You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.

So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad, inaccurate or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had suddenly open to the scrutiny of the Internet public.

The piece is by the excellent Caitlin Dewey.  Currently the company is valued at $7.6 million.

Upending conventional wisdom, there is now a strong chance that all the European governments that have accepted or implemented unpopular EU/IMF austerity programs may be re-elected in the coming months or remain the strongest political force.

That is from Paul Taylor at Reuters, via YanniKouts.


by on October 1, 2015 at 12:35 am in Economics | Permalink

Described as A Luxury Day Care Service for Pet Chickens in Brooklyn, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon

At first I thought it was a joke, but I can’t find evidence of fraud and the phone number checks out.  Still I wonder.

In the meantime, file under Markets in Everything.

The pointer is from Kate Darling, Mistress of Machines.

Further Wednesday assorted links

by on September 30, 2015 at 3:06 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Volkswagen and the trade agreements: “In the best of cases, the United States will emerge as the “world super-regulator.””  Bravo.

2. Is academic freedom dead in Hong Kong?

3. How to get kids to eat their vegetables.  And the true nature of Masonomics (photo, view carefully).

4. Good interview with Amy Finkelstein.

5. Reciprocal cooperation in fish.

6. Problems with BitPay.

Transport for London is preparing to launch a crackdown on Uber, proposing a series of new rules that will hit the popular minicab-hailing app in one of its most popular cities.

…The proposals include a minimum five-minute wait time between ordering a private hire vehicle and it arriving, and banning operators from showing cars for hire within a smartphone app – a hallmark of the American company’s service.

No, this is not from an Ayn Rand novel.

These proposed rules so nakedly protect rent-seekers and make life worse for consumers that I don’t think they will succeed. Even if the rules fail, however, we shouldn’t be complacent about the dangers to innovation.

What made Uber different and controversial is that their Ayn Rand loving CEO followed the adage that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Uber skirted the law and went to consumers directly about whether they wanted transportation innovation. Consumers around the world responded with a resounding Yes to the Uber-referendum so regulators and rent-seekers who want to control Uber now must also fight Uber-consumers. That genie won’t go back into the bottle.

In the usual scenario, however, innovation can be quashed before consumers have a chance to know what they are missing. Had the taxi companies had an inkling of what was coming it would have been easy to to pass stricter laws in advance that would have made Uber impossible to get off the ground. Of course, in many industries today the old guard does have an inkling of what is coming and that should frighten anyone who wants to see greater innovation.

That is the new piece by Veronique de Rugy, Ryan Daza, and Daniel Klein, the abstract is this:

From 2013 to the present in 2015, the Export-Import Bank has been widely and actively discussed, because its charter was expiring and because people then wrangled (and still wrangle) over its extension and possible recharter. Working from a list of the top 200 economics blogs, we examine the discourse on the Export-Import Bank. We find that classical liberal economists were very often highly vocal in opposition to the institution, but that left economists were mostly silent. The impetus of our investigation is to promote reflection on a question of political psychology: Why weren’t left economists more opposed and more vocal on the issue?

Jeremy Horpedahl asks a related question about defending Uber and Lyft.  Both pieces are from the latest issue of EconJournal Watch.

Wednesday assorted links

by on September 30, 2015 at 2:54 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1.French toilets for profit and the dames pipi.  And a comprehensive look at the music business.

2. Chinese economic progress through 1850.

3. Chris Blattman on fear and behavioral economics, an excellent post.

4. Some high schools are cutting their football teams.

5. Crooked Timber blog nominates alternative MacArthur winners.

6. Gene-edited micropig markets in everything the culture that is China.

7. I remain a big fan of Bob Litan and his work.

A loyal MR reader writes to me:

If you taught the principles of effective altruism to a rich person in (say) 1400, what would they have thought was the most effective thing to do with their money?  What was in fact the most effective thing they could have done?

I say send some money to Henry IV.  On the year 1400 Wikipedia notes:

January – Henry IV of England quells the Epiphany Rising and executes the Earls of Kent, Huntingdon and Salisbury and the Baron le Despencer for their attempt to have Richard II restored as king.

England and the Industrial Revolution seemed to have worked out OK, and besides the Henriad provides some of Shakespeare’s most profound work, Orson Welles too.

I think you can see the problem.

But what would a rational Effective Altruist have thought at the time?  How about revising those early versions of the Poor Laws?

Alternatively, 1400 also was the year Chaucer died, and he was a pretty smart guy.  Since he worked for Henry’s father and was close to him, he might have given good advice, if only for self-interested reasons.  But who in 1400 was the best or most logical representative of Effective Altruism?  The theologian Alan of Lynn?  He might have told you to invest the money in making indexes of books, which seemed to be his main interestJean Gerson, if one looks to France for a thought leader, focused his energies to reconciling the Great Schism in the papacy.  Good idea or bad?  As Zhou Enlai said

The NYT symposium is here, including Robert Reich, Dan Ariely, and myself, among others.  Here is my piece, excerpt:

One plausible estimate suggests this additional pollution has been killing 5 to 27 Americans each year, with that number worldwide reaching up to 404 as a maximum.

