by Tyler Cowen
on January 8, 2017 at 7:40 pm
Are there any particular topics or questions you would like me to blog about? I make no promises!
Vladislav Surkov and managed democracy.
That was interesting.
Would public education be better off or worse off if the share of employees who were in “administration” vs. classroom teachers returned to the level it had 30 or 40 years ago? And if the compensation savings were shifted to a) bonus payments to teachers whose students showed significant test score improvement over previous results AND b) to cash ‘prizes’ to parents whose children showed significant test score improvement over previous results?
– Relationship of quality of public education to quality of loose and strong ties within the neighborhood of the school in question
– Would public education be better off or worse off if we made it much more difficult for women to pursue careers in any field and thus forced them to accept objectively less-competitive pay for pink-collar “caring” professions, thus artificially increasing the quality of teachers?
– Do standardized test results correlate with anything in the future, given that we don’t know what the future will require in terms of job skills?
– Would cash prizes to parents encourage the embargoing of talent in order to create a denominator problem?
– Would cash prizes to parents be unnecessarily punitive to the parents of children with disabilities? To parents of limited temporal means? To parents attempting to raise children who are good versus children who are robots?
– Are cash prizes really the kind of message we want to send?
Black Lives Matter
Looks like they just need to read the Bellcurve
At which point does technology allow another model of social organization than that based on shared territory?
This might be an interesting topic, but surely it’s already come to pass. Any number of organizations aren’t particularly related to shared “physical” territory. And not just the obviously modern Google, Facebook, etc. How much is the Catholic church based upon shared territories? Or the Red Cross? Or the Boy Scouts? Or the The International Organization of Scientific Research?
I think you need to be far more specific with this topic to be meaningful.
I believe the OP uses ‘social’ in its base sense, as in pertaining to society at large. The nation-state defined over a specified geography is the current paradigm. All your examples relate to organizations with greatly circumscribed goals, except perhaps the Catholic Church, but its power isn’t what it used to be.
That is correct. Certainly divisions within nation-states are increasing and so is the pressure to find another model. But do we have the means to sustain any alternative? What would it take?
“Certainly divisions within nation-states are increasing and so is the pressure to find another model.”
Only in Western states where cultmarx is strong. In the rest of the world, places like Japan, Korea, and the third world, people notice that the most peaceful states are the more homogeneous ones.
One could imagine taxation and redistribution conducted in an electronic manner, allowing people in different “nations” to live net to one another with little fuss. But what about schools, roads, hospitals, and, most importantly, policing? That last one is a major thorn in any proposal for the Israelis and Palestinians to share sovereignty of East Jerusalem. One could make it work with separate schools and hospitals, and joint taxation to support local infrastructure, but neither side is willing to submit to being policed by “the enemy.”
BitNation is one idea on that.
Economics of a aging population and demographic decline. Associated capital surplus and deflation.
+1. The world is turning Japanese.
Lotta +1’s here, so I want to balance it by saying -1. Human labor isn’t nearly as important as it used to be, and the change will be so gradual that the market will have plenty of time to adapt. I find it interesting that many of the same people who say that the market is so uber-efficient, that it can handle any challenge that’s thrown its way, think it can’t possibly solve this problem.
-1, too, on “the whole world is turning Japanese.” The whole world is turning Australian.(TFR: 1.9) Japan is an outlier even among the rich nations.
Hasn’t ‘the market’ always had only positive population growth to contend with? We don’t really know how capitalism works if global populations are falling for a long period of time, its never happened before.
Actually, Tax Reform is happening soon. What’s good plausible legislation?
Hockey sticks? Real or representational, you choose.
Why don’t we learn from history?
How do you know that’s true?
It’s in the history books.
Some time ago you asked your readers to recommend things to read on the US Navy. If you followed up on that request I’d like to hear your thoughts. What is your position on the Navy? Do we have enough ships? Can economic theory be applied to judge the value of fantastically expensive, but vulnerable ships like nuclear-powered aircraft carriers?
Do you mean the navy as a fighting force, or the navy as a rent-payer for retiring senior officers and armaments corporations?
Which of the virtues do you aspire to? Which virtues do you admire?
Public lands would be interesting.
I agree. Especially federally owned land in the west managed by BLM, Forest Service, etc.
As a lawyer who specializes in natural resources matters, I concur. Also, occupational licensing and zoning.
Cyberwar. The potential economic impact. The opportunities for external agencies to influence economic policy, via cyberwar.
Describe an alternative to capitalism in a world where robots do all the labor
Imagine that capitalism is ultimately successful in eliminating scarcity (robots or otherwise). What comes after that?
This! I’d be very interested in your thoughts on what alternative economic systems might arise after capitalism has played itself out.
If we’re post-scarcity, my taxes go way down, right?
Maybe. But if there’s no more scarcity, then there’s not much point in growing the pie, in which case we might drive what’s left into fighting over the pie.
All that would be left would be positional goods, but would they even exist anymore, if I can replicate anything you have?
Even real estate, would nice climate matter if we lived in domes? Ocean front property valuable if vacations are virtual? City density matter anymore if communication is all on line?
I think we’d break a rule the robots wanted us to follow and we’d get thrown out of Eden. 🙂
There’s two versions of this.
1. One or a small group of entrepreneurs owns the robots.
2. The government owns the robots.
I see how we get from where we are now to 1. How would we get to 2, and is 2 better than 1?
Would love a breakdown of preconditions needed to nullify negative socioeconomic outcomes of early marriage.
The biggest one I can think of is education the more the better according to people like Murray.
I’d tack on there the reasoning behind the early marriage for example is the partner marriage quality or just “the next logical step” or kids happened.
Choosing a partner for the long run would help and choosing an education before kids would help too.
After that I’d imagine geography helps.
– Things you recommend (in any sphere IE buying a Google Chromecast, reading Slatestarcodex etc.)
– Policy you would implement if you were President
– Music (specifically your thoughts on the band Phish, or other bands with subcultures)
– lifestyle inflation/expenditure cascades/relative deprivation/positional status
+1 for Lifestyle Creep
Is it pain -> joblessness -> opiods?
Or opiods -> joblessness -> pain?
Or joblessness -> pain -> opiods?
What about pain -> opioids -> joblessness
joblessness -> opiods -> pain
How about joblessness -> depression -> opioids?
Viability of veganism, perhaps from economic perspective?
How many animals would have to die for us all to become Vegans?
If God wanted us to be vegans, why did he make animals out of meat?
To test your faith. Similarly he littered the globe with evidence of evolution to test your face in Genesis
erratum: to test your faith in Genesis
You mean that Genesis isn’t a face book?
Maybe just faith in Phil Collins.
1. Given the recent demonetisation in India, your thoughts on the same and predictions for 2017 on the economic front for India.
2. Is a study of its history important for a country? is it really a learning tool?
What would be the consequences of demonetization in the United States?
I believe the best way to understand society is studying history, psychology and economics.
Is there a case to be made for German-Austrian reunification?
I have an Austrian friend who studied law in Vienna. He found out that he likes Berlin but despite the fact that there is freedom of movement and, technically, mutual recognition of diplomas, it is very difficult for him to enter the profession in Germany.
He says the EU doesn’t benefit him, but German-Austrian reunification would. He also points out that the South Tyrolese have it even worse, because they are trapped inside the Italian state.
