Monday assorted links

by on October 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Thor October 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm


“For hacking?” No, for discussing the finer points of referendum and secession law as it pertains to Catalonia. Of course to help with hacking.

(China and Russia may not love North Korea but they love the thorn in the American side that North Korea represents. Clearly Russia and China have accepted that the utility of having North Korea suck a percentage of American military/political/security broadband outweighs whatever America learns from focussing so hard on the Korean peninsula.)

Another question is why Russia would do this now, when tensions are fairly high. As usual, we don’t know if it is standard Russian hamfisted stupidity when it comes to timing, or whether it’s just that they don’t care.


2 mulp October 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Geography deficit Americans do not know Russia is an Asian power often in conflict with China over control of Asian nation politics and economy.


3 Thor October 2, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Yes, I agree but that boat has sailed. Russia will never again rival China, except perhaps in boutique areas like cyberterrorism. Russia has ceded control of its far east to China. It has neither the military power nor the population to match China, to say nothing of their economies. Also China is one of Russia’s biggest markets for its natural resources.

Putin is essentially an authoritarian warlord, and that he finds it expedient to be closer politically to China than to the West tells us what we need to know about him. Having said that, there is some merit in Trump’s badly carried out attempt to make Russia our friend. (Mind you, Trump could be doing this for selfish electoral and/or financial reasons, we just don’t know yet.) But there’s still merit in the NEXT administration and the one after that, etc., making friends with Russia. No smart administration should be at odds with China or Russia without having the other on side or at least neutral.


4 So Much For Subtlety October 2, 2017 at 7:59 pm

The more you study Russia’s gas deal with China, the worse it looks.

Putin will go down as one of the worst Russian leaders ever. One who sacrificed his country’s interests and allowed Russia to become a satellite of China in exchange for a short term political gain. He sold Russia’s inheritance for a mess of pottage.


5 Pensans October 2, 2017 at 9:01 pm

Yes, he should have been a US satellite.

6 charlie October 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I’m always surprised when the Catalan independence movement isn’t equated with anti-immigration.

3 big groups of immigrants:

1. Spanish speaking immigrants from Latin America – very large numbers.
2. Other europeans coming into Barcelona.
3. Muslims

And I’m not even brining up internal immigration from the rest of Spain.

Barcelona seems runs by crazed leftists — but Madrid is as well now, as well as most Spanish cities

The real heart of Catalonian independence seems to be smaller towns. Similar to the Quebec movement.


7 FYI October 2, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Maybe the heart of it is soccer. It would make as much sense anyway… This is like Brexit squared.


8 Tanturn October 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Look up the political parties behind it: most of the support is Leftist. These are the kind of people who write graffiti saying ” refugees welcome, tourists go home,” in an economy heavily dependent on tourism.

Though with Tyler’s leftward drift I’m sure he will soon write a Bloomberg article blaming it on Brexit.


9 mulp October 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm

But Latin American immigrants would never exist without Latin Europe immigrants.

It’s like calling the Romneys, and other Mormons, Mexican immigrants.


10 Hoosier October 2, 2017 at 1:38 pm

2b- spot on about Rajoy.


11 Captn Obvious October 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm

#2 Tyler has a clear anti-independence stance. That’s obvious. It was the same for Scotland if I remember. But why doesn’t he come with any convincing argument? My question: Why shouldn’t Spain allow for the referendum? And explain it in a way that your argument wouldn’t sound ridiculous for Scotland, Quebec, Kurdistan, et al. I remember Tyler coming up with the argument that Scotland would have trouble to survive on its own, the piece sets the reverse argument, namely that Catalans are selfish for leaving Spain, because they are richer etc. , well which one is it? poor regions are bad if they want to leave, rich regions are bad if they leave? So nobody has the right to leave??? I think you can come up with a better argument than this no?


12 Michael Gilbert October 3, 2017 at 12:43 am

Tyler is the same about Brexit.

What is left unexplored by the article in the link is 1) the coming C3TB (common corporate taxation throughout the Eurozone which will be followed by common personal taxation) and 2) the idea that the transfers between regions may well have a long term negative effect


13 BC October 2, 2017 at 1:52 pm

#6) “But when hospitals competed, they did so by buying new technology, offering expensive services, paying more for doctors, decreasing services to lower-class wards, and focusing more on A-class wards. This led to increased spending.”

