1. Jeju to Seoul
2. Melbourne to Sydney
3. Mumbai to Delhi
4. Fukuoka to Tokyo
5. Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo
6. Sapporo to Tokyo
7. LA to San Francisco
8. Brisbane to Sydney
9. Cape Town to Johannesburg
10. Beijing to Shanghai
These elegant pictures from Reuters illustrate the price of goods in Venezuela as the inflation rate hits 82,700 percent.
This one suggests some obvious substitutions.
Using a unique data set on the universe of assistant professor hires at top-50 economics departments from 1980-2005, we show that the adoption of gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies substantially reduced female tenure rates while substantially increasing male tenure rates.
That is from Heather Antecol, Kelly Bedard, and Jenna Stearns in a forthcoming AER, via Claire Lehmann
4. MIE: art museum highbrow lingerie.
5. It matters where a woman is born (NYT), and has a persistent effect on her lifetime earnings: “…the beliefs a woman grows up with can shape her future behavior in a way that affects her career and salary.”
The vertigo starts, as upon arrival in the airport there are few direct clues as to which country you might be in. You will see people from every part of this hemisphere, and furthermore the Azerbaijanis won’t stand out as such. The facility itself looks like an average of five or six other airports, like how some TV shows film in Canada to get that generically American look.
Matters seem to go downhill as one rides into town — “Dubai, yet without the charm” is how I described it to Yana in an early, premature email. Yet this petro-city grows on you quickly, and I don’t just mean the cherry jam. Closer to town center there are interesting buildings in every direction, and of three sorts: the medieval Old City with walls, a blossoming of late 19th century European architecture (and they are still doing contemporary copies of it), and the Brasilia-Dubai like modern buildings.
In 1905 about half of the world’s oil was produced in or near Baku. In 1942, it was Stalingrad that stopped Hitler from taking the place over and perhaps changing the course of history. Not long ago, oil and gas were estimated to account for sixty percent of the gdp of Azerbaijan.
And you can see that money being spent, to the benefit of the tourist I might add. Baku has perhaps the most attractive and walkable seaside promenade. The walker has views of the Caspian, of spectacular buildings, of the port, and there are multiple paths with beautiful gardens and cactuses and baobab trees, benches everywhere, Eurasians in abundance, and in August the weather is perfect for a long stroll every night.
Baku is reputed to be the world’s lowest capital city, standing about 28 meters below sea level.
It is the first Shiite country I have visited, and it seems less conservative than say the Turkey of ten years ago, for instance in terms of dress and demeanor. A small percentage of women wear burkhas, most of all by the seaside walk, but the look of their companions suggests most are tourists or expats.
In short, several generations of communist-enforced atheism do have a persistent effect. One Azerbaijani, with whom I had an extended dialogue through a translator, stressed to me how much universal Soviet education elevated the region (and she was not pro-Soviet or pro-communist by any means). The Azerbaijanis address me in Russian, as few can converse with ease in English.
The police go to great lengths to limit jaywalking, which is in any case dangerous. The city roads are wide, and like some parts of central Brasilia have few traffic lights. Never have I wished so often that I was on the other side of the street as in Baku.
Baku has three working synagogues, and, unlike in almost every other country in the world, they do not require police protection. It is a remarkably safe city.
There is strong sentiment here that Nagorno-Karabakh, technically a part of Azerbaijan but not controlled by the government in over twenty years, is ruled by “Armenian terrorists,” backed by Putin. This issue, largely neglected outside the region, is likely to flare up again. When I applied for a visa, I had to answer whether I come from Armenian blood (no). It seems like a much less friendly conflict than say between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Baku was the easternmost part of the Roman Empire — does that make it European?
“Relatives may eat your flesh but they won’t throw away your bones” is an old Azerbaijani saying.
Newborns are washed in salt water, to make them truthful and bold.
As a vacation spot, I recommend three to four days here for anyone looking for something off the beaten path, but without logistical difficulties. Here is Wikipedia on Baku.
The prices at the Manheim auto auction have been better than usual lately, especially since President Donald Trump started pushing for new tariffs on imported vehicles, parts as well as the steel and aluminum used to make cars, said Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist of Cox Automotive. Cox runs the auction, which draws dealers from around the country to bid online or in person at the auction house.