Speaking of “reunification” instead of “unification” is a great disservice to the cause of German-Austrian (re)unification. The only period of time were Austria and Germany were unified was 1938-1945, after the Anschluss (we cannot count, obviously, the Germanic Holy Roman Empire as a unified Germany). In fact, this infamous precedent is the only reason the other people of Europe would object (and would go to war if needed) to this unification. Otherwise, there would be a pretty good case to allow this unification.
Speaking of “reunification” was no moral evaluation but a technical assessment.
So they have the same language. Maybe reunification of Canada and the US or the US and the United Kingdom would make sense if that’s the case.
How does the EU not solve this? What specific difficulties does he encounter? Surely either it’s formal obstacles or informal regional prejudice. The first case is supposed to be what the EU is for, and the second would hardly be solved by formal political unity.
“I have an Austrian friend who studied law in Vienna.” Thank goodness it was law rather than architectural painting.
I was going to ask you about Health Savings Accounts, but you have some excellent posts on it already starting here:
Have you changed your mind on anything major since?
I like the posts that go outside your wheelhouse, when you’re trying to think through a topic that is new to you or not an area of existing expertise. They are always interesting. For example, merging in Nigeria or Fake News Will Soon Get Worse. If you’re ever on the fence about whether something is too speculative, speculate!
I’m still waiting for the “best classical music of 2016” blog post.
2016 saw a remarkable coincidence: the centennials of the birth of Milton Babbitt and the death of Max Reger, which occurred within a few hours of each other.
The fact that Babbitt greatly admired Reger (not, of course, especially surprising) adds some interest to this fact.
If Tyler has thoughts about either or both of these composers, I would be curious to hear them.
When is Uber Going Bankrupt?
When is Tesla going bankrupt?
Tesla has a viable business model.
Yes, a tax credit subsidy and carbon credits – a good deal if you can credit.
Should be “a good deal if you can get it”…
And yet even with those they lose money. If the Trump administration throttles back on the money for reducing carbon emissions, the losses will just be worse. Tesla’s business is selling stock in the company. As long as demand for that remains strong, they’ll keep on making cars.
I would like to hear your thoughts on Tabby’s Star and the ongoing scientific investigation surrounding it. It’s the closest we’ve come to finding aliens and I wonder what effect the discovery of aliens, or alien sentience, would have on the economy and politics.
Why does Cabo Verde has such a high savings rate? https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2260rank.html
Can remittances explain this or are they plotting something?
It’s news for me. Interesting.
I think so. I know a large chunk of their populatiom leaves – and works – abroad. Is the extra capital from remittances funding this savings rate? What are they investing those savings in? Can this money be attracted to dund infrastructure projects in Brazil? It is funny because the comparable (culturally, economically and all that) countries of São Tomé e Príncipe e Guiné-Bissau don’t save that much.
Guine Bissau and Sao Tome e Principe are much much poorer countries. During colonial times they were managed by… u guessed it right: Cape-Verdians.
If the Bissau-Guinean putschists hadn’t messed things up, Guiné-Bissau e Cabo Verde would have become an unified country – and Guiné-Bissau would benefit from the superior leadership of Cabo Verde. Anyway, Angola (I freely admit it is a very different economic model) is a little richer than Cabo Verde and doesn’t save as much – no comparable former Portuguese colony does.
Portugal itself doesn’t – Brazil is boldly tackling the savings shortage with Mr. Temer’s economic reforms. As the inscription written in early 20 th Century Brazilian coins goes: “the savings are the foundation progress rests on”.
On Angola… it’s complicated. It’s one of those oil rich autocracies disguised as a democracy. Richest woman in Africa? Isabel dos Santos who happens to be president’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos daughter. For those who don’t know, 74 years old dos Santos is in office since 1979 and reportedly has expressed his will no to run for another term later this year…
By the way, I’m Angolan.
It is sad. Brazil did all it could to help the Angolan people to transition to democracy, but we can only do so much.
I know quite well Cape Verde, I think the balance is 45% in CV and 55% abroad (I guess they usually count Cape Verdeans born abroad like former NBA player Dana Barros and former exotic dancer Amber Rose).What I didn’t know is how high their savings rate. Remittances certainly pay a role.
At least, I think sure, but I would want to be sure and know what they are doing with this money and if they can spare some.
Your opinion of Matthew Desmond ‘s book ” Evicted” as ethnography and as a brief for housing vouchers. For that matter your views on the institution of rental housing and the efficacy of any solution that aims at creating affordability in housing.
What are your favorite things Chicago? Or Illinois?
“What are your favorite things Chicago? Or Illinois?”
Chicago hot dogs, Over-rated or Under-rated?
Duck! Bullets flying everywhere!
I commented on the Sunday items post on travel to Uganda: If you go to Uganda (or Fort Lauderdale Airport) maintain a low profile and keep moving. Do not travel to Chicago.
Effects of a hostile bureaucracy on democracy
1) Can Uber last at losing so much money?
2) How would you recommend getting young people to get married early and have more children?
Scarcity & the market with respect to sex, dating, marriage, family & reproduction. We may still be uncertain about the meaning of life but maybe subsequent generations will figure it out. Life’s instinct for reproduction is its unique feature that guarantee its survival and expansion. So much about the marketplace and economics of scarcity and status competition seem to be mere proxies for sexual competition. The shape of our society seems to be defined by the intersection of our unconscious biological instincts in the social and economic order. For the question about age of family formation and everything else incentives do matter. Professor Cowen’s bright mind might be able to focus some more attention to increase consideration and our consciousness of these instincts and motivations.
Given that you clearly preach the volcel lifestyle why are the vast majority of your readers incels or cucks?
Should Ray Lopez have succeeded Jonathan Goldsmith as Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World?
Why, yes, yes he should. Instead I’m being sent to Mars.
My proposed topic: patents, the unknown ideal: why improved patent laws will power the world past the Great Stagnation.
This probably won’t interest many people, but, what the hell. About a month ago, I was watching an old Rockford Files episode called The Aaron Ironwood School of Success, and decided to look up the name and other credits of a character actor I always enjoyed, who was playing a mobster’s henchman. I often do this for no good reason. In any case, the actor’s name was Jonathan Goldsmith and, shockingly to me, he was the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World. Anyway, he’s been an excellent character actor for many years.
How do you manage to digest so much — literature and food and movies and TV and music? Which of them do you consume at the same time?
Request for requests – Marginal REVOLUTION https://shar.es/1DSNxr
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on public lands and the interests of economic development compared with recreation and increased conservation policies.
sometimes you explain things in economic terms and sometimes (less often) in morality/ethics terms.
How do you switch between the two (economic/incentives mode vs morality mode) ?
Learning techniques (spacing, interleaving, varied practice, etc.).
When you appeared as a debater on Intelligence Squared, do you think a significant portion of the audience lied about their pre-debate opinion to manipulate the final outcome? Though it’s been a few years, I remember thinking this at the time, and always wanted to ask. It’s Wrong to Pay for Sex
Yes I am quite sure of this, I saw which hands went up…
+1 LOL oh shit…
More on philosophy, death, morality, time, chance of God existing
I enjoyed the Parfit links.
Parfit claimed to be an atheist but obviously he was a conventional Christian.
