Request for requests

It's time that again.  What would you like to hear about?  Comments are open…


This may not be Tyler's thing, but I'd be interested in discussion of two increasingly common stories:
1) Some say: people who are unemployed for months/years lose their human capital, and therefore their employability. But don't women return to the labor force all the time after several months/years out? And what if ALL the applicants for a job have huge gaps on their resume?
2) Some say: the rate of innovation in the US has declined, and this explains the lousy job/income trends, especially over the last decade. But how does this square with relatively strong productivity growth, especially since 1995?

Possible topics:

1) Your assessment of rising and falling economics departments (in terms of research productivity, prestige, etc)

2) Your assessment of skills/focus areas associated with success in the academic economists job market

Expand on your opinions about the Grenadan monetary policy addendum: "They also use the East Caribbean Dollar, which perhaps for them is not an optimum currency area. Should Grenada be pegging to the U.S. dollar?"

Does anybody have a theory about the length of questions during the Q&A sessions that follow lectures/talks? Is there a relationship between length of question and age, gender, status, place in queue? Why do some people make rambling statements disguised as "questions"? How can moderators avoid such abuse of the process (pleas to keep questions short don't seem to have any effect)?

What's your favorite Pierre Menard moment in the blogosphere? By "Pierre Menard Moment" I mean a situation in which a very similar post (purely Pierre Menard would imply an _identical_ post but I am not sure that happens) written by a second, different blogger has different interpretations and raises different issues.

To expand on what BK is requesting, what causes the size and frequency of supermarkets/groceries/bodegas in other countries to vary wildly? Or why aren't there any more dedicated bakeries and butchers operating as there once were?

The U.S. Treasury needs to roll over roughly $3.5 trillion and borrown another $1.9 trillion over the next 12 months. That works out to about $100 billion per week ($60 billion rollover and $40 billion new borrowing).

With total U.S. savings at about $500 billion and China's trade surplus around $250 billion, where will that money come from?

Will the Fed have to resume purchases of Treasury bonds?

Why should highways, roads, streets, and parking be government run and funded socialized transport systems, but railroads should be tax paying profit-seeking private owned and run systems charging whatever the market will bear?

Which nations have efficient, i.e. low cost for good outcomes, health care systems that meet the theory of conservative economists at Cato, Mises, AEI, et al think tanks?

Can a theory ever be a theory if it is never seen in the real world? Isn't a theory with no real world examples just an unproven hypothesis about how the world works that provides no insight into the real world?

Is there any example that shows socialized roads and health care, which provide basic equal access to everyone, is not the best in terms of efficiency: maximum (economist) welfare for the lowest cost?

What would be your advice to young, motivated, unemployed Greeks (living in Greece)? Brush up on language skills and emigrate?

Why is there a market for micro-brewed beer? But not micro-brewed soda?

The economics of the Olympics (but not the question of the the benefits and costs to host cities). The IOC has a goal of maintaining reserves of $500 million, which seems like an excessive amount to me. The IOC does not allow athletes to advertise without Board approval; that is, unless they are appearing in ads for official sponsors, which was obvious if you watched the Games, which is benefits only those sponsors. Are they a Niskanen bureaucracy? Is corruption still enough of an issue that they want to maximize revenues to host cities and advertisers, and thus, committee members?

What are your favorite kosher (not kosher style) restaurants?

One frame through which I view global warming (the "issue") is as a giant applied economics and politics R+D project aimed at improving our ability to identify and price (or rather, extinguish) externalities. Is it worth it?

I'm an undergrad senior taking my first graduate micro theory course, and am having serious trouble "believing" a lot this approach. It's fine as a series of abstract math problems, but I can't convince myself of its real world validity. Does this spell the end of my career as an economist, or is this sort of doubt common among people getting started in the field?

Why is that basketball is more egalitarian, if that's the right word, than football? For instance, the NCAA basketball tournament is much more competitive than the BCS. Surely, equipment may play a part as to why that is the case, but that can't explain everything. One time football equipment was rather spartan. One could argue the amount space needed to play is a role, but then everybody in the world plays soccer, which requires quite a bit of space.

Your thoughts on Free banking.

Your thoughts on post-Keynisanism.

As societies become really wealthy, doesn't the natural rate of unemployment or underemployment rise? How does a really wealthy society decide who has to work? If benefits are high enough why would most people want to work?

