New Year’s day assorted links

1. Chris Blattman blog update.  Many of you get sick of us, it seems, as I once predicted.

2. One measure of the top female economists.

3. How financially literate are women?

4. Is complexity economics underrated?

5. Those interested in choice theory and social science should watch Black Mirror.  I would say much more, but for fear of spoilers I cannot.

6. How durable are New Year’s resolutions?

7. Two stories about capitalism, which explain why economists do not reach agreement, by Jonathan Haidt.  Text and videos.  And here is Haidt on capitalist liberation and ethics, again text and videos.  Very good work from Jonathan as always.


#1: "want to strengthen a relationship with a professor". I hadn't realised that the arse-licking aspect of American academic life started as early as the undergraduate years.

"2. One measure of the top female economists." What a naughty title.

#4: Is "complexity economics" a new word for economic sociology?

@#4 - I read a confusing paper that could of benefited from complexity economics. It said TARP was good based on some sort of counterfactual. What they should have done is graphed how the TBTF banks got TARP, and how historically TBTF banks outperform their smaller cousins (because of an implied subsidy from government, allowing them to attract investors 'risk free').

It's easy to see why complexity economics is not taught: it implies economics is a non-linear, discrete math system that cannot really be explained by the smooth, continuous math made famous by P. Samuelson and company that applies homogeneously. It shows the homo economicus caveman has no clothes. For the same reason, law, an area I am somewhat familiar with, (I'm not a lawyer), almost never discusses the Coase theorem nor how economics drives law (Richard Allen Posner and Cass Robert Sunstein as heretical exceptions who have been slapped down at times by the mainstream lawyers BTW). The law is always about hoary tradition, and myths about fighting for minority rights. In fact, as you will not read in any legal textbook I'm aware of, the law as an adversary system as practiced in the USA (compare with legal positivist judge based Germany, though in practice Germany also approaches the USA in that vested interests will usually win) is actually geared so the side with more money to spend on lawyers will probably win, statistically, if the case goes to trial, as complex and expensive US civil procedure discovery rules predict, and which 'legal trolls' try and take advantage of by hoping to extort a settlement before a frivolous case goes to trial. You can see this most clearly in corporate law as practiced in Delaware (where judges decide the cases, so you cannot say it's a dumb jury that's at fault).

#1: I would be interested in hearing TC's version of "Do I make money off of you?"


On another topic, Blattman says, "I continue to say no to ads, because it feels icky." But he says yes to massive transfers from the taxpayer. I guess those feel so fresh and so clean.

Well, this extremely concise bit of text attached to Amazon links provides some insight - 'tag=marginalrevol-20'

From 6:

"John Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, has conducted studies into “resolvers” (those of you who have made a statement about what you intend to do differently in the new year) and “nonresolvers” (those of you who haven’t). In a 2002 study, Norcross and his colleagues contacted resolvers every couple of weeks for six months to check in on how they were doing. By the end of June, only 46 percent were on course with their New Year’s resolutions."

If I wanted to implement a scheme aimed at improving adherence to resolutions, having somebody contact the individuals regularly and remind them about their resolutions would be one of the first ideas that sprang to mind; similar approaches (regular follow-up) are very commonly applied in medicine to increase adherence/compliance. This problem is not even mentioned in the article. Neither is the likely selection bias problem that people who agree to be approached are quite likely to be people who're more likely to think they'll not fail.

I'd love to read your post about Black Mirror! Just include a huge *spolier* warning in the title.

It makes think about my debate with Tabarrok on the issue of bundling. I really enjoyed Black Mirror...but not enough to watch it again or purchase the DVDs. However, given the opportunity, I definitely would have allocated all of my monthly Netflix subscription fee to the show. Perhaps even two or three months' worth of fees. The last thing I enjoyed watching as much (more actually) was Rake...and I watched that a while ago.

You know...kinda like the ending of Bladerunner? All of these moments...lost like tears in rain. The efficient allocation of resources doesn't depend on "moments"... it depends on..."Willingness To Pay"s. The more WTPs that are lost like tears in rain...the more inefficient the allocation of resources.

#3: In my experience women generally don't find finance as interesting as men do. They might force themselves to learn about it if they have to (because they're managing their own money) or because they see it as a lucrative career. But even the women I meet who work for investment banks describe what they do as boring, and want to talk about something else at parties.

Men, by contrast, often find finance intellectually interesting, for its own sake. So the main driver of this sex-based difference in financial literacy may be native interest rather than native aptitude.

#7 is good. I liked the link Haidt provided on 'wicked problems':

but I don't think grouping environmental with social problems is accurate. The former are technical and solvable, the latter human and enduring.

Haidt needs to incorporate the 2 stories of government with the 2 stories of capitalism. There is the left-wing belief in unicorn governance (see Mike Munger ) and there is the version in accord with the beliefs of the American founders and public choice theorists.

That's a reasonable description of a common problem.

I second the recommendation of Black Mirror, episodes of which are available on Audience if you have DirectTV.

Some people, especially women, are trained to be consumers.

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