Assorted links

by on July 24, 2014 at 11:42 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Ted Craig July 24, 2014 at 11:47 am

4. Robert McCrum wrote on this topic a while back:

2 prior_approval July 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

Spoiler alert for 6 – ‘Which is why it’s interesting which ethnicity the poll found most likely to have heard of Bitcoin: Hispanic Americans.’

Intriguingly, this number is not presented as either as ratio of Bitcoin owners, nor as an absolute.

Not to mention being mind-numbingly American-centric – unless all those currency control dodging Chinese don’t count anymore.

Maybe the author needs to be a loyal reader of Marginal Revolution.

3 TMC July 24, 2014 at 11:55 am

Yes, odd that an article about Americans would be American-centric.
For whatever the author loses in not reading Marginal Revolution, he seems to make up in basic reading comprehension.

4 Andrew' July 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Oh, I thought you said “Bitchin!”

5 charlie July 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

If the coming death of antibiotics is such a big deal — the market potential would be worth 20 or 50 billion. That in an incentive.

6 andrew' July 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Is the supply of pharmaceuticals elastic? I don’t like the lump if innovation view but even given that, the story seems to be that lump of supply is being directed to more profitable lines like chemotherapy.

The interesting part is the suggested death spiral induced as doctors try to not use new antibiotics to keep them from developing resistance.

7 ChrisA July 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm


Yes I noticed that bit as well, an interesting point that had not occurred to me before. Basically the medical profession is saying to the drug companies “please develop some back up medicines that we can use if/when our existing ones stop working”. You can see why this is not an interesting business proposition. Even a committed small government type like me can see that there is an externality here that likely needs some kind of public intervention. Of course this gap is hurriedly being exploited by rent seekers, I am sure a thousand and one grant proposals are being developed by academics eager to cash in on this, as they seek to tie their current work into this area. Of course most of publicly funded research never achieves anything, as you would expect for something paid for up front with no guarantee or need to provide results.

Given the value of this drug is actually the fact that it exists rather than being actually proscribed, this is a great case for an internationally funded funded prize approach. The benefits of a new antibiotic accrue to all, so Western Governments should be able to get consensus on this and agree to fund together a generous lump sum, say $20bn, to be paid for the rights to a new antibiotic. Then let the market get to work.

8 Marie July 24, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Going to try to venture into unfamiliar waters here, but wouldn’t this be an opportunity for disruptive innovation? The big guys don’t see the short term benefit of developing drugs that have slim profit margins right now, so they are happy to let some little guy take that?

Except little guys can’t really exist in the pharmaceutical industry, can they? Are there small drug developers and manufacturers? Aren’t the development costs, based on regulation, such that you basically need a big company to innovate in this field?

I always go back to insulin, Banting (I understand) had an idea so he borrowed a friend’s lab at a university in Toronto? Then when he thought he had the answer they walked it down the aisle at a hospital ward with folks in DKA and injected people. None of that would fly now, starting with having an idea — what I’ve read is that research scientists can’t study ideas they have an interest in any more, they have to figure out what the grant market is interested in.

9 DK July 25, 2014 at 1:46 am

Aren’t the development costs, based on regulation, such that you basically need a big company to innovate in this field?

To “innovate” – no. To succeed – yes. Anything remotely promising gets purchased by one of the big pharmas.

10 albatross July 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

Is it established that the lack of new antibiotics is a market failure? (As opposed to not having good prospects for some technical reasons?) It seems plausible, but I don’t know enough about the field to be sure.

If the problem is the fear that a new antibiotic won’t make any money (because it will not be used until the other antibiotics stop working, or because once it becomes one of the last ones in use the price will be forced down for political reasons, or whatever else), then it seems like a prize would be workable. I’d imagine this could work either at the level of a big prize for a new antibiotic that gets through all the regulatory hurdles and gets approved, or a smaller prize for promising candidates that get through at least some level of scrutiny and testing–that might get some of the smaller biotech companies involved, or even some academic researchers.

11 J July 24, 2014 at 12:17 pm

#4: A combination of adulthood, working in investments, and the internet/smartphones has given me a serious case of get-to-the-point-itis that has really messed with my ability to read long fiction. But now the books are getting longer too!

#5: Once again I’m confused why Tyler, a libertarian, keeps snarkily linking to articles showing that “real” jobs are disappearing and “fake” ones are taking their place.

Now I’m going to go mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of “But all jobs are real if they’re based on mutually beneficial trade!!” type comments.

12 Axa July 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

#4: never used a Kindle, but the assumption made is that the number of characters is more or less regular in Kindle version of books? Why not using word count and make one assumption less.

13 andrew' July 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

1. It was before the Aeron chair.

14 FredR July 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

#6: 156 Hispanics in the survey, with a difference of 15 or so more saying they’ve heard a lot about bitcoin / are likely to use it. Doesn’t seem reliable enough to build any theory on.

15 DK July 25, 2014 at 12:52 am

#7 “There is clearly something wrong with pharmaceutical innovation”
No, there isn’t. It’s just a phase of diminishing returns. There are no magical solutions in pharmaceutical innovation and we are simply hitting the limits sets by physical laws. There is no stagnation – the progress *is* steady. Just not as fast as it used to be.

16 Jake W. July 27, 2014 at 1:44 am

#5. Why did the Forbes article deliberately ignore (I doubt they’re ignorant) a large swath of professional Snapchatters: adult nude models?

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