Assorted links


In the same vein, my alternative model dirtected me to buy $3 on a Mega Millions ticket. I'm alreday spending the $34,000,000.

David Brooks is an expert at aggrandizing the trivial. I think he writes these columns when he drunk or on drugs because the topics are so weird or off-beat. There's a certain method or genius to his madness that makes you want to read more.

He's a pretty smart guy who writes pretty well, and summarizes interesting work in what used to be called "the moral sciences". I like him. I learn from him.

I don't care for all of the NYT columnists...

Wow ... that was a great editorial, and David Brooks obviously grasps what children are all about ... thanks for posting that link!

By the way, I've been to Elephant Jumps two times in the last two weeks, and you're entirely correct ... it's a GREAT restaurant. Also BTW, I've eaten regularly at Bangkok Golden since you wrote it up, and it's incredible. Lakshmi, the Indian-Ceylonese place near my house in Alexandria, has gone steadily downhill and no longer fills the bill. Just my opinion!

Thanks for your contributions, Tyler ... we live in a wonderful time in a wonderful city!


Anyone interested in charts and figures on American energy topics should check out the Energy Information Administration. The folks there do great work, and it's all easily available in a variety of formats, including a lot of well illustrated graphs and great historical data sets. I've put the link in my sig, above, and also below.

They also have a "Today in Energy" blog that is pretty good.

#4 - "Our firm has worked to tease out historical biases using proprietary data that was compiled in conjunction with Pepperdine University. Re-running the unemployment numbers using the same criteria as the Federal Reserve, our analysts project that hiring will accelerate at a rate sufficient to lower the U.S. unemployment rate to 5.0% by July 2015 in our most conservative scenario"

So, their unique analysis using non-public data leads them to believe that the unemployment rate will drop substantially in the next 14 months? In direct opposition to what almost everyone else believes.

I suspect this has more to do with a headline grabbing comment than with any expected degree of accuracy.

Actually, 'everyone else' (most economists) do believe the labor market continues to improve and unemployment stats will continue to fall well into 2015.

What are you talking about?

Sorry, I was wrong in my choice of words. There comments aren't in direct opposition to other sources. But the degree of magnitude is quite a bit larger.

And I don't think their claim is completely implausible, but I do think it's probably somewhat exaggerated and unlikely.

Should have been "Their comments"

They're, their, its allright.

Thanks but I'm not sure you're correct about the accuracy gripe either. The rate is already down to 6.3%, 5% is pretty plausible in a year. Not guaranteed of course but my guess is we'll see 5% by fall of 2015 for sure. Some of that is reduced workforce participation, so it's not all good news. Then again, a big part of the reduced workforce story is aging Baby Boomers retiring. It's not Obama.

Did any predict the economy shrinking in the first quarter?

The hurricane study has a potential major flaw. Researchers used hurricane data from 1950 to 2012. In the article, it states that all hurricanes prior to 1979 were given female names. If the average hurricane before 1979 killed more people than the average hurricane after 1979, then the difference in death rates based on the gender of the hurricane name is no longer meaningful.

Yeah here's an article with some criticism of the hurricane paper.

If a paper proves Americans are sexist, then it will be published and cited by academics, regardless of whether it would earn a passing grade in Stats 101. Every time you read an academic journal, you must remember that it is edited and peer reviewed by politicized hacks. So discount every academic publication that Tyler cites--and, for that matter, every publication that he writes--appropriately.

Re: #4... I don't get it. The track of this "recovery" is completely unsurprising to me. Where many post-recession recoveries have been marked by deregulation and tax reduction (I'm thinking 1960's, 1980's and 1990's), this one has been accompanied by new regulation and new taxes (we're still calling Obamacare a tax, right Justice Roberts?). Deregulation and lower taxes favor small business; regulation and taxation favors large business and the well-connected.

Like I said, this is unsurprising. What I don't get is why anyone would expect small businesses to recover meaningfully at all in the current climate.

#1: Where is the Russia/German border?

