Friday assorted links


#1 - The UK basically crowdsourced the cutting of red tape and redundant regulations through their Red Tape Challenge. I'd love to see the US do this at the federal, state, or local level.

Beyond that, I think there are good bipartisan bills to create non-partisan committees that would provide expert recommendation on trimming/streamlining/modernizing regulations and then sending it to Congress for an up or down vote, similar to the BRAC model.

I agree. There is a model in Obama's war on occupational licensing.

Sane people will acknowledge that some regulations are pointless, and some have probably saved their lives. (I know I walked away from one crash with just seat-belt burns.)

As an occupant of the state with perhaps the most ridiculous occupational licensing system in the entire country, I have seen no evidence of any war against them, by anybody, least of all Obama. All we've got is one court decision saying monks have a constitutional right to make caskets.

The quotes are: "Obama's Econ Advisers: Occupational Licensing Is a Disaster" and "The spread of licensing has been a cruel mistake."

There has been a strange partisan resistance to get on board though. It's almost as if "anything Obama dislikes is good" applies.

This is the administration's really good report on it. Includes a thorough review of the landscape, the evidence and best practices for policy-makers (states). It's pretty unambiguous:

Typical Obama "war." Lots of talk, little action.

Unfortunately, the feds don't control occupational licensing in almost any field. All they can really do is try to persuade states about what they think is best and show them the evidence that lead to that conclusion.

Sorry that you agree with Obama on this, but must still find a way to disagree with him.

As if a commitment to federalism has ever been a major obstacle to Obama in pushing his important agenda items.

That's the sad story.

Obama: Let's reduce regulation.

The Right: I hate you.

There's precious little "us." Thanks, Mr. Obama, for your administration's little report that reiterates what many economists have been saying for decades! It will really make it so much easier for states to overcome the entrenched interests defending it.

Ok, we got it, MC. Keep digging.

TPP is one of the few areas where Obama actually is doing real work on behalf of something good and the Right should support him on that, but electoral politics has made supporting it toxic in both major political parties.

...this petty for/against focus upon Obama is pointless and entirely misses the point of a our behemoth regulatory state. Most all Presidents (and Congress and SCOTUS) have been severely guilty of growing this behemoth. There is now not the slightest hint of any real reduction in the regulatory burden, nor its rate of growth.

Empty rhetoric on reducing regulations has abounded from government officials since the 1960's.
The non-results are obvious to all. The next President is guaranteed to continue expanding the regulatory burden.

Whether some economists are anti-TPP hacks is quite irrelevant to my point that I am prepared to give this administration credit where credit is due.

The Institute for Justice has been warring against occupational licensing, state by state, for at least three decades.

Bureaucracies exist to expand and perpetuate themselves. For instance, the Selective Service System, moribund since the 1970s, still exists. Being parasitic institutions, eventually they become so large that their hosts are no longer able to support them and both succumb. This is what happened to the western Roman Empire, the Ottomans, and others. The correct response to this sequence is not to arrest it by small, ineffectual corrections but instead to hasten its development in order that the process occurs as quickly as possible. Let's have MORE occupational licensing, which will come to be ignored, as is happening now, anyway.

I agree that we don't need draft rolls, or to add women to them. We have near universal SSN now, good enough to draw from, should it come to that.

2. "The report looked at the gap between the income of the poorest Japanese families with children and the average household income. "

Why would you compare "poorest with children" to the average household income? It could simply be that poor people are the ones having all the kids.

Anyway, the worst part of being in "poverty" in the first world is having to deal with other poor people and their awful behavior. If you don't have the bad behavior, poverty isn't as big of a deal.


Did you actually make it all the way through?

"But we see none of those things. Japan has very high labor force participation and low unemployment. No laziness or idleness here. Japan's crime rates, especially for violent offenses, are legendarily low, and have been falling even more in recent years. Single parenthood is very rare in Japan -- only about 3 percent nationwide, compared with about 25 percent in the U.S. And rates of illegal drug use, while they have risen recently, are much lower than in the U.S."

Yes, I got through. The point is who cares if you have more poverty if you don't have any of the worst things about being poor? It's like being concerned that the rate of a disease is increasing, even though you've eliminated all of its symptoms.

Ah, I see your logic. I think though, like Smith, that this should help us frame poverty as not about vice per se.

But it's not even a measure of poverty at all, it's just a measure of inequality (difference between lowest incomes versus average). It's totally meaningless.

The centerpiece of the story is the increasing poverty rate itself.

