Friday assorted links

by on February 5, 2016 at 11:02 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Thijs February 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

The round number thing reminds me of the story about the first measurement of Mount Everest, which apparently came out exactly 29,000 feet. The surveyor reported it at 29,002 ft, just to show he was not ballparking it.

2 Chris S February 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

He should have reported it as 2.9000×10^4 – anyone with a STEM degree would understand all five digits were significant.

3 rayward February 5, 2016 at 11:23 am

4. I chose my major, economics, because the professor in my first course was tolerant of my curiosity, constantly interrupting him with questions and blurting out answers to his questions. For whatever reason, I was fascinated by the subject. What’s so different now is that I was totally unaware that ideology and politics played such a big part in the subject. Or maybe they didn’t back then – I’m nearly old. Which is the point of my comment: maybe grad students are better instructors because they don’t carry the baggage of ideology and politics.

4 Aaron J February 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I don’t think its politics or ideology. I think its that they are younger, more energetic, and more attuned to student needs.

5 Thor February 5, 2016 at 2:41 pm

I find that TAs (effectively, young grad students) and PhD students are indeed more energetic but they are also more ideological. They are more ideological than undergrads, because they (grad students) must signal more. And they are more ideological than most faculty, who are older and wiser, and more sagely cynical about ideology.

But I’m in History.

6 Careless February 6, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Yeah, the worst two teachers I ever had in college from a “grading by ideology” perspective were grad students.

Especially the one from Oberlin.

7 Shane M February 5, 2016 at 1:25 pm

rayward, I was the same. I was changing majors (started w/ physics which wasn’t working out), and during a semester took as many classes as I could in various departments. An energetic econ professor taught one of my favorite classes that year, and I found economics much more interesting than I initially expected. I enjoyed the sciences quite a bit, but I was already a year and a half into my physics studies, and there was really no way to change majors in science without losing much of that work and starting down another track from scratch which I couldn’t do. Econ was more flexible w/ accepting my science/math credits. I also was unaware of ideology/politics at the time, I just thought it was an interesting way of thinking about the world, and the professor certainly contributed to that considerably.

8 mulp February 5, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Which decade were you taking these classes?

9 Shane M February 5, 2016 at 5:17 pm

early 90s

10 callum February 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

On link 1, there is only correlation between precise bids and greater announcement returns, and not necessarily causation. A study is quoted that shows the effect for graduates, but it’s not clear how well this can then be applied to bids for companies that are pored over by many people. One other possible reason for the correlation could be that precise bids tend to be the result of deeper research, and therefore tend to lead to better returns. Or am I wrong?

11 Chris S February 5, 2016 at 2:14 pm

You were on a roll and had me pretty convinced until you suggested you were wrong. Now I don’t believe you.

That, and this effect has been taught in negotiation classes for years. If people believe that precise bids are the result of deeper research, then, when they see a precise bid, they imagine it is the result of deeper research and respect it accordingly.

12 Gabriel February 5, 2016 at 11:36 pm

But what is driving the better results might be the (on average) better underlying research, not the fact that the numbers are not divisible by $1.00.

13 Brian Donohue February 5, 2016 at 11:53 am

OT- I enjoyed this from Krugman: “One unpleasant, ugly side of this debate has been the tendency of some Sanders supporters, and sometimes the campaign itself, to suggest that anyone raising questions about the senator’s proposals must be a corrupt tool of vested interests.”

Yeah, the other end of that club is ugly, isn’t it?

14 Thor February 5, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Yes. And so maybe he go back to saying that anyone questioning the good Senator’s proposals are not a corrupt tool of vested interests, but just idiots.

15 Heorogar February 5, 2016 at 4:43 pm

How many Democrats are going to buy Hillary’s “nuanced” lie that every Republican and maybe one or two Democrats are captive to their donors but she is not?

16 JWatts February 5, 2016 at 5:34 pm

It’s obviously a ridiculous stance on her part. Though frankly I don’t think there’s much she can do about it. She’s accepted big speaking fees and various large donations from all over the world.

17 Jason Bayz February 5, 2016 at 12:53 pm

5. Who’s “everyone?” It’s not particularly funny but maybe that’s because I’ve heard all the tired, liberal cliches before. He states that immigrants “only” compete with high school dropouts, the only evidence he gives for this absurd claim is that the immigrants are themselves high school dropouts, so they lack all the highly useful skills one learns in American 12th grade and can’t possibly compete with high school graduates. He gives “references” but they consist of a bunch of books, so one can’t readily check his numbers. He claims that immigrants take more than they pay in taxes, but that they contribute far more to “the economy.” One wonders:

-Did he account for the indirect costs the immigrants impose on the government? The roads they drive on, the water they drink, the schools and prisons they fill? Almost certainly not, as he would have found a much more dramatic figure.
-How did he calculate immigrants’ effect on “the economy?” Did he simply assume that anything immigrants are involved in wouldn’t exist without them? How much of their positive effect on “the economy” was absorbed by the immigrants themselves?