I would be interested in hearing about an ethical system that doesn’t put people first.
I would be interested in a non-facile post about conservation.
You asked Luigi Zingales about whether he thinks Islam or Christianity would be better long-term for in-between African peoples (like a tribe in Ethiopia that could go either way). One aspect of this question that didn’t come up was the long-term effect of these religions on the family. Christianity can push against cousin-cousin marriage, for example, while Islam seems (at least for Arabs) to encourage it. Heinrich seemed to suggest the importance of the Hajnal Line for Europe. Alex has linked to a paper showing how widespread cousin-cousin marriages in the mid-east may have held back that region. How important do you think this is?
You’ve also said Islam attracts you the most theologically (or something to that effect). Could you elaborate?
Tyler hates alcohol, that’s all there is to know.
So do I and I am not attract to Islam in the least. So did Marshall Rondon, who since his youth never drank alcohol, and he was not a Muslim. President-elect Trump, I am told, doesn’t drink and he… well, the important point is, many people oppose philosophically to drinking without being inclined to Islam.
3 of the last 4 GOP nominees didn’t drink (Bush, Romney, Trump).
Yes, but not for the same reasons
So there is, not drinking doesn’t make one a Islamophile. But, yeah, different reasons…
Son, never trust a man who doesn’t drink because he’s probably a self-righteous sort, a man who thinks he knows right from wrong all the time. Some of them are good men, but in the name of goodness, they cause most of the suffering in the world. They’re the judges, the meddlers.
I don’t argue with drunkards.
I can say my father and his father and his father’s father were great men.
Does America undervalue/misunderstand economic and political relations with Mexico, Latin America/South America?
Best way to spread western values (assuming you feel they are worth spreading). Are there some conditions where it’s simply not possible and should not be encouraged?
Militarization of space, on the heals of commercialization of space. Governance of space. Implications for security.
How to best respond to a nuclear/biological/cyber attack? Esp. if sponsor is shadowy.
I’m not necessarily interested in thoughts of religion (like your comment a few weeks ago), but are there key things we should believe in even if they might not be true? Should some of the old standards still be taught? Example: Should children still be taught to work hard and do what they’re told? Should we teach them to not lie / be honest / keep your word? Or should we begin teaching that you have to doubt what people tell you, plot your own course/don’t follow instructions, and sometimes you have to be deceptive / ruthless to get ahead – but that’s OK because the other guys are going to be that way also? There are other examples – is the idea of equality something we should believe regardless (context of IQ and education/skills that comes up often on comments here) ? Is it better to be employed at a useless job (zmp) than be unemployed?
If you were investing internationally, what places have you seen that seem to be most attractive or have underappreciated upside?
If you teach kids to be ruthless, they become jaded.
I think this is one of the better requests actually. Tyler always wants to have it both ways it seems and he’s really gone off the rails since his “Average is Over” book came out. On the one hand he likes the idea of hyper-competition, and a ruthless job market but on the other hand he wants everyone to follow the same old social norms: be polite, be conscientious, work hard, eat your vegetables, blah blah blah. To my mind this is the giant contradiction in Tyler’s whole idea of the world: you can’t have the competitive level of current capitalism with the social norms of old.
Comment of the Year*, JAMRC
* so far
It seems to me that maybe we’re moving more to a post-playing-by-the-rules world. I’m not clear on what that means, but the idea is that those that play by the old rules and beliefs might be disadvantaged, even if the old rules and beliefs have positive social value overall.
Robin Hanson: “Formal education relentlessly pushes idealistic views on kids, and censorship “protects” them from hearing cynical views.”
Blogpost is called: “Wanted: Cynic Textbooks”
And another one: “Student idealism”
And another one: “Hide Sociobiology Like Sex?”
good link. thanks. 😉
… and Tyler, if you’re considering this, I’d also be interested of it in the context of Soros’ reflexivity. If enough people believe key things that might not be true, then it’s sortof systematically true anyhow because people behave as if it’s true. But at a tipping point, when enough people begin to question these key beliefs, then it can all come down quickly. I wonder how close to that point we are, or if we’re already there.
If you could have a conversation with Elliot Rodger what would you tell him?
Do you think China is destined to reach the first world level within 30 years? Why or why not?
China’s GDP per capita (PPP) is about $15,000 a year. Italy has a GDP/capita (PPP) of about $36,000 a year and Japan is at $38,000 a year.
If China grows at 7% for 13 years, it will be at $36,000 in today’s dollars. So, by that comparison, first world by 2030. If China grows at 5% a year then it will at least be at $30,000 a year by 2030.
Taijin, Beijing and Shanghai are already at $30,000/year.
Nice stats Todd K. And if China grows at 1%/yr, it will be at about $30k average in 70 years. I think they’ve seen their high water mark for a while, and will grow slowly; time will tell.
One more, at 4%:
If China’s growth immediately slows to just 4% down from over 7% almost every year from the early 80s, the GDP per capita will reach $29,000 in 2033, where Slovokia is at today. I’d say Slovokia and the Czech Republic at $30,000 are at least honorary first world countries.
What explains the divergence in quality between cars and other manufactured consumer goods? Cars have become ridiculously reliable compared to previous years, and that with much less routing maintenance needs. Meanwhile, refrigerators, washing machines, even irons and toasters have become increasingly unreliable with ever shortening lifespans. What has made cars take such a different path?
A lot of cars are still manufactured in the USA/Western Europe/Canada most appliances are Made in China. End of Story.
“Meanwhile, refrigerators, washing machines, even irons and toasters have become increasingly unreliable with ever shortening lifespans”
Do you have a citation that backs that up? (Note: Refrigerators may well have a shorter compressor life span due to the replacement of freon with a material that doesn’t work as efficiently, but even so, I’m not sure if that has actually shortened their life span).
Have you actually bought any appliances recently? They’re all trash. All of them.
Germany and Austria?
Like an on-and-off-relationship these two seem to never lose sight on each other while simultaneously regretting each time after waking up.
While the Austrians hate the german ‘Piefkes’ and seem to encounter their german workers with anti-german hostilities, the Germans consider Austrians as Germans behaving like they didn’t lose WW2. You know, guilt and all…
I would like to hear your reaction to the claim that there is a restaurant bubble made here: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/american-restaurant-industry-bubble-burst
The economics of comment editign.
Whatever happened to poststructuralism?
Do you accept that your tastes/preferences might become lame as you get older? Because, don’t they for most aesthetes/intellectuals? How will you know, and how will you respond?
2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. What are your recommendations (books, articles, or movies) for understanding the revolution of 1917 and the Soviet Union that followed?
This would be a good topic.
If you are actually looking for good references, I always recommend George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” as starting point.
Is Title IX gender neutral? Or gender biased?
I too have enjoyed your posts on philosophy and would be interested to hear more about your thoughts on philosophers you admire and have learned the most from. You have mentioned Hume many times and I’d be interested in hearing more about how his way or writings have influenced your own thinking.
Also, I would be interested in hearing what books you have found helpful in guiding not just your thinking but also your behavior and actions with respect to virtues and being the best human you can.
Currentzis’s Don Giovanni recording
The current status of pop-economics. Particularly the explicit political biases from economists on twitter (J Wolfers), blogosphere (J Taylor, Krugman, M Chinn), etc… and its impact on how the profession is so negatively viewed.