“A-class” wards are the ones people pay for using their own money. Doesn’t this statement just reveal the problem with talking about total health care spending? Spending too much *taxpayer* money is a problem because government should not be spending other people’s money frivolously. However, if the “increased spending” is just people choosing to spend their own money on fancy health care, even if such spending isn’t really necessary or doesn’t improve health outcomes, then that would not seem to be too much of a problem. After all, the alternative use of that money is that the person might buy a bigger TV, go on more vacations, play more video games, etc. “Increased spending” from high consumer demand is much different from increased spending from high supply-side costs or *subsidized* demand. Only the latter is a concern for policy.

For cross-country comparisons of health care spending to be meaningful in policy contexts, private demand-driven spending needs to be eliminated from the comparison first.


14 BC October 2, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Think of two types of healthcare spending: (1) core healthcare: spending that improves health outcomes and (2) “consumptive” healthcare: spending for more comfort (e.g., better and more private hospital rooms), spending for peace of mind (e.g., not strictly necessary testing), or even outright frivolous spending. Consumptive healthcare belongs in the same category as other consumption like big screen TVs and fancy vacations. Healthcare policy should be directed at ensuring that supply-side costs are not artificially boosted and that demand-side subsidies are targeted towards core healthcare. Shifting consumption away from consumptive healthcare towards other consumption is not the point of policy. Also, comparing one country’s core healthcare spending to another’s core+consumptive spending does not tell you that the second spends too much on core.


15 mpowell October 2, 2017 at 8:58 pm

This is a great idea in principle, but in practice the US is in a hopeless spot. The left will never believe that people would choose to ‘overconsume’ health care, and even if you managed to persuade them this is the right way to understand the issue, to the extent they did understand, they would immediately decide people spending more of their own money on health care comfort is completely unacceptable.

There is no interest anywhere in building a system that can identify the differences you have identified (currently, there is no practical way for an insurance provider to separate this on your bill) and provide public funding for the ‘core’ function.


16 aMichael October 3, 2017 at 9:05 am

+1. And I suspect that Tyler probably agrees with you. Saying the market failure of healthcare is that consumers want to spend more on healthcare is like saying the market failure of product X (choose anything, sugar, jeans, computers, etc.), which everyone loves and wants to buy more of, is that more people buy product X than some experts think is proper.

How is that a market failure? If it’s because markets are supposed to bring costs down, it could still be the case that the cost of the fancier health services are lower relative to what they would be otherwise. The article doesn’t address that.

Where I thought they were on to something actually approaching a market failure is that the hospitals tried to short shrift the lower class hospitals. I could buy the argument that poorer consumers wanted a lower cost product, but the hospitals didn’t have an incentive to provide it even if they could still make a profit on those services provided to poorer consumers.


17 Nicholas Weininger October 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

The Garicano piece for #2 proves too much, or at least too much for all but the most ardent EU integrationists: it implies that the Schengen countries shouldn’t be allowed to have their own welfare spending, but instead should be forced to put all such spending into a single EU-wide pool funded by EU-wide taxes and allocated by the European parliament. Moreover, it assumes that the separatists’ motives are mainly economic and that there are no strong reasons for people with different values to want self-determination other than to frustrate redistribution efforts, which are pretty questionable assumptions both in general and in the Catalan case.


18 BC October 2, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Yes, exactly. The refusal of current EU countries to consolidate into one Nation of Europe is equivalent to (pre-)seceding from it. In fact, Germans oppose “fiscal integration” precisely because they don’t want to subsidize profligate countries, understandably so in my view. Garicano’s argument against Catalonian secession is simultaneously an argument against German pre-secession. It’s also an argument against US and Canadian pre-secession from the Welfare State of the Euromerica or indeed European and North American pre-secession from the Global Welfare State of the United Nations.

Actually, Garicano seems sympathetic to the welfare state, so he probably doesn’t realize that he has made, not a good argument against Catalonian independence, but a devastating argument against the welfare state. He actually states, correctly, “The right to self-determination is not compatible with a welfare state.” Libertarians have long insisted that the distinction between economic liberty and “fundamental” liberty is artificial — to infringe on economic liberty is to infringe on liberty period. Now, someone apparently sympathetic to the welfare state has conceded the same, even if inadvertently — one can have democracy (self-determination) or the welfare state, but not both. Again, devastating.

(In light of Garicano, I look forward to Tyler’s recanting of his previous assertion that Brexit, a.k.a. British pre-secession from the future EU welfare state, can not plausibly move the UK in a libertarian direction. Free trade is great. But, Garicano teaches that greater political integration is inherently pro-socialist and less political integration is inherently anti-socialist.)


19 mulp October 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm

There is no startup deficit. Unless the fast food franchise business killed food store openings.

