Month: August 2018
That is a new and truly excellent book by W.J. Rorabaugh. It is a perfect 116 pp. of text and a model for what many other books should be.
From 1825 to 1850, the per capita consumption of alcohol in the United States dropped by half, due largely to religious influence.
As late as 1914, alcohol taxes accounted for 35 percent of the revenue of the federal government.
The Russian government moved to prohibition during WWI, and the resulting loss of revenue was a significant factor contributing to the downfall of the regime.
Note that “per capita consumption of alcohol was reduced for a very long time.” If you were born in 1900, for instance, you could not legally drink until 1933, at the age of thirty-three, a relatively late age for this habit to form.
Today “more than half of Mexican American women are teetotalers.” And: “African Americans continue to be light drinkers, and more than half of black women do not drink.”
Strongly recommended. If all books were like this, it would be hard for me to tear myself away from them.
A four-story building built in four days with apartments that include closets, a kitchenette, a sofa that converts to a queen-size bed, and a flat-screen TV? We are used to seeing that kind of thing in China but this development was in, of all places, Berkeley.
Berkeleyside: This new 22-unit project from local developer Patrick Kennedy (Panoramic Interests) is the first in the nation to be constructed of prefabricated all-steel modular units made in China. Each module, which looks a little like sleekly designed shipping containers with picture windows on one end, is stacked on another like giant Legos.
Cost savings on the housing itself were significant but local assembly was still expensive. Organized labor isn’t very happy:
Organized labor also dislikes that these MicroPADs are manufactured abroad.
“We’d rather they be constructed here instead of China so they don’t undercut wages and conditions,” said Michael Theriault, secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, in 2016 to the San Francisco Chronicle. “And we want them built under local building code and inspected by local inspectors.”
Cost savings won’t be passed on to consumers if the quantity of housing supplied isn’t increased so this isn’t a solution to high-prices in quantity-constrained cities. Nevertheless, construction costs rather than land supply are an important constraint elsewhere in the country. Moreover, it’s good to see experiments in improving construction productivity, one of our most important but productivity lagging sectors.
This is part of a letter from Miss Howe to Miss Clarissa Harlowe, from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa .
You and I have often retrospected the faces and minds of grown people; that is to say, have formed images for their present appearances, outside and in, (as far as the manners of the persons would justify us in the latter) what sort of figures they made when boys and girls. And I’ll tell you the lights in which HICKMAN, SOLMES, and LOVELACE, our three heroes, have appeared to me, supposing them boys at school.
Solmes I have imagined to be a little sordid, pilfering rogue, who would purloin from every body, and beg every body’s bread and butter from him; while, as I have heard a reptile brag, he would in a winter-morning spit upon his thumbs, and spread his own with it, that he might keep it all to himself.
Hickman, a great overgrown, lank-haired, chubby boy, who would be hunched and punched by every body; and go home with his finger in his eye, and tell his mother.
While Lovelace I have supposed a curl-pated villain, full of fire, fancy, and mischief; an orchard-robber, a wall-climber, a horse-rider without saddle or bridle, neck or nothing: a sturdy rogue, in short, who would kick and cuff, and do no right, and take no wrong of any body; would get his head broke, then a plaster for it, or let it heal of itself; while he went on to do more mischief, and if not to get, to deserve, broken bones. And the same dispositions have grown up with them, and distinguish them as me, with no very material alteration.
Only that all men are monkeys more or less, or else that you and I should have such baboons as these to choose out of, is a mortifying thing, my dear.
I am enjoying this splendid book for the first time, and yes it is OK to read an abridged edition.
From William J. Luther:
Unfamiliar with aggregate concepts like gross domestic product and inflation, many introductory students struggle to understand the big ideas in macroeconomics. Macroeconomic educators typically respond with boring lectures aimed at bringing students up to speed; or, by jumping to the interesting topics their students are not yet prepared to consider. In an effort to combat this problem, I have incorporated NPR’s Planet Money podcast into my Principles of Macroeconomics course. I describe the podcast and provide a list of episodes others might find useful. In my experience, the Planet Money podcast is well received. Students enjoy listening to the assigned episodes. They report that it made them more interested in the principles course, helped them understand the relevance of macroeconomics, and increased their understanding of many macroeconomic issues. Most students also feel more comfortable discussing macroeconomic issues having listened to the podcast. And nearly half of those students surveyed say they will continue listening to the podcast after the course ends.
Here is the SSRN link, via Mike Dariano
Sadly, these sentences help NIMBY:
….we find that buying a home leads individuals to participate substantially more in local elections, on average. We also collect data on local ballot initiatives, and we find that the homeowner turnout boost is almost twice as large in times and places where zoning issues are on the ballot. Additionally, the effect of homeownership increases with the price of the home purchase, suggesting that asset investment may be an important mechanism for the participatory effects.
That is from a new paper by Andrew B Hall and Jesse Yoder (pdf).
