Assorted links

by on May 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. One analysis of the Sewol tragedy.

2. Catalonia still set on independence, or so it seems.

3. Sarbanes-Oxley after ten years.

4. A molecular sensor for all?

5. Earnings for Italian youth are being compressed at the top and they are suffering the biggest financial penalties (pdf).

6. A long and thorough Evan Soltas post on labor force participation.

Donald A. Coffin May 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

#6 the link goes to a Charles Murray book review.

mulp May 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm
DK May 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

#4 is a con that can only work on those hopelessly clueless in anything scientific. “Shine the light on apple and in few seconds get carbs and calories on cell phone”. LMAO. If it’s small and interacts with a smart phone, it obbiously has no problem to be entirely magical.

Just another MR Commentor May 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

These are the sorts of game changing new technologies which can help us break out of stagnation. The lack of talented engineers in the Valley means many great ideas are getting put on the shelf.

mulp May 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I guess the American race is inferior and untalented so we need to import the German race, Japanese race, Chinese race, Korean race.

At least the Australian race was allowed in during the 90s so Elon and his brother have been delivering great ideas: Tesla Roadster and Model S, SpaceX, Solar City electric power generation. Oh, and the easy one, Paypal, but that didn’t require that much talent compared to cars, rockets, and utility power.

Just another MR Commentor May 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm

There are great ideas and talented people all over the world and they are needed in the Valley. Americans are not interested in these jobs by and large, what few decent engineers that the US education system graduates are fully employed. No need to waste talent with silly immigration restrictions.
I believe it’s also a huge mistake to say PayPal doesn’t require as much talent to develop as cars or rockets.

So Much For Subtlety May 4, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Elon Musk is a Jaapie. He is from South Africa. Born in Pretoria. Not from Australia.

(So, OK, to be technical, in South Africa he would not be called a Jaapie, but outside, all White South Africans look alike, right?)

And his ideas have been extremely poor outside the tech world. Yes, Paypal was a good idea. Solar power? Not so good. SpaceX? Perhaps the best of the lot. Tesla? A massive waste of investment capital.

Oh, and Musk did a runner from South Africa to avoid his national service. He became Canadian. He did not take out American citizenship until 2002. Well past the 1990s.

JWatts May 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

“#4 is a con that can only work on those hopelessly clueless in anything scientific. “Shine the light on apple and in few seconds get carbs and calories on cell phone”. LMAO. If it’s small and interacts with a smart phone, it obbiously has no problem to be entirely magical.”

It’s based on a low end IR Spectrometer. I fail to see how you conclude that it’s a con on “those hopelessly clueless in anything scientific”. Oh, I’d be surprised if it lived up to all the marketing hype, but that scarcely means it’s a fraud.

Sigivald May 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm

It’s dubious because it makes sensationalized claims based on not-entirely-implausible things.

It can guess about the calories in an apple by assuming a standard apple size, but it won’t actually tell you how many calories that apple has, because it can’t know how big the apple is, even if it can measure sweetness accurately.

What it might manage is to compare the surface spectrography with a database, letting it, as the link specifies, tell you “how sweet is this fruit?” or “which well-known pharmaceutical is this?”. At least, for the surface and only the surface of the object. If it’s in the database, and the crowd-sourced entries are accurate.

Lots of ifs against the hype, and see below for another giant caveat.

(I’m surprised nobody here is mentioning the Tellspec, which was essentially the same idea a few years back, and similarly got lots of hype and failed spectacularly to actually do what they said it’d do, also using a Raman spectrometer using a laser, I believe also in the IR range.

So it’s not even new as a crowdfunded overhyped probably-doomed-to-fail-and-disappoint project.)