Startups were classically handyman of some sort, like driving friends and neighbors to work or store, or doing repairs on cars or on houses or appliances, or mowing lawns, or making crafts and selling them.

The obstacles to transitioning from informal to formal business has been virtually eliminated in the last decade. Uber, Taskrabbit, eBay, etsy, airbnb, … make business startup easy. All the new business startup services in a box. But making the business profitable is still as hard as ever.

Of course, the structure of these services makes hiring employees unlikely when the model is everyone is the “boss” subject to the rent seeker Uber, eBay, etc.


20 Joël October 2, 2017 at 2:17 pm

#2 is terribly stupid. If the small town of Pozuelo declared independence, Spain could simply deny its citizens any visa (a kind of mini-travel ban à la Trump). His inhabitants would then be in prison for the rest of their life. Or more moderately, Spain could send a right of passage for one year to the residents of Pozuelo for a prize equal to the taxes they would pay if they were still resident of that.

Knowing that Spain could easily do this, the residents pf Pozuelo will not want independence.. There is no chance whatsoever that in any referendum on the independence of Pozuelo, yes would win more than 5% of votes. And the same goes of course for all the similar stupid arguments: if we allow Catalonia to vote for independence, what about Paris? Manhattan? my building? my step-mother?


21 Joël October 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I was talking about #2a.


22 EverExtruder October 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm

#1 TL;DR quality over quantity. Been saying this for years.


23 rayward October 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm

6. Cowen: “Notably, they [Carroll and Frakt] identify the relevant market failure in health care as too much spending.” What they mean is too much spending by private hospitals to lure the patients with the most to spend on health care. Commenter BC has the quote. Carroll and Frakt’s conclusion:

“The most frustrating part about Singapore is that, as an example, it’s easily misused by those who want to see their own health care systems change. Conservatives will point to the Medisave accounts and the emphasis on individual contributions, but ignore the heavy government involvement and regulation. Liberals will point to the public’s ability to hold down costs and achieve quality, but ignore the class system or the system’s reliance on individual decision-making.

“Singapore is also very small, and the population may be healthier in general than in some other countries. It’s a little easier to run a health care system like that. It also makes the system easier to change. We should also note that some question the outcomes on quality, or feel that the government isn’t as honest about the system’s functioning.

There is a big doctor shortage, as well as a shortage of hospital beds. As Mr. Barr noted in a longer discussion of Singapore’s system, “It seems to be highly likely that if one could examine the Singapore health system from the inside, one would find a fairly ordinary health system with some strong points and many weaknesses — much like health systems all over the developed world.” This concern about how much we can really know about Singapore’s true outcomes is one of the reasons it didn’t fare so well in our contest.”


24 Tanturn October 2, 2017 at 2:32 pm

2. I disagree with this slippery slope argument. Pozuelo is rich because the rich within Spain self segregate there. If they seceded they would be benefiting themselves at the expense of their own retired parents and poorer siblings who live elsewhere. It can’t be compared to a whole region seceeding.


25 Dick the Butcher October 2, 2017 at 5:36 pm

If secession is voted, simply shriek “Russian collusion!” Brilliant!


26 Bob October 2, 2017 at 7:09 pm

It’s not a slippery slope, but about having systematic reasons why independence is justified in some cases, and not in others. An anarcho-capitalist would have zero problems with the economic argument… it’s just that this is not the Catalonian argument, and there’s no chance an independent Catalonia would become more libertarian.

People probably don’t disagree with the fact that colonies can declare independence, or that places where there’s ethnic cleansing going on should. It’s just very difficult to paint Catalonia in that light: If anything, it’s wanting to have your kids go to a school that teaches your kids in Spanish that makes someone feel like a refugee.


27 So Much For Subtlety October 2, 2017 at 8:04 pm

The problem is that Catalan is now endangered because of immigration. Internal immigration mostly. Some significant percentage of the Catalan population does not speak Catalan but Castilian. Add to the problems of intermarriage – if someone who speaks Catalan marries someone from Cadiz, their children will inevitably speak Spanish.

So they need to control the schools in order to bully everyone into speaking what would be a vulnerable language otherwise.

None of which would be a problem if they had controlled their borders to begin with.


28 PaulS October 2, 2017 at 2:49 pm

#6: in other words, what with the “A, B1, B2+, B2 and C”, it’s modeled on the awful, stinking dump that is the US airline system. Unless you’re lucky enough to be made of pure money, you’re just rubbish to be crammed and jammed into some dark corner, to see only whatever doctor the government deigns to allow you to see on whatever random day, continuity of care apparently to be damned.