3. What the West is becoming, and why. An interesting piece.
5. “I’m a lifelong Angeleno and, in this life, I’ve come to know two versions of the city: One I’ve seen from the car and another I understand as a pedestrian. It’s that second version of the city that’s closest to me.” Link here.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
Gensowski revisits a data set from all schools in California, grades 1-8, in 1921-1922, based on the students who scored in the top 0.5 percent of the IQ distribution. At the time that meant scores of 140 or higher. The data then cover how well these students, 856 men and 672 women, did through 1991. The students were rated on their personality traits and behaviors, along lines similar to the “Big Five” personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
One striking result is how much the trait of conscientiousness matters. Men who measure as one standard deviation higher on conscientiousness earn on average an extra $567,000 over their lifetimes, or 16.7 percent of average lifetime earnings.
Measuring as extroverted, again by one standard deviation higher than average, is worth almost as much, $490,100. These returns tend to rise the most for the most highly educated of the men.
For women, the magnitude of these effects is smaller…
It may surprise you to learn that more “agreeable” men earn significantly less. Being one standard deviation higher on agreeableness reduces lifetime earnings by about 8 percent, or $267,600.
There is much more at the link, and no I do not confuse causality with correlation. See also my remarks on how this data set produces some results at variance with the signaling theory of education. Here is the original study.
From Philip Glandon, Kenneth N. Kuttner, Sandeep Mazumder, and Caleb Stroup:
We document eight facts about published macroeconomics research by hand collecting information about the epistemological approaches, methods, and data appearing in over a thousand published papers. Macroeconomics journals have published an increasing share of theory papers over the past 38 years, with theory-based papers now comprising the majority of published macroeconomics research. The increase in quantitative models (e.g., DSGE methods) masks a decline in publication of pure theory research. Financial intermediation played an important role in about a third of macroeconomic theory papers in the 1980s and 1990s, but became less frequent until the financial crisis, at which point it once again became an important area of focus. Only a quarter of macroeconomics publications conduct falsification exercises. This finding contrasts with the year 1980, when these empirical approaches dominated macroeconomics publishing. Yet the fraction of empirical papers that rely on microdata or proprietary data has increased dramatically over the past decade, with these features now appearing in the majority of published empirical papers. All of these findings vary dramatically across individual macroeconomics field journals.
Here is the SSRN link.
3. An incorrect Straussian reading of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. Yet here we are open to all sorts of views.
5. Casting Crazy Rich Asians (NYT).
Silicon Valley has created a model for identifying and nurturing high-potential young companies…Pioneer… hopes to do much the same thing for high-potential people.
The group, which is being announced on Thursday, plans to use the internet-era tools of global communication and crowdsourcing to solicit and help select promising candidates in a variety of fields, along with evaluations by experts. Its goal is to put more science and less happenstance into the process of talent discovery — and reach more people, wherever they are in the world.
“We’re trying to build a kind of search engine for finding great people with talent, ambition and potential,” said Daniel Gross, 27, the group’s founder…
Selecting “pioneers” will begin with a monthlong online tournament. Candidates will submit their project ideas. Each week, the projects will be updated. The candidates will vote on each other’s projects, points will be awarded and there will be leader board. Subject experts will also vote, with their votes counting somewhat more than the candidates’.
The full title is Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals. I have been working on this book for about twenty years, and I recommend it to you all.
Here is the Amazon link, you can pre-order for October 16. Here is the Kindle link. I will get you the Barnes and Noble link as soon as it is available. The Stripe Press people have done a fantastic job with the cover and also with the production more generally, my commendations to them!
Food insecurity can be directly exacerbated by climate change due to crop-production-related impacts of warmer and drier conditions that are expected in important agricultural regions. However, efforts to mitigate climate change through comprehensive, economy-wide GHG emissions reductions may also negatively affect food security, due to indirect impacts on prices and supplies of key agricultural commodities. Here we conduct a multiple model assessment on the combined effects of climate change and climate mitigation efforts on agricultural commodity prices, dietary energy availability and the population at risk of hunger. A robust finding is that by 2050, stringent climate mitigation policy, if implemented evenly across all sectors and regions, would have a greater negative impact on global hunger and food consumption than the direct impacts of climate change. The negative impacts would be most prevalent in vulnerable, low-income regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where food security problems are already acute.
In other words, one needs to be very careful with a carbon tax. For the pointer, I thank Charles Klingman.
Data are reported for intelligence of children in China assessed by the Combined Raven’s Test in 1988, 1996 and 2006. The IQ of the samples increased by 15.0 IQ points over 18-year period. The British IQ of China in 1988 and 2006 is estimated as 94.8 and 109.8, respectively.
That is from a new paper by Mingrui Wang and Richard Lynn. Via a loyal MR reader. Speculative!
In contrast, we show that the cryptocurrency returns can be predicted by factors which are specific to cryptocurrency markets. Specifically, we determine that there is a strong time-series momentum effect and that proxies for investor attention strongly forecast cryptocurrency returns. Finally, we create an index of exposures to cryptocurrencies of 354 industries in the US and 137 industries in China.
That is from a new NBER paper by Yukun Liu and Aleh Tsyvinski.