Monday assorted links

1. Did Wicksteed discover the Coase theorem?

2. “But two other mothers who have met him said in interviews that he is clean-cut and polite. One described him as “hot.” Another said her first impression of the donor, who showed up wearing khakis and a nice shirt, was that he is “brave” and “generous.” The parents had happily connected on Facebook and Yahoo groups for “donor siblings” — and then were shocked to discover that many of their children seemed to have the same types of developmental challenges and diagnoses.”  Link here.

3. Can innovation be sped up?

4. The rise of peer review.

5. “Antisocial behaviour was consistently rated as less genetically influenced than prosocial behaviour.

6. “While the costs of RE [renewable energy[ have substantially declined in the past, here we show that rising interest rates (IRs) can reverse the trend of decreasing RE costs…


If Wicksteed did formulate Coase's theorem before Coase did, I still prefer Coase's simpler formulation of the theorem over Wicksteed's.

Coase always said he didn't like it to be called the Coase Theorem. Stigler gave it that name. The so-called Theorem was Coase's way of showing that the standard model in a world of zero transactions costs often led to absurd results. The cases in which it did hold did lead to surprising outcomes -- like independence of initial rights effects on efficient allocation in certain cases -- but mostly Coase wanted to highlight why the Pigouvian views of externalities was inconsistent. And also why neoclassical had been dealing wrongly with externalities.

The New York Times managed to make fools of themselves. Another situation where 'wait 3 days' proved wise. A hell of a way to run a business where your core asset is trust.

Why didn't the woman deny that the incident occurred? Instead, she now says she cannot remember. She cannot remember whether Kavanaugh or someone else put a penis in her face at a frat party? Lawyers often tell witnesses to answer questions while testifying with the response "I cannot remember" because it's sufficiently vague as to mean just about anything. How does one prove what another knows or doesn't know? Maybe she can't remember whether it was a Kavanaugh penis sighting or one of his frat brother's penis sighting. If someone ever stuck his penis in my face at a frat party, I would remember. I may not recall his name, but I would recall the incident. And no, it never happened to me. But I didn't attend nearly as many frat parties as Kavanaugh.

I can't remember if I instructed John Poindexter to ship weapons to Iran.

"If someone ever stuck his penis in my face at a frat party, I would remember." Exactly. And this should be enough for you to know the allegation is BS. That, along with all her witnesses don't know what she's talking about.

Ramirez remembered. Ford remembered. And now Max Stier. I would end with Sad!

But maybe this is more appropriate.


You keep holding onto that narrative. I'm sure there are a few people that still insist that Obama was born in Kenya.

And when did an FBI investigation determine that Trump’s racist accusation against Obama was credible ?

That’s right, it never did. You’re entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts. FBI says Kavanaugh’s accusers we’re credible, citing multiple witnesses to multiple assaults.

Facts you say:

"Ramirez had previously acknowledged to The New Yorker that, as recently as last month, she was not sure Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself to her. She then changed her mind after speaking to an attorney for less than a week, according ot the magazine. "

"The Supplemental Background Investigation confirms what the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded after its investigation: there is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez."

" FBI says Kavanaugh’s accusers we’re credible, citing multiple witnesses to multiple assaults"

Cite, please?

Control F agents.

That doesn't support what you said. The two agents who interview Ramirez said her allegations were credible. But no where does it cite multiple witnesses.

That's why the accusations fell apart. There's not corroboration. It's all He said, She said, from decades after the claimed event. Furthermore, Ramirez admits she wasn't sure that it was Kavanaugh, and Ford couldn't determine what party, what house nor even what year it took place.

At the end of the day, America still has a functioning sense of justice and we don't destroy somebodies career off of vague, politically motivated accusations from decades prior.

Seven witnesses said they heard about the Ramirez allegations. Two of those even said they heard about the allegations shortly after the incident while Kavanaugh was still at Yale.

Two officials corroborated Max Stier contacting the FBI.

Ramirez gave the FBI names of 25 further potential witnesses.

These are facts. Witnesses.

Keep stretching...........

So does that mean out of 25 people Ramirez named, only 7 heard about the incident? That's not a great ratio.

Also, you're mis-using words. A witness is someone who witnesses an event. What you're alleging is that some people heard about an incident that supposedly took place, but one of them actually saw it. That does not make someone a witness. The fact that you don't understand basic English language terms or you're deliberately misusing them does not lend your stance any credibility.

Don't criticize the mouse's English! For a Russian troll, he's doing a good job!