But how is poverty defined? I believe from the story that it is defined the same way as in Europe, which is a % of median income. Obviously that is not a measure of poverty at all but strictly inequality, since it has no relationship to what kind of lifestyle you can afford.

It should be cost of living based, but that is a big data problem. How many countries have everyone's income and costs at the county level?

I'd think that any national poverty level, given current data and tech, is a guess based on averages.

Even if the rate of single motherhood is lower in Japan, the same pattern exists there:

"The rise in income inequality and poverty among Japanese children mirrors what is happening among adults. Japan’s overall child poverty rate is 16%, higher than the OECD average. For Japanese single-parent households the child poverty rate is 50%, among the highest in the industrial world."

Since the US has a much higher rate of single motherhood, the US has much more room to make progress on that front even if the US is also facing the same problem afflicting Japan.

I very much support voluntary efforts to deny mass-killers a lot of free publicity. Ideally, start by naming them according to the location of their murders instead of their names--the Columbine wackos, the VA tech nut, the Aurora crazy, etc.

Since a mass killer's going away for life, it's not like the public needs to know their name at a later date in the future. I don't think it would be an unreasonable restriction on free speech to ban publishing their name.

How about something very simple like "Killer 2016-A2"? All they would get in the history books would be letters and numbers. Sure, facilitate some releases for biographies, etc., if it might be of interest, but require them to publish under such a name.

I think the concern is that some people who will never get anywhere and are frustrated with things might decent to try to achieve immortality by killing lots of people and making it into the books. At least with the unabomber, he had some sort of reason (perhaps a little crazy) and can be slightly excused for having been subjected to illegal experimentation by those lovely people who are paid to keep us safe.

It would absolutely be an unreasonable restriction on free speech to say that Bob can't mention Alice's name because of Alice's crimes.

He's Canadian, they don't believe in free speech.

What if it would cut mass murders in half?

I mean, people let the NSA spy on their practically every move, theoretically, and probably all you catch is the occasional low life who's too dumb to use communications that would circumvent it. And it's THAT important to you to know the precise name of whoever did the mass killing? Are you welling to let hundreds of of people a year, theoretically, die, just because you need to know that Bibbity Bob did it instead of Bobbity Bib?

Man, this is an absurdly trivial infringement of speech. The only relevant question is - would it have the proposed effect? How many mass murderers would do the deed if they new the news reports would contain nothing "Killer A2-2016?"? Half as many? A quarter?

And meanwhile you sell out your civil rights and privacy to unaccountable actors in the deep state to protect yourself from the bogeyman!

Man. Americans are fucking retarded sometimes.

Sorry. Overstatement. I'm more reacting to Bob than you, Daniel. Your framing was entirely reasonable and conducive to rational debate.

"The only relevant question is what I say it is." Ipse dixit! Talk about a "fucking retard" and a hypocrite to boot who constantly complains about others calling him names.

OMFG. For once in a blue moon, MC, I forget to append "in my opinion" and you're on my case about it?

Do you have an opinion on the matter or are you just here to harass me?

I wouldn't want to try to restrict speech with the law, but I'd like to see a widespread voluntary agreement not to glorify mass-killers.

With self righteous media who*** that can't help but ask multiple times whether that was a Tunsil in the picture leaked from his Twitter account after he didn't answer the question the first time?

Sorry I have more respect for politicians than for journalists. You should too.

You have to take into account the Streisand effect.

If people think "the man" doesn't want them to know the names of serial killers, that will just build a bigger cult of personality around them. This is already the case in Japan, where the media generally doesn't release killers' names.

Yeah, I've always found the "don't name" arguments absurd. If you're going to provide breathless, around the clock coverage of a gruesome crime, I think the perpetrator's name is besides the point. Making a show about withholding it is just moral preening.

albatross April 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I very much support voluntary efforts to deny mass-killers a lot of free publicity.

In the Jewish tradition a standard historical curse is that someone's name should be obliterated and never mentioned again. It is routinely invoked against, well, you know who. But on the other hand the political reality is that sensible Jewish people want to make sure everyone remembers his name.

I can't help thinking the second group is correct. It is better to keep crimes in mind if doing so helps prevent repetition.

5: This is pretty well-known among banking and capital markets folks.

In sales the women are the best-looking and the men are the most sociable in a fun-to-drink-with sense. "Hey buddy what's going on?"

Traders can be talkative and outgoing but are much more Neanderthalish in look and behavior. Most likely to toss a football around on the trading floor.

Research are the nerds.

Bankers/ECM/DCM are good-looking but in a more clean-cut, polished way. They will have the best hair.

number 6: reason # 35,298 to sign a contract with detailed confidentiality agreements on what you can say and what not, even among "bros".

> 3. Millennials in NYC are earning less than in 2000.

Wait, they were getting paid as babies??

Get rid of zero interest nonsense and deficit spending, and politicians will start looking for ways that their stupidity hinders growth. The bureaucracies who depend on increasing tax revenues will find that they are preventing them from happening and will cut costs.

The best way of making this a public issue is to have a business work to rule day once a year. Everything will grind to a halt. Humiliation is a great motivator.

6. Expect a flurry of stories where Bloomberg talks his book or those of advertisers. Should be great fun.

#6 - I often go to Zero Hedge. I thought that one writer was an C-minus, ESL retread. The main thrust is permanent bearish and that conspiratorial forces manipulate the markets, especially Gold, which market they predicted 89 of the three recent upticks. (Speaking of gold and silver: $1,050 and $14.06, respectively, in early September 2015, now $1,293 and $17.81, respectively.) They predicted 875 of the last six market downturns. Frequently, there is found therein some "useful" factoid which is invariably blown out of proportion. .

#5 - Would that be rich, nymphomaniacs whose fathers own liquor stores? .

"They predicted 875 of the last six market downturns."
What a great quote.

I used to frequent ZH a little bit, for a contrarian view. Some interesting things blown out of proportion, but I can attest to watching with alarm as the content mostly switched to cheer-leading for Putin and Russia.

It used to be an interesting little muck-raking site, but after about the umpteenth time of reading about the imminent collapse of Western society stemming from mickey mouse Russian trade deals in the former Soviet-bloc republics, I gave up on any real faith that they were offering anything worthwhile.

ZH is actually a nice way for non-professionals to get to know financial market's vocabulary. A pro takes financial key performance indicators and builds an analysis or strategy around it.

ZH builds stories around it. Scary stories. 875 downturns! But when taking it for the yarn that it is, a non-pro can focus on reverse-engineering their stories into something worthwhile.

1) He must not spend much time thinking about his business then. All he had to do was issue a policy that says "no one is allowed to work during their 30 minute lunch break, and if anyone asks you to do so, please inform person X immediately. There is a zero tolerance policy for working during lunch breaks."

Anyways, I definitely agree that regulation is most harmful to small business. If you can average out regulatory compliance across 100,000 employees, that's an awful lot easier than having to meet the same regulations with 5 employees. Easy solution: hire contractors! I definitely support the ideals of a lot of labour regulations. But, since basically anything I might think of starting up is by definition small at least to start, the first thought I have is how to structure things to use 100% contractors and 0 employees. Of course, if things get larger this becomes impractical since you're likely to need someone full time.

It's unfortunate that there would be so many truly crappy employers in the absence of those regulations. It would be sooo much easier if employers were just decent. Gotta give someone shit for a good reason? Sure! Unpaid overtime, no breaks, scamming them in all sorts of ways, asking them to do dangerous work and not covering their health and workplace insurance costs, etc., and all sort of other things that SOME employers would try to get away with make life more difficult for the rest of us.

Hey look, it's time for Nathan to make up lies!

When did you get your certificate of expertise in California regulations compliance? Oh, never? You're just making something up which is a complete lie?

When did you conduct your experiment in unregulated employment? Oh, never? Awesome

I supposed I'm required to respond to this trolling?

Please be specific. What's the "lie"?

Since you know so much about all of this to call people liars, enlighten us with your brilliance. I await enlightenment, wise one.

Every employee signs a form that says "I know my rights, you nkow my rights, my manager knows my rights, and the goldfish knows my right, and I go straight to the top if they are broken". End of story.

"All he had to do was issue a policy that says “no one is allowed to work during their 30 minute lunch break, and if anyone asks you to do so, please inform person X immediately. There is a zero tolerance policy for working during lunch breaks.” "

Who's to say that the government bureaucrats will consider this policy to be compliant?

#3. "Despite the fact that millennials in New York are better educated than they were in 2000, more of them are working in low-wage industries such as retail and hospitality."

Need to define "better educated." If the percentage of bachelor degrees goes up, but the percentage of useful degrees goes down, then I'm not sure "better" is the right word. And it would also explain the move into low wage industries.

I don't think "useful degrees" is the right criterion here. The problem is really a reduction in admissions and grading standards, and the concomitant increase in college attendance by people with no business being there.

People who do well in "useless " degree programs like philosophy or classics are usually successful. College isn't a trade school.

"It finds that the growth of regulation between 1977 and 2012 has shaved about 0.8 percent off the rate of growth, costing the nation a total of $4 trillion worth of GDP."
Not everyone understands that GDP is measured yearly and might assume that the *cumulative* loss is $4 trillion. Not so. We're losing $4 trillion each year due to regulations these days.

From the paper:
"Had regulations been held constant at levels observed in 1980, our model predicts that the economy would be nearly 25 percent larger. In other words, the growth of regulation since 1980 cost the United States roughly $4 trillion in GDP (nearly $13,000 per person) in 2012 alone."

It looks like a "costs only" methodology. I think workers are more likely to show up for jobs they don't get killed at, etc. Although surely there are some useless and even counterproductive regulations out there.

You're making a big assumption in that number--that you can trust these economists' model!

Did you read the paper? Its methodology is ridiculous. Their measure of regulatory burden is how many times the word "shall" appears in the regulatory code. e.g., "all means of production shall be seized by the government" is assumed to be equally burdensome as "a bank shall provide copies of their financial statements to the SEC" or even "oil prices shall be deregulated". Speaking of which, during periods of deregulation of the oil & gas industry (early 80s) and financial deregulation (late 90s), their measures of regulatory stringency actually increase! (see Figure B1)

Garbage-in, garbage-out.

The intent of my comment was to align Ms. McArdle's quote with the paper, with the paper's correctness taken as a given.

3. Let's crack down even more on those greedy, evil bankers on Wall Street so that there are fewer high-paying finance jobs in NYC for those millennials enamored with Sanders. Feel the Bern!

Maybe we should have felt the Bern fifteen years ago, so we could have avoided a US-led meltdown of the global economy. Might have been worth it : /

Yes, yada yada yada financial regulations would have prevented the whole thing.

They did in Canada. Or ... maybe, at least. How come Canada never had a meltdown?

There are signs that Canada's real estate bubble is beginning to burst (especially with the reversal of the commodity price surge):

"2. Is child poverty in Japan worse than in the U.S.?" No; I'd much rather be poor in Japan than in the US.

I am Zero Hedge.

#2 shows that poverty is not causing the things Democrats say it is caused by, but that a third factor is probably causing both relatively low income in the USA and the problems associated with the same.

And once again I will link to a story about he poorest country in the USA:
None of typical problems there.

And to this about a guy who lives in San Fransisco on $7,000/year

The Amish and Mennonites have low income too, without the problems associated. These show that it is not about money or schooling though it might be about education (most of which occurs out of school).

I know some guys who so much more desired to sit home and drink or get high to working that more income would have negative social effects.

I know some people who manage to get along well on very little.

I have known folks on assistance who really needed it and benefited from it, so I am not all one way but it is good to not be naive.

The whole subject is fascinating to me. BTW Bernie talks at lot about taking money from the rich and spending in the middle class and much less about spending it on the relatively poor, is that because he recognizes the above points?

"And to this about a guy who lives in San Fransisco on $7,000/year" [emphasis added]

In cases like these, it is pretty important to know whether the person owns a house outright. Economists use the concept of "imputed rent" in GDP calculations and it seems we could use it here as well to be clear on the real cost of living a certain lifestyle. A small studio apartment in San Francisco used to be $900 per month if you were very lucky. If someone owns their own house and therefore pays $0 in rent, we should know the value of the home in order to calculate an imputed rental cost.

re 6:
I would recommend also reading the ZH rebuttal:

Distinct possibility there are no good guys here

Also, I am exactly 0% surprised that someone fitting Lokey's description ended up writing for ZH


If ZH is correct (while Bloomberg is being wrong) and they do have many more employees, their staff parties must be quite intense!

#6. "What you are reading at Zero Hedge is nonsense"

No s**t bro.

There is no way to "fix" poverty any more than we can "fix" low intelligence. Some people for various reasons will make choices that lead to poverty. You can give them money, food and housing and the only net result is you have poor people who eat well buy drugs and have a place to sleep. Worse, the free stuff attracts a greater number of people who also make bad choices but are not so stupid that they will refuse to work or go without eating. But with the attraction of free stuff they will eagerly accept that poverty lifestyle. If you want to "fix" poverty (at least to the extent it can be fixed) reverse the regulations that eliminate jobs especially low paid jobs and the regulations that prevent someone from renting out a room or their basement. People will survive if you don't regulate out of existence the means to survive. Then just accept the fact that the poor will always be with us.