Net Neutrality

What do you think is the least developed part of property rights/4th Amendment jurisprudence?

How do GMU libertarians rationalize getting their paychecks from the government?

How about (1) most GMU libertarians are not dogmatic and consider information to be a public good. (2) They are correcting an negative externality created by the government (AKA progressive intellectuals). It's a second best solution, not a first best. (3) They might favor a different system, but since that isn't an option, they'll make do with what we currently have. E.g. I would prefer privatized Social Security, but that doesn't mean I'm going to refuse to cash my Social Security checks. A progressive might prefer high taxes but that doesn't mean he's going to send an extra 5% of his paycheck to the government.

What do you think is the least developed part of property rights/4th Amendment jurisprudence?

patent reform -- any thoughts from Tyler?

Everyone says the Chinese Yuan is "undervalued" vs. other things (usually the US Dollar). How do they know?

For bloggers/ journalists-Better to specialize in a narrow area of expertise (i.e. I don't know-Uzbekistan immigration to Kazakhstan maybe) or a broad range of things (Eurasia)

I'd be interested in your take on the reported dramatic increase in econ PhD applications this year. Whats happening?!? Have you talked to any other departments about this?

Rob's question about micro-brewed sodas gets a vote from me.

I like it when you post links to things that are merely interesting, like astrophysics. Ypu've got a great nose for this sort of thing.

How does tax incidence apply to the "terror tax" and the "piracy tax"? Who's really paying for the oil that MEND diverts in Nigeria, the high security on the Saudi oil fields, and the ransoms that ship owners pay to pirates?

If the United States had been set up with two Presidents, one for domestic affairs and a different one for foreign affairs, would governing be easier, or would we just have twice as much bureacucracy?

When states are considering transportation projects where the federal government foots much of the bill for start-up costs, but not the on-going operating costs, what margin should the states be thinking along? If the marginal cost of a rider is zero, then fares ought to be zero, but taxpayer contributions toward costs can't also be zero, can they? Should states consier the marginal rider, trip, daily operating cost?

Why have belts beaten out suspenders in the market for holding up men's trousers?

Historically, a home mortgage was presumed to be a good thing, especially given the tax benefits of deductible interest. Any opinion on whether this still holds true going forward?

Your favorite short stories (or collections)

A friend remarked that on his trip to Cuba, the inclusion of modern buses imported from China had started to erode the charm of the vintage car culture we associate with the island. This is one factor, among many (including the possibility of the embargo being stopped), that made her travel to the island before it changed too much.

What other countries (or cities) are undergoing signficant change and will be presumably very different in a few years from now? Which ones would you travel to if you had the chance now before they underwent that change?

If, when you died, you could choose between heaven as described by any major religion, which heaven would you choose?

I would be curious to know what you consider the biggest flaw in the labor theory of value to be. Also, would you say that it is disproven, unnecessarily bulky, or simply marginalized?

Your thoughts on the effects of vitamin d deficiency / vitamin d supplementation.

Definitely Tflan's topic. Do that one first.

Why, other than historical accident, do we have limits on the amount by which commodity futures can move in one session up or down, but no similar limits on other markets (as for example short sellers)? (Asked after reading Paulson's memoir)

Another suggestion:

"Who are your heroes?"

Ditto on the bloggingheads with Gintis!

Or Steve Sailer.

Bubbles in everything.

If we define a bubble as (1) increasing percentage of income/GDP over time (2) higher percentage than comparable countries and (3) without easily demonstrable benefit -- how many do we have in the US besides health care and education (housing no longer quite qualifies)?

How does a bubble pop when it's not based on speculation but on subsidized consumption behavior (third parties paying for consumption of goods)?

Re: the early suggestion of subsidizing freeways but taxing railroads: Daniel Klein's book on curb rights explains some of the key concepts in transportation economics.

Are small island nations that import 100% of their energy resources (like Grenada) likely to adopt alternative energy technologies and achieve energy independence?

Would large industrialized economies passing climate legislation help or hinder such countries, in the short/medium/long term?

Explore scenarios in which deflation and deflationary expectations are "good", on-net, for an economy.

There are several states in the US which may not be able to pay their future pension obligations. The problem is magnified when you consider that people can move away from a state that uses taxes to remedy this profligacy. What would be the consequence of letting such a state default on its pension obligations? Answer in the context of the present day EU/Greece/Germany situation, and in light of the claim that monetary union is a key component of Germany's predicament.

