Month: December 2014
Sitting for longer than four hours a day increases a person’s chance of suffering chronic disease.
Now, inspired to address the lack of physical activity in modern work life, one French designer believes he might have created the answer.
With just two legs, the ‘Inactivite’ chair relies on the user engaging the muscles in their core to keep it upright.
Benoit Malta, the man behind the creation, said he wanted to encourage movement for those office workers who spent around 70 per cent of the day sitting down.
There is video and further description at the link, and for the pointer I thank Mark Thorson.
Here for instance is the CR symposium on John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness. I believe there will be more to come.
From Arthur R. Kroeber, here is the summary on his economics:
This popular reading is unduly negative. Here is another that fits the facts at least as well: After a brief scare, the property market stabilized, in large measure thanks to the removal of unreasonable restrictions on house purchases, rather than an unsustainable blowout in credit growth. By the end of the year the economy was still growing at the fastest pace of any major economy (7.3 percent), although a slowdown next year seems likely given the apparent intention to constrain credit growth. In June the Politburo approved the biggest fiscal reform in 20 years, which aims to restructure troublesome local-government debts and revamp the tax structure to cut back on perverse incentives. November saw a significant opening of the capital account, as the “Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect” program permitted investors in those two financial hubs to put money directly in each others’ stock markets. Partly in anticipation of this event, Chinese stocks staged a big rally in the second half of the year which made Shanghai the world’s second best performing market in 2014. And in December the People’s Bank of China released draft rules for deposit insurance, setting limits on the government’s unlimited guarantee of the financial system and setting the stage for full deposit-rate liberalization in the next year or two.
That is not exactly my view, but this is an intelligent, optimistic account of the current China. The post is interesting throughout, and most of it is not on economic issues at all: “This record is stronger than that of any other major world leader in the last two years” Recommended.
Eric has an excellent post, here is one bit from it:
They find that net inequality (after tax-and-transfer) hurts economic growth, that gross inequality (pre tax-and-transfer) doesn’t hurt growth, that changes in human capital (education) do not affect growth one way or another – there’s a slightly negative effect of education on growth in the set of specifications, but it’s not significant; and, investment doesn’t affect growth one way or another.
The set of results is then a little surprising. We usually expect investment to matter a lot for growth – both in physical plant and equipment (investment) and in people (education). They find that neither does anything and that the only thing that matters is inequality.
Further, when they break things down a little, what seems to matter most is the difference between 4th decile income and average income rather than incomes at the top. Incomes in the 9th and 10th decile relative to average income do nothing; differences between the fourth decile and the average matter hugely.
And now we start getting into the plausibility checks. Does this set of results really make sense?
Do read the whole thing.
Those are the topics of a new paper by Güell, Mora, and Telmer, which is interesting on multiple levels. The abstract is here:
We propose a new methodology for measuring intergenerational mobility in economic well-being. Our method is based on the joint distribution of surnames and economic outcomes. It circumvents the need for intergenerational panel data, a long-standing stumbling block for understanding mobility. It does so by using cross-sectional data alongside a calibrated structural model in order to recover the traditional intergenerational elasticity measures. Our main idea is simple. If ‘inheritance’ is important for economic outcomes, then rare surnames should predict economic outcomes in the cross-section. This is because rare surnames are indicative of familial linkages. If the number of rare surnames is small this approach will not work. However, rare surnames are abundant in the highly-skewed nature of surname distributions from most Western societies. We develop a model that articulates this idea and shows that the more important is inheritance, the more informative will be surnames. This result is robust to a variety of different assumptions about fertility and mating. We apply our method using the 2001 census from Catalonia, a large region of Spain. We use educational attainment as a proxy for overall economic well-being. A calibration exercise results in an estimate of the intergenerational correlation of educational attainment of 0.60. We also find evidence suggesting that mobility has decreased among the different generations of the 20th century. A complementary analysis based on sibling correlations confirms our results and provides a robustness check on our method. Our model and our data allow us to examine one possible explanation for the observed decrease in mobility. We find that the degree of assortative mating has increased over time. Overall, we argue that our method has promise because it can tap the vast mines of census data that are available in a heretofore unexploited manner.
Hyattsville is considering a charter amendment that would lower the voting age to 16 as part of its effort to encourage more voter participation.
If adopted, the Prince George’s County city — home to 18,000 people less than a mile from the District of Columbia border — will follow Takoma Park in neighboring Montgomery County as the second municipal government in the nation to extend voting rights to minors.
There is more here.
1. Dr Dre ($620m)
2. Beyoncé ($115m)
3. The Eagles ($100m)
4. Bon Jovi ($82m)
5. Bruce Springsteen ($81m)
6. Justin Bieber ($80m)
7. One Direction ($75m)
8. Paul McCartney ($71m)
9. Calvin Harris ($66m)
10. Toby Keith ($65m)
11. Taylor Swift ($64m)
There is more here. Dre did so well from selling a music company, and it is the largest single year windfall in music history, or so we are told.
