Monday assorted links


On the Beijing Supercity (BS)

Just another way to suck the blood of nearby provinces to Beijing. If you ask anyone from Hebei province they will tell you the brutal policies they suffered due to Beijing's "capital" status.

#4: Refers to this. Another crappy social science study published in PNAS that won't replicate.

marshmellow study itself is problematic

I'm sincerely glad to know that I live right on the border of Fuck and Shit.

#2 What the heck is wrong with that website?

Brad DeLong has consistently chosen the absolute worst web designs for everything he does on the internet. It's quite impressive just how bad that website and his own personal websites are.


Its telling that all these discussions about wage stickiness and worker resentment say absolutely nothing about whether such resentment is justified or not. Seems like the obvious answer to this is "yes", given the incredibly alienating nature of much of modern work; in this sense, resentment and sabotage and willful inefficiency is a natural response to a system that degrades human capacity and dignity and restricts individuals from pursuing self-actualization and creative fulfillment.

So the real question should not be how governments or capitalists can coax workers into being more flexible; but rather, how workers can seize control over determining the nature of work in the first place

Caplan's post is an illustration of a well-known phenomenon in psychology. People would rather choose $500 for sure over a 50% chance of getting $1000 and 50% chance of getting nothing. However, they'll take the chance of losing $1000 or nothing over knowing for sure that they'll lose $500.

Similarly, workers feel better taking the chance that they'll be among the 5% laid off, instead of knowing for sure that their wage will be cut by 5%.

#7: Caplan writes : "With symmetric information, the firm will hire the one-third of workers who are content, and spurn the rest. If the firm can't distinguish the two types of workers in advance ..."

If the firm cannot distinguish the two types of workers, who can? Somehow, someone somewhere _did find out_ that only 1/3 of the workers are content. But whatever method was used to gain this information, this method is unavailable to the firm?

3. This article and the Forbes piece it was based on are inaccurate about the financial performance of Sandler's movies. Sandler's movies are worth the investment because he brings in huge amounts of money from outside the U.S. Take "Blended" as a prime example. According to Box Office Mojo, the rom com had a budget of $40 million and grossed $46 million in the U.S. But it grossed $80 million overseas. Compare that with Get Hard, the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart movie. It grossed $106 million on a budget of $40 million, but only grossed $15.7 million of that amount overseas.
This is common of Sandler's movies. Jim Carrey is the same way. Slapstick humor requires no translation, just like the Transformers movies in which stuff blows up real good.
Get Hard was more profitable than Blended, especially since studios only keep a portion of overseas gross, but Sandler is far from the waste of money Forbes makes him out to be, especially given the arcane economics of Hollywood.

Melissa McCarthy's latest movie had a domestic gross of 106 million on a 65 million budget. Rule of thumb is twice the budget or its a money loser for the studio.

So the conclusion that McCarthy is booming is not supported either. Her big hits are with Sandra Bullock and Bridesmaids where she is a supporting player.

Sandler is in a bit of a rut but is hardly dead.

The version I've heard is twice the budget *globally*. Spy made ~$227m globally.

Good points, but keep in mind foreign audiences only watch a comedy from the USA only because they think Americans are watching it. Trust me, having lived overseas in several countries (now in the Philippines), they don't understand the humor (unless it's slapstick). They even sometimes label TV shows as "simulcast the same day in the USA" to indicate it is topical. If the content was what the foreigners were after, they'd not have to do this; instead, it's the fad factor of aping America by watching what's popular in America that's promoted. Hence, once Sandler loses his popularity in the USA, he'll quickly lose his foreign fair-weather fans.

Just for the record, I don't even remember the last Sandler movie I saw, but I predict he'll be around a while longer.

Ray, when I last checked ABS-CBN in the Philippines (a local broadcast TV station that carries mostly local programming) was airing Mr. Bean reruns and they were quite popular. There is some truth to what you say about certain countries wanting to imitate the U.S. but it is by no means required for something to be topical or popular in the U.S. to have popularity overseas. Same with the music -- obscure or second-rate acts from the U.S. or Europe that would be the subject of jokes in the U.S. get taken very seriously and can easily play sold-out shows in the Philippines or in other Asian countries. Washed up celebrities or bands can often get a second lease on life once they learn how to market themselves in Asia.