"Seven witnesses said they heard about the Ramirez allegations"

And I have seven people who "heard about" my alien abduction story. SEVEN PEOPLE!

This language is why women are abandoning the Republican Party in record numbers.

Comparing credible sexual assault allegations to alien abduction nonsense. That you would even make this comparison shows the lack of empathy in today’s conservative movement.

Bill Cosby? Weinstein? Epstein? Trump? Charlie Rose? Btw, all conservatives

Are those like alien abduction stories ?

Don't forget Bill Clinton. Seven dwarfs heard Bill was bitter he lost his frequent flier miles after Epstein suffered a workplace rope injury.

All those miles and no plane to use them. Sad. :(

Ramirez does not, and Ford remembers, but not that its Kavanaugh, nor the right house or year.

"The book isn’t released until Tuesday, but Mollie Hemingway got a copy, and she writes on Twitter: “The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event.”"

Victim shaming. We’ve seen this move by the alt-right before.


Just because she cannot remember her victimization does not mean we should give it any less credibility. Stier was there and remembers.

Ford didn't remember where it was, how she got there, how she got home, who invited her, how old she was when it happened ...

Trump needs to stop nominating the judicial equivalent of an Epstein to the Court.

Whoever he appoints will face the same type of unsubstantiated character assassination. That's the point - smear and harass the justice until (s)he either withdraws or is impeached.

We know the game - we are not rodents.

Even the rodents know the game. Though some of our smaller members might deny it for partisan reasons.

You been played.

"We fly and drive more slowly than in 1969."

True, but a silly point for an economist.

Speeds for larger jets have dropped from roughly 525 knots to 480-510 knots, but with a large reduction in cost.

Most people would think a drop in top speed of 5% for a drop in costs of 50%+ was well worth it.

Let's just call that a Marginal Revolution.

And the drive more slowly is even sillier. Your average car today can travel just as fast as the average car could in 1969. I assume he just means that higher population levels and higher car ownership has led to more crowding and lower speeds in and near cities.

Once again, cars are far more economical than they were in 1969 and far more people own and use them.

3. Nothing but old fart bs.

I'm wearing a Xaiomi Mi Band 4. It is an incredible technological artifact for $25(*). It is an amazing advancement from the Mi Band 1 of just a few years ago. It would absolutely boggle the mind of a computer engineer of 20 years ago.

So no, get out more.

* - and all my data to China, of course.

** - it told me I slept better than 99% of users last night, which is probably wrong but amusing.

*** - it probably has something to do with 99% of users being on Chinese time.

I'm not sure you grasped the point Sumner was making.

I'll look again.

Okay, I can see some attempt at a more subtle argument, that the foundations of my fitness band were ineffable, and therefore unrepeatable .. but I don't buy that because, as examples given both micro electronics and genome research did have government backing, and were somewhat obvious research directions.

You still don't get it and stop talking about your "fitness band," whatever that's supposed to be.

It’s an example of government funded research leading to consumer products and increasing productivity.

GPS tracks me while hiking aka DARPA satellites and NASA
Android app updates my statistics aka DARPA and 4G government sponsored infrastructure
App tracks health status aka NIH recommendations

The only way the US can innovate is to push federal funding of research and keep everything in the public sphere. The market is almost useless at innovation. They choose short term gains and stock market fluctuations for market manipulation.

Face it, rayward is right on this one. We need a Green New Deal with massive investment in all sectors. America is exceptional, and a wealth tax could pay for new research and development. This is how we beat the Taliban. Through grants to higher education and racial equality.

That was a different anonymous. I would be more succinct. If you don't know what a fitness band is, should you really be discussing a technological innovation? It's kind of basic, and a particular point case of technological innovation and lifestyle change.

(The anonymouses are out today.)

I assume this was supposed to be the tell:

"This is how we beat the Taliban. Through grants to higher education and racial equality."

But it's the truth right? The Taliban are a fundamentalist culture where religious works are all you read. Of course you have to buy drones off someone else.

#2 and #5 are interestingly juxtaposed. I think that we are currently messing it up by adding all kinds of people in the autism "spectrum". It's as if we created a "virus spectrum" and bundled together the common cold and ebola. People who are shy or socially awkward and just that. Most of it can be addressed with "training" or therapy and overall these are not mental disabilities, just mental quirks. Autism is something completely different. It is truly a mental developmental issue, and this is where medication is really needed. We are doing a disservice for both groups by bundling them together.

