Request for requests

I invite you to offer requests for topic coverage and questions…Comments are open.


I'm curious about what you'd do if you could change a few things about the tax system for all types of income--corporate, personal, and investment--and any sort of activity that is harmful, like smoking or polluting. And while political predictions might not be your thing, I'd be curious to hear what you think is possible, both now and the immediate future.

What bloggers do you read regularly that you don't want people to know you read regularly.

Are we seeing the beginning of the end of work?

I refer you to the use of food stamps by 14 million in the US, countless millions on welfare in the UK, and the planned introduction by Cameron's government of something that looks like a citizen's wage.

Supplementary question: Why are the straight lines on economics graphs called curves?

RE the third one, the straight lines are almost always said to be an approximation and it's presumed that the ends do curve. Who wouldn't want almost any good if it's essentially free, and at what price does Carlos Slim outbit Bill Gates for something they both want?

A straight line is a special type of curve.

it`s also fairly sensible because they become curves when you drop the assumption of constant marginal costs and that sort of stuff.



The marginal utility of knowing that Tyler's blog can thread comments.

Hi Tyler,

I mentioned this on another thread so I'm not sure if you saw it. But I'd like to see a comment by you with regards to this in context of TGS:

More specifically if we are at a period of reduced rate of technological advancement, what makes that list of current emerging technologies different than a hypothetical equivalent list from 1950.

Specifically how much weight would you give to the following potential sources of TGS
a) There were more technologies (possibly across a wider spectrum) on the list from 1950 then the list from 2011.
b) The average returns from bringing any technology on the 1950 list to fruition was higher than bringing any given technology to fruition on the 2011 list.
c) The average time, effort and investment it take to bring a technology to fruition on the 2011 list is substantially higher than a technology on the 1950 list.
d) Some other potential reason. Though I can't think of what, because the instantaneous rate of technological advancement should be equal to:
Sigma (i is a member of the set of current emerging technologies) (Economic return of i) * (Current instantaneous rate of completion of i).

Anyway, thought this might be an interesting starting platform for some analysis of TGS...

Topic suggestion: you should post a reminder that your blog now supports comment threading, and so people should just reply directly to comments rather than appending "@username" or "Mr Username, blah blah" to comments like before. This change seems to have gone unnoticed by a large number of people, judging from the comments on new posts made since the Wordpress migration.

I'll admit that threading helps people see discussions more easily, etc. However, if I refresh the comments page, I have absolutely no idea which comments are new and which are old! Putting them at the bottom seems much easier in that respect.

So: an easy cookie-based solution could colour "new" comments with a yellow background or something, to make them stand out. Or, add an option to remove threading and simply display the comments chronologically.

I second that. Threading is annoying sometimes. In the good old days I could read the bottom of the list to see new comments but now one has to scan the whole list.

It'd be great if there was a button to toggle between threaded and unthreaded.

Actually, to think about it, the @ format wasn't too bad. So long as people pasted enough context it worked great.

Could you comment on particular books/articles that you see as important to economics of religion? Also, what are your thoughts on modeling methods other than econometrics, such as agent-based models?

Hey guys I have had discussions with others about a change in the "technological "learning curve". I feel like there is a much steeper slope in younger generations, i.e. they grasp technology and inoovations of the technology much faster than even people only 15 to 20 years older. Is there any empirical evidence of this theory? Thanks!

I think there's at least some evidence against that. There was a study that the median younger person is just as bad with technology (or at least search engines) as older people.!5601015/study-young-people-dont-really-understand-the-internet-either

If anything I would think there would be a sweet spot for this. I would think the under 20's would actually not do as well because of the "automation" compared with those who started with DOS for example. I would also think that those over a certain age that weren't exposed in as widespread a manner as people now would larger problems as well.

Also, if you have any suggestions about history books relating to religion, that would be helpful.

Your death row meal
Inflation vs. Deflation -- how you think about it (type of inflation, where one is, demand destruction, etc)
Petrodollar recycling
Economics of religion
Biases in the investment community

And i second "what bloggers you actually read".. and other websites/sources you regularly go to

I the second death row meal suggestion, but perhaps with realistic limiting assumptions, e.g. it is cooked by a prison commissary and the foodstuffs have to be basically available via a big food service vendor like Sysco. So lobster might be ok, if previously frozen, but not something like mangosteens or fresh toro.

Hey Tyler,

I was wondering if you could cover the downsides of free trade. I understand comparative advantage and the many benefits of trade, but it seems like Boudreaux and others make it out to be a panacea. Specifically could you address a contention put forth in Gordon Hanson's recent paper, "Why isn't Mexico Rich?" Hanson makes a compelling argument that Mexico gets the short end when trading, because they have the bad luck of exporting goods that China sells, rather than goods that China buys. There's more here:


How you find so much opportunity to blog and read blogs while you have many other irons in the fire. What is your incentive to blog? Pure enjoyment? I assume this takes away from other activities which may or may not be as enjoyable if not more so. I'll admit I bought a book of yours after following the blog. Does blogging fit into a broader media strategy for you?

I second this idea, particularly the first sentence. On top of everything:full-time professorial duties and all that entails, book writing, blogging (which includes eating at every ethnic restaurant within 30 miles of DC), you somehow find the time to read more books, watch more movies, and listen to more music than just about anyone I know.

How much sleep do you get per night?

Right. How about something akin to a life-log for a few days?

For one thing, he apparently reads ridiculously fast

I can testify to that. He's no slouch on the keyboard either ;)

Yes! A life log would be terrific--akin to William F. Buckley's "Overdrive". It would likely be more interesting (although probably less glamorous)!

Second that. Also, do you actually read all those books or just scan through them?

You read them sequentially or in parallel?

Yes. Please answer the first sentence of the original post. And give us ALL your time management hints, dumbed-down for the non-brilliant among us.

I'd like to see some of your ideas about the future of the welfare state in Europe - especially in light of the shifting demographics and the rising ability of outsourcing service sector jobs (architecture, design, financial intermidation, even medicine).

