Tuesday assorted links

by on April 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How much will the demand for dilithium crystals go up?  And is there a free lunch after all?  (Isn’t the universe as a whole a large free lunch?)  Possibly speculative.

2. The new Jeff Sachs paper on robots.  And Moore’s Law at fiftyAre routine jobs disappearing? (yes)

3. If a person buys insurance against small losses, is there a way to make lemonade from that lemon?

4. How universal is the left-right political spectrum?

5. New job opportunity: economist at LinkedIn.

6. The case for compostingDementia and sexual consent.

7. And how is Spain doing these days?

8. David Brooks on cop-cams.

Monday assorted links

by on April 13, 2015 at 12:24 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Ghana’s success story goes dark.

2. What decision principles should we apply to national security issues?

3. What kind of music is best for relaxing cats during surgery?

4. Jeff Sachs defends David Cameron.

5. Does talk of God induce people to take more risk?

6. Modern house made of shipping containers.

Sunday assorted links

by on April 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. How to grow your own furniture.

2. Paul Krugman on Apple Watch.

3. The growing influence of Raj Chetty.

4. Photographing all 947 towns in Iowa.

5. Profile of David Brooks and his new, forthcoming bookProfile of Charles Lloyd.

6. Hidden agendas in Yemen, a good piece by Graham Fuller, recommended.

Saturday assorted links

by on April 11, 2015 at 12:23 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. What predicts relationship success?

2. What is it like to use a 1997 tourist guide to visit NYC?

3. New Michael Clemens paper on failed replications.

4. What to do about those p values?  (Humorous too)

5. Are disability standards too lax?

6. John McGinnis on compensating differentials and income inequality.

Friday assorted links

by on April 10, 2015 at 11:22 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. “Why isn’t Chongqing more famous?  There is no reason for it to be famous, really.”

2. A blog on what we can learn from TV anachronisms.

3. The Old Boys’ Club.

4. Beware the comments (scroll down a bit to find it, but actually the whole link is interesting).

5. The jumping dad culture that is Japan.  And none of it as good as Bryan Caplan.

6. New Cato monetary blog with George Selgin.

The author is Andrej Svorenčík and he has produced the definitive account of the history of experimental economics.  The SSRN paper is here, but it is more accurate to think of this as a monograph at 248 pp. of text.  I hope a major publisher is interested, but do note it starts off a bit slow.  Once it gets going it never lets up and I learned a great deal from it.  Here is just one excerpt:

When Austin C. Hoggatt died on April 29, 2009, at the age of seventy-nine the experimental economics community lost a low profile yet very influential figure.  Hoggatt was the first to build a computerized laboratory for controlled experimentation in economics or, more broadly, in the social, behavioral, and decision science — the Management Science Laboratory at the Center for Research in Management Science at UC Berkeley in 1964.

If you think you might be interested you will be.  The paper/monograph is strong on recognizing the need for an integrated approach to experiments, involving software, support staff, programmers, and researchers, and tracing how all this came together, or in some cases did not.  You really get the inside story from Svorenčík.

Thursday assorted links

by on April 9, 2015 at 11:42 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Data on how chess has evolved since 1850.

2. There is no great real rabbit stagnation (really not, check out the link).

3. Various reviews of Apple Watch.

4. What has influenced Ben Southwood?

5. Bangkok’s lavish malls consume as much power as entire provinces.

6. Matthew Klein at the FT on one hundred percent reserve banking for Iceland, or is it?

Wednesday assorted links

by on April 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The New Republic on me and inequality and mobility.  More comments on me.

2. Tax cheater markets in everything, used lottery tickets edition.

3. Paul Krugman argues there are not many libertarians in America.

4. China to start keeping a list of badly behaved tourists.

5. A new form of the gravity equation, across neighborhoods.  Original paper is here.

6. Joshua Gans responds to Alex and me on the end of regulation.

A live stream version is posted here, slide to 6:00 to start, YouTube and podcast and transcript versions are on their way.  I thought Jeff did just a tremendous job.  We covered the resource curse, why Russia failed and Poland succeeded, charter cities, his China optimism, how his recent book on JFK reflects the essence of his thought, why Paul Rosenstein-Rodan abandoned Austrian economics for “big push” ideas, whether Africa will be able to overcome the middle income trap, where he disagrees with Paul Krugman, his favorite novel (Doctor Zhivago, he tells us why too), premature deindustrialization, and how we should reform graduate economics education, among other topics.

Tuesday assorted links

by on April 7, 2015 at 2:15 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Santoor music from Iran (short video).

