Friday assorted links

by on October 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Is alcohol the savior of college football?

2. Why does Toronto snub Scarborough?

3. Tsinghua beats MIT in engineering rankings.

4. The persistence of human capital.

5. Why aren’t the moderate gun owners heard?

6. Does money help the lives of children?

7. Don’t focus on the critique of Bryan Caplan, or even the discussion of mental illness, this is an interesting short essay on the limits of the economic method, via Gordon.

8. Alan Krueger on a $15 minimum wage.  He wouldn’t do it.

Thursday assorted links

by on October 8, 2015 at 11:50 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1.Does income inequality shift the political electorate to the Right?

2. Why did soda consumption decline?

3. Kevin Drum on why American conservatives are different.  And a few comments from Matt DrudgeMatt Yglesias on Hillary Clinton.

4. ISIS revenue, ISIS expenditure, and why ISIS may be unsustainable.

5. Does God hate Renoir?

6. Bryan Caplan in Time on open borders.

Wednesday assorted links

by on October 7, 2015 at 11:48 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Claims about China.  Take that one with a grain of salt, but while it is speculative it is not absurd.  Coming soon to a theater near you?  An interesting and more balanced post on China.

2. Monitoring your dog (there is no great stagnation).

3. Alex interviewed on Economic Rockstar podcast.

4. A Reddit thread from people who are dying.

5. Russians consume more beer than vodka.

6. Fall foliage markets in everything.

Mark Twain in China

by on October 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm in Books, Uncategorized | Permalink

Huckleberry Finn has been translated into Chinese no fewer than ninety times.

That is from new and intriguing Mark Twain in China, by Selina Lai-Henderson.

I had not known that Twain played a significant role in speaking up for the Chinese in America, and fighting the prejudice against them.  Later in his career he described himself as an “anti-imperialist” and “Chinese Boxer” in the fight against Western imperialism.  Lai-Henderson notes:

In one of his anti-imperialist writings, “The United States of Lyncherdom” (1901), he urged American missionaries to leave China, for they should “come home and convert these Christians!”


Tuesday assorted links

by on October 6, 2015 at 11:55 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Bob Litan responds.

2. Pandit Kumar on YouTube.

3. Questions about home schooling.

4. “At this point, I think, Americans who are interested in Europe tend to be historians.

5. Largest age cohort by county.  Look at the northeast.

6. Where do pro-social institutions come from?

7. How and why was the cure for scurvy lost?

1. When it comes to South Carolina, he is a cornball, but a likable one.

2. He played Strato-O-Matic baseball as a kid.  No mention of Jim Bunning in that context.

3. After two years at Harvard, he had taken only Econ 101.  Later Dale Jorgensen became his mentor.

4. He is a fan of Borges, with the influence coming from his wife, who has taught Spanish literature.

5. He regrets his earlier tough rhetoric on the Japanese central bank.

6. Greenspan’s marriage proposal to Andrea Mitchell was riddled with his trademark ambiguity.  Bernanke, in contrast, proposed after two months of courtship.

7. Bernanke underestimated the extent of the housing bubble.  Various negative consequences were to ensue from the collapse of housing prices.

8. “I had never gone overboard on libertarianism…”

9. Ben got really, really mad at the AIG chief executives, in fact he “seethed.”

10. The Fed did not have a good, legal way to bail out Lehman.  It needed a buyer, and no buyer was to be found.  A short-term infusion of cash would not have sufficed.  And Ben was afraid at the time that if he confessed the Fed’s impotence in this regard, the market reaction would have been negative.

11. The idea of a mortgage cram down made good sense but was never politically feasible.

12. “So, by setting the interest rate we paid on reserves high enough, we could prevent the federal funds rate from falling too low.”

13. I found the discussions of Wachovia and WaMu came the closest to offering new perspective and information.  Perhaps he was able to say more because these actions did not skirt the possibility of the Fed exceeding its mandate.

14. He had a favorable impression of the frankness of John McCain.

15. He thought QE should been done through the purchase of corporate bonds, but the Fed didn’t have the right kind of authority at that time.

16. He argues that the idea of ngdp targeting is too complicated and could not easily be made credible, given that the Fed has built up its reputation as an inflation fighter.  It also raises the risk that a non-credible ngdp target wouldn’t boost output, but would deliver price inflation, thereby resurrecting stagflation as a potential problem.  (By the way, here is Scott’s response.)

17. He is still upset at the coverage he received from Paul Krugman.

18. In Nunavut he passed on raw seal meat and a dogsled ride.

The bottom lines: This book has way, way more economics than I expected and probably more than the publisher wanted.  It really is Ben’s attempt to defend his place in history, and yes the book does deliver a huge dose of Bernanke.  This is not ghostwritten fluff.  It does not however dish much “dirt” or shed much new light on the key episodes of the financial crisis.  Both in public and in the book Ben has been extremely gentlemanly.  Still, as I kept on reading I could not escape the feeling that he is deeply, deeply annoyed by many of his critics, and very much determined to tell the story from his point of view.  That is what you get from this book.

Chapter Summary
Information is convex to noise. The paradox is that increase in sample size magnifies the role of noise (or luck); it makes tail values even more extreme. There are some problems associated with big data and the increase of variables available for epidemiological and other “empirical” research.

Here is a bit more information:

Greater performance for (temporary) “star” traders We are getting more information, but with constant “consciousness”, “desk space”, or “visibility”. Google News, Bloomberg News, etc. have space for, say, <100 items at any point in time. But there are millions of events every day. As the world is more connected, with the global dominating over the local, the number of sources of news is multiplying. But your consciousness remains limited. So we are experiencing a winner-take-all effect in information: like a large movie theatre with a small door. Likewise we are getting more data. The size of the door is remaining constant, the theater is getting larger. The winner-take-all effects in information space corresponds to more noise, less signal. In other words the spurious dominates.