18 Arjun February 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm

I’m no expert on the matter (or on any matter, to be honest), but from what I’ve seen a lot of this has already been extensively researched by various economics journals, think-tanks, etc., so it shouldn’t be too difficult to search for articles to find actual numbers around all of this. And I’d go so far as to say that trying to do some independent research is probably a more reasonable expectation than whining about how a lecture/video isn’t somehow handing you raw data or citations.

19 mulp February 5, 2016 at 4:51 pm

“The roads they drive on, the water they drink, the schools and prisons they fill”

But that is true of 5th generation US born citizen who are not paying to use the roads, drink the water, use the schools, because taxes and fees have been cut directly by legislated cuts and indirectly by inflation.

The recent law passed by conservatives who control Congress borrow billions of dollars to slow the decay of the transportation infrastructure. Education costs are shifted to debt students are liable for, in come cases until death, while buildings decay and needed facilities are eliminated (trade training capital assets like welding, machining, metal forming, plumbing, carpentry, electrical,…. plus chemistry and biology, et al labs.) And water and sewer systems built for the most part before 1980 and now increasingly 50, 80, 100 years old are long past refurbishment and repair, but nothing is planned in most places because funds are only available to fix the few leaks of many that become major sinkhole creating, car swallowing, leaks.

Can’t raise taxes to pay millions of workers to fix decaying infrastructure because creating all those jobs will kill jobs and drive up unemployment….

20 Floccina February 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Transportation is about 3% of the federal budget.

21 Aaron J February 5, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Economists are pretty universal in support of more immigration; study after study (basically Borjas aside) shows enormous benefits.

22 JWatts February 5, 2016 at 6:03 pm

“Economists are pretty universal in support of more immigration; study after study (basically Borjas aside) shows enormous benefits.”

Enormous? Cite please?

23 dearieme February 5, 2016 at 7:05 pm

“enormous benefits.” To whom?

24 Heorogar February 5, 2016 at 8:16 pm

“enormous benefits” to employers (lower salaries), Democrat politicians (more voters to promise to give free stuff to), and immigrants. Everyone else loses.

25 Stuart February 6, 2016 at 12:40 am

You left out immigrants – who presumably benefit as well and arguably the most. Also their descendants – you may be very likely be in that group (descendants of immigrants who benefited from immigration) assuming you live in the U.S.

26 Careless February 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm

You left out immigrants

No, he didn’t. And as there isn’t an edit function on this site, you can’t pretend he ninja-edited.

27 Steve Sailer February 6, 2016 at 5:48 am

Economists do remarkably few studies about immigration, and the most cited ones (such as David Card’s on how the Mariel Boatlift to Miami in cocaine-boosted 1980 or Giovanni Peri on California during the Housing Bubble) are strikingly clueless about what else was going on at the time.

28 V February 6, 2016 at 12:35 am

Economists who are funded by corporate interests in the US largely are (or who are trained by those are). Its a very different story in the rest of the world where academic economists are less credulous / corrupt / delusional /[…]

Paging Paul Schaeffer to produce the reams of evidence that some have to have hammered into them.

29 February 5, 2016 at 6:55 pm

#1 “The value of the shares Google decided to offer was a nerdy little joke: $US2,718,281,828 — the first nine decimal places in the irrational number e.”

30 February 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

#1 “Google’s security bounty programs … Google offered him a $6,006.13 reward … Google explains that if you squint and use a little imagination, the figure spells out the word Google.”

31 Curt F. February 6, 2016 at 9:36 am
32 Tom G February 5, 2016 at 8:47 pm

If Steve’s “undocumented, illegals, whatever…” then his talk would be more honest if he just used “illegals”. There should be far more legal immigration. Like, allowing everybody who has $20k to pay that as a fee to come to America and work, and agree on not accepting means-tested programs for 5 years.

But each and every time he says the illegals take jobs that Americans don’t want/ can’t do, he’s deliberately ignoring the high US unemployment rates for High School drop outs. US poverty is made worse by accepting illegals.

But there should be far more incentives for US poor to go get jobs, and reduce those poverty rates, before I’ll feel too bad about opposing illegals coming to the US.