@Ricardo, yes, but your points, while valid, in no way contradict mine. Believe me, they don't get the jokes. The DVDs are even labeled "American Humor" and nobody is laughing while they watch these movies, more like studying styles for future reference. Granted, some of these so-called comedies from the USA, in particular with Sandler apparently, are not that funny anyway.

As a country that often labels shows "simulcast the same day in the USA" -- it's seen as a way of saying "You don't have to torrent this file -- just watch it here".

The secret of Adam Sandler's success in the U.S. is that Hispanics like him and identify with him.

In terms of worker resentments, why don't more average workers like the cut of wages? Because, the really good ones don't resentful of the position, they leave the company altogether. Our office saw this in 2009 (Cuts) and 2011/2012 (People started leaving). For libertarians, Tyler and Bryan seem really bothered that workers react negatively to cut wages.

Isn't the history of company towns failing the primarily because of cut wages changes a person attitude to work? First the get resentful and then the kids leave the town.

130 million people in a Kansas-sized area gives this Super City a population density roughly between New Jersey and Taiwan. It would be crowded but not unbearable so. New Jersey still has a decent amount of agricultural land, lots of forests, etc. Even Taiwan is still 25% crop land.

For the sake of reference, Bangladesh is twice as dense as the proposed megacity.

If everyone in the mega city is spread out equally, it would be more realistic to think of it as a moderately developed suburb than a single city.

Re #4: "Uber better for the poor"

FWIW, my experiences with the ride sharing services:

Uber is half the cost of a taxi.

Lyft is about 60% of the cost of a taxi.

I have not measured the delay, but I'm quite certain that Uber cars usually arrive sooner to pick up than Taxis do, at least on my routes in LA.

I don't agree with this part of the author's conclusion: "... for now, anyone who asserts that ridesharing services disadvantage poor people or poor neighborhoods is making a claim that is not merely unsupported but actually contrary to the findings of the one systematic study of that question"

This is not a reasonable statement given that a lot of low income people simply lack a credit card and cannot use Uber or Lyft at all.

How do you go from the fact that many poor people can't use Uber or Lyft to the conclusion that their existence disadvantages those people? Basic micro would imply that even if those people have to take taxis that will take cash, they would still be better off for the competition. At minimum, there is no reason to think they are worse off. If that's wrong, I would think you'd need evidence.

Ok, fine. I see the point you're making.

But, I simply think that the word "disadvantaged" may have been used in another sense by whoever the original critics of Uber were.

I read it to mean simply that poor people who want to use a ridesharing service are at a disadvantage compared to poor people who want to use a taxi service. If I'm poor and I have no credit card, and/or my cell phone is incapable of running the uber app, then I'm at a disadvantage compared to a poor person with cash who is trying to use a taxi service.

But, sure, adding a service to the market should not "disadvantage" anyone. Ok. Fine.

The poor might be worst off if poor taxi drivers are seeing unemployment go up and/or wages go down because of Uber.

And if Uber /Lyft end up putting all taxi services out of business, the poor who relied on taxis paid with cash will truly be disadvantaged. The marketplace will no longer offer them this category of transportation service.

There used to be a lot more of them. But with mobile phones on the rise, demand dropped so much that the telcos stopped maintaining most of them. The average distance to a pay phone has probably gone up quite a lot, no matter where you are in a city. If you're a homeless person without a cell phone, did adding cell phones to the market place disadvantage you?

If you're so poor that you can't afford a basic smartphone, are you likely to be taking many taxis?

The issue I'm talking about isn't whether poor people are taking taxis; its about how wages in poor neighborhoods are affected by the displacement of taxis with ridesharing apps.

If Uber replaced taxis the poor would most likely see unemployment go down and wages go up as you would no longer have medallion holders taking a share of their labor.

The poor are much better off with uber than taxi's . . . but I'm not sure poor people use either. It is quite difficult to get a cab in Harlem (even at 125th street station) although private cars seem to be available. A handful of ubers driving around probably isn't enough to satisify demand.

My experience in New York, from observation, is that the working poor spend a lot of time commuting on the subway from far distances. I have taken often taken the subway at early, early morning hours (like 5 AM) and the cars are full of mostly minorities from working class or and poor neighorhoods, spending an hour commuting by train. Even then, many of them have the pay-per-ride passes rather than monthly passes, either because of liquidity issues or maybe they just aren't intelligent enough to realize the cost-reward tradeoff. I feel sorry for them, and it has made me abhor the common falsehoods of the working poor being lazy. They are spending hours every day commuting for $2.75. There is no way they would afford to pay for the privledge of using Uber.