…the swaps push-out rule — section 716 of Dodd-Frank, which would require banks to book their derivatives in subsidiaries that are not their insured depository institutions — may be killed as part of the new deal to fund the government. Or here is Mike Konczal arguing to preserve the rule. You don’t need me to tell you how terrible the politics (all politics) are — Why do financial regulation in an unrelated spending bill? Why rewrite financial regulation based on a draft by Citigroup lobbyists? — but let’s spend a minute on why it’s not worth caring about.
First: The rule doesn’t apply to most derivatives. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Vice Chairman Tom Hoenig:
“In fact, under 716, most derivatives — almost 95% — would not be pushed out of the bank. That is because interest rate swaps, foreign exchange and cleared credit derivatives can remain within the bank. In addition, derivatives that are used for hedging can remain in the bank. The main items that must be pushed out under 716 are uncleared credit default swaps (CDS), equity derivatives and commodities derivatives. These are, in relative terms, much smaller and where the greater risks and capital subsidy is most useful to these banking firms.”
[This is now Levine again.] I have my biases, but I have a hard time believing equity derivatives will bring down a bank. Uncleared CDS, I’ll grant you, has a rough track record, though the market is slowly moving away from it in general. But the big derivatives risks, by notional, were going to be allowed to remain in the depository banks anyway. “Oh but no one could be blown up on interest rate swaps,” you say, as the Fed discusses the timing of rate increases.
Second: Pushing out derivatives into non-insured subsidiaries doesn’t make them go away. Defenders of the rule cite the example of AIG, which foundered on uncleared CDS and brought down the financial system. AIG: not an insured bank! Neither was Lehman! The people arguing for the swaps push-out rules are not people who, in other contexts, would say that only insured depository banks get any government support. They’d say that “too big to fail” banks (you know: derivatives dealers) pose risks to the financial system even in their non-bank subsidiaries, risks that lead to an implicit expectation of government support beyond the explicit FDIC insurance. Here, they are right. If JPMorgan blows itself up trading CDS, that will be a problem for everyone, whether it happens in the insured bank or some uninsured subsidiary. The rule won’t stop that. The rule is (was?) fine, but it’s not worth getting upset about. This is all theater.
The link is here.
Morgan Housel of the Motley Fool has a list of 122 Things Everyone Should Know About Investing And The Economy. Many are variations on a theme but here are a few I liked:
- Investors want to believe in someone. Forecasters want to earn a living. One of those groups is going to be disappointed. I think you know which.
- There were 272 automobile companies in 1909. Through consolidation and failure, three emerged on top, two of which went bankrupt. Spotting a promising trend and a winning investment are two different things.
- I once asked Daniel Kahneman about a key to making better decisions. “You should talk to people who disagree with you and you should talk to people who are not in the same emotional situation you are,” he said. Try this before making your next investment decision.
- For many, a house is a large liability masquerading as a safe asset.
- “Success is a lousy teacher,” Bill Gates once said. “It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
“Something out there is killing everything, and you’re probably next.”
You can view the talk here. It is called “The Great Filter.”
You can file this one under “Questions that are rarely asked.” The authors are Bauman, Gale, and Milton and the subtitle is Cross sectional study of political affiliation and physical activity. It seems, in fact, that the armchair socialists are up out of their chairs:
Objective To examine the validity of the concept of left wing “armchair socialists” and whether they sit more and move less than their right wing and centrist counterparts.
Design Secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data from 32 European countries.
Setting The study emanated from the authors’ sit-stand desks (rather than from their armchairs).
Participants Total of 29 193 European adults, of whom 1985 were left wing, 1902 right wing, 17 657 political centrists, and 7649 politically uncommitted.
Main outcome measures Self-reported political affiliation, physical activity, and total daily sitting time.
Methods Linear models were used to examine the relation between physical activity, sitting time, and reported political affiliation.
Results The findings refute the existence of an “armchair socialist”; people at the extremes of both ends of the political spectrum were more physically active, with the right wing reporting 62.2 more weekly minutes of physical activity (95% confidence interval 23.9 to 100.5), and the left wing 57.8 more minutes (20.6 to 95.1) than those in the political centre. People with right wing political affiliations reported 12.8 minutes less time sitting a day (3.8 to 21.9) than the centrists. It is those sitting in the middle (politically) that are moving less, and possibly sitting more, both on the fence and elsewhere, making them a defined at-risk group.
Conclusions There is little evidence to support the notion of armchair socialists, as they are more active than the mainstream in the political centre. Encouraging centrists to adopt stronger political views may be an innovative approach to increasing their physical activity, potentially benefiting population health.