Uncategorized

There is a new paper (pdf) by Nicola Gennaioli and Hans-Joachim Voth, forthcoming in The Review of Economic Studies:

Powerful, centralized states controlling a large share of national income only begin to appear in Europe after 1500. We build a model that explains their emergence in response to the increasing importance of money for military success. When fiscal resources are not crucial for winning wars, the threat of external conflict stifles state building. As finance becomes critical, internally cohesive states invest in state capacity while divided states rationally drop out of the competition, causing divergence. We emphasize the role of the “Military Revolution”, a sequence of technological innovations that transformed armed conflict. Using data from 374 battles, we investigate empirically both the importance of money for military success and patterns of state building in early modern Europe. The evidence is consistent with the predictions of our model.

The pointer is from Mark Koyama.

Assorted links

by on October 30, 2014 at 11:38 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. RBC theory won’t die soon.

2. Beware of fake priests in cemeteries.

3. Scott Alexander on whether polyamory is boring.

4. Average is Over, Sydney beach bum edition.  And Bolivia legalizes child labor for ten year olds.

5. Not your grandfather’s pot.

6. A Larry Summers summary post on secular stagnation.

7. My 2013 New York Times column on how to fight pandemics.

Assorted links

by on October 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. A cello-brain duet.

2. Krugman’s notes on Japan.

3. The culture that is Greek.

4. Clive Crook on the Ebola panic.

5. On esoteric readings and writings.

Assorted links

by on October 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Do horses prefer wearing clothes, and how do we know?

2. The lists of Susan Sontag.

3. Monitoring bank phone calls.

4. Rick Searle reviews Average is Over.

5. We the economy, curated by Morgan Spurlock.  And why partyism is wrong.

6. MIE: selling places in clinical trials?  And ManServants, those new service sector jobs (caveat emptor).

7. France moves closer to private sector funding for culture.

Assorted links

by on October 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Economics in Hollywood romantic comedies, a history (fun, some interesting points too).

2. Air Genius Gary Leff on what makes a restaurant worth visiting many times.

3. Update on Catalonian independence — it seems they will be holding a symbolic, non-binding referendum on November 9th, organized by volunteers.

4. John Gray on H.P. Lovecraft.  The horror.

5. Jared Diamond update and how he raised his two children like Pygmies.

6. Atul Gawande has very good taste.

7. Gavyn Davies on whether economic growth is permanently lower.

Jason Weeden and Robert Kurzban report:

Despite occasional statements to the contrary, most political scientists have long known — going back at least to Philip Converse’s work in the 1960s, and probably farther to Walter Lippmann’s in the 1910s/1920s — that many Americans do not in fact show substantial ideological consistency across policy views, except among limited groups…The 20% of the adult population who are white voters with bachelor’s degrees show some degree of coherence when it comes to views on same-sex marriage and income redistribution.  But, when it comes to the 40% of the adult public who have one or none of these characteristics — including, for example, African Americans and Latinos without bachelor’s degrees and nonvoting whites without bachelor’s degrees — there is no tendency whatsoever for people who lean in a given direction on one of these issues to lean in the same direction on the other.  For the remaining 40% of the adult public, who have two but not three of these features (e.g., white voters without bachelor’s degrees), ideological coherence is barely measurable.

That is from their new book The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind: How Self-Interest Shapes Our Opinions and Why We Won’t Admit It, interesting throughout.

Sentences to ponder

by on October 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm in Data Source, Religion, Uncategorized | Permalink

In “A More Perfect Union,” Mr. DuBois downloaded 19 million profiles from 21 online dating sites. He then wrote software to sort them by ZIP code, and determine the words most frequently used in each location. In the resulting maps, the top-ranked words replace city names. New York is “Now.” Atlanta is “God.”

That is from Steve Lohr at The New York Times.

Assorted links

by on October 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Quora forum on what it’s like to move from India to the U.S.

2. It is stunning that the teacher had no idea about these truths.

3. Why won’t we watch Australian films?

4. The North Sea is very important.

5. The views of the wealthy aren’t that different.

6. The Establishment and How they Get Away With It (UK).

Libby Nelson reports:

It’s common to hear that teachers should be paid better — more like doctors and lawyers. In 2009, the Equity Project, a charter school in New York decided to try it: they would pay all their teachers $125,000 per year with the possibility of an additional bonus.

The typical teacher in New York with five years’ experience makes between $64,000 and $76,000. The charter school, known as TEP, would pay much more. But in exchange, teachers, who are not unionized, would accept additional responsibilities, and the school would keep a close eye on their work.

