Assorted links and non-links

1. The economics of old vs. new art markets.

2. Many people are recommending Johanna Blakely's TED talk, on "fashion's free culture," but Turkey finds it of questionable moral value and will not let me view it or link to it.

3. Top ten lessons of the global economic meltdown.

4. Why were some countries hit harder than others?

5. The increasing value of academic teamwork (he could have mentioned textbooks too!).

6. Puffincam.

7. Art Linkletter: an American life.

8. Mark Thoma on tax cuts and balance sheet recessions.

9. Does algorithmic trading improve liquidity?


Those 'top ten lessons' are some serious Establishment kool-aid.
First of course it's pretty optimistic to write as if the crisis is past. Concluding that the American model has performed better than the European one seems premature - seems like we've both had trillion dollar bailouts, and for now the German bund is offering lower yields than the UST ten-year, so some people seem to think parts of Europe at least are a better risk.
Second he can't help injecting his foreign policy opinions into an economic discussion. His third conclusion, that 'rogue states are parasites', seems not to acknowledge the nature of trade at all. Yes, indeed - Iran is dependent on the world to buy its oil. But the world is dependent on Iran's oil, so who is the parasite and who is the host? And would some hypothetical autarky be more noble (paging North Korea)? And what does any of that have to do with the world financial crisis anyway?
There is also no discussion of the role of central banks or interest rates. I guess that's supposed to be covered under 'liberal capitalism works'. Maybe he should have written 'liberal capitalism works (for me)'...

I wonder what took Thoma so long to realize this. It's exactly what I did with my rebate check, and what I hoped a lot of other over-stretched people would too. Debt overhang is a terrible drag on economic growth--just ask any business that couldn't expand because it couldn't borrow more.

Now if I can just retire my 1.6M business debt before rates skyrocket.... I could use a big tax rebate.

The academic-teamwork plots are misleading. Of course, a team paper gets more citations but isn't the right way to compare it after normalizing for the size of the team?

If a single author paper gets 10 citations and a team of 4 gets 40 what's the improvement?

About the academic teamwork study:

Comparing large teams to solo authors is misleading. In most fields graduate students are a key part of research so a paper at a minimum will have 2 authors: Adviser+student.

Hence solo author papers are an aberration. This probably overemphasizes opinion pieces, commentary or work by emeritus professors. A more thoughtful study would be between large and small teams. Maybe 3+ and 3- authors.

I agree with Mark Thoma on the importance of balance sheet issues in the financial crisis/recession. However, the scale of the cuts doesn't synch with that story. weren't the Obama stimulus tax cuts just $400 per worker per year and the Bush 2008 ones similar in size, maybe $600? I don't really see how that can improve the balance sheets of people who have incomes high enough for those cuts to not affect their consumption. Because of a shift in risk perception, I cut my personal balance sheet debt $75k in 2008/9, and now I feel a lot more comfortable spending money, but the couple of thousand that my wife and I got from those stimulus packages barely contributed to that. Maybe there were other tax cuts that I didn't qualify for.

Ha, there's a rabbit in the puffincam at the moment.

The Puffincam is actually 2 cameras that alternate. One is outside (rabbit) and the other is inside the burrow or hole or whatever it is called where puffins live / nest.



Wow! Great to know my talk might have some teeth! ;-)

Here's the link:

"but Turkey finds it of questionable moral value and will not let me view it or link to it."

I wonder if you can view the video through the (highly recommended) TED iPhone/iPad app?

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