Tyler Cowen

Saturday assorted links

by on July 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Profile of Terry Tao.

2. Did Medicare D affect outcomes?

3. Is drinking a countercyclical asset in Greece?

4. Drug testing is coming to e-Gaming.

5. Interview with William Vollmann.  I still think the “By the Book” series in the NYT is the single best thing on the web these days.

6. One billion earths in our galaxy alone?  Uh-oh.  I don’t regard all that frozen water on Pluto as good news either.

7. Kremer and Miguel respond on the worm wars (pdf).

Overall, the dogmatic argument that a financial transactions tax is unworkable is clearly false. It operates in a lot of countries. The wide-eyed hope that such a tax can be a truly major revenue source also seems to be false. In part because of concerns over the risk of creating counterproductive incentives–either just to structure transactions in a way that minimizes such a tax or even to react in a way that reduces liquidity and increases volatility in financial markets–the rate at which such taxes are set is typically pretty low. As the authors write, “the idea that an FTT can raise vast amounts
of revenue—1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or more—has proved inconsistent with actual experience with such taxes.”

The question with any tax is not whether it is perfect, because every real-world tax has some undesirable incentive effects. The question is whether a certain tax might have a useful role to play as part of the overall portfolio of real-world taxes. For what it’s worth, this particular review of the evidence leaves me skeptical that expanding the currently existing US financial transactions tax from its very low present level would be a useful step.

That is from Timothy Taylor.

Rolls-Royce will be celebrating Singapore’s 50th year of independence with a special bespoke luxury car, the first time the carmaker has commissioned a car to celebrate the anniversary of a country.

Based on the Ghost line of vehicles, the limited edition “SG50 Ghost Series II” bears the red and white colors of Singapore’s flag. The white exterior will feature red trim, while the interior seats are dark red in color, with the city’s iconic half-fish, half-lion Merlion symbol stitched into the four headrests.

Unfortunately only one model will be released for sale, for $290,000.  And that is not all:

Singapore’s independence day falls on August 9, and is slated to be the country’s biggest anniversary celebration ever. Other brands that have released special products to mark the day include Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Singapore Special Edition watch, a Singapore Airlines plane bearing a special motif, and Ayam Brand’s specially designed sardine cans.

The story is here, and perhaps I will be blogging Singapore a bit more as the country’s fiftieth anniversary approaches.  Who would have thought?

An excellent collection, edited by Jonathan Anomaly, Geoffrey Brennan, Michael C. Munger, and Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, self-recommending.  If I wanted a one-stop collection on PPE for teaching purposes, this exactly what I would use.

Friday assorted links

by on July 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. I am sorry people, I can no longer tell what is satire and what is not.  I am so sorry.

2. Chinese Communists preferred.  And China overtakes U.S. as top ice cream market.  And Adam Sandler strikes the Taj Mahal, not the Great Wall.  Read also about Captain Phillips at the bottom of that piece: “The reality of the situation is that China will probably never clear the film for censorship,” wrote Bruer. “Reasons being the big Military machine of the U.S. saving one U.S. citizen. China would never do the same and in no way would want to promote this idea. Also just the political tone of the film is something that they would not feel comfortable with.”

3. A guide to the worm wars, not Dune though, sorry.  Goldacre responds in the comments.

4. Robert F. Graboyes, Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care, a new eBook.

5. Should Greece have defaulted in 2010?

6. Against culinary communism.

7. One of the best summaries of what we know about the minimum wage.

Washington fact of the day

by on July 24, 2015 at 12:59 am in Current Affairs, Economics | Permalink

…San Francisco does not have a massive network of regional public transit connecting hundreds of different high-density, walkable communities to the city. In fact, neighborhoods that foster urban life and convenience are tremendously scarce in the Bay Area. All of this means the pressure on San Francisco has proven to be even greater than other cities in the country.

Regardless of these realities, most San Francisco progressives chose to stick with their familiar stance of opposing new development, positioning themselves as defenders of the city’s physical character. Instead of forming a pro-growth coalition with business and labor, most of the San Francisco Left made an enduring alliance with home-owning NIMBYs. It became one of the peculiar features of San Francisco that exclusionary housing politics got labeled “progressive.” (Organized labor remained a major political force throughout this time period, and has allied with both pro-growth and anti-growth forces, depending on the issue.) Over the years, these anti-development sentiments were translated into restrictive zoning, the most cumbersome planning and building approval process in the country, and all kinds of laws and rules that make it uniquely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to add housing in San Francisco.

That is from Jed Kolko, hat tip to Conor Sen.

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday the school will become the first to raise the on-campus minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“This is the right thing to do,” Napolitano said at a meeting in San Francisco. “For our workers and their families, for our mission and values, and to enhance UC’s leadership role by becoming the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of 15 dollars.”