That is from a Marc Andreessen link (but what is the source?).  He also links to the March Playboy piece on why the world is getting weirder all the time, previously linked by MR but worth a reread nonetheless.

Monday assorted links

by on October 5, 2015 at 12:09 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. And job openings at MRUniversity.com.

2. Toward a simple theory of left and right.

3. Fish face recognition.

4. Bargaining with a bear (video).

5. Steve Levitt talk on Big Data (video).

6. Is there a $20 libertarian bill lying on the sidewalk?

*The Martian*

by on October 4, 2015 at 10:38 pm in Film, Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

The way the movie is good is almost the opposite of the way the book is good, so re-gear your expectations.  It is the most convincing portrayal of a planet I have seen in cinema.  (Planets, by the way, create erotic bonds stronger than those of actual marriages.)  I enjoyed the homage shots to Bruce Dern and Silent Running, Brian De Palma’s underrated Mars film too.  The horizon images of earth toward the end come as an ecstatic jarring relief.  They are, by the way, aiming for the China market with a plot twist that almost seems satirical except in Beijing it is dead serious.  That this film is sometimes dramatically inert is beside the point, recommended.

France fact of the day

by on October 4, 2015 at 3:10 pm in Economics, History, Uncategorized | Permalink

…mergers aside, the youngest firm in the CAC 40, the main stock index, was founded in 1967.

That is from The Economist., via James Pethokoukis.

Sunday assorted links

by on October 4, 2015 at 12:56 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1.Using remote sensing to police auto emissions (pdf).

2. How do blue whales stay so fat on such tiny food?

3. Thwarted MIE: grandparents try shelling out 10k for naming rights to grandson.  As for parents: “They are paying consultants such as Ms. Korwitts to choose a name, testing ideas as if they were marketing slogans with college admissions officers, and creating new monikers just because they like the sound.”

4. Shakespeare’s father was rich.

5. The Romer Model turns 25.

6. John Tierney update on recycling.

Saturday assorted links

by on October 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Japan will have some driverless taxis fairly soon it seems.

2. Lengthy Steve Pearlstein profile of Olivier Blanchard.

3. A divided Catalonia.

4. Interview with Colm Toibin.

5. What kind of error is a sticky price?

6. Alice Chen, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams on why infant mortality is higher in the United States (pdf).

7. Dani Rodrik slides on what we know about structural reform (pdf).

Friday assorted links

by on October 2, 2015 at 11:56 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Why aren’t American ports more automated?

2. “…diplomacy can be a tool for addressing shared interests in a constructive manner. As a means of further exploring this idea, the Charles Koch Foundation is currently welcoming proposals from graduate students, faculty, and other policy researchers who are interesting in analyzing the costs and benefits of different approaches to foreign policy.”  Link for that text is here.

3. Car crash average is over.

4. How many Americans will receive drones for Christmas?

5. What do crows know of death?

6. John Cochrane on nudge and spam.

7. New Borio paper arguing that low interest rates erode bank profitability (pdf).  And some points from the new Bernanke memoir.

Thursday assorted links

by on October 1, 2015 at 3:48 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1.Was it efficient for United to bump Bob Shiller off his flight to Aspen?  It’s time to ask Air Genius Gary Leff.

2. Swiss postal service starts testing drone delivery.

3. 115 status goods for 2015 (MIE x 115, basically).  Black Simon and Garfunkel, with white Garfunkel.

4. Jeremy Bentham’s prison cooking.

5. Syria fact of the day.

6. Christopher Balding’s simple holiday (National Day) thoughts on China.

Here you will find the transcript, video, and podcast.  The summary is this:

Tyler and Harvard economist Dani Rodrik discuss premature deindustrialization, the world’s trilemmas, the political economy of John le Carré, what’s so special about manufacturing, Orhan Pamuk, RCTs, and why the world is second best at best.

Here is one excerpt from Rodrik, on why Turkey and some comparable countries did not fully modernize:

my general sort of question would be 50 percent structure, 50 percent agency, which is to say you start with a lot of initial conditions that aren’t very favorable. Going back to the 19th century, you start on the wrong end of the global division of labor. Everybody else is industrialized and you’re not, plus, then, the British come and they open up your trade regime and all the craft industries you have in the 18th century are just decimated because of imports from Britain and other Western Europeans.

Then you get defeated in a world war. You start in very inauspicious circumstances.

Then agency. What happened, for example, under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was the leader who made Turkey, who took Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, erected the Turkish republic on top of that. He did a lot of very good things and a lot of very silly things, and we’re still living with the consequences of many of those things, including the good things.

I asked him this:

You were born in Turkey, you grew up in Turkey. I have so many questions about Turkey to ask you, but let me just try two or three. Let’s take the Turkish city of Konya. I’ve been to Konya. Outsiders sometimes call Konya the bible belt of Turkey. I’m not sure that’s a good comparison, but it’s a more religious city than Istanbul. It’s a kind of heartland city in Turkey.

Just a little simple question. I would put it this way. Do you trust the median voter in Konya?

And a short one from Rodrik again:

Culture is back in economics. I still have to be convinced that it’s actually adding a significant amount to what we learn.

In terms of economic prospects, he picks Brazil as the most underrated country and India as the most overrated.  And you can see what he thinks of the idea of an independent Catalonia…

You should all buy and read Dani’s new book, Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science, which I can recommend wholeheartedly and which I wrote a blurb for.