Request for requests

It can't hurt to try.


Nah. We're good.

I'm requesting you send me some cash.

According to you, as economists, what is the interest of surveys like the following one by the National Endowment for the Arts: "2002 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts" ( Thanks in advance.

superfreakonomics chapter 5... should the steves apologize?

Here's a pile of them:

-More Tyrone.
-More food blogging.
-More Alex.
-More sports blogging. I know it isn't basketball season, but something interesting must be happening.
-Go West! I'd like to see a Favorite Things California/Nevada/San Francisco/Oregon/Seattle/Portland/Washington/etc.

why was the deal cut with AIG changed after TARP but the deal cut with the GSEs was not?

If you were going to start a major professional sports league, what would be the features of the salary structure? Would you have a salary cap, and if so, would it be hard or soft? Would you dictate rookie salaries be slotted? What would be the features of free agency (e.g., restricted free agency)? Would you have a draft, or just a free-for-all signing period?

Assume you were elected:

- governor of California, or
- President of the United States

What are the top 5 things you would prioritize and work to accomplish?

Hanson appears to have a very broad view of what phenomena can be explained as status plays. What is your view on the importance of status signaling as a determinant of human behavior?

Why do I have to make an appointment, wait in line, fill out a slew of paperwork, and pay $70 to adopt a dog that otherwise would likely have been euthanized (at the taxpayers' expense), and yet bringing your very own human child into the world takes nothing more than a few shots of tequila or a broken condom?

Given an opportunity to go back in the past. What is the one thing that you would want to do(ex. invent, propogate)which will make you rich/famous.
Note: You could go as far in the past as possible and you could pick any idea, innovation from the future and live on its laurels in the present.

John Nye guest-blogging.

To give or not give to beggars?

What are some examples of successful government bureaucracies?

What heretical idea does "the University" fear the most? Is it wrong about that too?

First time commenter, long time reader, etc.

Anything to do with the economics of music: e.g. are we seeing artificially high/low MP3 file prices, and if so, why? Do you have ideas to tweak, totally refurbish or simply abolish the statutory rate per track for radio airplay? All else being equal, does our particular set of regulations and subsidies (or lack thereof) stifle musical creativity, relative to other countries and their sets of regulations and subsidies? Did the Sirius-XM merger occur too late to save satellite radio, and, if so, what sort of service do you see taking its place?

Knowing how current I stay on my RSS feeds, you've already answered all of these in very recent days.

What sort of requests do you wish you would receive, and why?

@ Richard:

I like your dentistry idea, but there's some selection bias that will make it very difficult to tease out the results. People more likely to have high dentistry needs will opt in to insurance, whereas those who don't need it will opt out. Thus, even without any third party payment problem, those with dental insurance are likely to have higher dentistry costs. When comparing to health care, let's say we find zero difference in cost growth between medical and dental. That could be due to a lack of selection bias and a lack of a third-party payment problem, or it could be because of the presence of both offsetting each other.

I could imagine some IV approach working, but I can't think of a good instrument for dentistry off the top of my head. Maybe dentistry costs for Brits living in the US versus American residents? ;)

The general audience (not overly academic) nonfiction book that everyone should read, but has probably never heard of, on a list of topics of your choosing.

Will learning languages be more or less valuable in the future? What do you think will be the language curriculum of schoolchildren in 100 years?

Everything else being equal, are there subjects that lend itself to better teaching by professors? I've always chosen classes mostly on professor teaching quality as measured by anonymous student surveys, but was wondering if there are certain classes of subjects where one could find better or worse teachers? (FYI, at MIT where I'm a graduate student, I've found that the more illustrious the professor's CV, often the worse they were at teaching the basics of their area of expertise.)

I've been thinking about the demographic problems the world faces in the future. Fewer children is somewhat related to readily available contraception, longer education etc., but is that all?

Could it also be related to the fact that nowadays, children are not supposed, or able to, help their parents with everyday work and are not expected to help old ancestors? In other words: it seems offspring could be considered some form of property in the past, but not today.

@Joe, I've often wondered where "land-owners" come from too. The best evaluation of this that I've found so far is the relatively short chapter entitled "On Property" in The Second Treatise on Government, by John Locke. To me it seems to have had the most influence on modern U.S. property law and creation.

odds for a human decimation
upshot of even a single incident

@libert i.r.t. range voting:
From your wikipedia article: It does not satisfy either the Condorcet criterion (i.e. is not a Condorcet method) or the Condorcet loser criterion, although with all-strategic voters and perfect information the Condorcet winner is a Nash equilibrium.[6] It does not satisfy the majority criterion, but it satisfies a weakened form of it: a majority can force their choice to win, although they might not exercise that capability.