Or is my premise false: are there any states in the US that are likely to become Greece's?

I would like to know the real effects if the federal government stopped collecting taxes and instead was allowed to print a limited specific % of GDP of the previous year in its place. Say a 8%, 12% and 16%.

I have a few questions:

-Over time are there disputes within the field of economics that are resolved? In the last 10-15 years have any disputes been resolved?

-What views on economics have you had in the past that have changed in the last few years (10 or so) and has the blogging world had any influence?

-What's your most likely scenario with regards to US government deficit/debt in the next 50 years?

1. Is there any evidence of a difference between the reading patterns of readers of newspapers online and in paper? For example, does reading a paper paper mean more browsing, reading articles one might not otherwise if one were online, whereas on the internet one reads to find specific stories?

2. If you were Chancellor of the Exchequer, what would you do?

I know you're not a Rawlsian, but if there were a veil of ignorance concerning your position in society, but you could choose which country to be born into, a) which would it have been at the time of your birth and b) where would it be now?
I am, of course, a loyal reader.

I'd like a behavioral economics explanation for shamelessness. It might start by analyzing how it can be that economists who failed utterly to predict the crisis feel (or at least show) no sense of feeling ashamed of themselves for their failure.

Your analysis of the AD/AS model. I know a version of it is in your textbook. Is it really a useful model?

When talking about the crisis affecting Greece, Spain Portugal and Ireland, I keep hearing about how uncompetitive those countries are, and how their LPCs look terrible. But then, when I talk to people that work there, all I hear is about people making little money after a college education, like the Spanish Mileuristas. Seeing salaries that are 1:3 to 1:4 of the American equivalent is pretty common.

If salaries are low, and the LPC is high, is it due to regulation? Taxation? Dismal company organization?

A favorite catchphrase amongst protesters on the left and right, locally and nationally, is "the need for more transparency." Why this phrase? Is there a coded meaning here? Valid fears of a corrupted processes? A general disenchantment with representative democracy (whose supporters would be more inclined to advocate "throwing the bums out". Any insight from you learned political economists?

What drives countries to have single sport specialties? NZ Rugby, or Canada Hockey?

What drives countries to have all around athletics?

Tyler, what is your opinion of the financial structure of the NBA? Can it be fixed or are we for certain staring at a 2011 lockout? If it can be fixed, what needs to be done?

Tell me whether virtue is teachable. Or if not teachable,does it come from practice? Or is it something neither from practice nor from learning, but something that comes to human beings by nature, or some other way?

many people drink coffee because of the caffeine. a (potentially large) subset of the total population of coffee drinkers probably also drinks coffee for the taste. however, decaffeinated coffee is likely to appeal only to those who do not want caffeine, but do enjoy the taste of coffee (i.e., the set of taste-enjoyers, excluding the intersection with caffeine-enjoyers.) doesn't it seem that the people who drink coffee purely for the taste would prefer more variety in roasts and/or higher quality? if so, then why is the selection of decaf at coffee shops and grocery stores usually limited to one roast, whereas there are many caffeinated options? discuss.

also, you reference other blogs frequently, but rarely talk about podcasts. do you listen to podcasts? any recommendations?

Two commercial real estate issues:

1. How can that building in an amazing location stay empty year after year, even when other stuff nearby or the neighborhood is successful? If it helps, think of an empty building someplace like DuPont Circle or U St?

2. Is there not some economic rationale/solution to the problem of being too successful: I open a restaurant/bar/business, it is successful, therefore my rent goes up so extraordinarily that I have to move locations or go out of business. I see that the landowner wants to capture my success, but do they jack up rates based on poor information, ignorance, or indifference?

For a teacher with a million billion great ideas, it seems to me that you never talk about TEACHING and PEDAGOGY. It's the only chink in your armor that I can see (besides no observable sense of humor - not necessarily a minus).

how has hdtv changed the world?

The Census Bureau defends its spending of $133 million on advertising by saying that increased awareness of the census results in more returned questionnaires through the mail, obviating expensive labor-intensive interviews. I'd like to see the study(ies) they use to support that statement, and subject it to rigorous analysis.

Somebody needs to run scenarios for USD inflation--could hyperinflation happen here? As much as Keynes has been pilloried for eternal deficits, what did he say about inflation/deflation?