My wife and I have cut uber out of our budget and we're saving almost $75-$100 a month now. That's from using it maybe once a week. Can anybody imagine a poor person spending $1000 a year, or 5% of their income, on taxis?


I live in a sleepy NYC suburb that is being bought up by Chinese nationals. The local high school is now 50% Chinese and growing each year. My son's preschool was 10 Asian kids and two Caucasians.

My question....why are dual income, high achieving Chinese people moving to my boring suburb on Long Island? America has slow growth in productivity, wages and GDP. America has more crime and a growing inequality problem. Competition for jobs and college is off the charts. The infrastructure is falling apart. Meanwhile, China's infrastructure is brand new and hundreds of millions of people have moved into the middle class. Chinese GDP and wage growth are higher. Property values are rising, creating a wealth effect. The stock market is booming (even including the most recent drop). China's economy surpassed the U.S. economy and Chinese people can now have multiple children. Other than pollution, why are successful Chinese people so eager to flee their booming country in order to move to an area in decline? All I can think of is that the folks in my neighborhood acquired their wealth illegally and are fleeing China before they are punished. If I was an ABC I would seriously consider moving to China.

Less polluted air, water and food are worth a great deal. Also, the US is less crowded and has more natural resources per capita than China. There are more wide open spaces. Educational resources are relatively easy to access. The government may even function in a more transparent, even-handed way (?). I suppose that if you put a dollar amount on this stuff you would find living in the US more attractive.

Maybe China isnt as great as advertised. If this is a burning question, you could, you know, ask them.

Whenever I ask they look at me like I'm crazy and then chuckle nervously. Personally, I think they're all spies.

They think you're the secret police.

They really are spies. If they return to China, they will be debriefed by the government. So, in a sense, they *are* spying on America.

In 2014 per capita GDP in the US was $54,628 as compared to $7,593 in China . While that may not exactly measure the differences in standards of living, it is a very good first approximation.

If your wage in the US is some seven times what it is in China it is not hard to understand why the Chinese are moving to the US.

If you wage or standard of living is one-seventh of the US wage it would take a hell of a more rapid growth rate to make up the difference.

if at year zero the Us wage is $54,628 and grows at a 2% annual rate and the Chinese wage is $7,593 and grows at a 10% annual rate after 20 years the Chinese wage would grow from 13.9% of the US wage to 62.9% of the US wage. For the Chinese wage to catch up in 20 years it would have to grow at about 26.5% annually.

If you're a high achieving person, America is the place to be. Compare average wages for doctors, lawyers, software developers and engineers by country. America comes out on top.

The recent crumminess in America is mostly impacting people in the bottom half of the income distribution.

Lol you wanna know why?

In China, everything is about connections. Literally everything. From schooling to healthcare to small business to the world of finance, everything depends on networks of personal familiarity, back-scratching and nepotism. Naturally this leads to a society where everyone spends huge amounts of money on status goods and signalling, and social behaviour is optimized among young people for a kind of cunning, ironic intelligence that shows off how much you stand to gain by getting them in your network.

Circles, circles, circles. Like what CS Lewis describes. You don't know 'privilege' until you've been to China. Its a pretty tiring place to live.

Wrong, China is an extremely meritocratic country.

There's a reason why every child studies so hard to get into the best colleges.

Because once employers see Tsinghua or a top university they basically autohire

A bit different than in the USA where plenty of dumbasses rise to the top because they have the right last names. And we have plenty of super smart guys end up getting failed by the system.

In China you could be the poorest person in the country, but all you need to do I'd ace the sat. Go to Tsinghua and then walk into a Google salary job upon graduation.

In the USA even with a perfect sat score you won't get into any top college. Especially if you are the wrong race.

Even colleges like cornel reject perfect sat scores!

So even with perfect sat score, your awful GPA and lack of connections will get you into state u with maybe a full scholarship. You graduate and work in a cube with a 40k starting salary. While your Chinese counterpart is starting at 300k and will probably will climb the corporate ladder and at the end of his life die a multimillionaire while his USA counterpart makes it to middle class.

ace the SAT? wtf are you talking about.