Hence the wholly justified warning that the system is “easily misused by those who want to see their own health care systems change”. Indeed. Nothing much to see there, never mind anything at all of interest. Might as well toss it in the dumpster as a useful model, and move on.


29 Anonymous October 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I guess health outcomes are totally irrelevant here? The poor need more than healthcare, they need big rooms and TVs and privacy as well? All at taxpayer expense?


30 rayward October 2, 2017 at 2:51 pm

3. The linked article doesn’t mention university endowments as a source for funding of Chinese universities, although the article does mention “outside income, including from business interests like Tsunghua’s massive University Enterprise Group”.


31 JB October 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

How is higher spending a problem? If people want to spend their own money on better healthcare, why should that be illegal? We let people buy expensive cars. Why can’t people buy expensive medicine?


32 dearieme October 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm

#6: here’s a wonderfully stupid argument –

“Initially, Singapore let hospitals compete more, believing that the free market would bring down costs. But when hospitals competed, they did so by buying new technology, offering expensive services, paying more for doctors, decreasing services to lower-class wards, and focusing more on A-class wards. This led to increased spending.

In other words, Singapore discovered that, as we’ve seen many times before, the market sometimes fails in health care.”


33 JB October 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Maybe people just like more luxurious healthcare and are willing to pay for it. How on earth is that a market failure?


34 Purple Mutt October 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm

The important part is “decreasing services to lower-class wards,” right?

I guess the argument is that rich people will bid up the price of doctor-labor (and perhaps hospital-administration-labor?) if you let them. Seems at least vaguely plausible.

The framing is silly though.


35 DennisG October 2, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Or perhaps the health care market just favors focusing more on A-class wards.


36 swampr October 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

#6 Life expectancy for…
Asian Americans 87(!)
Singaporeans 82
All Americans 78


37 P Burgos October 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

What is the life expectancy for East Asian Singaporeans?


38 Brian Donohue October 2, 2017 at 3:17 pm

#5. “The region’s government agencies kept hiring through the recession and the government contracts remained a bedrock for the business community.”

Yeah, business community…


39 Glenn Hefner October 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

“In other words, Singapore discovered that, as we’ve seen many times before, the market sometimes fails in health care.”
Duh. Welcome to US healthcare.


40 anon October 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm

6. I could live under that “A-C” system, but I doubt many Americans would accept it. The alternative lie, that we can all have $10 of healthcare for $5, is too strong.


41 David Wright October 2, 2017 at 6:16 pm

#2: Your freedom of self-determination / association / movement is incompatible with our welfare state, therefore your freedom must end. It’s so obviously reminiscent of the reasons for erecting the Berlin wall, I’m amazed the author was willing to say it so blatantly.


42 Nigel October 3, 2017 at 12:49 am

Hardly. Germany reunified at considerable economic cost to the west – an example of national solidarity directly counter to the economic argument presented here, and neatly pointing out the limitations of such a narrow analysis.


43 October 3, 2017 at 2:03 am

#3 Talk about “Finances of Top Chinese Universities” a new “show-case” Chinese university I only learned about from a recent World Economics Forum video cast must not be omitted, the ShanghaiTech University which is only about 4 years old. . From the discussion in the video cast it seemed that in that university money is not a constraint.

The president of the university is the son of the former President of China. The governing board includes the current Governor of the People’s Bank of China (the Chinese Central Bank) and the Former Chairman of China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation ( rank it as the third largest global corporation).

“””ShanghaiTech hosts three nobel laureates. Dr. Roger D. Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and James E. Rothman, 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, are Distinguished Professors-in-Residence at the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS). Kurt Wüthrich, 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is a Distinguished Professor-in-Residence at the iHuman Institute.””” “””It promises a 1:10 to 1:12 teacher-to-student ratio, with as many as 1,000 faculty members, 500 of which will be recruited internationally.”””

So China is now not satisfied with just returnee Chinese researchers. Another example, “””Economics Nobel Laureate Visits ShanghaiTech””” Professor Sir James Mirrlees is already half way there, currently being the Master of the Morningside College of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


44 October 3, 2017 at 3:15 am

Example of things to come. The position for the director of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope come with a USD$1.2M research grant for research equipments and research student scholarships (salary, signed up bonus and facility operation costs are separate), and any extra novel proposals will be considered.

In the Chinese research priority, physics only ranks at number 14. Applied Economics is ranked at 17. Materials science and engineering at number 1 (hence the co-operation in the graphene research in Manchester Uni), and environmental science and engineering at number 8.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: