Request for requests

I haven’t asked for a while — so what would you all like to read more about on MR?

Comments

I’m curious about the ways the pandemic has caused you to rethink beliefs or assumptions that you held.

Or how about: no more COVID-19 takes on this blog?

movie recommendations.

Nah.

Tyler: blog more about aliens, sovereignty (all types), IR (all the great economists eventually do), and corruption (again, all types, including within the libertarian movement).

Thanks!

Economic mobility

More on cukkoldry. A highly underappreciated topic.

There’s plenty of that already. You just have to read between the lines.

Economic mobility is the outcome, when taken from what cause, policy, intervention, or lack thereof-- ?
Let's see quantification, measurement , policy consideration of individual 'unrealized potential' - and how resources should respond to this at school, post-school, pre-career, career (i.e. the privilege conundrum)
more to C+ers to become B-ers, or all on As to become A+ers
(seems an 80s think - but new info?)

COVID-19 research, data, news, etc. Your blog is one of the best resources on the internet for a wide variety of COVID-19 research, data, and news. More, please.

I’m surprised Cowen hasn’t combined his interest in COVID heterogeneity with his belief in State capacity libertarianism. This is a time when the state should ensure that every citizen has an adequate mask supply (Cotton masks in short run, N95 in the long run). Why is that happening in the Czech Republic and Taiwan but not here? Hint: There’s actually no good reason. Cowen can’t fully pin it on the CDC either. They did what I would cynically expect them to: lie to the public to protect their own (people in the medical profession). Good leadership in the White House would have found a way to conserve current PPE supply for medical professionals (back in January, March by the latest) while ramping up both centralized and decentralized production of masks (DPA, manufacturer incentives, and payments to households for their own production). If that was done, we would have been able to open up for non-at-risk people, albeit with social distancing, limitations on large gatherings, and detailed guidance for individuals and corporations to follow. At-risk people would get free and/or subsidized deliveries to their home.

I really do appreciate this blog and all the information Tyler has been sharing. I read it every day. However, on the margins and specially with regards to COVID-19, I think Tyler has been over-supplying mood affiliated content. The mood-affiliated ideological divide is total lockdown (ignorant of economic costs and epidemiological solutions) vs. laissez faire (ignorant of humanitarian costs and epidemiological solutions). Taiwan and the Czech Republic show a third way that both saves lives and saves the economy.

I suspect I know why economists like Tyler underrate nuanced strategies in the same vein as Taiwan. They might cynically believe that the public is too incoherent to support and follow a nuanced strategy. Total order and total chaos are easier to comprehend. I believe that that mindset is deeply wrong. Behavioral economics is, at the moment, overrated. It provided a much needed reprieve from the false classical assumptions of rationality. However, by focusing too much on our capacity for irrationality, I believe we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our leadership is forsaking good governance because they don’t believe the plebeian masses will adhere to it.

It’s better to tell the truth, the whole nuanced truth. It’s better to trust the people and involve them in public efforts. We have the best communication tools in history but we seem to be uncoordinated as a nation. That’s a shame. We can change that though. People like Tyler need to be a bit less descriptive and a bit less normative. Put on your leader hat and think about how you would solve this crisis from every angle, using a systems thinking approach.

A bit less descriptive and a bit more normative* sorry for the typo

I think there is a couple of problems with this.

The first is, I am not really sure there is a public mask shortage. I have been offered many more than I could ever possibly use. Anyway, I am inundated with ads to buy masks, and I haven't heard anybody say they can't get one. Maybe if you mean N95s specifically, but other than that there doesnt appear to be any civilian mask shortage.

The bigger issue is the assumption in the post. I mean, I guess your Czech so you probably know better than me but its odd to say look at how successful the Czech Republic was, and then to think masks did it all.

Poland looks to be doing better, what is mask usage there like? Belarus? Ukraine?

Anyway the examples you are using seem a little to arbitrary to really establish any kind of point.

It’s a dual communication and production problem. The White House dramatically underemphasized the importance of personal PPE in re-opening. If they required everyone to wear a mask outside early on, and gave everyone the mask they needed, reopening would have been easier at an earlier date. I also believe there would have been less transmission of the disease. As for the examples I used, Taiwan is more cosmopolitan than Belarus.
People thought that Russia was doing fine until recently. It is less cosmopolitan than the U.S., which is why it took a while for COVID to spread there.

It seems likely that if everyone wears a mask there will be less transmission, I agree.

On the other hand if I was given the choice of a) having mask usage at levels similar to Taiwan or b) being an island that restricted international travel heavily in January, I would chose b.

I have no idea, perhaps the prevalence of masks completely explains why many countries around China seem to be left afflicted. I guess its worth trying.

The University of Chicago recently found that a mask with cotton and silk layers is close or equal in efficacy to N95 for the general population. Cotton and silk are washable/reusable. That would cost $20 per citizen at most to provide, which is a tiny fraction of the COVID checks that were handed out. Is the link below too “wonkish” and “in the trees” for our “high level, big picture” leaders? Because that right there is the kind of solution we need, not state rights and money printer go brrrrrr.

https://news.uchicago.edu/story/homemade-masks-made-silk-and-cotton-may-boost-protection

To be honest, most people seem to be treating the spread of a virus as a matter of public policy and I am not so sure. To put it another way it seems like to most people the appearance of this virus requires a campaign like WWII, to me it looks a lot more like The Four Pests campaign.

Very wary of all the "should have" arguments. Of course we should have done many things differently. But let's be reasonable. If there were people suggesting we should have been stockpiling PPE in January, there weren't many of them. The world was mostly operating under the assumption that the virus was not transmittable by human-to-human contact. Of course, that was wrong. But if that's the assumption, then no President would have spent that time focused on PPE.