The gaokao which is china's version of the sat, typing from phone.

Well, what happens to them after their Graduation?

Friends of a relative in Beijing are all in high school now, scions of parents in SOEs. The parents plan to use the high school networks of their kids to get each other's SOE's to hire their children after they graduate. Generational circulation among SOEs. It's pretty blatant.

The kids are more or less devoid of curiosity, are highly interested in fashion and gossip, and have no interest in finding out anything about anyone who is not from beijing or *gasp* workking in the private sector.

In a survey asking women if they preferred marrying a fuerdai or a 'phoenix man'(a self-made man), the vast majority of young women in china chose... the fuerdai.

This choice, made by millions of women in China, is extremely revealing. The social scene invalidates the significance of the GaoKao, and the gauche, naive and easily manipulated graduates from the poor and downtrodden villages, more or less completely. They were never the majority anyway.

You're a foreigner aren't you.

Freedom. You will value more a democratic and open society when you taste an autocratic regime. Even under promising economic prospects getting rid of a paternalistic state just feels great.

I know what I’m saying.

The Chinese that immigrate to America are mostly unskilled labor.

If they are wealthy then they are mostly white collar criminals.

I would suspect that most of the Chinese moving to long Island are unskilled labor and are moving because of proximity to flushing.

High education standards make it so that mediocre Chinese seem like geniuses in america.

#5 Will the buildings last as long as the ones in Kansas?

I submit "Boondoggle" for the city name.

Doesn't God have the Babylon index? The country constructing the highest building, will be the next country to have a financial crisis

1. African Americans precede many ideas (not necessarily expressions of anger) with the word "shit", though it is usually pronounced "sheeeeettt".

I am not at all surprised that the use of "shit" is prevalent in the South.

Yeah, the "shit" region is the Deep South, the East Coast through NYC, up the Mississippi to Chicago, Detroit... It looks like a map of black Americans, plus a bit of Texas where no one lives

No. 7

Worker resentment? Bleeding heart liberals everywhere. Workers can work or starve.

What's your work, Alan?

#3 RE recent Adam Sandler movies

My wife and daughter and I are huge Wedding Singer fans. More recently, we quite enjoyed Sandler's Just Go With It (2011) and Blended (2014), both recommended.

I liked Wedding Singer, but I was 5 or 6 when I watched it.

7. While there's a prevailing view here on this blog of antagonism between employer and employee, Waldman has the refreshing view that we're all just trying to get along. By that I mean both employer and employee have long-term commitments, so its best for everyone to maintain the status quo. Both may be wrong but at least it's shared. It may not fit Cowen's antagonistic view, but maybe it works to moderate ups and downs, as prices are more stable and so are wages. There's a consistency here on this blog that wages must be cut, benefits must be cut, taxes on capital must be cut, so that owners of capital will invest (which is the critical ingredient to economic growth). Coincidence, correlation, causation, it's all so confusing. But in the immortals words of PeeWee Herman: " Exactly! I bought this pen one hour before my bike was stolen. Why? What's the significance? I don't know!"

#5 Is this even a city? 130 million in an area the size of Kansas would be about 1,600/square mile. Somerville MA (with no high rises to speak of) has a density of 18,617/ square mile.

Why have blue be less and red be more usage of a given word? Why not just have a gradient of one color? That was confusing. Edward Tufte would not approve.

dbp - conversely, Anchorage, AK (which does have some high rises) has a density of 171/square mile, one tenth that of the proposed Chinese supercity. Most people think of Anchorage as a city.

That is interesting. One supposes that given the low population density, there must be large parts of Anchorage city limits that are pretty empty?

#1 was mother jones. Sigh. Why link to that site? The landing page had an enormous full page ad "repeal citizens united" which, given a cursory look didn't have a close button. Amazing.

"#1 was mother jones. Sigh. Why link to that site?"

Because the article was interesting, describing research results that most of us had been unaware of.

2. Brad DeLong on Trekonomics, and more here.

Alternative discussion proposal: Why is health care in Star Wars so bad? No one knew Padme was carrying twins until she gave birth? We can reattach limbs today yet they can only due crude robotics?

Second question: What exactly is the economic purpose of having two sets of droids? One that can only speak in beeps and others to tell everyone what they are saying. Is this some type of union regulation?

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