The raise will benefit college employees who work more than 20 hours a week. It will also be applied to thousands of contractors working with the school.

There is more here, via NinjaEconomics.

Arrived in my pile

by on July 23, 2015 at 2:54 pm in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink

John Kay, Other People’s Money: The Real Business of Finance.  This seems to be a book on what is wrong with finance and how to fix it.

The word is now in, Nikkei is the buyer, but Pearson is keeping The Economist.

I find the Financial Times works well as a purely digital product, and of the major newspapers it is the one I can most easily imagine reading digital only.  From a newspaper I care not only about the amount of absolute content, but also the sense that I haven’t “missed anything.”  Often I find this feeling of completeness hard to get from digital editions, even when they are fairly well done.  There is too much content, with too many overlapping categories, to organize everything neatly.  There is a new set of stories up before I am sure I really have culled through the old.  The FT runs fewer stories, has fewer sections and content areas, and the wonderful Saturday edition has a relatively transparent structure which I can navigate on-line.

Would it be so terrible for other newspapers to concentrate their arts and leisure coverage, or their book reviews, on one or two days of the week?  Digitalization might eventually bring that about, for greater ease of navigation.  In the digital world, “less content” seems less miserly, because a universe of alternative content is at your fingertips in any case.

One equilibrium is that more newspapers copy the FT in their greater focus.  Another equilibrium is that only the FT goes digital only.  A third option is that the home page dies altogether, even for major newspapers, and this difference between the FT and other papers ceases to matter altogether.

Here is a good Nieman article on the economics of the FT.

Addendum: Here is Peter Thai Larsen: “In 1987 Pearson sold the FT’s building to a Japanese buyer and kept the paper. Now it’s selling the paper and keeping the building. Discuss.”

Recent overweighting to stem A-share plunge has made China Securities Finance Corp (CSF), central bank-backed refinancing institution, among top 10 shareholders of many listed-firms, reported Securities Times on Wednesday.

Among all investments, eight firms have been confirmed of the CSF’s stake, which include property developer Dulexe Family, Hualan Biological Engineering, resource purifying developer SJ Environment Protection, Yunnan Tin Company Group, Fujian Cosunter Pharmaceutical Co, Hunan Er-Kang Pharmaceutical Co, digital map provider NavInfo Co, and retailer Friendship&Apollo.

The CSF has been listed as the second-largest holder of tradable shares at Cosunter Pharmaceutical, third largest at SJ Environment Protection, and fifth-largest shareholders at Yunnan Tin Company, according to the Times citing disclosures to Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

There is more here, by ChinaDaily, via Patrick Chovanec.  I wonder how they are planning to unwind all of those share purchases?

Thursday assorted links

by on July 23, 2015 at 12:31 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Discourse on inequality.

2. Two months of Soylent.

3. The upside of bride prices?

4. Henry on the Very Serious People.

5. Imprisoned books.

6. “That’s why the saga of these two deworming trials should be regarded as a pivotal point in history.

7. Is the media becoming a wire service?  Also read the cited pieces at the end of the article.

8. The Krugman vs. Moore debate.

The share of teen girls who reported they’ve had sex at least once dropped from 51 percent in 1988 to 44 percent in 2013, they found. Abstinence was more pronounced among the guys: 60 percent of teen boys in 1988 said they’d had sex, compared to 47 percent in 2013.

That is from Paquette and Cai, the underlying CDC study is here.  One major hypothesis is that teen sex has declined because smart phone usage is up.  Teens are both better informed about the risks of sex and…they have something else to do.

Wednesday assorted links

by on July 22, 2015 at 1:51 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Daniel Davies defends the 2010 bailout of Greece.

2. Indian markets in everything: Andhra Pradesh pays beggars to stay away from festival.  Many are trying to claim the benefit, but verification of beggar status is required.

3. What are the most popular picks on freshman reading lists?

4. The tiny islands where Canada and America are at war (puffin photo too).

5. “Sex likely developed as a cellular survival strategy, possibly due to oxidative stress caused by mitochondria.

6. Singapore arts festival, September in NYC, more here.  Be there or be square.

7. Uh-oh.

Taylor Swift, Straussian?

by on July 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm in Current Affairs, History, Music | Permalink

Taylor

The singer is launching her own Taylor Swift-branded clothing line next month, on the platforms of local e-commerce giants JD.com and the Alibaba group, with t-shirts, dresses and sweatshirts featuring the politically charged date 1989.

The date – as well as being Swift’s year of birth – refers to her album and live tour of the same name, which she will perform in Shanghai in November.

But the date – and the initials TS – are particularly sensitive in China, as they signify the Tiananmen Square massace in 1989, when hundreds of students were killed in pro-democracy protests.

There is more here.  Here is a story on the map of China accompanying Dwyane Wade.