solve for equilibrium

Robert Kagan has solved for the equilibrium

Consider what it will mean if we decide that what Trump and Giuliani have already acknowledged doing in Ukraine becomes an acceptable practice for all future presidents. Sending the signal that other governments can curry favor with a U.S. president by helping to dig up dirt on his or her political opponents would open our political system and foreign policy to intervention and manipulation on a global scale. Every government in the world wishing to influence U.S. foreign policy will have an incentive to come to a sitting president with information on his or her potential political opponents.

That information might be related to investments or other financial dealings in a particular country, as in Ukraine. Or it might have to do with the behavior of a particular individual while traveling abroad — who he or she sees and what he or she does. Other governments will therefore have an incentive to conduct surveillance of political figures traveling through their countries on the off chance of gleaning some bit of information that could be traded in Washington for some favor. Nor would other governments be limited to what they can see in their own countries. They would have an incentive to dig into the lives of potential opposition politicians in the United States, through monitoring their social media and other Internet presences, their bank accounts and other personal information — as already happened in 2016, and which Trump openly welcomed then, too.

Here is the full piece.  I mostly agree, but wonder if foreign governments haven’t already been doing this for some time, but hoarding the information rather than releasing it to select American politicians (no reason to encourage them further, of course).

They solved for the equilibrium

Yet GWU is taking a surprising and radical step that has prompted deep faculty anxiety: It is choosing to shrink — a lot.

Over the next five years, the private university just west of the White House aims to slash the undergraduate population of its D.C. campuses 20 percent. That would mean 2,100 fewer students, less tuition revenue and tough choices on whether to reduce faculty and financial aid or find other ways to balance the budget.

Many colleges have scrambled in recent times to cope with falling enrollment amid demographic upheaval. GWU provides the rare case of a school announcing in advance, as a public strategy, that it wants to get smaller…

LeBlanc declined to rule out faculty layoffs or other significant steps to reduce expenditures. He said those issues will be hashed out in consultation with faculty, trustees and others in the development of a strategic plan.

Here is more from Nick Anderson at The Washington Post.  Keep in mind that universities cannot do much to control their labor costs in the short or even medium-run, and thus shifts in demand can have a spectacularly large impact on finances.

Solve for the (tri-state) equilibrium

New York recently approved congestion pricing, a plan to make it more expensive to drive into the heart of Manhattan. Officials in New Jersey are enraged and have griped, half-jokingly, that it will cost less to travel to California than to cross the Hudson River.

And they are vowing revenge.

The mayor of Jersey City suggested that New Jerseyans should toll New Yorkers entering their state.

Here is more from Emma G. Fitzsimmons at the NYT.

Solve for the equilibrium

This one concerns China:

A person familiar with the negotiations said Myanmar’s government reached out to the U.S. to request help reviewing the contract [with China] to ensure it didn’t include any hidden traps. This person said other Western countries, including the U.K. and Australia, provided similar assistance.

The negotiations “were very much Burmese-led but armed with the advice of the Americans and others as well. We were able to go to the Chinese [and say], ‘This part is OK, this part is problematic in terms of debt,’” the person said, referring to the country by its previous name.

The Myanmar port deal is part of an economic and diplomatic influence campaign known as the Belt and Road Initiative, a signature effort by Chinese President Xi Jinping to dot the globe with Chinese-funded infrastructure projects.

Here is the full WSJ story by Ben Kesling and Jon Emont.

Solve for the New York equilibrium

Black lawmakers and activists are blocking a push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, warning that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal could perpetuate the racial inequality that it purports to fight.

The lawmakers — including some of legalization’s most vocal supporters — say that unless people of color are guaranteed a share of the potentially $3 billion industry, in the form of job training, adult education and licenses in the industry itself, there may be no legalization this year.

That is from Vivian Wang and Jeffrey C. Mays in the NYT.

Solve for the equilibrium

The CEOs of Germany’s top three car firms, Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW, said they were optimistic on avoiding US tariffs after meeting US leader Donald Trump in Washington Tuesday. “We made a big step forward to avoid the tariffs,” Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess said. The visit caused annoyance in EU circles, where trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was meant to conduct US trade talks on behalf of the whole EU.

Here is the link, via Bruno.

Solve for the candidate quality polarized equilibrium

Consistent with the predictions of this model, we also show that, in more conservative states, low quality conservative candidates do better relative to high quality conservatives, and vice versa.

And this:

We also show that voter beliefs about the candidates harden over the course of the primary…

That is from George Deltas and Matthias Polborn on SSRN.  Via Kevin Lewis.

They solved for the equilibrium, China equilibrium of the day

China will be less severe with its smog curbs this winter as it grapples with slower economic growth and a trade war with the United States, according to a government plan released on Thursday.

Instead of imposing blanket bans on industrial production in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area as it did last winter, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said it would let steel plants continue production as long as their emissions met standards.

Targets for overall emissions cuts have also been revised down. In the next six months, 28 cities in northern China are required to cut levels of PM2.5 – the tiny airborne particles that are most harmful to human health – by about 3 per cent from a year ago.

