Saturday assorted links

by on July 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. “Kids are too rebellious, he says. “A disciple is what you want.””  Is La Monte Young the greatest living composer?

2. Pete Sampras writes a letter to his 15-year-old self.

2. How companies really get valued.

4. Does Germany care about Greece more than America cares about Puerto Rico?

5. What would it cost to produce and order all of Wikipedia?

6. How do outsiders evaluate getting an economics PhD?

Friday assorted links

by on July 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Is there a new Iran?

2. Victorian bathing machines.

3. Seven writers who changed their minds.

4. Norway is building a superhighway for bees.

5. Might Japan cut benefits for the elderly?

Robert Laszewski writes:

After all of this and two complete open enrollments, only 40% of those who are eligible for Obamacare have signed up—far below the proportion of the market insurers have historically needed to assure a sustainable risk pool.

If this were a private enterprise enjoying these kinds of benefits [ namely legal coercion], and only sold its product to 40% of the market, its CEO would be fired.

Looking at this picture, only 20% of those eligible for Obamacare, who make between 251% and 300% of the poverty level, bought Obamacare. Why?


The Obama administration will in fact be increasing the subsidies it will pay to insurance companies.

Thursday assorted links

by on July 2, 2015 at 12:25 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Paul Krugman on Puerto Rico.

2. Dan Klein interviews Arthur Melzer on esoteric writing.

3. Lyft vs. Uber.

4. Trade between guards and prisoners.

5. The world’s tallest cow dies after a lifetime of Photoshop accusations (recommended).

6. Economic growth in ancient Greece.  The truth about modern Greece.  And here is the truth about Syriza.

7. A new (?) argument for additional immigration.

Wednesday assorted links

by on July 1, 2015 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The mystery of the multiple job holder.  And tomorrow morning, Bobby Bonilla will be $1.2 million richer.

2. Were the Xian terracotta warriors inspired by Greek art?

3. Claims about what moves the stock market.

4. Economic models of the Neolithic.

5. Defaulting on the IMF makes Grexit much harder to pull off.

6. County by county, red voter areas actually have slightly more stable families.

Tuesday assorted links

by on June 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Has 3-D printing stagnated?

2. Claims about Russia.  A speculative but important piece by Max Fisher.  And Russian village prints its own currency.

3. Ben Wattenberg, RIP.

4. Rare earths were never such a big problem to begin with.

5. Anil Kashyap primer on Greece.

6. G.C. Harcourt reviews Piketty from the Left (pdf).

Monday assorted links

by on June 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Claudio Borio slides on persistently low interest rates (pdf).

2. One problem with self-driving cars is that they don’t (yet?) drive badly enough.

3. Why are Americans more sympathetic to Greece?

4. Portuguese yields appear quite stable.

5. Betting markets say 74% Greeks will accept the Eurogroup deal on the referendum.

If you put Greek total debt in perspective, it’s smaller than that of many other EU nations, including Portugal.  And that is as a percentage of gdp.  Furthermore most of the remaining Greek debt is held by public sector institutions.

The difference of course is that Greece is being run by The Not Very Serious People.  Portugal is often described as the next weakest link in the eurozone, but Portuguese politics are not nearly so…vivid.  The amount of fiscal consolidation they have done is more or less accepted by the public.  That makes Portugal more likely to survive, and it also makes the EU more willing to bail out Portugal, and extend any bailout if needed.

The performance of Syriza won’t encourage European voters to take chances on other less tested, left-wing parties, and that also militates against contagion.

(In the meantime, I don’t understand why Anglo-American left-wing intellectuals have been egging on the Syriza performance.   Even if you think the current mess is mostly Germany’s fault in normative terms, the marginal product of the Syriza government still has been catastrophically negative.  It wasn’t long ago that Greek banks were raising fresh equity and were said to have recovered.  Here is Krugman’s defense, I find Anders Aslund more persuasive, furthermore Grexit would mean more austerity not less.)

For contagion, here are a few possible problems:

1. If Greece does reasonably well after Grexit, many others will ask why should they not follow suit and that could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I’ll bet against that, but it’s worth mentioning.  It also would take a while to develop.