How does the great stagnation jive with endogenous growth theory?

A while ago there was a fascinating article in City Journal which compared the number of academic papers written in criminology journals to the number of theses that offered correlation studies as evidence to the number that offered randomized trials as evidence to the number that were backed by randomized trials repeated independently in different locations by different researchers. The total number of papers they started with was around 20,000- the number that stood up to the highest standard (double blind trial independently repeated) was about 4.

I'd really like to know about any similar papers or meta-analyses done on economics-based policy proposals or predictions. Has this sort of analysis been done? Why or why not? On what sorts of proposals? Excluding what sorts of proposals?

What are your opinions on housing in the US and the foreclosure tsunami headed for our shores ?

What do you think is the optimal U.S. policy with relation to Israel?

Is it true that Canadian financial institutions have been relatively unscathed by the recent worldwide economic turmoil and that they were relatively unscathed during the Great Depression? If yes, why?

Travel suggestions for Indonesia.

To what extent has the reduction in labor force participation been responsible for the recession's drop in output, and what is your estimate of the value of the lost production for those who have exited the workforce? Given some of the discussion of ZMP workers, this might not be straightforward.

Anything on the history of economic thought and moral philosophy as it relates to economics. Anything on the economics of the soviet union (1917-1990ish). I loved the book "Red Plenty" by the way, thank you for that suggestion. Please continue your "what I am reading" posts. Thank you.

The economic and social consequences of bright, well educated young women pursuing a high intensity career path suspecting they'll leave it [medicine, law, dentistry, business, etc.] once they find a suitable husband and have children. How does this trend distort those industries and lead to shortages of home grown talent? How many spots in colleges that would have been taken by less studious but more committed male students gone to female students who abandon their careers later?

Much has been made in the media about the large disparity/pay differentials between such "noble callings" as educators and scientists, vs. the salaries of entertainers, athletes, CxOs, etc. I would be interested to find out if this is common practice across countries and cultures, or is America different? If so, has this gap always existed, or is it a more recent phenomenon?

Give us your top ten favorite movies followed by Tyrone's top ten moviesNi

What do you think of film incentives? It's a hot topic here in Michigan.

Btw speaking of TGS, this post isn't showing up in RSS feed on Google Reader...

What are your views on direct democracy? Does the U.S. need more of it?

Do you see a useful role for FOCJ (dunctional overlapping competing jurisdictions)?

I'm going to be working as a junior economist for a developing country government for two years. How should I make the most of the experience / maximise my learning?

Some advice: If your country has a Peace Corps presence, befriend the volunteers. They'll have the scoop on best restaurants and nightlife. Good luck, I hope that experience will be wonderful for you!

Delong recently (3/21) wrote: "As long as aggregate demand remains low, we cannot even tell when pieces are right-side-up."

Isn't GDP and Consumer Spending at highs?

What if the central bank's goal ist to stabilize nominal GDP, but in a certain year nobody wants to buy anything (because they "stocked up" on everything they want and need last year)? What would/should happen?

I recently came across this paper on folk models of computer security; as a software engineer it is fascinating to read the things that my customers believe about my industry. Have there been any similar studies on folk models of financial crises? Are these issues regarded as similarly fascinating by economists?

I'm cheap. What does that mean? Does it indicate a form of irrationality, a high discount factor, heavy risk aversion (high precautionary savings), or some other preference between different sorts of products?

Does the length of the average human lifespan have some effect on the average rate of return on investments? Put another way: if everyone lived 10,000 years, and people could expect 1% return on investments over inflation, you'd just have to wait log enough and everybody would eventually be rich. I have a feeling the length of the average human lifespan is somehow baked into interest rates, but I'm not sure how.

Is it enough to be rich or does one need to be relatively rich? Would being a millionaire be as pleasant if everyone else around you was a millionaire too?

David Levingher and someone else, 1977, if I remember right, does something about life duration and investment, although not quite in that way.

But ... if I start with $1, I consume the interest by the time I'm taken by first bite of breakfast, I'm broke by lunch, and there is nothing left to earn the interest.

Would you accept a fellowship to determine the best Tex-Mex in Texas?

You linked to the wikipedia for bitcoins a while ago ( could you give this a more thorough discussion? Assume for thesake of argument that all the cryptographic chalenges have been delt with and that the system works as designed. How might this system work affect other monetary systems?

I vote for bitcoins too. A detailed discussion would be great. The idea is elegant but is it at all realistic?

A general coverage of these "proof of work" ideas would be nice. Have any succeeded? I've seen a Thunderbird email addon that tries to reduce spam using a similar "proof of work" concept.

I just started Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. He starts a list of things government would not do in a "liberal society." I'd be curious to see a 2011 version of that list.

I'd love to hear more on zoning and development policy. Or the Height Act in DC.

If you had to choose a city to live in for the rest of your life, and couldn't leave the city limits ever, which city would you choose.

What explains the fact that most major recording artists produce albums so rarely? Surely they could be churning out albums at a much faster rate if they so desired.

The business school job market is heating up again. See eg here:

What is driving this demand? Is it sustainable? (Is it real, or a marketing illusion, a la law schools?) Presumably current growth is some combination of cyclical recovery catch up hiring, and long-term fundamental growth in demand. But in what proportion?

If you were advising a new mba program matriculant, what field would you advise she enter that has the best long-term career prospects (holding ceteris paribus other factors like skills, fit, etc)?

The economy is still bad. But corporations are doing well. But financial services (traditionally big demand driver of mba talent) is more mixed. Are we seeing a return to working in traditional industry - and the consulting firms that cater to them?

J.M. Buchanan tells us that the rules of the political game have a huge influence on the pattern of political outcomes. Given the apparent problems in the U.S. political system which indicate an inadequate constitutional structure, would you be in favor to the creation of a constitutional assembly assigned with the task to rewrite the new constitution from scratch (or to modify the given constitution)? If no, why not? If yes, how should the members of the constitutional assembly be determined, and what broad rules should govern its operation?