That is less than the 5 per cent cut proposed in an initial plan seen by the South China Morning Post last month.

Meanwhile, the new plan stipulates that the number of days of severe air pollution should be reduced by about 3 per cent, also revised down from 5 per cent in last month’s draft.

Here is more from Orange Wang at SCMP.  As I am sure you all know, air pollution (and I don’t just mean carbon emissions) is one of the great underrated problems in the world today.  The trade war with China is making it worse.

A note on overtourism, solve for the equilibrium

“At the end, this story is just a numbers problem,” Mr. Tourtellot said. He noted that in 1960, when the jet age began, around 25 million international trips were taken. Last year, the number was 1.3 billion.

As for the cities that are the major destinations? They are “the same size they were back in 1959, and they’ll probably stay that way,” he said.

That is from Farhad Manjoo at the NYT.

Solve for the Hilfiger hoodies equilibrium

This week, Tommy Hilfiger introduced Tommy Jeans XPLORE , a new line of clothes and accessories that all come bugged with “smart chip technology,” which tracks how often you wear them and where you go with them on.

There’s even an exclusive game, sort of like Pokémon Go, that you can use to earn rewards like gift cards and concert tickets.

“It’s all of your must-have Tommy Jeans favorites with smart chip technology,” the brand’s website reads…

The company said in its announcement for the line that it hopes the chipped clothes and game will help create a “micro-community of brand ambassadors.” In essence, they’re rewarding you for wearing the products more often.

Here is the story, and for the pointer I thank the excellent Samir Varma.

Epp and Borghetto have solved for the equilibrium…

And most of you won’t like it:

This article investigates the effects of economic inequality on legislative agendas. It considers two competing hypotheses: (1) that policymakers will act to counter rising inequality by renewing their focus on redistributive social policies, and (2) that rising inequality makes legislative agendas especially vulnerable to the influence of economic elites, and that these elites will attempt to keep redistributive social policies off the agenda. Empirical tests, which are designed to arbitrate between these hypotheses, use data on public laws and parliamentary bills introduced in the legislatures of nine European countries between 1941 and 2014. The evidence is supportive of the second hypothesis: as inequality becomes more acute, European legislative agendas become systematically less diverse and this narrowing of attention is driven by a migration away from social safety-net issues toward issues relating to law enforcement, immigration, and national defense.

Here is the paper, via the excellent Matt Grossman.

Solve for the “not a detention center” equilibrium

A spokesman for Southwest Key, Jeff Eller, said on Sunday it could not legally require children to stay on the premises if they sought to leave, and that “from time to time” children had left several of its 27 shelters for immigrant children.

“We are not a detention center,” Mr. Eller said in a statement. “We talk to them and try to get them to stay. If they leave the property, we call law enforcement.”

Federal officials echoed that position, saying they could not stop a child who attempted to leave. The officials did not respond to a question about how many children had walked away from migrant centers nationwide.

Here is the rest of the NYT article, it has further points of interest.

Solve for the China jaywalking equilibrium

Jaywalkers in China are to be named, shamed and slapped with an instant SMS fine.

And it’s all thanks to cutting-edge artificial intelligence.

In the southeastern city of Shenzhen, police have set up AI-powered boards by crossings.

If you jaywalk, a CCTV camera will scan your face and flash it up on the huge screens for all to see, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, there are now plans to ping offenders’ phones with quick-fire fines as soon as they violate the grim rule.

The AI company behind the billboards, Intellifusion, is in talks with mobile phone networks and local social media platforms to enforce the new system.

To be clear, I consider this report speculative.  But not impossible.

Solve for the music legal equilibrium

Pop superstar Miley Cyrus now being sued for copyright infringement — with damages potentially hitting $300 million.  That is, for one lyric in her hit single, “We Can’t Stop”.  The song is from her fourth studio album, Bangerz, released in 2013.

The lawsuit is coming from Michael May, better known as Flourgon, a Jamaican dancehall artist.  Flourgon had several Jamaican hit singles in the late 1980s and 1990s, and remains an active performer today.

May alleges that Cyrus ripped off his catch-phase, ‘We Run Things,’ which is actually the name of a song written by May.  In “We Can’t Stop,” Cyrus repeats the lyric ‘we run things’ in the chorus.

“We run things/Things don’t run we” are the lyrics of Miley’s single.

In May’s track, the lyrics are: “We run things/Things no run we.”

Here is the full article, via Ted Gioia.

Solve for the Dutch equilibrium

Police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam have launched a new pilot programme which will see them confiscating expensive clothing and jewellery from young people if they look too poor to own them.

Officers say the scheme will see them target younger men in designer clothes they seem unlikely to be able to afford legally – if it is not clear how the person paid for it, it will be confiscated.

The idea is to deter criminality by sending a signal that the men will not be able to hang onto their ill-gotten gains.

…He [the police chief] said the young men targeted often have no income and are already in debt from fines for previous convictions but wearing expensive clothing.

This “undermines the rule of law” which sends “a completely false signal to local residents”, he explained.

I know how this would play out in New Jersey or Rhode Island, but the Netherlands?  Here is the full article, and for the pointer I thank the excellent Samir Varma.