I personally think I would have been better off with no schooling. And that support to go to university probably held me back.

There's nothing you can do for the poor. It's so true, we don't even need to look at facts. Facts are for dumb people who cannot intuit the truth from the universe itself.

There's little doubt in anyone's minds that schooling was wasted on you, Nathan.

2. There are several problems with the column on poverty in Japan. First, Noah Smith says that since the early 1980s, Japan's inequality has "risen relentlessly." But it hasn't if you use the measurement that Smith (correctly) wrote just a month ago: the post-transfer gini coefficient. That was at a low in Japan in 1981 but was higher prior to that and then after. Yet the post-transfer gini coefficient stopped rising from around 2000.

"late 1980s"
U.S. .34, U.K. 32, Japan .30, Canada .29, Italy .28, Germany .26, Denmark .22, Sweden .20

Here is Japan from the 1980s where higher is less equal:

1985 (.30) 1995 (.32) 2000 (.34) 2005 (.33) 2009 (.34) The last available data is 2009 but based on the unchanging poverty rate, 2012 was also likely very close to.34 Flat inequality form 2000 is not the same as relentlessly rising inequality

He also wrote:"It’s true that Japan had relatively few poor people -- and was a very equal society -- as recently as the early 1980s"
1981 was unusually low but just a brief dip before rising again. The poverty rate was 12% in 1985, so I wouldn't say "relatively few poor people" compared to 16% today,thirty years later. As the above shows, Japan wasnt much more equal that the U.S under Reagan or the U.K. under thatcher and less equal than the Western Europe.

Smith's poverty rate graph ends at 2009. My guess is he used OECD data which ends at 2009 but it is easy to find articles including from the OECD that state Japan's poverty rate was 16% in 2012 as well. 2015 data should be out in a few weeks, and I'm guessing it will also be 16% but just a guess.

With respect to child poverty, Japan didn't really fall behind the U.S. as Smith wrote. The UNICEF ranking is based only the "relative income gap" with the US at .59 and Japan at .60 - a tie. But the "child poverty rate" in the US is 20% and 16% in Japan - not a tie.

In his next column, Smith messed up Japan's productivity relative to the US. I'm not sure why all the errors, but it is pretty common among Western professors lecturing on Japan. They seem to get a notion in their heads that is 10, 15 or 25 years old and don't check the data to see if it has changed. Sort of weird. Income inequality is the quintessential example. "Japan was so equal in the 80s and now inequality is rising and rising!!" 9 out of 10 Japan related profs will say this. So, not to pick on Noah, he just did it in more detail this time, and he is an economist. No breaks for economists!

P.S. I should have said that there are really two popular topics where many academics who write on Japan don't easily change their views despite the evidence is with inequality but also the risk the accident at Fukushima posed. Journalists usually got these wrong as well, which reinforced the long held beliefs.

I forgot to mention (if one wants even more detail...) that inequality in Japan wasn't nearly as easy to look up in the 1990s an even in the early 2000s. World comparison tables at the World Bank, etc. would provide updated gini coefficients for the U.S. and European countries but with Japan kept .25 from 1993 for years. The CIA Factbook would list something like .37 around 2001, so it looked like a major increase in Japan when there were two post-transfer gini coefficient surveys taken. And the OECD uses a slightly different measurement that the Japanese government did in the 1980s and 1990s , probably an adjustment to keep consistent with other countries. Once "Confronting Inequality in Japan" was published in 2005 that the different survey methods became clear. If one compares the table (riight column) on page 4 that can be viewed on Amazon, one sees that from 1960 to 1987, the post transfer gini coefficient bounced between .31 and .35, then from the late 1980s moved to .38 by 1999. (Again, the OECD gives the same pattern but shifted down by 0.4 for some reason so that it has stayed at around .33 to .34 from 1999 using their data. Sort of confusing at first glance)


#1. Socialists and crony capitalists don't like small businesses. They prefer to cut deals with large businesses.

5a: I wonder what a full body attractiveness survey would show. We all know face and body beauty are imperfect correlated. #Butterface

5b: My undergraduate alma mater has multiple different colleges, each of which makes its own admission decisions its own way. While there, I found that one particular college had the most attractive women, and another college came in a close second.

Well, College #1 requires every applicant to interview. Formally, with someone who will make recommendations about whether to admit him or her. College #2 requires this of every transfer applicant.

We all know how interviews influence decisions, right?

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