I'd be interested in seeing this one too.

In what fields are you most ignorant? In what field do you most regret your ignorance? in what field do you least regret your ignorance?

Could the Mountain West (or the Plains states, but I'm in Montana) create a fully functional supply chain to remove the power of coastal states in those regions?

Walter McGrain's question also seems quite interesting.

Cover George Mason University's sexist and racist persecution of a Somalian student named Abdi ->

Is it not his word against her word, because there were no witnesses? Are you asking Cowen to discuss the hierarchy of diversity, i.e. whether it is

Muslim > Black > Hispanic > Gay > Female > White Guy
Muslim > Female > Black > Hispanic > Gay > White Guy

That is probably also what anonygoat was referring to when he asked
"What bloggers do you read regularly that you don’t want people to know you read regularly"

correction to my original post: **Somali student NOT Somalian Student

Well, yes. I am asking Tyler and Alex to look at the "hierarchy of diversity." I also am blown away by how much I keep reading about Universities that seem to be overstepping their bounds in investigating students. Many times both the police and the University receive the same complaint against a student. If the police or DA drop charges against the student it means that they did believe charges to be unfounded or that the DA did not believe it possible to prosecute the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Many times the police drop a case or the DA drops charges but the University proceeds to kick the student out. It seems to me that many Universities - George Mason included - are trying to take on the roll of police unlawfully. If the law determines that it cannot be certain that the student did anything wrong, then why should the University have its own investigation (other than for things such as cheating which the law does not prosecute against). If the investigation of the University reaches a different conclusion than the law and expels/suspends the student, it seems to me that that is an unlawful termination of contract.

I was initially put on edge by reading an article about a false rape accusation in which a prosecutor decided to press charges against the false accuser but the University that expelled the accused refused to take the accused student back despite evidence that later arose proving the accused innocent and the accuser guilty ( Simply ridiculous.

I think this can be linked to the education bubble in many ways. In a more competitive education market, I'd expect to see more students transferring, especially on the basis of University judicial policies that can render useless four years of their life (which is what is happening to Abdi).

The police response seems clearly heavy-handed. Where's the abduction? And the fact that they returned after an hour to arrest him smacks of retaliation. And assuming it's a he-said she-said case what's with the 2-week ban on him entering the library?

Nice. Where's the like button?

How do we encourage the best and brightest college students to work for organizations other than hedge funds/investment banks/consultancies? Is this even something that we should be worried about?

A review of Tim Worstall's book that I know you have a copy of.

Or is that too, too, self serving?


How much do you earn from the Associates program?

The OKCupid blog [] posts articles based on aggregate statistics of their users. What do you think of their methodology? To what extent can statistics and economic models explain love and the human behaviors surrounding it?

Direct to Consumer Advertising thoughts

What is money? How does the Federal Reserve system work, in exhaustive detail?

Seconded! The criticism of the Federal Reserve is heating up, and more commentary would be welcome.


The article below just reeks of systemic failure. Let me get this straight: The Fed prints money, buys Treasury debt, receives the interest on that debt from the Treasury, takes out all its operating costs, and then remits the difference back to the Treasury?

And why is the Federal government "investing?" Isn't that by definition taking on risk? And isn't it also by definition competing with private investment?

And when I say exhaustive detail, I mean both theoretically and practically, or openly and secretly if you prefer.

Is there anything to the conspiracy theorists' wild accusations about the Fed? Do the likes of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers really control it? If so, do they actually abuse their position, or manage it well?

Is a fiat currency inherently inflationary, or can it be a stable and benign medium if the money supply is managed appropriately? What is the appropriate level of incestuousness between the political and monetary spheres?

What is the trans-national and historical perspective, especially as contrasted with hard money backed by precious metals? Would it be practical to go back on a gold standard?

Are there better theoretical models that have not yet been tried? Should we go to a "market basket" commodity-based currency? Or one based on energy, so many dollars per BTU?

What are the signs of an impending currency collapse? How do we avoid the fate of Zimbabwe?

Under what dire circumstances should we think about destroying the monetary system by any means necessary, and the wealth it represents, in favor of a fresh start? (Personally, I say that would come on the day Federal Reserve notes are no longer accepted for payment of taxes.)

Questions, questions, questions. Money is such an important factor in our lives, yet even intelligent and tuned-in citizens have a hard time grasping what the nature of it really is.

Boxers or briefs?

1. What in economics do you believe but you know is not true.

2. What is the political economy of current free trade agreements. What US domestic sectors are typically protected; what foreign sectors are typically protected; how do foreign elites and businesses lobby against domestic industries who might have something to lose.

3. What are or might be the investment strategies of sovereign wealth funds in US or other industries. What steps have other countries, including the US, taken to either make transparent or regulate SWF investments.

4. What would be the economic consequences of medicare not covering the last six months of medical expenses, or, if the person elected at 65, for example, to have the last six months covered by medicare but in return be subject to a stiff inheritance tax (with spousal exclusion) to cover the cost of last six month coverage. Can we begin to use inheritance taxes as an additional source of revenue for medicare...a source of revenue which, by the way is highly correlated with death. Or, to analyze the problem a different way, has medicare increased the size of estates passed on to children because medicare has covered the costs of end of life care that had traditionally been born by the elderly, which then had less to pass on to their children.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the interplay between Keynesianism and democracy, especially in light of evidence in favour of habit formation affecting utility.

What are your normative premises from which you evaluate alternative economic and political institutions?

What are your thoughts on the bell curve?

I'm interested in ordering "The Great Stagnation", but I prefer not to sellout to Amazon. Google, however, controls every other aspect of my life. Is there any chance or a timeline to have "The Great Stagnation" sold through the Google Bookstore?

Just pay your $4.

