Assorted Links

1. In defense of flogging by Peter Moskos. I was pretty sure I wrote something like this a few years ago but after a search all I could find was this post on sex and spanking.

2. Google lobbies Nevada to allow Self-Driving Cars. The future isn’t here until suddenly it is. FYI, texting while in the “driver’s” seat would be made legal in such cars.

3. Used car prices are rising so much that many models are selling for more today than a year ago.

4. Conor Friedersdorf’s Nearly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism.


Alex, as an addendum to your post on Ashcroft a week ago, you may be interested in this story
with provides support to the idea of a financial-political complex but with an interesting twist.

The article (and the linked WSJ article) mention production cutbacks and the Japanese earthquake as hitting supply and driving up the prices of used cars. I wonder how large the effect of the government paying to destroy older cars (Cash for Clunkers) was? It took about 700,000 cars off the market (assuming that it worked as designed; if the government merely paid extra for cars that would have been off the market anyway, then the program wasted money but didn't affect used car supplies.)

Cash for Clunkers was pre-announced. The players had more time to adjust and compensate?

Cash for Clunkers played a very small part. The biggest issues are a lack of sales and leasing in 2008 and reduced fleets today.

That is interesting because the CPI for used vehicles was falling consistently through the summer of 2009 and then began rising from August 2009 to August 2010. What happens to the price of something when you destroy some of the supply?

The CPI calculation for used cars is garbage.

2007 was one of the worst years for new car sales. With fewer people buying new cars there are less used ones to go around.

@2. I would find it much more convincing that the autonomous car future is at hand if an automaker sold (or was even promising tp deliver soon) a car equipped with an advanced cruise-control system that could handle steering as well as speed control on highways (but where the driver remained responsible and grabbing the wheel canceled the system the same way tapping the brake does for existing cruise-control). As far as I know, no change in laws would be required for such a system (any more than a change has been required for self-parking systems).

2) Policy makers and regulators have warned that the technology is now advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law, some of which dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages.

Actually, horse-drawn vehicles are a pretty good precedent for how the law should treat autonomous vehicles on the roadway.

Two of my siblings are in the Chattanooga area. A bad storm hit this morning and an even larger one is about to hit soon. Several tornadoes also were in the area of my alma mater in the Tyler/Longview area Monday and Tuesday.

#2 I think it would be prudent (at least in the initial months) to mandate that any autonomous cars should be preceded by a flag car with red warning signs on it. Maybe a speed limit too.

Real used car prices started rising long before cash for clunkers was announced.

Historically real used car prices are a very reliable leading indicator of new car sales.

This tend to support the thesis that rising used car prices largely reflects a lack of trade-ins on new cars-- the major source of supply.

Don't waste time trying to create theories about why used-car prices are higher. Here is everything you need to know, if you really want to know what's going on:

I'm in the car market everyday. The Japanese manufacturers are talking about huge cutbacks this summer along with supply problems right now. Around here, new cars are selling at MSRP or MSRP+. Fleet customers can't sell cars because they can't get inventory to replace them. That is driving the used car market up to induce fleet customers to sell cars.

Masochist: Flog me!
Sadist: No.

#4. Conor Friedersdorf’s Nearly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism.

Fantastic list!

#2 refutation of TGS?

I was thinking that computer-driven cars would do more than any other technology in the preceding or following decade to reduce oil consumption.

But if driving becomes that easy, we might do it more.

Alex, a few weeks ago you posted on China's waste in high-speed trains. I told you to watch what was going on in California. Read this report on a scholar's work (not a journalist):

1. When an American teenager was going to be caned in Singapore, a news team spoke to a man who had been caned. He said that he would never commit a crime again. What better punishment and rehabilitation could there be? Robert Heinlein said (in Starship Troopers) that prohibitions against "cruel and unusual" punishment are gibberish. Punishment MUST be cruel, or it will not work. And it MUST be unusual, or it will have no deterrent value. I think Heinlein misinterprets "unusual", but I understand his main point. In the book, Rico - the main character - is flogged.

3. The Manheim Used Car Index was rising during the recession and before C4C. I believe used car prices were rising during the recession for several reasons. 1) Demand for used cars was up because people couldn't or didn't want to buy new cars - used cars are an inferior good, 2) Demand was lower for new cars, so the supply of trade-ins was lower, 3) People were postponing new car purchases and driving used cars longer, so demand for repair parts (from used cars) was up. 4) Tighter credit conditions on new cars.

So it's all just supply and demand.

None of these are a leading indicator of higher new car sales unless you view the lengthening of the average turnover rate to mean that there is pent-up demand. Just because the average is lengthening doesn't mean a new car boom is impending. It's like the old joke of the economist seeing a horse walking behind a picket fence and saying, "The head causes the tail!"

I suppose as the baby boom generation gets older, the price of marble and granite for their tombstones will skyrocket, unless medical care keeps them around a bit longer. Then the boom will just be pushed back a little.

The substitution effect is much lower than people believe. People don't switch from buying new to used because most new car purchases are driven by want rather than need. New-car buyers bought nothing in the past few years. Used-car sales dropped along with new-car sales due to higher credit and lower demand. The main issue was supply, which dropped more than demand.

3. Used car prices are rising so much that many models are selling for more today than a year ago.

Thinking about the destruction of all those used cars in the cash for clunkers program. The politicians are smart but use that smarts to gain and keep office, the voters are smart but rationally ignorant. Everyone is smart but the outcome is very stupid.

A bad storm hit this morning and an even larger one is about to hit soon. Just because the average is lengthening doesn’t mean a new car boom is impending.

This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.jhgk

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