A better analogy might be cancer. Mild awkwardness might be like prostate cancer or basil cell carcinoma. While the can't walk or talk or be potty trained autism might be like pancreatic cancer. Conceptually they have something in common but the risks, causes, treatments, etc. are very different.

I struggle to come up with a really good analogy. The main problem I see is that currently we don't have a biological test for autism. So it's all behavioral and, as in anything that is based on speech, subjective. I know of quite a few adults who got "diagnosed" as autistic only now and it's all based in self-reporting. This is basically non scientific... and it allows for not only this insane grouping of very different degrees but also a high possibility of false positives.

Autism is ~90% genetic. Not all causes have been found but a lot have and there are tests, here's a commercial one:

I agree that qualifying autism with "spectrum" just confuses. I know children who are developmentally disabled who have been diagnosed with autism, including the only two children of a relative. I know children who are anti-social but otherwise not developmentally disabled. Frustrated parents want an explanation, and autism "spectrum" gives them one. Another explanation is "oppositional defiant disorder", which describes almost every teen I have ever known. Anyway, I am pleased someone besides me observed the connection between 2. and 5., which I attempted to connect with Brett Kavanaugh's strange (anti-social?) behavior and the possibility that he has the "alcoholic gene".

How is Kavanaugh strange (anti-social)? All we really know about him is that he's been wildly successful in his law career, a very social profession, seems to be a good husband and father, social, also a coach to his daughter's sport teams, also very social.

And if you leave out the murders, OJ Simpson was generally known as a great running back and a decent comedic actor.

Kavanaugh has murdered someone? NYT reader, eh?

There's also the domestic violence accusations(AFAIK he never denied them) and the robbery. And actual evidence for the murders.

And don't forget kidnapping and possession of a deadly weapon.

Kavanaugh has been credibly accused of attempted rape and sexual assault by multiple women over a period of years. The FBI even found the allegations credible.

This is the hill you’ll die to defend? Sexual assault ? It really is Trump’s Party now. Another habitual and self admitted sexual assaulter.

Guilty until proven innocent is the Hill you want to die to defend?

For the criminal justice system, sure. For job interviews, no.

Lest we not forget, Trump admitted to sexual assault on tape.

So, naturally you didn't vote for Hillary Clinton due to the FBI investigations into the Email scandal?

After all you have principles, correct? You don't just change them around depending on who's involved, right? And clearly the FBI thought the allegations of classified documents on a home server were credible.

Almost forgot, Swetnick also credibly accused Kavanaugh.

But to your point I suppose it deals with the relative harms of IT incompetence of a 70 year old compared to serial sexual assault and attempted rape.

Easy choice for this moderate.

"IT incompetence of a 70 year old "

So, Hillary Clinton the super sharp lawyer who was acting Secretary of State didn't understand that she couldn't have classified documents on her home server? Well sure, she's just obviously a little confused about those high tech emails and that keyboard and stuff. How could anyone hold her accountable for that? She's a Grandma after all. It's not like she was going to do anything important, right?

Nice dodge on the Swetnick allegations.

But yes, the relative harms of IT incompetence for a 70 year old who mostly sets a vision and delegates responsibility compared to elevating a man to the Supreme Court who faces at least four accusations of attempted rape and sexual assault...

I’m a moderate, not a partisan. And for a moderate it’s not even in the same ballpark.

"I’m a moderate, not a partisan. And for a moderate it’s not even in the same ballpark."

Yep, and I'm the Jolly Green Giant.

The mouse is delusional, but amusing.

Jesus Christ man, not only do you have to spam this perfectly good autism sub-thread with Brett Kavanaugh retreads, but then you defend Hillary Clinton on the grounds that she's just a doddering old 70 year old.

A doddering old 70 year old shouldn't be Secretary of State if she's not competent to maintain the security of classified information! Either she's guilty of criminal neglect, or she's too senile to be the Secretary of State. Pick one.

Strike out credibly and over years. OK, pretty much everything you've said.

The elastic definition of autism bugs the hell out of me. My sister has an autistic kid. He's 18 years old and severely developmentally disabled.

What's the point of defining a group to include this kid along with some quirky, introverted savant genius? It does a real disservice to those grappling with real autism IMO.

I agree. There are people self-diagnosing with autism, like that stripper a few months back who wrote an article about how she had to teach herself to read body language, so she could get tips. These people are basically fully functional adults who just happen to be mildly odd, or maybe even just have social anxiety and nothing else. There's basically nothing wrong with them.