1. How much revenue did TGS bring in?

2. If TGS is a short ebook what value does "Penguin Publishing" add?

I'd be curious on your thoughts about period instrument performance practice in classical music.
Is it uniformly great? A mixed blessing? What about the trend to push this further and further into the 19th century - period instrument Schubert, Mendelssohn, or Beethoven recordings are now available - though they play much less of a role than period recordings of baroque music.
What about the economics? Is this specialization? Some form of conspicuous classical music consumption? Is there a cost to this type of specialization?
and so on.

I'd like to see more on the US health care system and health care reform.

Things Tyler likes about John Kenneth Galbraith. (Optional emphasis on sound policy prescriptions for the past, and their applicability and wisdom for today, at your discretion.)

Does Habitat for Humanity reduce labor mobility?

Has there been a Great Stagnation in the development of economic theory in the last thirty years?

"1. What in economics do you believe but you know is not true."

As an engineer I know almost none of the models I use are true, and yet I 'believe' they can provide a useful answer. That's why I think things like "guilty/not guilty" should be renamed and I have a big problem with things like 'precedent.'

1. We haven't heard from Tyrone in sometime. Let him out of the crawlspace a little more often please.

2. More food blogging

3. More movie blogging

4. More "Favorite Things X Country" blogging

5. Perhaps some posts on your all time favorite books/movies/music in various genres.

Professionalism vs. Amateurism, the merits and demerits of each. And the relationship of these to science, or "science." How large is the role of "common sense" in your way of thinking about the world? Should we wish that policymakers would have more professionalism, or more common sense?

How would you recommend someone break into the economics literature on land reform? I'm a politics student really into the Japanese case, and I wonder how you make sense of it, and if there are any noteworthy theoretical models worth considering.

Your analysis of the NFL and/or NBA potential lockouts

1. Kindle for Kids: my 8 year old reads a lot and I thought about getting her a Kindle, mainly because we're running out of space for her books (she uses the library a lot, but still acquires many books). Unfortunately, it turns out that, for her reading level, a quick check indicates that most books are not available for Kindle. Any interesting thoughts on why this may be so?

2. What do you think of Neal Stephenson's books? (I seem to remember a comment from you about Cryptonomicon, but what about Diamond Age or Anathem if you've read them?)

You might want to see if there are some good kids books at the various free archives online as well. The kindle will read any pdf.

Forget Amazon. Go to e-gutenberg archives. Tons of kid friendly classics on there.

Do you think free banking could work, and what does the historical evidence tell us?

It seems to me that certain libertarian principles are challenged by "attention" being a scarce resource. That is to say, there is an information overload that makes it increasingly difficult for people to make good decisions about even basic things, such as pension plans, food safety, etc. Does the ever-increasing amount of information we are exposed to weaken our abilities to make good decisions, and is the argument for a "nanny state" becoming stronger? To what extent is the libertarian's desire for people to make their own decisions about as many things as possible overthrown by the individual's inability to give attention to so many disparate things?

What do you do when your to-read list contains 93 titles?
Do you have a system for triage?
How do you balance going deeper into your specialties against checking out new territory?
Work vs pleasure?

93? You're in luck. Just read that stuff. Mine recently passed 500...I'm the danger zone.

Oil. Why if crude oil futures, priced in USD, and USD real value declines relative to the other currencies, and other places that produce the oil, have appreciating currency, neatly offsetting the decline in value for the USD, and this oil is
consumed in other countries with that foreign currency, why is the price going up for gasoline based on the excuse that the barrel price of oil has increased????

I've wondered myself why so many people make that fallacy, particularly guys like Kudlow on CNBC who you would think would/should know better and manage to popularize their crazy theories as the conventional wisdom. Is there some theory of dollar-denominated-price-stickiness going on -- or is it just sloppy thinking?

"why is the price going up for gasoline based on the excuse that the barrel price of oil has increased?"

I'm pretty sure the answer is that the price of gasoline denominated in other currencies is not going up because of a decline in the dollar -- that that is a myth -- it is going up for other reasons such as increased worldwide demand and increased supply-side risk premium.

1. The case for muclear power (with latest lessons learned) versus fossil fuel burning for base load power generation.
2. The crazy economics of agricultural subsidies in the USA.
3. Extending 2 - The often understated environmental costs of producing ethanol

Thanks for the opportunity, Kelvin.

Zoning regulations for Southern CA beach cities.

The relationship to zoning and minority residents is particularly interesting to me.

I would like to see a piece on incentives in economic academia.

Posts on the NBA are always good!

A while ago you linked to a series of books discussing "Political Capitalism"
with no comment or context. So, your thoughts on the validity of the concept of Political Capitalism, is it different from "Corporatism"? Given that the concept is most prominent in Kolko's "Triumph of Conservatism"...thoughts on Kolko's belief that the Progressive era was a great example of the concept and his economic analysis in general.

What is your preferred policy for dealing with global warming, if any? Is there any politically plausible way to implement that policy?

What happened
What next

1. How should I explore the German New Cinema (Herzog, Fassbinder, Wenders, etc.) ?

2. If I liked Benedict Anderson's *Imagined Communities*, what should I read next?

3. Who is the Douglas Hofstadter of Economics?

4. What is the first non-personal question you would ask if you were to wake up from a 10-year-long coma?

How about a post on how the US banking system should be moving to a check free system like they have in Europe ?

your favorite things Hungarian

The UN can wage war:


How do you see budget aid in development? What incentives does it create and what could be expected ass the long term outcome?

In the UK we seem to have a lot of fake £1 coins. If my own experience is anything to go by, in London where I live the fakes make up about 10% of the coins that pass through my hands. It is estimated at more like 3% in the UK at large iirr. Since it is officially a crime to *knowingly* pass off fake coinage as the real thing, I try not to check on the coins in my pocket too often. Rumour has it that this is the same attitude banks and post offices are adopting, ie. just look the other way and keep using the coins.

What does this say about money? It does my head in!

I don't see how a bank can get away with that. I would think just one instance would create an instant scandal.

the curious relationship between fernando pessoa's "the anarchist banker" and murray rothbard's ideas 40 years later.

Is the 100 question more likely to be answered, or not?

your thoughts on the pending water crisis, and on the argument over whether or not water should be a traded commodity.