2. Dean Baker on inequality and mobility and me.

3. Delong on Bernanke, Summers, and Krugman and how they think.

4. An ideological Turing simulation of certain Straussian ideas.  By Will Wilkinson.

5. Brad DeLong’s arguments for more government, Paul Krugman comments.  I see too quick a move from “funder” to “provider” in both sets of remarks.  Furthermore most of the hyperbolic argument doesn’t imply much more than a series of low budgetary cost legal mandates, or perhaps nudges.  It does not imply a massive expansion of the state sector, quite the contrary.  On top of that, government agents and voters presumably are hyperbolic as well.

Sunday assorted links

by on April 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The full research on Hayek and Gibraltar.  It turns out the full story is not so bad for Hayek after all.

2. Reversible Yanomami blood markets in everything.  And the many faces of Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black).

3. The reprivatization of art works.

4. Henry recommends recent science fiction.  And interview with Lydia Davis.

5. Prada is in crisis.

6. What happened in Indiana, and Clive Crook too.

I think there are three which stand above all the others:

1. The Ardabil carpet, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.  Here is one on-line image, here is an excerpt.  I find this angle useful, but nothing compares to the real thing.

2. The “Tree Carpet” in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

3. Jagdteppich (“Hunting carpet”), Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna.  Here is one excerpt.  Try this too.  Here is a full length view.

Those are the three best, or so it seems to me.


My latest column for The Upshot, at the NYT, is here.  Here is one excerpt:

Data from the Economic Report of the President [p.34] suggests that if productivity growth had maintained its pre-1973 pace, the median or typical household would now earn about $30,000 more today. Those higher earnings would constitute a form of upward mobility. For purposes of comparison, if income inequality had maintained its pre-1973 trend, the gain for the median household would be about $9,000 in income this year, a much smaller figure.

Those changes in productivity and inequality trends aren’t entirely separate, but accelerating the growth of productivity has the potential to do more for upward economic mobility than redistributing money from the top 1 percent.

And this:

In the book “Equality for Inegalitarians,” George Sher, a professor of philosophy at Rice University, argues that the equality we should care most about is giving everyone a chance to “live effectively.” Most of all that means ensuring that people have enough for their daily needs. We can tolerate many of the inequalities that arise above this minimum income level, provided there is protection on the downside and plenty of opportunities for those who are economically ambitious.

Read Sher, Harry Frankfurt’s excellent forthcoming book On InequalityDerek Parfit on equality and priority (pdf) and Huemer on Parfit (pdf).  Read about prioritarianism more generally.  I come away from these writings with the view that the current moral focus on inequality is a flat-out mistake in moral philosophy, analogous to how the philosophers sometimes make mistakes in economics.  That’s right, not a difference in values but a mistake.  (The difference in values, to the extent there is one, should be over the strength of our obligations to those at the bottom.)

This discussion of education provides another good example of how all this matters: if we successfully elevate people at the bottom, we don’t have to “fix” inequality.

A number of Twitter (and other) responses to my column are confusing several kinds of mobility: a) how many people from the bottom are elevated by how much, with b) what is the chance of people rising further quintiles?, and c) what is the intergenerational transmission of income and other variables?  It’s a) that matters, as b) and c) run into many of the same problems that inequality notions do.

I also am not impressed by the “Gatsby Curve” observation that inequality and mobility (some kinds, some of the time) are correlated.  Lots of things are correlated, but the question is what matters practically and morally.

By the way, here are estimates on how immigration might affect the Gini coefficient (pdf).  I find that egalitarians have a hard time developing consistent intuitions about immigration.

Interfluidity offers a very different view from mine.  Alex has much to say as well.  Here is Schneider and Winship on the Gatsby Curve.

Here is my conclusion:

It is quite possible the future will bring higher levels of income inequality, which will undoubtedly distress many commentators. But we are likely to be better off if we keep our eye on the ball, identify what really helps people the most and do whatever we can to increase economic mobility. That is a practical program that we all should be able to endorse.

Assorted links

by on April 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Joyce Carol Oates reviews The Wisdom of Perversity, by Rafael Yglesias.

2. The ngdp futures market believes in the great stagnation.

3. What works in MOOC videos.

4. Richmond Fed interview with Dani Rodrik2002 interview with Bob Solow.

5. An argument in favor of the Iran deal.

Friday assorted links

by on April 3, 2015 at 7:03 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Should we have a new national holiday, Freedom Day?

2. Airbnb is now available in Cuba, how is it looking for New York City?

3. There is no great Easter bunny stagnation.

4. Jose da Silva Lopes has passed away, good jokes at the Krugman link too, befitting the man’s sense of humor.

5. Claims about sushi.

6. New podcast series about how popular music works.

7. Raw thoughts on Amazon Dash.