How to get rid of nuclear weapons
Social choice theory
Is the debate about the hard problem of consciousness important?
In a world of robot labour and online retail, what does a city look like?
I’m having trouble formulating the precise question, but here is my attempt to get there:
What are the hidden assumptions of economists as far as goal functions? For everyone to be rich? For everyone to be happy? How would economics change if economists added goals such as ‘living a moral life’ to their equations?
Tyler has a 1991 paper that gives me an idea of his views on this subject.
I am not kidding about any of these: Halsey’s opinion of Nimitz and Nimitz’s opinion of Halsey. I think each thought that, in the other’s place, he would not have done as well with the overwhelming challenges, but I have also heard rumors that Nimitz disapproved of some of Halsey’s real-time decisions. The vice versa rumors exist also. Not that you are an expert on naval history, but maybe you have heard something I have not heard, or have insights I would not have come up with.
Is there any prose writer who does not eventually wear out his or her welcome? If there isn’t (which is my view) who comes closest to not wearing out their welcome?
Local anecdotes about GMU – are the faculty parties as “fun” as they are in less conservative states? is there, in fact, a typical GMU faculty party ? (where I work, there are typical parties. They are fun, but not real fun). Are there people in other departments who you had interesting conversations with which you could entertainingly describe in a thousand words or less (the genius gardener who snagged a biology professorship, the classic Russian dissident author who smoked himself to an earlier death than any of his friends would have wanted, the woman on the music faculty who understands what Martha Argerich and Glenn Gould should have, but did not, do to perform Mozart and Bach in the right way…)
How is it possible that after all these years of writing, you and Alex and guest blog-hosts, not a single one of you has ever mentioned Pushkin in a post? I am not saying he is the Russian Dante or anything, but you would think that the most gifted continental European poet of the post-Shakespeare world would be mentioned at least once in your thousands of posts.
In any event, feel free not to think twice about any of these suggestions. Your blog has been one of the most fascinating aspects of the contemporary world, from my point of view, for several years. Not enough cute cat videos (I am serious about that – cute cat videos are more important than almost anyone thinks), and definitely not enough landscape photography (Northern Virginia is ridiculously beautiful from the landscape point of view), but fascinating anyway. So, well done, Tyler and Alex, and thank you. If you answer one question, answer the Pushkin question. (Even Shakespeare was not smart enough to say this: Habit is given us from above: it is our consolation for loss of happiness = Preevwichka svwishe nahm dan na, zamyena schasteeyou ahn na.
Where would you live in the world if you had nothing tying you down to one location?
I’d like to hear an economist’s take on the Automated Payment Tax (cf. http://www.apttax.com/) – pros, cons. (It naively strikes me as eminently sensible.)
The merits of an edit button and required log on information on a modern blogging site.
But there’s more needed. Our tools for having conversation are generally weak enough that a couple determined crazy people can shut down most conversations.
What’s the best argument for high culture when homeless people are freezing in the streets? (a serious inquiry, as I love visiting the great museums in New York City).
Given the decades-long growth in capital invested in VC and private equity, coinciding with the decline in the number of public companies, what do you see as the future of asset returns available to individual investors?
An update on the 2012 article on India’s economy: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/business/economic-view-forget-europe-worry-about-india.html
I’ve always been interested in the following:
1. How to measure the impact of insurance pricing for risk: real or perceived. There has to be earnings available to companies willing to insure perceived risk where there is no/little as well as where no risk is perceived, but great risk exists. Politics seem to drive perceptions, but there are tons of other factors. Think bomb shelters, treasury bonds, etc. For insurance, health insurance and property insurance along coastlines pop out to me as areas where companies could earn lots of dollars based on the difference between perceived risk and actual risk independent of their actually knowing exactly where the risk lies.
2. Your reading habits are fascinating to me, a secondary English teacher. I’d love more brief thoughts on how to encourage deeper reading as well as contrasting information with how reading is taught at University level. This is really vague, sorry.
3. You do well linking real stories with lessons from your Econ class you put together with Alex, but more analysis would be appreciated by this Humanities guy. Three extra sentences including your application would not poison the well for me, it would be significantly more educational.
4. Information on books that you started but couldn’t complete and why. I’d find this fascinating. I know this might feel like an ultimate bad review, but they could be from dead authors.
Crime and Prisons
Young men, unemployment, and video games
How large a subsidy is the American military umbrella?
What is the economic (and political economic) role of militaries generally?
What is good advice for young people of average intelligence?
IQ and the Wealth of Nations (aka HBD)
In honor of Derek Parfit, what are your views on population ethics?
What is the future of economics, given the trending preference for econometrics in publishable papers? A more rigorous science? A diminishing interest in economic philosophy? Something else? How will this alter university economics departments in 30 years?
Why team sports obsess about individual awards.
What should be our greatest concerns globally, nationally, individually?
If true public goods (e.g., innovation) are a strong argument for government intervention, how we determine how much of that public good should be provided and at what costs?
Scanlan’s critique of the logic of disparate results. Seldom, if ever, grappled with by . . . because? Relevant to lots of facile solutions.
The future of black urban culture . . . causes, consequences, the burden of leadership. Culture counts . . .implications of seventy years of policy which appears not even mildly successful (to say the least) and the hard, possibly incorrect things that might (may) need to be said (or not) but which are scarcely if ever alluded to . . . the sucess ratio of (so-called) economic solutions and what else is there?
And yes: the moral foundations of economics: promises and perils (which are?) . . . where do they (whatever the are) succeed or fail, where, and why, as if they should?
What would Hume, Smith, or Hayek have to say on these issues?
Do these things addle your brain too?
What long-term societal disruption in the west might look like (e.g., extended power outage; limited nuclear blast; California falling into the sea).
ethnic dining in the rust belt
Please say a few words about the idea of pre-tax income being an accounting fiction. Loyal readers know that you are a fan of Thomas Nagel, yet you seem to depart from him on this important topic. (In an August post you suggested lowering taxes on the wealthy could more properly be called “un-redistribution” than “redistribution.”) Might “pre-tax income” rhetoric hide from scrutiny the arguably more important issues that determine market wages in the first place? For example, a physician may complain about Uncle Sam “taking” money from his (pre-tax) income, but from a libertarian perspective the real scandal is that his pre-tax income was so high to begin with — e.g., because the law that props it up via protections from competition with doctors trained in Canada.
Any update on Resolution Frameworks of various Regulatory regimes to tackle TBTF.
Analysis of US medical spending. Specifically what part is administrative hassle ( i have seen such, but don’t know what to believe) and how much it costs to get a 1% chance of another high quality of life year, or a 10% chance or a 1/1000 chance . i.e. how much do we spend on low probability of success treatments.
Mandatory Gun Insurance.
This is thought provoking. I’d think most owner’s liability extends to many circumstances, but interesting as in many states driving without auto insurance can result in vehicle impoundment and/or jail time.
Driving is a privilege, owning a gun is a right.
And of course rights have no limitations
I would like Tyrone to point to my countryman Knausgård’s take on the Trumpenfuhrer.
Future of manned spaceflight, over the next century or so.
Ditto, for nanotechnology.