Please recommend some good biographies on Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin.

Why Americans don't trust strangers who want to trust them?

Can Alex tell us what he thinks of Paul Krugman?

What roissy is right about (in my opinion pretty much everything)?

How does the Exxon at Virginia Ave sustain gas prices that are $1 higher than anywhere else in DC (even Adams Morgan). Realize it's only gas within 3mi and people probably don't buy a full tank, but can there really be that many people about to run out of gas to buy 1 gal of gas at a time to sustain this differential?

Certain mammoth companies/industries seem heavily reliant on advertising revenue (I'm think primarily of sports leagues, television networks, and Google). How do we see this playing out over the next 25-50 years?

Religion in general/your own existential beliefs
Roissy thoughts on human sexuality/coupling/friendship
Long term predictions culturally/technologically

More Tyrone on the same topics.

Why do intelligent, educated believe people in the supernatural, eg religion.

Drug legalization.

What if Coca-Cola suspended their advertising budget for one year? Net gain or loss?

China and India comparisons. Predictions for the next 10-20 years.

What advice, besides "don't", would you give to someone writing a economics-themed musical? For example "I, Pencil: the Musical".

Of the wide range of social behavior and institutions which are currently considered "acceptable" by our (by "our" I mean the West) civilization, which do you think will become unacceptable over the next 1000 years (or choose whichever time period you'd like)?

As an example, I'm sure if you had told an ordinary Spaniard in 1600 that slavery would be almost universally frowned upon in 2011, he would say "Why would that be?" and be genuinely surprised.

I second this request...

I also second that, but could be even more specific.

For a politican:

Do you think a opposition towards universal healthcare will be an acceptable position in 50 years?

Do you think the notion that” if there were really poor people, other people wouldn’t be obligated to help them,” will be seen as a reduction in absurdum (when imposed on someone’s political opinion) in 100 years (as it already is in most of Europe)?

recommend a book about Romanian political history?

I believe I knew the housing bubble was going to end badly but I didn't know how to profit from it. "The Big Short" deals with people who knew how to make money from the then coming train wreck. Now I believe the U.S. economy is going to crash and burn. What's the best way to profit from what lies ahead? Sub-question: I consider myself to be a loyal American citizen. Is betting against the American economy kind of like taking out a life insurance policy on your Grandmother (who you love) and then hope she dies?

How about some book reviews that are longer than one sentence.

What are your meta-ethical views? I've heard you mention the importance of subjective value as well as "virtue," so I imagine you are inclined toward a more "morality is subjective" view. What is your opinion of Bryan Caplan's moral realism and intuitionism? Do you think it faces insurmountable metaphysical obstacles?

A while ago you made the comment that corporate investment was not closely tied with the real rate of interest -- or something close. That struck me as saying that most corporate investment does not occur at the economic margin. Alternatively it could simply be due to our inability to gather the right data. Perhaps you can expand on the comment.

The how of Scientology's classification as a religion.

What was you take on Buchanan's "The Limit of Market Efficiency"?

What the hell is with you and Yglesias/Klein?

I'm here for the metaphors. Every time I pay for something, I think, "Is this price 'sticky'?" I'd love a post on the metaphors of econ, and their utility vs. their danger.

You recommended the BHL blog. In a paper shared by Jason Brennan a distinction between markets and politics was the lack of any invisible hand structure within political institutions. Do you agree? If not, where do you suggest it is? Are there institutional changes you would suggest that would bring the invisible hand to politics?

Hanson's futarchy would bring the invisible hand to politics.

Why did we not cut the hours worked per week when productivity increased after WWII like we always did before? What would have happen to the median wage, GDP, and standard of living if we had? Would we still have "zero productivity" workers?

I wouldn't mind seeing your thoughts on Real Business Cycle theory/Minnesota style macroeconomics. I know you have had one or two posts on the subject around the time of Kydland/Prescott's nobel prize, but that didn't seem to directly address your opinion of it.

You're just trying to see if the new blog can handle all these comments, aren't you?

Purchase a bar of this chocolate and review it.

I would love to read a post on college athletic conferences. In the past 5 years they have been in flux. Some sports commentators envision a time in the future when there might just be 5 mega conferences.

What motivating factors are driving colleges to switch conferences and what factors are leading conferences like the Big10, Pac10, BigEast, etc.... to expand so quickly in the past 5 years.

What features would you find most important in setting up a classroom economy for Second Grade students?

Long time fan, second time poster.

More book blogging

Provide examples of social phenomena that can be explained satisfactorily using economic reasoning but are puzzling for those without the ability.

And yes, Samuelson mentioned comparative advantage - but that was eons ago.

1. Anything on Australia (in particular that justifies or otherwise the cost of housing).
2. Anything that discusses a) Technological Singularity b) Malthusian Economics - are we running out of resources? eg Peak Oil.
3. Anything that give tips on how to reduce the cost of travel - airfares, accomodation etc.
4. Anything on the latest in Mobile Phone Technology.

I would love to see all blogging professionals start making regular prediction posts on the subjects that pertain to their field of study/interests. Something short-term and very specific, so in the reasonable future readers can check and see how good experts' expertise really is.

How accurate is this?

The trigger will not be entitlement spending. Rather, the driver of the fiscal crisis will be an uncontrolled $800 billion explosion in annual interest payments on the federal debt to potentially $1 trillion per year over the next five years. Such a super-charged ramp up in spending will more than offset even the most ambitious ideas now being discussed to reduce the Federal budget deficit over the next 10 years.

Hey Tyler,

I am particularly interested in the economics of a post scarcity civilization. If energy and motive power were to cost next to nothing and food were abundant, what would become valuable? how would our markets change? would people work? would they have to? suppose we consider other technologies as they advance along side energy, do you see any other paradigm altering changes that might occur? for example in robotics, nanotechnology and life extention. Thanks for your thought

Matthew J Price

What incentive structures other than the limited liability corporation have economists studied? Why is there so little discussion of limited liability in popular discourse?