Book and Music publishing - in a world where the publishing function of the distributor is increasingly cut out by the ease of internet publishing, how do we best maintain quality control? As the cost of publishing goes down, the consumer cost of finding good product seemingly goes up - often way up. (I say this as a listener of unsigned music - I know there's good stuff out there - but the signal to noise is low - and often the signal you hear is more due to hype/buzz effort than actual quality.)

Why don't more people take public transit, ie the Metro or commuter rail, in the DC area to get to work? When I'm taking the bus to my classes at GW, I see so many cars with a good number of people who probably can access public transport, but still don't take it. How should we increase the number of people who do the environmentally-friendlier thing?

Why do people use missed connection ads? Do they ever work? Is it a sign of enduring optimism of people? Has anyone reading this ever posted, or responded to, a missed connection ad? How did it work out?

If a more powerful species comes to Earth and wants to eat us ( the way we do to other species) what arguments can we use to convince them not to eat us ?

Will antitrust authorities succeed in preventing cartels? I.e. is todays measures enough to incentivize firms not to form cartels? Releted questions are what the optimal level of cartelization is (zero or higher). Will the films on leniency that some competition authorites post on youtube
increase the breakdown of cartels?

When the results of a Google search are delivered and the first sponsored link and the first 'normal' link are the same, which do you click on? The sponsored link could cause prices at the business to go up. Clicking on the sponsored link could also lead to better searches if Google takes its earnings and invests in improved search technology.

Why aren't there many attempts at cost-benefit evaluating possible world public policies like the Copenhagen Consensus Center tries to do? I even have trouble responses to their studies that try to say: these are not the costs or the benefits of such-and-such policy. Are we driving blind as far as world public policies go?

How, if at all, do you measure the success of this blog? Daily hits? Intelligence of comments? Mentions on other blogs? Have, or would, you change the style of your blogging to improve these measures?

The toughest economic problem in a democracy is political -- how to cut government spending.

What are the most likely to work, and/or most likely to be tried ideas you would support?

1) PLEASE COMMMENT ON Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression







Why did it take so long for humans to have the Industrial Revolution?

1. post your bookmarks
2. post all of your internet searches for the past week
3. if you were exempt from PC speech codes for 24 hrs what 5 topics would you write about?
4. is it a good/bad idea to have two classes of license plates; a cheap non-expressway one, and more expensive "all-roads" plates?
5. will you expose your daughter to roissy's blog? if you had a son, would you expose him to roissy's blog?
6. as more companies automate jobs lower human capital people aren't needed in the labor force: what's your advice to a 10 year old with a 90 iq? would the negative consequences of high long-term unemployment (greece, france in 2005, mexico, etc.) ever justify discouraging employers from some labor saving technologies?
7. why hasn't the length of the avg. 1st world work week fallen really far? is IT overrated?
8. will you ever write about the negative side of mass migration (ie. not from the perspective of a Famous Economist with Important Book Deals and a NYT Column. but from the avg. american's pov)?

How would you redesign ChatRoulette to make it more usable. I've never used it, but I've heard it's a cool concept but pretty much a mess.

I've always wanted to know where I could get a replica of the bird chess set in J. F. Sebastian's apartment in Blade Runner.

I'd like to know what you think about the market for infant and toddler toys. Does the fact that children usually prefer to play with the box or non-toy items (like remote controls) suggest a poorly functioning market? Maybe toys are designed to attract purchasers (parents), rather than children, but wouldn't a firm benefit even more for developing a reputation for making toys that their customers' kids will actually like and use?

You mentioned some time back that you read Nick Carr's forthcoming book, "The Shallows". (I presume you saw an advance copy.) Was the book interesting? What, if anything, did it change your thinking about? (Any answer to the last question, including "nothing", would be interest.)

What is your take on ecological economics, as espoused e.g. by Herman Daly? In particular, what are the consequences of counting extraction of non-renewable raw materials as positive in GDP? How could the _sustainability_ of living standards for future generations be realistically considered along with the living standards themselves?

Why is required mutualization of all health insurers never discussed as a fix for health care cost issues? It seems very conflicting to have an entity where their external goal is to protect policyholders by paying for claims but their internal goal is to deny claims to pay shareholders and minimize competition through "most favored nation" clauses.

It seems like mutualization would remove a significant portion of the conflict and also allow policyholders to have a direct stake in whether rates go up or down due to reduced moral hazard.

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