33 Tom G February 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Not mentioned by Steve on the 2006-2008 gap between house construction crash and financial crash is that the construction crash caused huge unemployment in the illegals, not shown in statistics. Maybe 5 mill went back — causing much less rental demand for existing homes, which themselves were now overbuilt.

The gap was a buffer of uncounted “illegals GNP” crashing, which didn’t filter to the finance sector until 2007 with big mortgage holders starting to go belly up.

34 Steve Sailer February 6, 2016 at 5:50 am

The Housing Bubble in the Sand States of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida was tied to the Immigration Bubble by multiple pathways, but economists have been highly reluctant to study the subject.

35 Ray Lopez February 5, 2016 at 10:41 pm

@5. The Gerben comedy immigration video that everyone is talking about. – I just watched the entire 30 minutes, which is rare for me to watch something on Youtube that long unless it is chess related. Gerben is amazingly good–is he a professional comedian or an economist (they’re not the same)? Speaking as somebody who’s done stand-up at the amateur level.

36 Six Of One February 5, 2016 at 11:39 pm

Obviously everyone isn’t talking about that video, or posting the link here would be gratuitous, as everyone would have already seen it. Whoever “everyone” is meant to refer to, they have poor taste, and much more patience than I, to sit through a half hour of that.

37 Ray Lopez February 6, 2016 at 10:09 am

It was well done. Economics in the form of standup, and I did learn something new (the wages lost to the lowest stratum of American worker from illegal aliens works out–at best worse case scenario–to the cost of a high-end tee-shirt every year).

38 Mark Thorson February 6, 2016 at 12:43 am

They do these training drills in China, too.

39 dearieme February 6, 2016 at 10:52 am

Oh thank you. Brill.

40 Rusty Dils February 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm

The whole problem is that the Federal Reserve, and not the free market determine if and when interest rates will change. We need to eliminate this function and others from the Federal Reserve. In my recently written book on Capitalism called ZERO, poverty , inflation, unemployed, federal debt, medically uninsured, I lay out specific policies and solutions for curing our economic woes, including eliminating the monetary policy control of the Central Bank. Our free market should set interest rates, not 12 unelected government officials. With the free market setting the rates, the rates will be natural, not artificial. Under a free market based monetary system, when our economy is expanding, and people and businesses are borrowing more money, then interest rates will go up, but, when the economy is contracting, which is a natural phenomenum of free enterprise, and people are paying down debt, and borrowing less, then the interest rates will fall. To find out more, go, or to actually see preview pages of the book, go to our facebook page,

41 admin February 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm

#5: Dull discussion by ivory tower academics; had to turn it off early on
Turned off at China discussion with nothing new discussed

42 John February 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm

While I suspect 1 is true in the sense of signalling and behavioral metrics it’s probably also one of those pretenses of science and the round number bid likely just as well investigated as the “precise” bid. Moreover, the bottom line of the message seems to be the people selling also are clueless and fooled by the precision of the bid so this doesn’t seem like a long lasting strategy.

43 John February 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

It’s painfully obvious that any crypto-currency that begins to circumvent the government controls of fiat currencies will quickly be shutdown. As for the alternative payment mechanisms those are hardly going to reduce the relevance of the banking industry and, if anything, makes them even more power institutions.

44 M February 7, 2016 at 11:18 am

#5 – There are a lot of underemployed people in the world, and it’s hard to make the argument for example, that Mexico is necessarily better at employing people with a Mexican skillset than the US, especially when the price signal indicates that people get higher compensation for the same skills in the US. I think you could make an argument that the “kind” of work Mexican migrants do in the US, for instance, tends to be more often McJob bs (building and maintaining McMansions, etc.), while in Mexico they would do more “real” things and the actual formal market compensation they receive is misleading and distorted – but I’m not sure it’s studied as economists wouldn’t like that too much (since the ideological commitment is for individuals to follow their individual financial incentive and they’re loath to talk about useful vs non-useful work, which is fine, but when that moves to advancing the claim those are not valid subjects for politics….).

A lot more of the more convincing arguments around immigration restrictionism are more rooted in concerns of what migration from cultures with different norms will do to the quality of institutions and everyday life in ways that are not monetised or not easy to link to migration when they can be quanitified and monteised (yet are still arguable – but you can’t so easily quantify in money a constant social friction from continuous ethnic whining, or the insult to contentment by destroying a positive, healthy, social group identity). Also long term concerns – they will get sick and old, in time, will the work that drew them in still be around, longer term (automation, etc.), and their descendents will inherit many of their distinctive qualities.

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