Immigration and the tariffication of quotas. Can we follow a gatt type process?

Bowling! I would like to know your thoughts on the sport of bowling and its fall in the last 30 years, very linked to the fall of the heavy industry.

If the Hollywood Stock Exchange had been allowed to raise capital for movie projects, do you think this would have led to greater risk taking in the movie business?

I'm not sure if this has been brought up before but, do beautiful people pass off negative externalities to ugly people by making them feel self conscious etc? If so should beautiful people have to pay for these "damages" to people's self image?

Also, What are your thoughts on Rawls and his theory and can genetic enhancement undermine his theory of justice?

In the spirit of March madness...could you discuss endgames for basketball? Over some beers a friend tried to argue that there are some basketball coaches are ignorant because they don't go "2-for-1." Hypothetically, your team is tied with about a minute left. Your team should shoot the ball with no less than 45 seconds left on the clock, so that if you miss and fail to get the offensive rebound, you are almost guaranteed to get the ball back. Here is his reasoning: "2-for-1 is a basic fundamental premise – I get 2 shots, you get 1. If we are tied before that begins, I am going to win more often than you. Period. Even if the first shot is less-than-great, you have to take a decent look early. Hell, a half-court shot is better if you get to have that in addition to a legit possession. It is all about statistics and probability."

I argued that it is more complex than that. A teams relative advantage makes a difference. If your relative strength is defense, then one high percentage shot traded for two low percentage shot may be more desirable. It also seems that a ball held until 8 seconds left usually results in a low percentage shot.

I doubt there are any empirical studies on endgames in basketball, but was wondering if any economic principles (e.g. game theory, etc.) could help solve this argument.

Definitely a major issue that arises during nearly every game.

NBA teams tend to go for a "2 for 1" much more often than college. And I'm told that international teams due it even more often, sometimes arranging it by fouling opposing teams worst free throw shooter.

Suppose the 10% of the country that could afford not to work offered to do any job that paid under $50,000/yr for 10$ per day for the next 5 yrs.. What jobs would be filled first? Would this be a benefit to the rest of the country economically? To whom? Who would lose their jobs? How is this similar to the Chinese/emerging market labor situation? Would the results change if the pay was $100 per day? Would the employment loss effects be better or worse?

What do economists often have in common, outside their profession?

The economics profession has ceded just about every point William White made in the early and mid 200s against mainstream macro and Federal Reserve policy -- in other words, what the top macroeconomists now say was true, White was telling them was true BEFORE IT WAS PROVEN TRUE by event.

So why isn't William White a scientific hero -- and why don't all macroeconomists sing his praises?

You're in a rut, Tyler. Try to expand your horizons and deal with a topic outside your usual narrow range.

What do you do at a book signing when it is released in electronic format only?

Why haven't you been on The Daily Show?
Is intervention in Libya a good idea?

And I've noticed that you somewhat interested in mormons, so:
Huntsman vs Romney?
BYU and Brandon Davies?

1. Your blog has a very clear "tone" (analytical, even-tempered, sometimes slightly smug). I'd like to see more experiments in tone. Tyrone is a different tone, but he is just the tip of the tone iceberg. I'd like to see 4 paragraph long experimental short stories whose analytical thrust is imprecise but powerful, whose connection to current events isn't spelled out and may not even be known, whose emotional pallete is much wider and more random than we currently see.

2. More posts about African American issues.

3. What is your opinion of Islam, beyond referencing Timur Kuran?

4. More about your views on spirituality. Is spirituality an animating force in your life?

5. What is your favorite way to use cardamom in cooking?

Should all roads, highways, bridges, dams, levies, etc be turned over to private corporations who would maintain and operate them in exchange for fees paid by the government or collected from users in the form of tolls, user fees, property assessments, etc instead of taxes.

Would such a move result in improved infrastructure at reduced costs, solving the massive deficit in infrastructure maintenance which has led to bridges collapsing, like the I-35W Mississippi bridge that failed under Gov Pawlenty, and required a Federal government bailout to the tune of $250 million authorized by Congress in 2007?

I often use your blog for book suggestions and have read a few on your reading list (not all of your interests match mine). I was wondering if you ever read "what's the matter with Kansas." It was touted a lot in the liberal media quite a bit (Al Franken, before he was elected). If you already read it and blogged it can you you point me to the post? If you haven't, have you read it?

What are your thoughts on the future of operations research / management science (possibly in relation to the field of economics)? In the past you've talked briefly about related topics like algorithmic game theory, but I don't recall seeing a post regarding OR/MS. Personally, I think of OR/MS as a sort of microeconomic engineering but with a bad name, but I'm always interested to hear what others think.

I'd be very interested in your take on the Chinese economy, and the sustainability of the current development path. Living in Beijing since 3 years my gut feeling is, that this can't go on for too long. Signs of bubbles (real estate in particular) are very obvious.

But maybe that’s only my bias, as I don't like the political system to much. I also heard the argument that bubbles just are different beasts here than in western societies, as the government controls the whole financial industry and the currency is not convertible.

Another question would be how sustainable the current censorship regime is from an economic perspective. Will it hurt the development of the Chinese economy in the medium and long term? Now already it works as a de facto protection of Chinese internet companies from the competition from overseas, relieving them from some pressure to innovate.
And how compatible is the future economy with its heavy reliance on (fast) networks and (free flow of) information with censorship in general?

As you might have guess, I am not an economist.

A bleg for other blogs the readers recommend (all topics--not just economics).

Yeah, a list of non-economics blogs would be nice!

Why are most blogs about either economics, politics or public policy!?? e.g. Are there any interesting blogs on science, engineering, language, etc?

Ive never seen 172 comments on MR before. Is this a record?

Yeah, I was thinking about requesting more requests for requests, as this seems such a popular post.

Why is Finland, with its tax distortions and subsidies, as rich as it is?

Where do you see economic theory going in the next few decades?

A piece on the pros and cons and your view on the UK austerity measures and if they will succeed, maybe with some of the debate between economists on the importance of fiscal retrenchment.