To put that number in context, the World Health Organization estimates that about seven million people die each year worldwide from air pollution. Even within the United States, early deaths from air pollution have been estimated to run about 200,000 a year, in comparison to which the losses from the Volkswagen scandal are a rounding error. For the American deaths, however, the culprits are often cars, trucks and cooking and heating emissions, so there is no single, evil, easily identified wrongdoer at fault. As Pogo recognized, often the real enemy is us.

Here are alternative estimates of the death from Volkswagen, published after my piece was set to run but the comparisons do not change fundamentally.  From that same article here are two paragraphs of note:

Don Anair, deputy director of the vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the precise effect of the Volkswagen fraud would require intense and complex computation.

Still, he cautioned against taking the view that the Volkswagens have reversed the progress with pollution from automobiles. Since the standards went into effect from 2004 to 2009, he said, emissions of nitrogen oxides have been 90 percent lower. “It’s not like this is going to offset the majority of the benefits of these standards,” he said. “But there will be some impact, and we need to get a better handle on it.”

“Since the standards went into effect from 2004 to 2009, he said, emissions of nitrogen oxides have been 90 percent lower.” is a sentence which I fear will not receive much attention in the current debate.

Brink Lindsey is the editor, and I am one of the experts (is anyone an expert on economic growth?), here are the other contributors, and that is also a link to the underlying on-line symposium.  It is a $6.99 ebook on Amazon.  Here is Cato’s home page for the ebook.

Tuesday assorted links

by on September 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Ngdp for the ECB?

2. Soviet bus stops.

3. Can we moderns no longer understand Shakespeare?  If not, when will that time arrive?

4. Markets for migrants.

5. Chinese SOEs all the way down.  And China’s monetary strangulation.

6. New data and results for business pass-throughs.  And the doctor as fundraiser.

7. Dimitri Nakassis, new MacArthur fellow, works on the economics of Bronze Age Greece and the Aegaen.  Here is his public choice model of that time (pdf).

The award announcement includes a description of her work (with further links), basically she does health care economics at MIT.  In particular she considers when IP restrictions might hinder rather than support further innovation.  Here is her home page, she also has interesting papers on prizes.  Here is her research statement (pdf), interesting throughout, a very good selection from the committee.

Elsewhere, Matthew Desmond works on eviction as a cause and not just a symptom of poverty.

Asymmetric Information and Signaling

by on September 29, 2015 at 7:25 am in Economics, Education | Permalink

MRUniversity now has its own video production team! We are continuing to work with the artists at Tilapia films to produce outstanding videos for teaching economics–these videos work great with our textbook, Modern Principles. Our in-house production team will be working to polish our “regular” videos in a way that enhances the learning experience. You can see an example of the new style in the video below featuring Tyler on signaling.

Our Principles of Economics course is now complete. You can guess what is coming soon!

I’ve found Geoffrey Miller’s earlier books quite interesting, even if I didn’t always agree with them.  A few years ago, however, he had a um…Twitter mishap…and since then I’ve been wondering what would emerge from that process.

His new book is…different.  Think of it as a guide to dating and mating for males, but unlike the pick-up artists he (with Max) focuses on the separating rather than the pooling equilibrium.  That is, he advises men to actually be better men, and not just to send clever signals, and so the subtitle is Become the Man Women Want.  Hard to argue with that, right?

The advice covers such recommendations as “Focus on the women who seem interested in you.” (p.257) and “Hang out with Intelligent People” (p.127), among other maxims.  Didn’t Nietzsche come up with a few of those?  Or was it Norman Vincent Peale?

Be aware that “She’s been dealing with creepy douchebags for a long time”; that’s a subheader (p.35).

Is it true that “Most guys have sexually repulsive feet, and women notice.”? (p.206)  MR readers are not always the ones to ask.

At first I thought I’ve never seen a market product so cleverly designed to segregate the actual buyers from those who will find it of value, but it has lots of five-star reviews on Amazon.  Sadly enough, maybe America really needs this book.

Addendum: Here is Robin Hanson’s review.

That is the title of my new piece in MIT Technology Review. It’s about a near future where bosses can measure the productivity of workers through software and surveillance more accurately than is now the case.  Productivity will go up, but it is not all rosy, here is one excerpt:

Individuals don’t in fact enjoy being evaluated all the time, especially when the results are not always stellar: for most people, one piece of negative feedback outweighs five pieces of positive feedback. To the extent that measurement raises income inequality, perhaps it makes relations among the workers tenser and less friendly. Life under a meritocracy can be a little tough, unfriendly, and discouraging, especially for those whose morale is easily damaged. Privacy in this world will be harder to come by, and perhaps “second chances” will be more difficult to find, given the permanence of electronic data. We may end up favoring “goody two-shoes” personality types who were on the straight and narrow from their earliest years and disfavor those who rebelled at young ages, even if those people might end up being more creative later on.

The closer is this:

I wonder, by the way, if MIT Technology Review will tell me how many people clicked on this article.

Do read the whole thing.