Are you asking about the past, the present, or the future?

That series refers to Russian gas priced at the German border, as delivered via the Nord Stream pipeline, which is an underwater pipeline that runs from near St. Petersburg to the German coast through the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic.

@#5 - the Chinese, largely Han in the east, should have taken a page out of Stalin's playbook and brought in troops from the other side of the country (such as Muslims from the west), the same way Stalin used Asiatic troops from the east to suppress problems in the west.

BTW my 20 yo PH gf thinks I am corresponding with a secret lover since every time she barges into my office I have to change the screen, since she would see the moniker I am using here, which I reserve largely for flaming. It's LOL funny, but I might have to out my internet identity to her to save peace.

2. So, Sumner first notes that Piketty "is rather dismissive of those he disagrees with". Then he goes on to say about the book that it is "even more absurd than I expected", dismisses a third of the book (by his own admission) based on one sentence in the first chapter by weirdly changing a quote from the book where it suits him, and ends up saying that the reason Piketty gets things wrong is that as a European he doesn't understand that the superrich really just want to give away their fortunes (despite all evidence pointing to the opposite). Shouldn't there be one of your patented "mood affiliation" addenda to that link, Tyler?

I think we all need some permalinked explanations on the RHS of the page:

Mood affiliation.
Markets in Everything.
Koch Brothers.

What evidence are you referring to, exactly? The pledge by so many billionaires NOT to give away 50% of their fortune?

Hurricanes are overall less deadly since the advent of male names. Michael Siegel has a blog post where he demolishes the paper. The main points:

Hurricanes before 1979 averaged 27 people killed.
Hurricanes since 1979 average 16 people killed.
Hurricanes since 1979 with male names average … 16 people killed.
Hurricanes since 1979 with female names averaged … 16 people killed.

The higher death rate in earlier periods may just mean that people and buildings are better prepared now, not that the hurricanes are worse.

You are correct. And since they dont control for preparedness, their estimator is biased.

I would also claim that the variance of the distribution in the number killed is quite high. It would only take one apartment complex holding a hurricane party to double the number killed in a single year. Probably more people killed on trampolines. :)

The observation of storm from satellites started in late 60s. Before that you need to rely on warning from ships or planes about hurricane location. That caused that some storms arrived without warning.

#4 Jeff Stibel's claim that small business create two thirds of the new jobs in the US economy is not supported by either Census or Small Business Administration data. Their data shows that jobs created by small and large firms are about the same.

Moreover, more recent research using BLS data that could trace development in individual firms over time show that just a select few young and rapidly growing firms account for the most job creation. These firms may start small but they rapidly become large firms.

I was thinking the same thing but didnt have the data handy. I recall it was just a few years before the recession that corporations overtook small businesses, but SBs got back on top. This is, of course measuring the contributions of relatively few corporations to relatively many small businesses.

I think the recovery is better characterized by job sector vs small against large employers. A retail job is a retail job regardless if the employer is Walmart or Mom and Pop Hardware.

We can't tell which small businesses will become large, the market has to sort it out.

Policies that harm small business formation short circuit this process and prevent the next microsoft, google, or genentech from starting.

#6...Good post by Brooks. Adam Phillips also has a number of books worth reading. As for getting it, I'm like Jack Burton:

Jack Burton: I don't get this at all. I thought Lo Pan...
Lo Pan: Shut up, Mr. Burton! You are not brought upon this world to "get it"!

Yes, Adam Phillips is that rare creature, a wise non-dogmatic Freudian. To me, and I'm being charitable, this is really a matter of acknowledging that we have desires that aren't easily apparent or obvious to us, and that some of these can be unconscious or subconscious. (NB: I am aware of critiques of Freud from Grunbaum and Flew and Webster etc.)

Brooks makes the point that we humans need security. Apropos of Tyler's posts on crime and policing, I think that's one thing the poor don't have: viz. security. The lawlessness of the ghetto or council estates is deeply damaging to the poor.

Xu Qinxian. Hero.

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