So range voting is subject to arrow's impossibility theorem, because the Condorcet criterion (a.k.a. monotonicity) does not hold.

I would like your thoughts on Free banking and should the Federal reserve try to mimic the Scottish Free banking system.

- Following your post from this morning, please conduct an examination of who's buying US Gvt debt and why. It's my understanding the Treasury has decent data on this. As a factual matter, how much of the new debt being issued is simply be purchased by the government, vs. purchased by the Chinese, vs. purchased by safety seeking TARP banks, vs. anonymous buyers from Caribbean island nations. Also, what is the universe of investment options for our major Far East trade partners?

@Curt: I saw that, but I have doubts about Wikipedia's explanation, not least because it keeps changing. Wiki simply asserts that Condorcet criterion does not hold, but I don't see why.

Further, just below the paragraph you cited, Wiki says that Arrow's theorem does not apply to range voting because it is not ordinal voting. If that's the case, we can simply get around Arrow's theorem by employing cardinal voting. If so, why does this rarely ever happen?

What do you think of Pynchon?

Now that the flood of new books about the financial crisis nears its end (?), what is your advice on what books are important and which ones are forgettable? Also, if you've gotten a copy of Harold James's book Creation and destruction
of value (Harvard, Sept 2009), thanks in advance for providing comments.

Please discuss demographics and asset prices. Given home bias, can a country's age distribution be expected to have an impact on asset prices? Is there any evidence of this contributing to the history of asset prices in Japan? If so, what would this portend for the US?

What's the optimum size of different departments (engineering, social sciences, math, natural sciences, humanities) in your book? (a percentage break down)

What does economic history tell us about a given economic program?

For example, we often look at existing programs and say, gee, the market would have done better. I know it.

Yet, those programs supplanted the market--you can actually go back and look at how the market worked prior to the program. You can ask: does history tell us something about how the market handled this problem before we made the change.

Let's take medicare. How did the market handle health care for the elderly prior to medicare? It was a free market. You had to buy insurance. (Actually, you had to depend on your kids to pay your medical bill.)

Or, maybe we can say, you know, if they had made just this one little change, they wouldn't have had to do x.

For Libertarians, you can always reach back in history to find out how the market handled something before a program existed. I would like to see a little piece on using the history of the market solution to a problem and how the problem was changed with the government solution.

If you could choose only one economics paper and one book to read what would they be and why?


OK, here's another one.

I teach a course on pricing strategy, and have written on auction mechanisms.

One of the very interesting areas involves combinatorial auction mechanisms--that is, bidding for sets of things, rather than bidding for items ala carte.

Combinatorial procurement or sales auctions typically result in lower costs (on procurement) and higher payout on sales.

How about a piece on using auction mechanisms to solve complex problems.

What books that you once liked did you come to dislike, and why?

Are there situations in which regulation can unintentionally "help" a market by providing more choice? Ive been wondering this after hiring an unmarked "taxi" in manhattan last weekend. the black market provided me with a service i was happy to pay for at the time, though not everyone would have.

Speaking of sports, a look back at public subsidies for stadiums and whether they had the spinoff effects their promoters touted.

Speaking of subsidy, a look at tax earmarks--narrowly focused tax cuts to a few families, a single corporation, or a narrow industry group.

1. The years (20XX) of the twenty-first century should/will be called:
a) "two thousand [and] XX" ?
b) "twenty XX" ?

2. In what future year (if ever) will we switch to using b)?

3. In what future year (if ever), in this century or future centuries, will this change become retroactive? Ie, referring to 2001 as "twenty oh-one", although contemporaries did not.

4. Will 2000 itself remain a special case?

Personally, I think "twenty twenty" has a powerful ring to it, which may be decisive.

Anonymous regarding years: most people I know use the terms "twenty XX" already for years >2009. I think 2000 will remain a special case (although not THAT special, since we already say "year one thousand" for 1000 AD). The most interesting question is whether we eventually revert to "twenty-oh-X" for year 200X, or stick with "two thousand X."

From FT: Brazil imposes 2% on capital inflows.

"The three-month moving average for foreign direct investment in Brazil was $1.55bn in August, a fall of 56 per cent from a year earlier, while the same figure for portfolio flows was $5.19bn, an increase of 159 per cent." (

Investors could stop the capital influx and that's probably going to be bad for the stock and fixed income markets, but at the same time the Brazilian currency appreciation is punishing the productive sector and exporter companies.

To which extent is interesting for a country to impose capital controls?

How about looking at the choice of markets v. government as a stage of economic development issue. Why do more advanced economies use government for some things, and less advanced use markets? When and why do they change? Or, how about governments stepping out of the management of something and using markets in place?