Semi-related; my impression is economists are much less impressed by specific fields of technology than they once were, They seem more inclined to stare at a graph or two, mumble “TFP”, and scurry along to more congenial topics — gossiping about who’s in and out at the Fed perhaps. Am I right? And is there some explanation of this?
If economic models are fables rather than realistic representations of the world, how do we judge them?
Where is Tyrone, and what does he think about drinking alcohol?
Conversations with Tyler: Steve Sailer.
Second/third/…/nth all the requests (above and likely below) re future of capitalism/automation/singularity/basic income. I’d ask for a particular focus on the politics of the transition.
Peter Cushing was ‘in’ Rogue One. Will all future performers be dead? Or will they never have been alive?
Are Ray and Thiago AIs?
The case for monarchy.
+1 on Steve Sailer. Would love to see that interview.
I would settle for Mickey Kaus!
I’m surprised that the two curious and courageous minds don’t have more respect for each other.
+1 Sailer + Cowen
The changing economics of the film industry, in particular the prospects for different types of artists moving forward. For example, will actors and directory become devalued due to digital technology? In this world, would screenwriters, and others who generate ideas, become more important in the the hierarchy of Hollywood?
Given the lower cost of production, which would seem to open a possibility for disruption, why have traditional film studios increased their market share of theatrical releases? Is it because of studio’s longterm relationships with distributers? Marketing? Limited talent pool of persons who can make a film others want to see?
Much has been written about these topics, but I have yet to see a convincing causal analysis of current trends and prognostication for the future of cinema.
Singapore! Specifically, the talk here is of how vulnerable it is to the winds that made it prosper – notably globalisation, the rise of China (and East Asia), and general peace on the high seas. There is now serious disquiet that there are serious headwinds in all those areas, if not reversals. What does this new uncertain world mean for the Lion City, and – more broadly – its model of a post-national city state?
Keep up the good work!
As far as globalization refers to international trade, who is predicting a decrease? China will keep rising too.
I would like to see Steve Ballmer in conversations with Tyler
The Blowhard from Redmond
Trigger Warnings on this one, for sure.
The OA: good or bad?
If we’re being aspirational, I’d love to see Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, James Simons, and/or Howard Marks in conversations with Tyler.
Jimmy Buffett would be an interesting one too. That man has worked incredibly hard at selling the life of beachside laziness. At what point did he come up with a long term strategy? How much was his vision and how much was recognizing good advice/opportunity? Pros and cons of Paris these days?
+1 Glad I read down before suggesting this
Jaime Dimon in Conversations with Tyler.
Which medical conditions finding cures for would have the greatest economic impact.
Scaling laws, emergent phenomena, and thus how macro is necessarily different from micro.
In no particular order:
1. Thoughts on Matt Bruenig, his views on philosophy, political economy, public policy
2. +1 on discussing Nagel’s views on the “myth of ownership”
3. What’s your philosophy on what’s worth blogging about? You’ve almost certainly read Murray on IQ and Harris on Islam, for instance, but you’ve never blogged about either (except one post on Murray on IQ from 2003 that doesn’t express your views on the matter). Is it not worth writing about controversial arguments like those?
4. The probability of humankind ending within the next 500 years
5. What’s the best strategy for the US and for humanity re: nuclear weapons?
Ranking of biggest inefficiencies created by Tragedy of the Commons. Or evolution of its importance during History.
Compare economic output (GDP, etc) with steps between people and their food.
I notice you have been in Africa recently, I currently work in Somalia and was wondering if you had any opinion on the state of economic and political development here from a weak state perspective ? How do you think the absence of a strong state has impacted the level of economic growth and businesses. For example, the telecommunications sector is supposed to be quite advanced compared to other poor countries, although the internet does not seem to be any faster than in Kenya or Iraq where I was previously stationed.
How well do we understand X?
How well has economics integrated X into its macro models?
Why haven’t we done a better job at these?
Why do so many expect X not to revert to the mean?
X = the proportion of the population which is highly motivated to contribute.
X = the contrast between personal vs group motivation.
X = declining (relative, absolute) importance of education
X = declining birth rate and growing proportion of middle aged households
The ratio of posts by Tyler to the posts by Alex, as modified by the date and weather in the D.C. area.
some candidates. They have already been partly discussed:
1. Should abortion, prostitution, euthanasia, the death penalty, street drugs, assault weapons, affirmative action be legal. On what basis (efficiency/fairness, etc..) do economists decide ?
2. What would a good healthcare system look like ? Is there a model out there ?
3. What is the future of prisons in the US. The Brazilian model or the Scandinavian model ?
4. With increased surveillance do we expect crime to shift more and more from the physical to cyber crime?
5. Will all computing (business/personal) shift to cloud services
6. Is there really an important future in digital currencies like bitcoin
7. Are innovations today flowing to entertainment ( social media etc..) rather than productivity enhancements. Is that trend likely to continue ?
8. What do you think of the idea that our wealth stems mainly not from our work but from the accumulated knowledge of previous generations and this knowledge belongs to everyone, so a universal basic income is fair
9. California is becoming increasingly unaffordable for the poor and the middle class. How long can this trend continue ?
10. Do we really need a manned mission to Mars. What’s wrong with only robotic missions?
11. Will the singularity happen in the next 30 years or so or is that a geek fantasy?
The opportunities for external agencies to influence economic policy, via cyberwar.
What happens with your mood when you read pieces like this?
What is your view on the current state of the United Nations?
How to write well. I want more TC on more subjects, and it seems like explicit advice could create more productive TC-hours than TC can alone.
Partly, this is because I come here for topics which surprise me or are outside my domains. I would like more of those.
Audio Books Markets in Everything
How to explain the fact that there are no less than 3 different unabridged professional audio recordings of Stendhal’s The Red and The Black in English, but none of the French original Le Rouge et Le Noir? There is one abridged French version on Audible, and one amateur (very bad) unabridged version on a French free audio books web site. In general the French audio book market seems underdeveloped relative to the size of the economy and the literary development of the culture. While the US audio book market is obviously the world’s largest, it’s hard to believe that demand for a relatively obscure 19th century French novelist (arguably no better than tied with Zola for 3rd best known in that category) is so much greater in English than in his native French. Other similar examples could be cited. Note also that the German audio book market seems well ahead of the French. Is it just that the French economy is even worse than we believed?
Whose job is best: Anthony Bourdain of Guy Fieri?
Expanded views of what cyberwar can mean in a context of neuroeffective microwave technologies and hackable devices and infrastructure in every direction.
Whatever’s being debated in econ methods, but that sort of comes along anyways.
The future of taxation should a crypto-currency become viable end to end, i.e. earning and spending.
Would love to hear your thoughts on optimizing for career success (generally or based on relevant research/literature).
Some of your posts on labor markets or on career concerns & principal agent problems after the Nobel Prize touch on these areas, and I find them fascinating.
A few things that come to my mind: Parfitian/Schellingian problems and the optimal extent of paternalism (in particular: substance use, suicide/assisted suicide), related: the merits of monetary vs psychic/social taxes and subsidies, related II.: how to best kickstart a voluntary temperance movement, what types of research and topics might have the greatest marginal product in economics, and whether theory might experience a comeback. I second abortion (or better be creatively ambiguous on this subject?), also, (how) can the European Union work better. Catholicism, protestantism and economic growth.