This relates to your work on declining productivity and the other "end of work" question above: What are you thoughts on "basic income" and its prospects for being adopted in the US? Should there be a paradigm shift away from the "work ethic" towards something else? Given high enough GDPs, at relatively low tax rates a country should be able to provide the resources for all basic needs to its citizens in the form of cash grants. Provided we were to eliminate other welfare programs at the same time, wouldn't this be an economically efficient compromise to keep capitalism flourishing in the future?

What do you think about the trend in economics journals toward accessible eclectic empirical "freakonomics" topics, away from theoretical econometric models? For example, there are articles about speed dating in top journals.

How about taking a look at the ways employers use college degrees to sort through potential employees? What effect does the requirement for college credentials have on the economy? Does the increasing "professionalization" of all types of work- in other words, the proliferation of college degrees offered for jobs that previously didn't require college degrees- increase or decrease the ability of a national economy to respond to change and risk? Maybe you could also examine if large employers are better served by using college credentials as criteria for employment, or if, in the longterm, employers might save money and build a more dependable workforce by offering on-the-job training instead.
And which types of employers would benefit most from either system?

The US currently has publicly held debt equal to about 65% of GDP. Has any country with that much debt ever paid it off, or even stabilized it at that level? If so, who and when? If not, what were the outcomes?

I'd like to see your thoughts on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. How much competition is too little in this sector? Should regulators allow the merger? If so, what sorts of concessions should they ask for from AT&T to promote a more efficient market?

Can you update the reading lists on your personal homepage?

If everybody posted "What I'm Reading" lists, would they read more?

Does Tyler have a bucket list? "Ten things to do before I die?"

Could we talk about the economics on people with disabilities? I think this topic hasn't been talked about in any economics blog.

I would like to request some commentary on the organic/GM food debate (how to feed the world, real pros and cons vs name calling "frankenfoods"). We read a lot about the nutritional and environmental aspects of the issue, I am wondering what is the economics point of view.
Thanks! I am a regular reader and how accessible your blog is to everyone and also balanced, not something I can say for a lot of other blogs, economics or otherwise :)

You can borrow from your 401(k) but if your employment ends you have to repay it immediately or take a penalty. How dumb is that?

For the individual, what are the purely economic arguments for having children earlier in life vs later in life?

All the recent debate about the pros and cons of nuclear energy has made me aware of technologies I knew nothing about, namely Gen IV breeder technology or Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs). If these things work as advertised, they will burn the world's stockpile of spent GEN II and III nuclear waste fuel, as well as any decommissioned weapons grade waste nuclear material. Although many years away from prime time, they generate heated [no pun intended] debate on many levels of technical and economic merits. Liberal No-nukes and Greens are against them, as are conservative Big Oil and Gas, albeit for very different reasons. All sides understandably try to use economics in their favor. One of the economic/environmental "pro" arguments is that they will essentially eliminate the need for world-wide fossil-fueled electricity generation when deployed en masse, leading to vastly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, thus theoretically reducing the costs associated with them.

If I understand this correctly at a very simplified level, this should mean that the demand for fossil fuel (oil, gas and coal) will decline at an ever increasing rate as IFRs are deployed, until its price is eventually driven lower than the cost of the nuclear technology that's causing its decline. It will also drive the price of gasoline and home heating oil and gas down, which will make it more affordable to keep driving the old family SUV another 5 years. Ironically, this will create a financial incentive for utilities and individuals to extend greenhouse gas emissions for many more years or decades than originally planned. At some point, the price will be driven so low, it will not be worth the increasing cost of mining/drilling/producing it, so it will stop.

With zero training in economics, I've probably over-simplifying this; but as a citizen who is interested in future energy policies, unfortunately that's how we tend to see things. My questions are:

1. As an economist, how do you create models that take all this into account... or do they?

2. How is the average uninformed, non-economist voter who would like to become informed, able to recognize which parts of every model are, ahem, "optimized" to suit the case of the modeler?

I'd like to see a discussion about the economics of the home heating oil assistance program. It seems to me to be a self defeating policy because:

* the short term supply of oil is relatively inelastic.
* The very people who actually have an elasic demand curve are those people who will now have their heating bills paid.

Ergo, all the money that the goverment puts into the market just pushes up prices, making heating oil LESS affordable for those who don't qualify for aid.


Thoughts on e-readers? Preference for Kindle, Nook, or some other device? Since I read a lot of academic journal articles, I'd like something that works well with pdf files, but I've read none of the readers currently on the market are great for that. How do you use your e-reader? Are you happy with it?

I'd love to see your advice for people who do their training/research among economists but will not be "of" them. I'm thinking people getting PhD's in public policy, education, gov't etc. What do you think is most important for such people to succeed, given that they face different challenges than econ grad students? They may never write for the QJE or develop formal theoretical models, but they will be expected to be empirically rigorous and to engage with economists on policy issues.

I'm an obsessive reader of the New York Times (130 articles in the last month, according to the new counter tracking my visits). I would almost certainly pay for access. Surely if the NYT wants to make any money from their paywall, inelastic customers like me are exactly the ones they should be exploiting. But I just went to the home page and was offered free access for the rest of the year. Why is the NYT making their paywall so porous -- both to high-demand customers like me, and to casual visitors like visitors from blog sites? My guess is that they know this won't work unless a lot of major news organizations do it. Whether they take my money in the short-term is irrelevant; in the long-term, they need at least tacit collusion among the major providers with everyone setting prices at around $15/month.

Why is internet gaming so persecuted in the US and what consequences have ensued?

Somewhat a rhetorical question, but the drum beat of libertarian freedom needs to be heard.


What do you think biographies are going to look like in 100-200 years? Nobody writes letters, and (I suppose) few keep regular diaries. Are our grandkids going to be reading biographies with Microsoft Outlook or Gmail source material?