DK May 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

They claim to actually *measure* carbs, proteins and fats. That is bullshit. Have you seen near IR spectra? There is no way they can deconvolute individual contributions when there are tens of thousands of compounds. That is not possible even with high-end spectrometers and extensive calibration. They could possibly match spectra with the database and return “most close to the spectrum of the apple, of that variety” but even that is not going to be in their claimed 10% accuracy. Their source spans only ~ 200 nm, so that, too, puts severe limits on what can be done.

It could very well be a great device useful in a variety of single-parameter settings after some proper calibration. (Is it a pure meth or is it cut? How much alcohol in that batch of beer? Etc). But the dishonest marketing make me dubious that even these relatively modest goals will be achieved in a device that size.

AyeJay May 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Link 6 points to Charles Murray’s review of Nicholas Wade’s new book… *Ponders the meaning of this error*

mulp May 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

6 links to “Book Review: ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’ by Nicholas Wade”

Murray might be right about the book, but he sure muddies the water by flogging his race theory. What race is President Obama, for example. And most of those elected to Congress. What race is Sen Cruz, Rubio,

And should the European royalty be considered a distinct race given their inbreeding resulted in numerous genetic problems that provide for lots of interesting grist for drama?

Just another MR Commentor May 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I would like to add that your arguments simply display a heavy dose of mood affiliation

mulp May 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Well, I see myself criticising arguments that display mass mood affiliation.

No one I see is looking at the lack of fundamental demand for labor in their discussions of employment and unemployment.

No one is connecting the lack of demand for goods and services to the lack of “money in the pockets” of consumers or investors in capital assets.

No one is looking at the failure of “tax cuts to put money in your pockets to spend or invest more wisely than government” to deliver wiser spending and investment. Or perhaps less spending and investment is wiser, but why aren’t economists praising the lower consumption and investment as wise policy.

I’m a scientist/engineer who ended up focusing on systems because I found focusing on just one part didn’t make the whole system more reliable or functional. An economy is labor production labor production

You can’t understand the economy if you look solely at production. Its magical thinking to imagine “if we produce more, the consumers will appear with infinite money in their pockets” or shall I say “mood affiliation”.

andrew' May 5, 2014 at 5:25 am

Are you a green backer? Or are you talking about a temporary break in the supply-demand circuit?

TGGP May 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Obama is half & half. Cruz & Rubio, like many Cuban-Americans, are white hispanics.

So Much For Subtlety May 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Since Columbus there has been a great deal of intermingling of different peoples. But that does not change the fact that for several tens of thousands of years, humans basically evolved in distinct and separate population groups. Groups that inevitably became genetically distinct. Distinct to the point that today we can tell where someone of European origin came from within 250 miles or so. Distinct to the point Oprah can pay someone to tell her where her family came from in Africa. Although she seems to have picked frauds who lied to her.

Race is a scientific fact.

As for Royals, Prince Harry proves that they are not so distinct after all.

Just Another MR Commodore May 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

As for Royals, Prince Harry proves that they are not so distinct after all.

And what is that supposed to mean? I won’t have you sully the good name of Her Majesty’s Family.

mulp May 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

On Soltas’ http://esoltas.blogspot.com/2014/05/why-participation-is-down.html

His analysis is just like all the other discussions I’ve seen – a debate over the sound of one hand waving. Adam Smith talking of an invisible hand when discussing the operation of the market where at least two parties must participate seems to lead economists since 1980 astray. To call an economic “theory” “supply side economics” seems to me to lead to certain disaster.

All the discussion argue that the supply is falling and then explores lots of reasons for the fall in supply.

Hey, the supply of buggy whips, buggies, horses, etc fell a century ago. Was that caused by robot horse drives? Maybe government pollution controls?

Why not explore the reason for falling labor demand. Don’t you start asking why there is a fall in demand for goods and services? A fall in demand for capital assets like manufacturing machines and factories and roads and bridges that are increasing in value (as opposed to the price of the substitute when the bridge falls or the cost of congestion)? A fall in demand for clean water? A fall in demand for clean air?

