New issue of Econ Journal Watch

Volume 15, Issue 2, May 2018

In this issue:

Do ghastly images much reduce smoking? A study published in Tobacco Control reports large impact from mandated graphic warning labels—pictures of disease, suffering, and death—on cigarette packages in Canada. Trinidad Beleche, Nellie Lew, Rosemarie Summers, and J. Laron Kirby raise empirical challenges and suggest that the reported impact is greatly exaggerated.

Colonial Maryland’s bills of credit: Fiat money, discounted securities, or something else? In Economic History Review, James Celia and Farley Grubb argue that the dollar-denominated bills of credit circulated at less than face value like discounted securities. Ron Michener offers evidence that they circulated at par with specie and were treated as interchangeable with specie dollars. Farley Grubb replies, disputing Michener’s reading of the evidence.

Another pathPatricia Saenz-Armstrong describes the history and current standing of liberalism in Peru, extending the Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country series to 18 articles.

Dissing TMS: After Adam Smith died in 1790, The Theory of Moral Sentiments soon came to be disparaged and disregarded, and was largely forsaken all the way up to the late 1970s. Compiled here are quotations from 26 critics of TMS. The long train of ‘dissing’ is striking in light of our warm regard for TMS today. But have the criticisms ever been answered?

Esoteric instruction: Republished here by permission of University of Chicago Press is a chapter from Arthur Melzer’s landmark work Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric WritingThe chapter explains pedagogical esotericism, in which the author sparks the superior reader to work to find things beyond the exoteric.

EJW Audio: Patricia Saenz-Armstrong on Economic Liberalism in Peru


1. I don't think we expected much effect on rates of smoking among current smokers from the introduction of graphic picture in Australia, although it was hoped they would help. I believe the intention was more to reduce the creation of new addicts, particularly among the young, especially girls. (And I do mean girls as in female children. The 1950s have been over for at least 20 years now.)

You know, you don't have to go through life apologizing.

The more interesting question would be Australia has gone for plain packaging - I think, please correct me if I am wrong. I have never bought a packet of cigarettes in Australia. So how does that work? A white box with a picture of a diseased lung and nothing else?

Sorry for apologizing.

This describes warning labels for tobacco products in Australia. If you scroll down you'll see the final picture shows how packaging has changed over the years:

"Plain packaging" means a lack of branding, so yeah, mostly just pictures of tumors and stuff.

I had a bronchoscopy some years back and got 5x8 glossys of the cancer. I can assure you just looking at them will make you ill.

At this time it appears lіke Wordpress iѕ thᥱ preferred blogging platform ɑvailable гight now.
(fгom what Ⅰ've read) Is that what you're usіng on your blog?

And yet not a single article on the glorious legend that is modern Brazil.


The Dan Sutter article:

One man’s efficiency is another man’s ordeal. What do researchers really know about the particularistic world of the individual man or woman or business they presume to nudge or coerce?

The autonomy and moral worth of individuals is the
foundation of the liberal society of voluntary exchange and limited government.Persons who so disdain their fellow citizens’ capacity as to suspect that for-profit businesses (which are free to hire energy efficiency experts as consultants) will fail to make an investment yielding $1,000 in benefits for every $1 in cost should not serve in the government of a liberal society. And economists should be wise
enough to incorporate into their research the old adage that an offer that looks too good to be true probably isn’t.

Those statements in isolation just say "tragedy of the commons, we don't care, because freedom!"

For what it's worth I base a lot of my view on an old study I saw. It said buyers of low end refrigerators were choosing models which immediately cost them more because of their energy inefficiency. The way it worked was: they were choosing based on sticker price, and then buying on time. The payment for the refrigerator and the electric bill came in each month. The total was higher with the inefficient a cheaper refrigerator because the electricity was higher.

This is pure behavioral economics, the saliency of the sticker price is much higher than the conceptual total cost of ownership. If buyers were even doing the intellectual heavy lifting of thinking about total cost of ownership.

the conceptual total cost of ownership.

If an automobile shopper sat down with a pencil and paper for a few minutes new car sales would drop dramatically. Buying a new car because it gets better gas mileage than previous models ignores the sticker price over the actual cost per mile, which includes that sticker price and financing cost, insurance, etc. A used car that gets 25 mpg will cost $1,667 more in $2.50 gasoline, based on 100,000 miles of driving, than a new one that gets 30 mpg. New cars depreciate that much and more the day after they're driven off of the lot. This kind of behavioral economics is heavily influenced by the fact that unlike eggs, bagels and oranges, gasoline prices are displayed in giant illuminated numerals along every street and highway. Also, ask almost anyone how much they're paying per kilowatt hour for electricity and they'll be stumped. They have no idea if the appliance they've purchased is actually costing less to operate than the one they've put in the alley.

Ghastly images: I'm not surprised that the effect of the ghastly images is greatly exaggerated. People have the uncanny ability to hold to the belief that bad things won't happen to them: not from smoking, not from breaking the law, and not from investing in Bitcoin. As for smoking, I never did, but I do remember viewing the risk as very small since the adverse consequences would occur if at all many, many years in the future when I became a senior citizen. To my amazement, those many, many years have passed and I am now a senior citizen. How did that happen?

Interesting mix of articles. Life being short, I appreciate the fact that this issue and the previous issue cover two books I have vaguely thought about reading, Rogoff on Cash and Melzer on Exoterics ....

BTW, I have been reading these summaries on MR for years and I did not realize until clicking over this evening that Econ Journal Watch is so easy to access on the internet. I suppose someone with an ulterior party motive is paying for it - (just like Human Life Review, the pro-life scholarly journal , is probably sneakily subsidized by some big playpen/perambulator business syndicate) - but that is just how things are.

Dear Efim, Thanks for your reaction. RE funding and motives, yes, some sources are paying the bills, and yes those sources have motives. But I'm not sure that "ulterior" is apt.

I've just been rereading Wayne C. Booth—his critique of what he calls "motivism," in his great book Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (1974).

Do read Arthur Melzer's book!


All I could find is that Econ Journal Watch is funded by conservative Think Tanks.

Perhaps you could identify them.

Sorry, the Wiki source said funded by "free market" think tanks.

Bill: See here

Thanks. So, you get money from the Koch Foundation and the Atlas Network, which, according to Wikipedia, " As of 2005, Atlas had received $440,000 from ExxonMobil,[14] and has received at least $825,000 USD from the tobacco company Philip Morris.[15] Of Atlas Network partners, 57% in the United States had received funding from the tobacco industry.[15] Atlas has received funding from Koch family foundations.[9]"

"sneakily subsidized by some big playpen/perambulator business syndicate"

Big Pram: I like it. Is the Pope beholden to Big Pram, do you think?

Comments for this post are closed