Smoke tracks three-year old vehicles as an indicator of pricing for used cars, since that’s when a lot of leases are turned in and that vintage is the most common pre-owned vehicle for sale at any given time. A three-year-old Nissan Altima costs about $100 more now than it did just last month. A three-year-old Toyota Camry costs $400 more than it did a year ago.
“The fact this happened almost exactly two weeks after Trump announced he was going to enact tariffs can’t be ignored,” Smoke said, referring to tariffs Donald Trump has proposed on new vehicles imported to the United States…
While the tariffs on new car sales haven’t been enacted yet, the mere threat appears to be driving up prices on new cars. Auto dealers at the Manheim auction Aug. 10 theorized that consumers who might be in the market for a car in the next six to nine months are buying now to hedge against possible rising prices.
The literature that has previously shown that boys outperform girls in math tests has failed to explain the underlying causes of the phenomenon. This math gender gap has been documented to vary across countries, and shown to grow as students advance through school. In this paper I suggest that these patterns may be explained by sample selection caused by gender differences in schooling’s opportunity costs, which lead lower-achieving males to drop out. I present and test the implications of a labor supply model that examines the opportunity cost of school attendance and, thereby, the observed math gender gap. Using an exogenous policy change, the launch of a conditional cash transfers program in Colombia,
I estimate that sample selection explains between 50 percent and 60 percent of the gap. Estimates of non-parametric bounds show that selection in the lower quantiles of the male distribution explains a significant portion of the gap.
There are three tables, all close enough to chat, and at them there was TC, a Saudi family with a husband, two kids and a woman in full burkha, and a woman from a fine New York City neighborhood, perhaps 65 years old. Suddenly, the NYC woman paused from her chat with me:
NYC woman, to Saudi table: (With a strong NYC accent) So where are you all from?
Saudi Man: Saudi Arabia.
NYC woman: Is that your wife in there?
Saudi Man: Yes.
NYC woman: Is she driving yet?
Saudi Man: No
NYC woman: Why not?
Saudi Man: She does not need to.
NYC woman: I was just wondering, because they made such a big deal out of it on TV. And I was thinking maybe they aren’t all driving yet.
Saudi Man: She does not need to.
NYC woman: But why not?
Saudi Man: Madam, you live in New York City. Are you driving yet?
5. How are the prospects for Irish unification looking these days? What is the correct underlying model here?
6. “People’s recollections after driving a familiar road were very poor, with most memories involving the bad behavior of other motorists.” Link here.
7. Witchcraft in the #MeToo era (NYT, satire).
Seherli Tandir, in Baku, Azerbaijan is now on my list, but let me first explain the criteria. This is not about the best restaurants, it is about the ones that give you the most consumer surplus. For most of the “next door restaurants,” as I shall call them, you want them to be inexpensive, to offer some healthy options, to satisfy some of your cravings, to offer unique dishes, and not to take too long serving you.
It is not a mistake, if you are visiting Baku, to simply have each and every one of your meals at Seherli Tandir — the other restaurants in town are dominated assets.
The menu allows you to order three different types of cherry jam. Get the one in the middle, the sour one (don’t let them tell you that you should not be ordering a jam, and don’t put it on anything, just eat it).
Have I had better yogurts and rices? Order the little dumplings with sumac (gurza), asking for yogurt sauce on the side. The qutabs — thin breads stuffed with either pumpkin or meat — are the surprise knock-outs. The soups, the stews, the dolmeh. Did I mention the pilaf with the chestnuts? The “tandir” bread-baking oven in the middle of the restaurant?
The typical entree costs about $4-6. And the staff is friendly and helpful.
The restaurant is located in the old city, on the “restaurant street,” near four or five other excellent but nonetheless inferior options (when in doubt in those order dishes with pomegranate seeds). Go to the tower, and start walking up to the right, maybe 5-7 minutes. No taxi can take you there, as it is in a pedestrian zone. Simply ask when you get lost, as the restaurant is quite famous. You can’t make a reservation and may need to wait out in the sun, thus another reason why it should be next to my home
In general, Azerbaijani food lies in the space between Persian and Georgian cuisines, a double yum.