Given the statements by economists, demand for better roads, water systems, power grid, cleaner air, cleaner water is way too expensive IN LABOR COST so they call for reducing demand for LABOR.

If you don’t think economists are generally calling for LESS LABOR DEMAND for infrastructure and environment, name the economists who clearly state higher taxes and fees and more environmental regulation is required to create LABOR DEMAND to drive up wages.

And on the consumer side, the “supply siders” call for “tax cuts to put more money in your pockets”. Well, after a dozen tax cuts in the 21st century, why should anyone work when everyone has so much money in their pockets from tax cuts?

And economists constantly call for employers to put less money in the pockets of workers – get rid of unions, get rid of the minimum wage, employ people part-time, gut benefits, end training programs and hire employees from competitors after they are trained,…

Name the economists who call for businesses to increase consumer demand by paying higher wages and hiring more workers and sacrificing economic profits by INCREASING LABOR COSTS.

Economists are trying to push workers on businesses who economists have told for decades to do everything possible to shed workers and make workers get the message they should NOT BE WORKERS.

Hey, workers are getting the message economists have been pushing for decades:
YOU ARE NOT WANTED!

chuck martel May 5, 2014 at 12:40 am

My model doesn’t ” use microdata from the March 2007 and 2013 supplements to the Current Population Survey,” It uses things that are actually happening. A big one is background checks. Practically unknown 20 years ago, a failed background check, which could be caused by an argument with a landlord, one too many drinks after a Superbowl game, failure to make a payment, or any number of other things, takes more people out of the workforce every day but is never mentioned in media discussions of labor force participation. Nonetheless, these failures must continue to eat so they take whatever black market job they can get, don’t pay taxes and don’t contribute to social security, which puts even more strain on an already crippled federal budget. But that’s all good, the sooner the whole thing blows up, the better.

Ray Lopez May 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

@#1 – Sewol Korean ferry boat tragedy – not credible. I do understand that there was gross negligence, but statements like “On the day the Sewol embarked its fateful journey, the ship’s First Mate told the company that unless it stopped loading, the ship would sink.” simply seem like hindsight.

Here in the Philippines, the ferry boats look like rust buckets, and they often get into trouble as well (a passenger list before departure is made in case there is a disaster), but statements like the above just don’t seem credible. More likely, the ship was top-heavy, as is routine for the greedy economic reasons stated in the blog post, and most of the crew was negligent in steering the boat and in the rescue. To a degree the same thing happened in WWII with the USA, when ballast was not added, Google “Halsey’s Typhoon”.

Rahul May 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Hindsight? If you load 3x the sanctioned cargo limit onto a ship it isn’t rocket science to know you are breaking the law.

Ray Lopez May 4, 2014 at 11:57 pm

But implicit in the article was the fact it was not the first time the ship was overloaded. So that the First Mate said it would sink was either made-up hindsight, or, he said that on every trip the ship was overloaded, which was pretty much every time, and finally, like a broken clock, he was right.

Anon. May 4, 2014 at 6:20 pm

“On balance, research on the Act’s net social welfare remains inconclusive.”

Well you’re writing a paper on it, why don’t you try to find out?

C. R. Ho May 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm

“He was perhaps the greatest living economist’.
Nonsense.

Professor Cowen,
He was nothing but a right-wing microeconomist. Future research of neuroeconomics, social psychology and sociology will refute most (if not all) of his theories or policy recommandation.

Cliff May 4, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Lol, I am looking forward with bated breath to this “future research” to come from the social sciences

Spad May 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

#3 doesn’t appear to cover the most central under-reported feature of SOX: the internal efficiencies created that resulted in the years following the (expensive) implementation of the rules. For most multinationals, not only did the aggregate cost savings created by SOX far outstrip the initial cost of implementation, in cases where the US company had a publicly traded foreign parent, the implementation generated massive tax savings. Whether SOX actually met its stated purpose is a separate question. But on net, was SOX good for bottomlines? Resoundingly yes.

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