You have traveled and studied a great deal. What is your favorite foreign country from a policy perspective? What is your favorite foreign county from a cultural perspective? In what ways can/should the US be more like this/these countries?
African fertility rates….
What to do?
And what about a post on Sweden and immigration. What a great success…….or something.
What to do?
send girls to school and give away condoms.
Book list on ethics, morality, and how to be a good person.
What is your mental model of MR’s comment section?
Drugs, future of cannabis legalization.
Why do some technological breakthroughs occur and not others? Flight times across the Atlantic haven’t improved in decades (concord nonwithstanding), we still can’t predict natural disasters well, and flying cars are not a thing. Yet driverless ones are here among us, I can video call with a friend half way round the globe whilst walking down the street on my phone, and an app can tell me about my sleep cycles. It would seem to be a mix of how hard these breakthroughs are and how big the demand is for them, with some random elements chucked in (e.g. how we stumbled upon penecilin, how popular/useful the internet became). But that doesn’t feel quite adequate.
Have you ever thought about the idea of replacing taxes with the forced purchase of US Treasuries, with maybe 12.5% forbidden to be sold to replace Social Security? And if you like that idea, how about perpetual GDP securities as well, that pay dividends based on economic growth? Such a plan wiuld not only give taxpayers much more control over their money set aside for government, but would also endow them with incentives to support more efficient government spending, especially meaning limiting spending to only those items deemed absolutely necessary and/or to items that actually increase efficiency.
So, to be clear, there would be some forced savings rate for a given period of time, but also some proportion of Treasuries and GDP equity instruments that could be sold immediately, if desired.
It’s a hybrid forced savings, cap and trade type plan to replace traditional taxation.
What are good state and local policy priorities for the Trump era and/or the broader social and economic “fundamentals” of 2017?
What, if anything, should be done to address regional economic divergence, beyond the net fiscal transfers already built into the federal welfare system?
How is Janet Yellen doing these days (in terms of job performance)?
A 2017 predictions post a la slatestarcodex.com would be fun
What, if any, new technologies are you excited about/are you actively following right now, other than self-driving cars, which everyone seems to have their eye on these days?
An anthropology reading list for economists.
Not really a request for blog topics, but would it be possible to institute comment rating/ranking to easily search the most interesting response threads?
What does your media diet look like these days?
Are there issues where libertarians, conservatives, and progressives would disagree not just about a public policy question, but about personal ethics? For example, libertarians and conservatives tend to think that minimum wages are a bad idea. But is it ethically desirable for an individual employer to pay above the market wage? Does it matter, on an ethical level, whether the employer is a large player in their industry (e.g. Boeing) versus a price-taker (household employers of nannies)?
Ha! I just realized I had one. The Trump Tweets. Is head-in-the-sand really the best response?
What happened to the density dividend? New urbanists have told us for the last decade or so that we can’t afford sprawl and we have no choice but to live cheek to jowl with our neighbours. In southern Ontario our provincial government has taken this on as a religion and has created all kinds of marketplace distortions, including some of the most unaffordable housing in the world. Moreover even though many of our public transit systems can’t cope with today’s traffic (and all of them are losing great gobs of money), the government is doubling down on the hyper density madness, forcing the small number of new housing projects to be built tightly enough to support regular bus service – even in some pretty far flung communities.
After nearly a decade of living under this ideology, I would have expected to see some tangible benefit, but all I see are soaring home prices and out-of-control carrying costs (i.e insurance, utilities, and municipal taxes and fees, etc.). So my basic question is: where did the money go?
Was there a path to a better outcome in Reconstruction?
Say Lincoln is not assassinated. He’s got better politcal skills than Johnson, but isn’t he going to run into the same Radical Republican Buzz saw?
The Panic of 1873 was a worldwide event so it doesn’t seem possible any action taken in the US could have prevented a Democratic takeover of Congress in 1874, which just seemed to speed the inexorable return to Reedemer/Democrat control of the Southern states.
Say Lincoln is not assassinated. He’s got better political skills than Johnson, but isn’t he going to run into the same Radical Republican Buzz saw?
Have you ever considered monetizing your status as a trendy intellectual by selling your thoughts or by doing blogposts for hire? I’m not talking about working as a paid columnist or consultant. What I mean is has anyone, out of curiosity, ever offered to pay you to reveal your ideas on a specific topic of interest that you might not have otherwise covered? #Thosenewservicesectorjobs
Markets in everything
Elizabeth Parish and BioViva.
The war on mobility. Next to indoor plumbing, the greatest thing the 20th century gave us was the freedom to drive. This opened up all kinds of opportunities for millions upon millions of us to seek better jobs, live in better neighborhoods and see much more of the continent.
But that freedom is under assault as new urban ideologues regard cars as the new cigarettes and driving as the new cancer. Many of these folks see driving as something to be regulated out of existence or taxed into submission. Very few of the new urban intelligentsia are willing to acknowledge there are benefits to mobility and costs to inhibiting it.
On a related note, I wonder about the dark side of autonomous cars. While I’m very skeptical that these will ever achieve mass production, mainly because I can’t see too many people willing to pay for the thousands of extra dollars needed to cover the extra costs, I can see the possibility of manufacturers, insurers and software developers routing (mainly indifferent) passengers away from certain routes and neighborhoods to reduce accident and other risks. I can also visualize corporate giants like Starbucks paying next decade’s routing giant to be the the coffee default option of choice. With enough customization, perhaps even the opposite will emerge – exclusive restaurants, hotels, private clubs and politically sensitive organizations may even pay up to keep their address secret from the unworthy. Maybe for some a street address will become the equivalent of an unlisted number. Something some of us will pay for to keep the hoi polloi at bay. I’m sure there are many other social issues that will emerge. Your thoughts are appreciated.
Total Miles driven chart
Given your GDP tourism interest and travel bug, most interesting/favourite creative minority groups and why?
Georgism and land value taxes
Tyler, one economic concept I’ve really struggled with understanding is the crowding out effect (along with the crowding in effect.) I see lots of fairly well informed economic folks refer to “government spending reduces private spending” and also understand that these ultimately are best viewed by private firm investment decisions. How much does this really affect private firm investments? Thanks so much for the site — Been reading a long time and learned a lot from the site, really enjoy “Conversations with Tyler” by the way.
Ivan Illich and your opinions on Tools for Conviviality.
Libertarian Thomas Szasz position on drug legalization and how it fits with your multiple selves model personal restraint.
A critical review of Strangers in their Own Land
Or Nonya cookery past and present.
Seconding the guy who said why we don’t learn from history. Also Mexico’s gasolinazo and the ideal approach for governments in a poor or middle income countries to administer oil wealth, assuming an ideal world and total freedom of policy decisions.
CRISPR /CAS9, what’s most exciting, worrying about it, and who should be trying to control it, who has the right to control it.
By “who has the right to control it”, are you referring to the patent cases, or deeply political questions relating to the future of genetic engineering and who will be allowed to have access to it for which reasons?
International politics, especially American foreign policy.
What do you see in Star Wars? I tend to share your views on fiction, non-fiction and movies, so the fact that you like SW baffles me. The dialogues are terrible, the plot pretty lame, and the overall product very boring (in contrast to The Da Vinci Code, say, which is not “good” but it’s certainly entertaining).
