1. Due to massive inflation, shops in Venezuela are now weighing money rather than counting it–a true paper standard.
2. As the economy collapses, Venezuelan’s are turning to bitcoin–using free electricity to mine the coins–but the secret police are hunting the miners.
3. Larry White and Shruti Rajagopolan note that India’s demonetization is really an expropriation that will transfer wealth to the government. Whether the wealth transfer is of black market holdings or not remains to be seen.
4. George Borjas remember’s Castro’s demonetization:
Castro quickly found a simple way of confiscating “excess” cash. The currency was changed overnight. And everyone had to turn in their old paper currency for the new paper currency, with some limits being imposed on the amount of the transactions. There was a miles-long line on what I think was a Saturday morning, as the entire Cuban population was turned into beggars for the new currency.
5. Alex Bellos looks at Newcomb’s Problem. The answer is obvious.
6. Steven Pearlstein on Four tough things universities should do to rein in costs. I liked this bit of history:
In 2002, George Washington University President Stephen Trachtenberg noticed that the school owned roughly $1 billion worth of facilities that sat idle for at least a third of the year. If he could reconfigure the academic calendar for year-round operation, he reasoned, he could enroll thousands more students without having to build new classrooms, labs, dorms or athletic facilities.
Doing so, however, would have required some professors to periodically teach during the summer, which didn’t sit well with the Faculty Senate. Its report on the matter reads like a parody of self-interested whining by coddled academics dressed up as concern for the pedagogical and psychological well-being of their students.
Prices aren’t rising because costs are rising, however, costs are rising because prices are rising.
7. Evolution is amazing. By acting as selective breeders, poachers are changing the genetics of African elephants.
In some areas 98 per cent of female elephants now have no tusks, researchers have said, compared to between two and six percent born tuskless on average in the past.