If you were going to hire someone for a 60-80 hr/week analyst position, what signals - beyond relevant experience/education - would you look for?

Is greed a meaningful term in economics at all, much less in regards to the financial crisis? If it is, what do we call the less avaricious state before greed and how does this more benign desire for wealth become greed.

How about some work on consumer psychology ala Thaler and how free market theorists have to adjust their models and theories, or otherwise be irrelevant to the real world.

What do you think are the most underrated social/technological/cultural goods of the decade? To me, podcasting doesn't get the credit it deserves. For almost any topic, it's a wonderful format for both learning and entertainment, almost always at minimal cost (search-time included).

Does the notion of objective value have any place in economics?

Keynesian ideas are, (if I understand correctly) based on price rigidities. If you think about the kind of recession we are living through right now, would you say that the ultimate price rigidities exists in debt.

Sure, the Fed does higher and lower the magnitude of debt service by changing the rates, but still - the debt does not get bigger or smaller when the velocity slows or amount of money is reduced.

What are the implications of this? Is this what some economists really mean when they talk about zero bound?

I know you've remarked about this thing for a number of times, but how would you go on analyzing this and its impact for recession economy?

I always assumed application fees for law school were for processing paperwork. Some schools waive the fee if you apply on-line; most do not. I have Googled and asked elsewhere but can't seem to find a unanimous answer as to what the application fee is for and why some schools can "afford" (or are simply willing) to waive that fee or not.

It's probably something right in front of me, but as long as you're asking....

Dear Tyler,

I would very much like to hear your thoughts about the ideas expressed in this "web pamphlet"...

Do you think that the size of Congressional constituencies matter? Or would such an agenda (reducing sizes) create more trouble than its worth?



Dear Tyler,

Do you think the concepts of "need" or "necessities" have any place in economic theory? If so, are there any policy-implications that would follow from the integration of these concepts into economic theory?

Space. More on space. Anything, really. Maybe tying it in with how the hard sciences are seemingly more and more niche courses in America these days...or maybe not that. Just, more on space. Grab some Carl Sagan, or read "Stephen Hawking's Universe" and let us have it.


Public support for (re)legalizing marijuana is now at a peak of 45%:

Will attaining majority support require the slow 1-2% per annum growth cited by Gallup, or is there the possibility of a tipping-point phenomenon? It may be wishful thinking, but I lean towards the latter. The main reason is that the media has suddenly discovered significant diversity of opinion on this issue and are no longer toeing the government line (exclusively, at least).

Side question- how will the breakdown of opinion by political affiliation affect electoral prospects?

I'm a grad student and the mother of a young child, and in both capacities I meet lots of smart, highly educated people, many with impressive resumes and skillsets, who are only available for part-time work. Yet nearly all part-time jobs seem to be low-skilled and pay miserably. Are we not leaving a lot of twenty-dollar bills lying on the ground here? Why?

How do you work? What's a typical day? What's an ideal day?

How to find interesting information sources? I find this fascinating - most bloggers have relatively predictable information sources, and this makes their blogs boring. But others have unusual sources, and that can make them surprising. MR consistently surprises me.

There has been a significant amount of naysaying about the upcoming season for the Memphis Grizzlies after recent personnel changes (drafting Thabeet, trading for Randolph, signing Iverson, etc.). There have been accusations of O.J. Mayo being a ball hog to begin with and the addition of Randolph/Iverson destroying team chemistry. In this discussion there have been plenty of references to efficiency statistics.

1) Thoughts in general?
2) Are efficiency statistics more meaningful measures of effectiveness than simply watching a team in person?
3) Is there room in the world (and NBA) for redemption? (AI / Z-bo)

I can't get over the fact that this team will have a significant level of talent looking out on a world that is saying they can't accomplish anything. In my experience, there aren't too many things more powerful than a group of talented individuals with their backs against the wall.


1. Will Chinese replace english as the global language?
2. Will the trend towards fewer langauges continue until there is just one, or will there be some forces counteracting that. Are there advantages to speaking a language which only some people speak (as long as you also speak what everyone speaks)
3. i.e. will we all speak The Global Language plus our own, or just The Global Language.

I tried this before, no harm trying again

What are the roots of the health insurance anti trust exemption, and what justification is given for continuing it?

Travel to Omaha, NE.

Pascal's Wager as it relates to large lottery payouts. Given our finite lives is any sum of money ever large enough to be considered infinite (e.g. I can't envision myself spending $400 million in my lifetime, for assumption purposes I have no heirs or feel no connectedness to my descendants)

wow, this worked!

Stiglitz Watch III:

What is to be said when excellent economic theorists write things like this in newspapers?

How, if at all, would you improve Amazon's new auction system for selling computer capacity:

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