And then there's autism as in head-banging, hand-flapping children who can barely speak, who have major developmental delays. What is the relationship between these two things? If the developmentally delayed children eventually grow up to be mildly odd adults, what's the problem? If they don't then that's a completely different disorder.

It is a spectrum.

If Wicksteed didn't mention transaction costs, he didn't discover the Coase theorem. The importance of transaction costs and the errors economists make when they ignore them are what make Coase's work important. The stuff about how initial assignment of rights doesn't matter if transaction costs are zero is obvious and trivial.

That was my reaction too. The first part of the paper went on and on using an example of how the suppliers could be different and in the end the market equilibrium would be the same. That's a good useful insight for intro econ student to learn and for 1814 or whatever year it was. But it's not the same as discovering the Coase Theorem, not close.

Maybe the paper made better points later on, but I stopped reading.

The shift to fracked oil means that oil costs are no longer largely fixed costs. Fracked oil takes continued high current costs of injecting liquids back into the well and the life span of a fracked well is much shorter than the life span of old oil.

What does this imply for the interest costs for oil going forward?
Will both renewable and traditional energy sources face the same problem?

Wells are usually only fracked once. There is no continued injection after the initial frack. And sure fracked wells have a short life but so did many conventional wells, it is about total recovery of oil not life of well. I would trust Exxon or Chevrons engineers and economists on whether they are good investments, Exxon has quite a bit of experience in this area.

You are perfectly right, but it still does not address the question of what will happen to the cost of traditional energy sources in the future and you can not evaluate the cost of renewable without having an ability to compare it to old oil and gas.

#1 on prefiguring of the so-called Coase theorem, consider also p. 396-7 of W.H. Hutt, "Co-ordination and the Size of the Firm," South African Journal of Economics 2(4), December 1934:

"Now, under one ownership, their relations would, given competitive institutions, be exactly the same, provided that both methods were equally efficient from the social standpoint. There is no reason why the spreading of the lines of responsibility back to several sources should lead to less effective planning than subordinacy to an authority emanating from one source, given the equal availability of relevant knowledge to the managers who devise the plans...The most important significant difference between the two cases is that, in practice, in the one case there may not be the availability of relevant knowledge that there is in the other."

For a still earlier ‘discovery’ with transaction costs and all see my former colleague Yehoshua Liebermann’s “The Coase Theorem in Jewish Law,” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 293-303

2 is BS. Science shows that all children are born with equal potential. Therefore this must be about parents providing bad environments.

Nice strawman. Just because moderates in this country believe in funding schools, equal opportunity for kids of all races, and yes giving a kid from the projects an extra leg up on admissions to Stuyvesant does not mean we believe in a blank slate.

No one believes in a blank slate. We just don’t believe in race. Arbitrary and not science based, like IQ or using SATs or other standardized tests. Let teachers grade and school’s choose and that’s that unless there is a disparate impact on racial lines.

As long as everything is proportional to population re race and gender, you’ll hear not a word from moderates. Until then we have work to do.

How can you talk about "As long as everything is proportional to population re race" when you also say "We just don't believe in race."?

#3 I sort of agree with Sumner on the facts but not his conclusion. If innovation happens "when the time is right" or when there is a kind of rich fertile environment, then actions that stimulate attempts of innovation will speed up the process of getting us to that point. The connection between the fertilizer and the harvest might not be obvious, but surely it's true that having more people trying ton innovate in parallel at any time pushes us down the overall pipeline faster, even if it comes in fits and starts.

Without the modern patent system, we still don't have a good cure for hepetitus C. We do now, due to billions in research.

I think you can set up the market to foster innovation, for sure.

The only other thing I would point to on this subject is the NASA Apollo program. It's cliche to point to that as a way that government fostered innovation. Manhattan project?

It's a resource allocation issue. Real innovation requires R&D, and that is expensive.

People think Edison was some type of lonely savant working in his attic. He was not. He had a sweat shop full of people, working under his direction, trying to make things work. He didn't make the light bulb work with a flash of genius, he did it with thousands of man hours of other people figuring out all the ways that a light bulb does not work.

