 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’ll never understand why you can print a roll of paper towels and sell it retail for $.99 but we’re supposed to believe a 200 page book priced at $12.00 is hopelessly under market. And that it’s reasonable to pay $8.00 for someone to electronically transfer the text of a book to your hard drive. It would be one thing if authors made money off a book. . . . . .

anon July 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hopefully you exercise your freedom to only get books that are free or cost less than 99 cents. Or just buy rolls of paper towels to read.

Tom West July 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

An interesting comparison.

All I know is that there’s not a lot of extra money sloshing around in the book business. People in it, from bookstore employees to editors, generally work for less than they’d get paid for those same skills elsewhere (not that they are underpaid – obvious the job has non-renumerative rewards) and publishers aren’t raking in cash (some few market segments excepted), so the business obviously won’t survive in its presently constituted form if people decide a book is worth a lot less than they used to pay.

But this wouldn’t be the first time (or third time) I’ve seen something of personal interest disappear because perceive worth to the customer dropped.

The odd part is that perceived worth can drop even when the utility did not. Presumably people enjoy books as much as they ever did. But now they “know” books should be much cheaper, the original price is simply too high for the same amount of enjoyment and they’d rather do without.

Dan July 8, 2013 at 11:03 am

@Marie, from working for a [UK-based] small academic publisher, and assuming the publisher recieves a complete proofread document:

- Main income comes from the author, so there’s the cash upfront. In all likelihood, the publisher won’t see much more bar that.
- Only 2 guaranteed sales (British Library and the author/s institution).
- Typesetting isn’t super cheap, as it’s a relatively time-consuming pain in the ass (ideally you want someone you can trust from an English-speaking academic background).
- Paper of any halfway-decent quality is not cheap.
- Printing/production equipment is all hired in, and with low-volume production, the click (per-page) printing charges will be relatively high. The typeset pages need to be prepared by someone with the required technical skills to do that and not screw up (screwing up at this point through small errors/equipment faults is very easy). The printed pages then need to be cut and bound on more hired in machines operated by skilled employees.
- The printers will break every week/day or so.
- Colour printing costs are astronomical for low-volume.
- For the 2 sales, the book will likely be hard bound for archival purposes, which is not cheap. Importing preconstructed cases from China is generally the cheapest method, and again needs a skilled worker to put it together, generally by hand if at a small press.
- If you get lucky, and the book you’ve printed does turn out to have some worth, then at this point you can print some more copies up in softback. But for academic texts, successful is a relative term (due to the pricing catch-22, maybe? And/or complete non-understanding of how to find and sell to audiences?), so it’s still going to be low volume.
- I’ve ignored all ancillary costs.

Scaling this gives savings via bulk costs of consumables, ownership of equipment &c., and though I can only comment from working for and with small publishers, even the scaled and diluted costs vs paper towel costs are immensely high, with only gambles on high sales to offset them.

EBooks are harder to justify, but I’d venture that much of the seemingly high cost is being used to recoup losses/expected losses.

N.B. I consider academic publishing as it currently stands to be somewhat of a scam, this is just some slight justification as to why publishers whinge. It’s not sustainable, and most of them are screwed imho. Watching publishers scrabble it the edge of the cliff is kinda entertaining like a car crash, kinda grim, and (bar academic publishing) very sad.

Jonathan July 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

Funny, but whenever I hear the name Tyler I think of someone who eats tacos in gas stations, or Chinese food which requires U-turns in dicey neighborhoods — so I guess she has a point.

anon July 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

That’s Tyrone driving.

dirk July 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

2. We have found the Steve Sailer of England.

Millian July 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

England is still a Steve Sailer-believing, caste-believing society to a great extent. That’s why the cool kids declared their independence.

Nigel July 6, 2013 at 5:42 am

The truth is that Steve Sailer would be held in contempt by a very large majority – in the unlikely event of his becoming a well know figure over here.

And you ought to consider that the cool kids, having declared their independence, wrote slavery into their very constitution.

Matt July 7, 2013 at 6:18 am

If England were truly a Steve Sailer believing society, we’d believe that there wasn’t a very strong need to keep your kids away from the bad lot, because their personality traits, which they inherited from their parents would be both a) not transmissible to your own and b) obviously apparent through their own behavior, and that your own kids would inherit your own traits well enough that they probably wouldn’t even be interested in the others.

Unfortunately, we’re not a Steve Sailer believing society, but believe people are largely made by their surrounding culture and class. Thus anxiety about cross class association.

Hoover July 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm

2. She’s flogging a book called School for Stars. That was just a long advert for brand Holly Willoughby.

Asa July 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

That video is amazing! And she has daughters named Poppy and India, yet they aren’t allowed to play with kids with geographic names or seasons? Wow.

lvps1000vm July 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

#1 summarized for non-germans:

While french cuisine has more over-the-top 3-star spots of excellence, the italian one is more consistent in delivering quality at small restaurants, simple dishes. While luxurious restaurants can be replicated elsewhere throwing proper resources, the italian model depends on the local web of fresh providers and local culture.

JWatts July 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

#6 – A profile of Warren Mosler and Modern Monetary Theory

From the article: “They deny the fact that the government use of real resources can drive the real interest rate up,” said Mark Thoma, an economics professor and widely followed blogger who teaches at the University of Oregon. After delving into the technical details of modern monetary theory for a few minutes, he paused, then added, “I think it’s just nuts.”

I’m not really qualified to delve deeply into MMT, but it does look pretty idiotic on the surface. Has any nation ever tried something like MMT successfully? What do most economists think of it?

dan in euroland July 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Basically MMTers do not belief in the existence of real interest rates.

Here is a Matt Rognlie post with comments from some MMT bigwigs fleshing out the differences between MMT and mainstream macro thinking: http://mattrognlie.com/2011/04/29/mmt-fallacie/

Alistair July 6, 2013 at 7:13 am

There’s probably a nugget of truth under the mound of prejudice….

UK names are moderately strongly correlated with class. Higher class is strongly correlated with desirable behaviours and intelligence. Insofar as a name is a signalling device for class, then yes, you might not want your kids mixing with a “Tyler” unless you have additional countervaling evidence.

For the record, I have a neice named Tyler. Lowest class blood relation by some way. No offence Mr Cowen!

Nathan Goldblum July 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

A *niece*?!

Floccina July 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

#1 I have always felt the same here in the USA about Italian vs French restaurants.

maharbbal July 11, 2013 at 6:12 am

About #1, I think Tyler Cowen should never go to the restaurant with his wife again.
In the opposition between the French v. Italian cuisine, why would he pick the safe and reasonable option over the riskier but on average better one? As a male, he is a risk- and pleasure-seeker always willing to try something new that could give him an advantage in the competition for his next sexual or business partner. So he should be opting for an innovative, expensive restaurant that could one day be an asset for a date (but could also give him diarrhea).
But with his wife the calculation is totally reversed. He has a lot invested in her and cannot afford to displease her. An innovative restaurant can end up making her very sick which would lead to the possibility of loosing all the sunk costs she represents. So his priorities are reversed and instead of a high-risk high-reward option, he will pick the super safe one, the Italian restaurant.

PS: apologies to your spouse

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