Four years later, students at TEP score better on state tests than similar students elsewhere. The differences were particularly pronounced in math, according to a new study from Mathematica Policy Research. (The study was funded by the Gates Foundation.) After four years at the school, students had learned as much math as they would have in 5.6 years elsewhere…

The gains erased 78 percent of the achievement gap between Hispanic students and whites in the eighth grade.

…The $125,000 number was eye-catching, but it was just the start of the school’s approach to teaching. Teachers were also eligible for a bonus of between 7 to 12 percent of their salary. The teachers, who are not unionized, went through a rigorous selection process that included a daylong “audition” based on their teaching skills. The typical teacher already had six years of classroom experience before they were hired.

Teachers at TEP also get more time to collaborate and played a bigger role in school decision-making than teachers in other jobs. Teachers were paired up to observe each others’ lessons and provide feedback, collaboration that experts agree is important but happens too infrequently. During a six-week summer training, teachers also helped set school policy.

There is more hereAddendum: Do read the comments, there are some excellent points in there.

Loren Adler and Adam Rosenberg report:

…the disproportionate role played by prescription drug spending (or Part D) has seemingly escaped notice. Despite constituting barely more than 10 percent of Medicare spending, our analysis shows that Part D has accounted for over 60 percent of the slowdown in Medicare benefits since 2011 (beyond the sequestration contained in the 2011 Budget Control Act).

Through April of this year, the last time the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released detailed estimates of Medicare spending, CBO has lowered its projections of total spending on Medicare benefits from 2012 through 2021 by $370 billion, excluding sequestration savings. The $225 billion of that decline accounted for by Part D represents an astounding 24 percent of Part D spending. (By starting in 2011, this analysis excludes the direct impact of various spending reductions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although it could still reflect some ACA savings to the extent that the Medicare reforms have controlled costs better than originally anticipated.) Additionally, sequestration is responsible for $75 billion of reduced spending, and increased recoveries of improper payments amount to $85 billion, bringing the total ten-year Medicare savings to $530 billion.

The full piece is here, via Arnold Kling.

Assorted links

by on October 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The Danish nudge.

2. Clone your dog in Korea for 100k.

3. China’s strangest buildings.

4. There is no great stagnation, unbundling your breakfast edition.

5. Kevin Drum health update, we all wish him well.

6. I agree with David Denby, *Fury* is one of the best war movies ever made, see it on the big screen.

7. Brad DeLong on profits and investment.  And Paul Krugman on whether QE boosted inequality.

Carlsen or Anand?

by on October 25, 2014 at 7:32 am in Games, Uncategorized | Permalink

The rematch starts in November, but it is by no means obvious that the champion Carlsen is favored.  Anand is separated from his Indian well-wishers and relatives (which helps him), he has been playing well lately, and he feels he has nothing to lose at this point.  It is often easier to win a rematch than to defend a championship.

Carlsen’s play has been listless as of late.  Yet he has two factors going for him.  First, he is a better player than Anand, a factor which is obviously important, and second he is younger and has better stamina.

Carlsen suffers from having to play in Sochi, which is basically a KGB village with extreme surveillance.  Any chess innovation which he speaks to his seconds in his hotel room or leaves on his hard drive will end up being distributed to the camp of his opponent.  That also will hurt his morale and make it hard for him to concentrate on the match.  Like many others, I was surprised he agreed to play in Sochi in the first place.  I think he also suffers from this match coming so quickly after the first.  He feels he hasn’t had enough time to enjoy the promised benefits of the world championship, not all of those benefits were delivered, and in a sense the first match still isn’t over but rather has been extended.

Chess often brings surprises, I am forecasting Carlsen to fall behind in the match early on, but successfully defend his title at the end.

Assorted links

by on October 24, 2014 at 11:49 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Where is the missing right of center media?

2. There is no great stagnation (juvenile, skip it).

3. Unemployment and the minimum wage in China.

4. Do hedge funds get there first?

5. Did Thor Heyerdahl have a point after all?

6. Why not make your car a cathedral?

7. Ferns.

Assorted links

by on October 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Chess piece survival rates.

2. How much do driverless cars depend on extensive and periodically revised mapping?

3. The French economy in eight charts.

4. How musical taste correlates with SAT scores.

5. Feeding McNuggets to food critics.

6. Robots vs. Ebola?

Assorted links

by on October 22, 2014 at 11:59 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How much of financial fluctuations is behavioral? (pdf)

2. Moral licensing and portfolio effects.

3. Silly markets in everything.

4. Does feeling young and acting young make you young again? (speculative)

5. The English are now grumpy over their own rights in the UK.