(If you’re going to mention Campbell, then the point is why Campbellian storylines are so popular to begin with.)
How psychoanalysis influenced you. It’s clearly there in your citations and the periphery of your more obscure interests.
Maybe the work of philosopher Jim Tabery on the danger of dead ends in impossible biological research projects.
What position do you hold that you believe is probably not correct, but still hold it anyways?
Mine is disbelief in dark matter/energy. I’m about 80% sure I’m wrong, and that they do exist, but I get the nagging feeling they are said to exist because physicists just can’t get their math right. Same with any talk of multiverse. This one I’m guess that the chance I’m right is > 50% though.
What is considered saving.
Optimal relaxation/restoration routines (e.g., whether to avoid stimulation / whether audiovisual entertainment is a bad means of restoring energy)
Optimal habit building routines (good for those New Year’s resolutions)
Top 5/10 of the most underrated ideas/abstractions in economics (e.g., Lucas critique, Modigliani-Miller, CAP-M/risk as co-variance/beta?)
Top 5/10 of the most underrated ideas/abstractions in psychology
Nietzsche is currently underrated, especially on connection between scientific naturalism and a kind of soft nihilism.
More theory of travel (the Nigeria / GDP tourism stuff was great). Looking back at trips you did long ago but never blogged at the time would be fun.
Top 10 countries.
As the media has fragmented, we seem to have less and less of a shared worldview across the country. I don’t want to over-idealize this–the shared worldview was often 180 degrees off from reality, included made-up stuff (the missile gap) and lies (the Gulf of Tonklin) and crazy herd-mentality fears (satanic ritual child abuse rings). In fact, I’m sure I’m better informed now than I would have been 30 years ago in the same position.
But this leads to two problems:
a. The shared media worldview works like a focal point for everyone to come to consensus on what we should be doing. We can take action, because we agree enough on the shape of the world and what the issues are that we can agree on what actions need to be taken. This is true even when the shared media worldview is all wrong, and indeed even when all the decisionmakers know it’s wrong. (Or is this right? It feels intuitively plausible, but I don’t have a lot of evidence at my fingertips here.)
b. The loosening of social sanctions on things like unwed motherhood and live-in boyfriends/girlfriends has worked out okay for the smart and educated, but not so well for the dumb and uneducated. (This is a big part of Charles Murray’s book _Coming Apart_.) My guess is that the same is true for moving from a world where there was one shared media worldview to one where everyone pieces their own together. My intuition (again, without a lot of evidence) is that the interested and smart people become increasingly well-informed about their world, and the uninterested and dumb people increasingly inhabit a cartoon world because that’s what their media preferences give them.
What is the optimal amount of hypocrisy?
That’s a funny, original and very interesting question!
How To Visit Haiti, modeled after your How To Visit Singapore post(s)
Health care reform, with a particular focus on learning from other countries that have better health outcomes at lower cost.
I’d love to see more on the so called ‘welfare poverty trap’, that is, the high marginal tax rates faced by people transitioning from welfare to higher market incomes. I’ve seen a bit from Mankiw (http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/11/poverty-trap.html) but haven’t been able to find any sort of comprehensive take on the issue from a trustworthy source.
Oh, another request I’ve wanted to make for a while.
The ways you use the terms “Straussian” and “Coasean” confuse me, even after reading about them. Can you explain how you use the terms? I assume you are extending them beyond their “strict” meanings.
Please continue to investigate ways to successfully deregulate zoning that mandates car storage and suppresses the supply of housing (eg requires single-detached instead of rowhousing or low-rise apartments).
the economics of artificial intelligence
A more comprehensive theory of “When do you regulate?” What are the principals that need to be applied before regulating?
Clear Market failure.
Substantial Consumer Protection Interest.
Clear Public Safety issue
Authority to Act is reasonably clear.
Solution meets a reasonable test of cost effectiveness.
Second thing is a better economic analysis of product bundling advantages disadvantages. Especially in the context of sports programming. Why am I forced to by sports programming in cable bundles when I do not want them? Isnt there some ‘taxation without representation’ principal here?
A few startups have managed to do a massive end-run around entrenched local interests and local laws and offer some service that’s been forbidden to offer for decades. Uber is the best example I can think of, but I think there are others (like Airbnb).
I’m curious what makes this possible. Killing off dinosaurs is a fairly common operation for startups that turn successful, but usually the dinosaurs don’t have a decades-old infrastructure of laws and policies built up to protect them from exactly the kind of challenge they’re getting.
I’ve been reading your website for probably six years now. Tremendous resource, love it here. When I started I agreed with most of what you had to say, now I disagree with most of what you have to say. Why?
A good explanation between the differences between the natural rate hypothesis and multi equilibria models for labor markets.
Late to this: but more “big picture view” type posts on:
– Public education. what are the alternatives for improving K-12, community college system? Please say something other than “use on-line, open courses instead.”
– Advantages / disadvantages of representation / administration at federal / state level in current political environment.
– More models of world leaders.
– something on left / right views of “Tolerance.” Draw from law and Lit classes you’ve taught?
– Is there a common good? Should left or right be talking about the common good? I hardly hear either talk about it, and a fairly transparent “love of one’s own” / friends vs. enemies reigns on both sides.
I live in Scarborough near the northern edge on the border of markham. (Outside of Toronto. One of Tyler’s favourite fod suburbs)
Question is: how many times a week should I eat out?
Fisheries, specifically, the tragedy of the commons in open access fisheries, and the challenge of limited access vs “privatizing” public resources.
Why will women now spend the massive amount of money for one that they will only wear for a few hours yet let the groom rent their suits? The prices for dresses have gone through the roof! You could put a downpayment on the house for the price of the dress.
What madness has set in?
An update on the autism “epidemic” since the update to the DSM and the noise it creates for parents trying to get a prognosis for their child. Thanks!
Is there any possible way for the US to force Mexico to pay for THE WALL? Taxes on imports will only pass the taxes on to American consumers – thus Americans will be paying for the wall.
is there any possible way for latinamerican countries to become developed countries?, also wich countries do you think are the next to become developed
i’m talking countries set to become devoloped countries shortly anywhere in the world
Why do employers now offer better incentives to employees? Instead of “Left and Right” how about centre plus incentives and time. Expecting a varied output from a fixed wage is quite irrational. What are they best examples in this regard? Why do small companies not have more equity ownership? Should they not be the ones most in need of this?
The collective brain has increased with the internet. However, productivity hasn’t reacted accordingly. Do we have too much internet and lack the solitude to develop ideas? To me those are the two main resources: information and solitude. Is this a modern version of the Dutch disease in a way?
Why do we not have better political leadership? Why do we not have better political results? Is this connected with inequality?
Is our next long term crisis not climate but existential?
Loads of (probably stupid) questions!
small companies I meant employee equity ownership*
Why is US per capita GDP significantly higher than the per capita GDP’s of virtually every other industrialized country? Could other countries close the gap if they changed their policies? If so, what policies and what changes? Or is this gap a measurement problem? For instance, could the gap be the result of the US dollar being the world reserve currency?
Is US military spending really social spending plus an industrial policy rolled into one?
What is the optimal level of military spending for Canada?
– from Canada’s perspective?
– from the perspective of the Pentagon?
– from the perspective of the US in general?