1. Book recommendations for an Economics major
2. What is the endgame for US Treasuries?
3. Would you rather have the best cornerback or linebacker in the league on your team?
4. Do you prefer the 3-4 defense or the 4-3 defense?
Thank you for your time.

I'd like you to comment on whether economics would be stronger if it explicitly based itself on physics, specifically the physics of energy, as chemistry and biology do:

would like to see:
1) discussion of inheritance taxes - for example, would it be optimal to have 100% tax at death and implications
2) discussion of how school districts are financed with taxes in different countries and the implications of one type of revenue system over another
3) stagnation/growth perhaps as pertains to trade off of going in debt (sacrifice) to acquire particular technology (email me if this is not clear)

What do you think about the growing economic inequality between humans and other great apes?

Tyrone is also free to answer this question.

What do you think of Dierdre McCloskey's work? As a non-economist, I'm always curious why she doesn't get more coverage by mainstream economists. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I just noticed that a lot of old posts with an "under the fold" section no longer contain the under the fold material. It particularly affects Tyrone's old rants

Jesus doesn't get such diverse requests on a daily basis.

If you haven't addressed it before, I would like to know your thoughts on the economics of credit cards, specificially, whether rewards programs (where card holders receive 1-5 percent back on purchases and, I'm sure, never carry a balance from month to month) hurt the poor in the form of higher interest rates on unpaid balances.. Do you see any connection between the size of the rewards and the interest rate on unpaid balances?. As a progressive, I don't want to feel guilty for seaching around for the best rewards card..

NY Times just ran an article about the depopulation of Detroit. Thoughts?

Any tips, other than reading this blog, on how to find a good book recommendation? I want something like a netflix for books, but feel that system wouldn't work given the significantly greater time and attention requirement for reading versus let's say, watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

There seems to be general acknowledgement that the internet has reduced the utility of being a kind of Cliff Claven trivia maven, since we can get those sorts of questions answered in ten seconds with Google. But go to the other extreme, and think of an educated person in antiquity, who would know a much smaller base of literature/poetry/philosophy in much greater depth; in effect, he would make this corpus a part of himself, deeply integrated into his mental infrastructure.

With that in mind, what books or other materials have you, or would you in retrospect, deem worthy of this kind of 'deep integration'? If that question makes you squirm, a slightly different phrasing: if you could magically integrate some book into yourself in the way Milton integrated the bible into himself, which would you pick?

Regulation of property & casualty insurance.

Policy prescriptions for Mexico.

Also, do you think it will ever be politically viable for Mexico to allow foreign investment in their deepwater oil prospects? (IMO that would help Mexico's economy tremendously, but maybe you have other ideas.)

Also, even though it isn't politically viable, what do you think the result would be if Mexico unilaterally legalized all drugs?

Late to this request... I am interested in a more concrete micro-oriented question than is usually dealt with.

Mostly I'm interested in the implications of recent pricing changes in the video game industry, specifically Valve's Steam store. The video gaming industry had traditionally marketed it's product at around 50$, then held this price steady indefinitely, until many years later stores would run the occasional 50% off clearance sale.

Steam is a digital distribution, and through pricing experiments, Valve showed that reducing prices 75% would increase by 40x normal... (revenue, so 160x units). Furthermore, rather than declining sales at the base cost, the games would then have higher residual sales than before the sale.

Many in the industry were originally skeptical, but backed by the numbers, the various producers signed on. The discount sale is now so entrenched, it's expected that sales of 50%-90% will appear within a year for even the most high profile titles.

My question is does this imply a market failure prior to Valve's steam store? It seems prices were simply stuck at too high of a level through inertia. (Nobody was willing to budge on prices for fear of signaling penalties.) Similar things seem to be happening at Amazon with lower priced books. Digital stores have made experimentation easier, but shouldn't pre-digital store marketplaces have figured out the superior equilibrium?

I know strong EMH is out of favor, but this seems to run contrary to even weaker versions of the idea that markets will set prices very well. I mean, it's not some crazy question of whether omniscient agents calculating 3rd order effects of current fiscal policies on future tax and interest rates... It's a many-firm competitive marketplace that was essentially throwing cash away by failing to set prices efficiently for decades.

Just seems like this sort of thing jives with libertarian approaches... and supports unpopular (with economists) economic policies that try to selectively fix prices or wages under the assumption some things are too important to chance with the market coming up correctly?

what do you think is more or less the equivalent of the great gatsby in every decade after the 20s?

I'd be interested to see how the J Hliburn story fits in to the TGS story:

One of the few times Jesus Christ got angry, and perhaps the only occasion that is widely portrayed in Western art, is when he chases the money lenders out of the temple. Why hasn't this been touted everywhere by Christians as an argument against the world of finance?

I have not seen any of the famous renditions of this scene used in any criticism of the banking industry, have I just missed them all??

Could u explain how this WSJ editorial paragraph makes sense, (re the feud on debit card fees:)
Merchants argue that if they don't have to pay as much per transaction, they will pass along the savings in lower prices. While that is doubtful, the loss of that revenue will force debit card issuers to raise fees elsewhere to compensate.

Why would costs be passed on, but not savings?

What do you think of ICANN's approval of .xxx domains last week? And what kind of effects will it have on the Internet industry & community?

I’ll pass on my lunch conversation today. With a reasonably long elevator ride to my offices I often find myself alone in an elevator with another individual.

Within a very limited amount of time what is the most effective way to size up another person as:


What would President Cowen do with the Libya situation? Wait, better question, what would President Cowen do in general? Wait, even better, what would Tyler Cowen have to give up to be President Cowen?

Has anybody ever done a correlative study of divorce rates against the total dollar cost of a wedding? As the cost goes up, does the divorce rate increase, or decrease? Is there a meaningful correlation? Is that correlation skewed by the fact that persons getting married for a second time generally spend less on their nuptials? If you back out second and third weddings, is the correlation more or less meaningful? Thanks!

Would be interested on your take on the fiscal impact of city-specific taxes on income for residents and workers in specific cities, and whether or not they have a negative impact on whether people choose to live or work in that city

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