Which other restaurants should be in the top ten you want right next to your home? And why aren’t those restaurants simply the best period?
p.s. watermelon jam tastes better than you think.
Contemporary art had taught them [young Iranian artists] that there is always a different way of seeing.
That is from The Dawn of Eurasia, by Bruno Maçães, and it is worth more than the last ten essays you read dumping on contemporary art.
1. A Bitcoin joke.
3. Claims about populism (pdf, slides).
Studio Drift had a great exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam featuring drifter, a monolithic block that levitates, rotates and moves around and in space.
Drifter personifies Arthur C. Clarke’s adage that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Seeing it is magical. I can tell you that it’s 3-dimensional not a projection. You can see under, above and around it. There are no strings. You can see a video here. Music plays as the block moves. I’m pretty sure that isn’t an accident. I can guess how it was done but really the point is that this was an art work that fulfilled it’s promise
Drifter calls on the viewer to reconsider our relationship with our living environment, which is often accepted as static and lifeless. It creates a sense of disbelief and displacement, creating tension between humanity versus nature and chaos versus order. Disconnected from our expectations, it floats between the possible and impossible.
Drifter will be at the Stedelijk until August 26. Look for it elsewhere.
A few of you have raised objections to my recent statistical discrimination hypothesis on the grounds that, if it were true, minority group members who “made it to the top” should be the super-achievers, since they had to pass through so many screens and implicit taxes. I wrote back the following (edited) in an email:
Maybe, but I think you are assuming fixed quality of talent within each sector.
Let’s say there are two sectors. In the first, the CEO sector, women face statistical discrimination and there are multiple levels. In the second there is no statistical discrimination, let us call it women’s tennis but of course there are other examples too.
It could be that most of the talented women, those who can judge where they really will succeed best and most easily, flock to the latter sectors. In which case the winners in the CEO sector need not be so special, including in the presence of discrimination.
That also means that employers and intermediaries have no special incentives to hunt for that talent: it has run away to other, less discriminatory sectors (and lowered wages in those sectors, I might add).
By the way, here was one good comment by Willitts on that post:
…if the signal of skill is “years of experience,” then the person filtered at the lower level will always look objectively worse at the higher level filters.
You’re assuming that the higher level decision makers have the opportunity (and desire) to consider walk-on candidates. You’re also assuming that those walk-ons will have adequate means to signal their superiority to those who passed through the filters.
I might be able to be the best CEO who ever lived, but my lack of management experience would never get me in the door for an interview. If (mild) discrimination at several rungs of the ladder kept me from rising to the penultimate rung, I’d have ZERO chance of attaining the top rung, not merely a small chance
Most elite performers are impressive throughout their lives. But they can stay constantly motivated, by rising through the ranks quickly. A stat-discriminated person might not have that advantage either.
Well, with the first gatekeeper there’s really no motivation to gamble on the marginalized, because a) there’s not yet a big gap and b) doing so would give up the profit of stereotyping (see the Bayesian analysis referenced in #3 of Dan’s post).
And as you get to the subsequent gatekeepers, a larger actual ability gap starts to form because the discrimination of prior gatekeepers prevented the marginalized group from gaining valuable experience.
I will continue to ponder this problem.
…all qualified scientists would get some guaranteed funding — no grants required. But there should be one added step: everyone must anonymously allocate a fraction of their funds to other researchers of their own choosing.
The goal of this system would be to let scientists devote more of their time to research…
In SOFA [Self-Organizing Funding Allocation], every participant starts with the same allocation of funding every year but must allot a portion to other scientists. Reasons to select someone could range from, ‘That was a great paper’ to ‘I think they will release useful data.’ Those who get the most give the most, because scientists give a percentage of everything received under SOFA. To avoid currying favour, this process will be anonymous…
We can limit collusions and kickback schemes — the financial equivalent of citation cartels — by mandating a minimum number of recipients and restricting people from designating frequent collaborators, or colleagues at the same institution. Counteracting gender, age and prestige biases that plague conventional peer review might even be easier in SOFA because they are measurable.
Here is the Johan Bollen piece in Nature.