3. One explanation for the sporadic nature of innovation, either in science or the arts, is that while there is a constant pool of capable practitioners ready to exploit a new idea, someone capable of a truly new idea, a true genius, is an extremely rare thing. That spark leads to a few decades of productive innovation, which eventually peters out for lack of another truly new idea. Those lucky enough to be present for the genesis of a new idea get the credit as the group who are first to exploit it, but are in fact no more capable than others who did not have the fortune to be born at the right time. How often does the true genesis for a new idea get the credit he or she deserves? I wonder if we even know who most of these geniuses were in history? Were they one of the first innovators in a wave, or were they somebody that the first exploiter chance upon in a lucky happenstance, a source of inspiration who never produced a work of art or a published scientific paper and is now lost to history? After all, somebody with a truly different way of thinking is likely to be considered insane in their time, and unlikely to fit in to a society of artists or scientists. Most truly different thinkers are crackpots, worthy of being ignored. A very few are not, but those few would still remain on the fringe of society. The artist or scientist who brings that new idea into the center of society is the one who will get the credit.

"6. “While the costs of RE [renewable energy[ have substantially declined in the past, here we show that rising interest rates (IRs) can reverse the trend of decreasing RE costs…“"

Hydro, wind, solar and nuclear all have heavy capital costs and low fuel costs. Rising interest rates will tend to favor natural gas and coal plants which have lower capital costs and higher fuel costs.

We put coal in the high capital basket. For existing coal power stations, fuel costs range from dollars per tonne for stranded brown coal to about one-third the cost of gas per joule. Note our gas isn't stranded.

"We put coal in the high capital basket. "

Australia is mining record amounts of coal over the last 5 years. Indeed, Australian coal mining has doubled since 1997.

So, no not really.

Eh? What? For most of their existence Australia's brown coal power stations only paid a few dollars per tonne for lignite and made no payments for externalities. So if most of the cost of electricity from them is not capital, what is it? Really expensive O&M?

Australia might have increased the costs on it's local coal plants, but it's exporting coal as cheaply as possible in record amounts. So your statement is factually wrong:

"We put coal in the high capital basket. "

It’s not you, Crikey. Rat likes to use alternative facts. It’s why he’s stuck in the maze.

I have to remember that not every country traded their guns for a life time supply of context.

I thought the context was decreasing the usage of coal in order to decrease CO2 production.

If the context was just decreasing the useage of coal within Australia so that there is more coal available to the export market, then yes, I misunderstood.

Okay, I was attempting to say that here in Australia we consider coal power stations to be high capital, low fuel cost generating capacity. I suppose you could argue that we should put it in a different category since high capital and (more or less) zero fuel cost wind and solar are now popular. But we're not likely to bother to do that.

1. Did Wicksteed discover the Coase theorem?
Supply is not fixed, it just adjusts more slowly then demand.

I dunno what got into this particular economist, but he has been on a one sided rant, about supply being fixed. The price of something in Walmart is determined by the amount of shelf space it is taking up. They move goods then adjust the goods mix to ensure profitability later.

3. Innovation is problem-solving. Why should we think it impossible to increase the speed of problem-solving by allocating more resources to it? All Sumner seems to be saying is that rate at which we can convert resources to solved problems depends on which problems we have already solved, which seems rather obvious.

I remember reading once that science advances one funeral at a time. Which if true would mean steeply diminishing marginal returns per additional unit of resource dedicated to innovation (unless someone figures out how to use those additional resources to foster some kind of viewpoint/ and or tradition of practice type diversity among researchers and innovators).

#4. As implied, peer review means academic peer review. It is still the case that the vast majority of science journals have subject experts as editors. (Science, Nature and several of the largest "Society" journals are exceptions). Editors were relied on preponderantly back before peer review. The interviewee doesn't seem to recognize that STEM peer review isn't, never was, and perhaps never will be a static flow chart into which manuscripts are poured and out of which journals are published. To me, it looks as if peer review is under enormous stress and is likely to evolve into something quite a bit different.

Any takes or cognitive dissonance on pre-emptive strike on Iran to defend the trusted, helpless, innocent ally KSA? I mean I can understand the cognitive load that it is a Trump action but there is a semi pro-Israeli angle to it..Israel First, KSA Second, America Third kind of deal that neocon internationalists like.

Or waiting for the NYT editorials to sort it out first? This was KSA's 9-11 and bonesaw execution, this demands a classic tit for tat response?

2 was sad alright, but just ... could you not, just once or twice, have sex, preferably with someone whose family you've met?

3. (commenting on the arts not on the hard science stuff)

As the Baby Boomers age and their influence wanes we see more and more of these pieces about how the music/art/movies/whatever that came out when they were young "Really was the best ever!". It's sad, sure there was plenty of great stuff noone would deny that, but this attempt to cement it as being uniquely astounding is increasingly just elderly people convinced that things were "better in their day". Tale as old as time.

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