Backgrounder: Canada is regularly chided for spending much less than the NATO target of 2% of GDP on its military. (We’ve been spending around 1% of GDP for a very long time.) However, high military spending by Canada when it happens is often perceived as a threat to the US by commentators on both side of the border. Is it possible that the current level of Canadian military spending is in fact the optimal amount for both Canada and the US?
What is the point of Canada? What would change if Canada joined the US? How would Canada be improved? What would be lost? What about the US? How would it be improved? In what ways would the US be made worse off?
At what situations should one apologize? Do the Japanese apologize more than they should? Should the Americans and Europeans apologize more? Should forgiving be predicated on receiving verbal apology?
Why isn’t there dynamic pricing for restaurants, like there is for airplane seats? Is it just cultural inertia?
How much would index funds have to grow before it starts hurting the efficiency of the market enough that stock-picking starts getting rewarded again? (As measured by the percentage of actively managed mutual funds that beat the index.)
1. A meta conversation about path dependence.
The first level analysis always focuses on where we’d like to be instead of where we are. At what point is that completely wrong, and trying to head toward the oasis won’t get you there, and will just make you more thirsty? Obviously, examples would be helpful, but readers might start disagreeing with the examples.
2. Meta about communication across worldviews.
Advice for speaking and or listening effectively. Also, are we getting better or worse at this?
Money supply control in a cashless economy
I’d actually love a primer on how the political Left and Right systems of economics work, personally. I recently came across your site, and I thoroughly enjoy how even for someone like me with a complete non-economic background (natural sciences and medicine), it’s relatively easy for me to understand what’s going on in your posts. I think that you could pull off that primer really well and keep it interesting yet understandable.
1. Washington DC in the time of Trump .. any predictions for the next 4 or 8 years?
2. Was Nixon wrong in opening up to China from the perspective of maintaining US power?
3. Most underrated and overrated cuisines?
4. Top 3 Non Fiction books of all time (including biographies) and why?
5. Are India’s chances of catching up with China/West overrated? I think they are …
6. Is racial identify becoming more prominent in the US or was it always like this? I find it interesting that there is always emphasis as in “XYZ is the first African American to win a swimming gold medal”.
7. Is American exceptionalism a myth? Is Canada the new America (barring Military power)?
8. Is lobbying the main reason why it appears that US is hostage to Israeli needs? I know there is an in-built assumption here. After all, there are other vibrant democracies and countries with which we share common values but Israel seems to have an unusually strong hold on the US (No, I am not a Israel hater)
9. Obama in the pantheon of US presidents
10. Why GMU and not other Universities? 🙂
What are your thoughts on the ethics wars? and is there an economic frame we can use to analyze them?
You cannot swing a dead cat inside the beltway without hitting 87 public or private ethics watchdogs. They all claim to promote honesty, transparency and elimination of conflicts of interests. They also all seem to primarily focus on leaking damaging innuendo for partisans to bludgeon ideological opponents.
It would seem this has all become somewhat counterproductive. The multiple releases have become so transparently ideological that most people discount ethics allegations aimed at political figures they admire and give exaggerated credence to allegations aimed at those they do not. But only a complete fool believes the ethics watchdog releasing the attack is not primarily driven by ideological or partisan motivations.
Is it possible to operate a truly nonpartisan, non ideological ethics watchdog operation? How?
is there a diminishing return on responding to reports from ethics watchdogs? At what point does it become a better use of time and resources to simply ignore them or point out their own partisan biases rather than reply to their allegations?
Diminishing marginal utility and luxury taxes and deadweight loss.
Doesn’t deadweight loss benefit other markets? For example, if a luxury tax on cars decreases the quantity of luxury cars doesn’t that ‘free up’ market resources (e.g. labor) for other markets?
Are there any other major downsides from luxury taxes other than that consumption can move to other localities (e.g. other countries)? If not, wouldn’t that mean countries should enter into luxury tax pacts with each other?
You have generously shared the reading lists for your Law and Literature classes over the years and that has been very much appreciated (like all you do for the public here, with Mercatus, and through MRU). Anything else from the Law and Literature classes would also be great. Your thoughts on any of the books covered, your teaching approaches, which books students appear to respond to, etc. Thank you.
The falling employment rate seems very interesting and hard to understand. Please more on it.
How has your opinion of Milton Friedman changed over time?
A deeper dive on Murakami?
Literature request: responses to bullying. Some people claim that Trump is a bully. If this claim is true, what would be the textbook response? Does the applicable literature include the political dimension?
I think it would be interesting to see some more posts on the economics of water use. Looking at agriculture in California’s central valley and/or partitioning of water in the Colorado River and/or dam removal to help restore commercial salmon runs and the economic trade-off between water use for agriculture/ecosystem services/recreation (i.e. Summersville Lake Dam in WV releases water in September to create Gauley Season for rafting tour operators)
The evidence regarding the superior productivity of urban areas is strong and something you discuss regularly. However, vast areas of the country contains small towns. Apart from saying that their inhabitants should move to cities (and not all cities provide prosperity to their inhabitants), do you have any suggestions regarding policies towards rural areas.
Now that the republicans control the presidency, congress, and a majority of state legislators, what constitutional amendments should be their top priorities? Which are most likely to pass?
What, in your view, are we *really* responsible for and how should that influence our actions and, from a societal point of view, public policy?
Everything is heritable, to a greater or lesser extent. IQ, predisposition for depression and alcoholism, eye colour. Books like “Scarcity” and related research say that the poor have no bandwidth do properly analyse some choices and make “correct” decisions. Prenatal development is important be have no control over it. What should we do? “The best with what we have,” of course, but maybe you have some more thoughts.
From public policy point of view, perhaps this calls for much larger redistribution? Perhaps some criminals should have their sentences lowered if they were exposed to lead as children? Maybe the poor are simply incapable of dealing with some problems and the state should intervene heavily? All of these may be true, and I certainly can’t dismiss them out of hand like I would have a few years ago. But how can a society function if we assume people have little (less than we thought) personal responsibility for their actions.
Is it possible for the US to abuse the dollar’s privileged position, and do you expect a monetary conference to take place in the future that would alter the post-Bretton Woods arrangement in ways less favorable to the US?
If the US capital would move to the West coast where would it be located? Would this make more sense as China/ India grow in power? How would US policy change if at all having a West coast perspective if such a thing exists? What if it had moved previously at some point in our history? Is there anything that would have played out differently?
What article/blog/journal reading tips might you offer to us mere mortals who struggle to absorb everything that we read?
I find that I will often read an article on some current event, think for a few seconds about the excellent points it made, and then promptly forget the whole thing. Suggestions from other commenters welcome.
Books vs. television. What’s your take? Are fictional books truly more intellectually stimulating than TV (even on some quality-adjusted basis)? You’ve written about ‘novels as models’; can a good TV series likewise serve as a useful model/simulation? What’s the optimal ratio of book reading to TV watching? (This will depend on your accumulated stock of media already/watched; how does this change over the life cycle?)
Should you even watch TV at all?
An entire other dimension is [novels vs. television entertainment] vs [nonfiction vs. documentaries], but I think this is perhaps less interesting.
Basic guaranteed income versus guaranteed federal job (touted as superior alternative to BGI in recent Jacobin article).
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