2. As Greece exists, the ECB has to express  a strength of commitment to the other debt-ridden nations.  Delivering the right message is tricky here, because for legal and public opinion reasons the ECB cannot make the kind of unconditional commitments the Fed can.  So markets might become unhappy with the decline in creative ambiguity at the ECB.  I believe the ECB can finesse this one — in essence the message “we’ll help any EU government which is more responsible than Syriza” is fairly credible and in fact is already being signaled by the Eurogroup.  So I’ll bet against this problem too, but still it could happen.

3. If only for geopolitical and also humanitarian reasons, the EU cannot wash its hands of Greece, even if Greece leaves the EU.  But deciding how to deal with Greece might bring considerable disagreements among the remaining eurozone nations, as might the attempt to spell out exit procedures.  Festering, emotional issues are not good for dysfunctional political unions, and a lot of the “hold the line” solidarity might melt away with Grexit.

4. There might be a very slow form of contagion as the reversibility of the currency union becomes better and better known and people start seeing it as little more than a currency board arrangement.  As with #3, that could become an ongoing problem, still it doesn’t quite seem dramatic enough to produce rapid contagion.

Here is my previous post on the topic.  Robin Wigglesworth surveys a variety of differing views on contagion and other short-run effects.  I wrote this post last night, so if I am wrong it might already be evident by now.

Sunday assorted links

by on June 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. If you would like another point of view, here is Krugman’s defense of Tsipras.

2. Joshua Gans on the sharing economy and compensation mechanisms.

3. The best economics podcasts?  What is missing?

4. Google Street View Oceans.

5. Alex redux on the dangers of space travel; I agree with him.

1. GDP growth of 7% w/profit growth of 0.6%=really bad managers or 2. GDP growth not really 7%. Choose 1 or 2

That is from Christopher Balding.  Let’s not forget that the Greece story may end up as relatively small by comparison.

Saturday assorted links

by on June 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. In fact, people get annoyed pretty easily at a whole lot of different things.  What would Bryan Caplan say?

2. Hadrian, the robot bricklayer.  And commercial jetpack coming for 150k.

3. FT lunch with Piketty.

4. An insider’s guide to better eating in Chinese detention centers.

5. Google Sheep View.

6. Swedish scientists build artificial neurons to connect with organic neurons.

7. “Please, someone, buy me…

Friday assorted links

by on June 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Why don’t we get rid of certificate-of-need health care laws?

2. John Cochrane on four percent growth.

3. Donald Trump markets in everything.

4. EconTalk, Adam Davidson on Hollywood and the future of work.

5. State budgets are not in great shape these days.

Bermuda notes

by on June 25, 2015 at 3:23 pm in Travel, Uncategorized | Permalink

It is more picturesque than I had expected, and the zoning is very tasteful.  Interesting food is hard to find, and a simple fish and chips can run over thirty dollars; try to eat in Lido if you can.  Some of the men downtown wear shorts and dark socks, with jacket and tie.  I find the accent interesting.  Parts of Hamilton, the largest city, remind me of Wellington, New Zealand.


Thursday assorted links

by on June 25, 2015 at 12:43 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. More on the global trade slowdown.

2. Dictionary of obscure sorrows.

3. On the importance of TPP.

4. I don’t feel this way.

5. Racehorses are indeed getting faster.

6. Colouring book fact (?) of the day.  Unproven, but I believe it is true.

Russ Roberts surveys the fiscal policy back and forth, and Scott Sumner also has a good post.  I’ll add this: yes there is theory, but there is also what one chose to blog about, the tone and mood and certainty of what one wrote, and what data one was looking at or emphasizing.  Those are also “tests” of one’s overall approach.  Viewed in that light, there simply isn’t any way to argue that the American or British Keynesians did well on the sequester or on the British economic recovery, in the sense of being reliable guides to what was going on at the time.  It isn’t just about “missing one number.”

And note that “frameworks” do not make predictions of their own, so it is off base to respond that Keynesian economics did better here than the Keynesians.  Part of a framework is the very human connections it requires in terms of bringing the moving parts of the model into contact with real world events and data.  An AD-AS model is just lines on a piece of paper, so Keynesian economics does in fact require that Keynesian economists can use and measure and calibrate the model in the appropriate ways.

That all said, non-Keynesian approaches have had their Waterloos too.  The point is pluralism, not to throw out the ideas of any single economist.  For a moment, forget about 2013 and think about 1973-2015.  You need quite a few analytical tools to even begin to make sense of that longer period.