That doesn’t excuse the failures from March until now.

Historical precedents when a world superpower's state apparatus was this weak, and things ended working out ok for the world in the subsequent 10-20 years.

I'm struggling to find one.

The US 10 to 20 years ago is a pretty good example.

After many many calls to pay workers to build capital to prevent a global pandemic or quickly produce a vaccine for a deadly airborne disease, the US refused to pay workers to build such capital, instead demanding job killing tax cuts on profits.

Remember, profits are the money not paid to workers, so tax cuts on profits is a government policy to reverse the 13th amendment and enslave workers by other means.

The Trump policy is paying workers government borrowed money to not work so workers pay businesses prices high enough to produce high profits.

He hasn't called for paying workers to build factories, aka capital, like Keynes, FDR, Obama, Bill Gates....

Obama in December 2014 predicted a deadly airborne disease in five or ten years as a reason to increase funding for vaccine development. The GOP did not want to pay workers, claiming too many people were unemployed or under employed to afford to pay more workers to work.

In 2014, ffunding ran out for building vaccine producing factories yet the threat of deadly disease never seemed higher.

Until Trump got scared a few months ago, then decided to deny it, then got scared, then trivialized it, then got scared, then claimed it would go away.

Trump represents the faction of American society that makes America weak and incapable of dealing with problems large and small because they demand benefits without costs, ie, free lunches.

That's because the US is really the only "world superpower" in history, in terms of being a powerful force everywhere in the world. Arguably, the British Empire was another one. But I can't think of a third. It's hard to draw conclusions from 1-2 data points.

I really like that you're reading Chicago Price Theory. I'm currently using it to learn more advanced economics. A post with your thoughts on that book would be really nice.

Being in the same profession as Tyler, I can give you my comments on the book. I have only paged through it, but I am quite familiar with the contents since that is how microeconomics used to be taught a couple of decades ago when I was in graduate school. Lot's of applications of micro intuition. Price theory is a great tool and fun to learn, so good luck with your reading--but try the problems, that's how you really learn.

I would like to read more about Brazil's approach to fighting the coronavirus. Why has Brazil succeeded where America, the richest nation in the history of rich nations, has failed?

That reminds me ... we need more Thiago.

what do you point to to prove Brazil's success and America's failure?

not doubting the premise but which stats in particular are definitive to you here on this?

The poster is Thiago Ribiero, an insufferably persistent troll who praises Brazil and/or Bolsonaro in a way that is contextualized to a given MR article. He used to use the Thiago name more but now he tends to use Anglosaxon pseudonyms. Of course, he will deny that he is Thiago. “Who’s Thiago? I’m Benjamin Smith Cunningham Jr. IV from Wyoming.”

Brazil has had far fewer deaths than America. 'Nuff said as the kids say.

"Why has Brazil succeeded where America"

You misspelled South Korea.

Brazil has had far fewer deaths than America. 'Nuff said as the kids say.

Have you checked Brazil's median age? If they did absolutely nothing better than the US, they'd have fewer deaths per ten thousand

It is not that simple.

It basically is, this is a virus that truly affects the AARP, 55+ crowd.

The 55 and under crowd only need worry about the elderly.

Not true at all. Young adults have died, teenagers have died, babies have died.

Do reviews of academic literature on this or that

1. The changes that K-12 education will go through in the short to medium term.
2. Government Debt...
3. How long will it take for politics to fully respond to the new normal?

1 word: manufactured-housing. When will American business wake up to the reality of a wealth distribution that is varied on both a % and unit basis and begin building durable goods specific to the lower end of the distribution and what will America look like when the realization happens?

Classical music. Any thoughts on the Nordic composers? Sibelius, Nielsen, Madetoja, etc.

Seconded.

Investigate Dutch minimalists: Simeon ten Holt, Douwe Eisenga.

Anti-Griegist running dog!

Why George Szell was the GOAT (not whether).

You misspelled Guido Cantelli.

Touché. Perhaps the only name that would not have prompted the response “you’re crazy”!

Also, how about most underrated?

My vote: Jochum.

What's the longer term monetary and inflationary impact of the massive Federal Covid-19 spending response?

+1

All I've heard so far is the simplistic "this looks just like post WW2, therefore we should get financial repression just like post WW2", but I'm sure there's a bigger story to it than that.

Agreed. The long-term economic impacts are hard to predict, but they will likely affect people's lives more than the virus itself. It is worth more research and even speculation into that topic.

Inflation speculation is of most interest to me. As I get closer to retirement a significant pickup of inflation is my biggest fear. I have heard you speak positively about the prospects of inflation running around 5%. Yet this would significantly harm the purchasing power of my future pension. Shouldn't I fear 5% inflation given my future reliance on a pension with a COLA capped at 3%? And if I should, why do you speak almost gleefully about such a prospect?

+1 on this as well. What is the potential impact of the substantial M2 growth we just witnessed? Does the presence of bad debt on Federal Reserve’s book affect anything of consequence?

Decentralized solutions to COVID-19

Maybe more insight into some of your ventures. Like how you decided what to ask people in CWT podcasts, background context on emergent ventures, etc.

Thoughts on the economics of photography? Might be worth following up with a 'Conversations with Tyler' with some of the more prominent photographers - Steve McCurry, etc.

Where should I spend my marginal dollar to have the greatest impact today?
I can’t affect change on the level of fast grants so how do I bet spend $100; $1,000; or $10,000 today? Is it support of local businesses? Is it regional initiatives? Is it something global?

My feeling is that I’m in a class of professionals who still have their jobs, yet whose spending has decreased due to lock downs without any intention of decrease. So I have otherwise discretionary spending left unspent and am wondering how best to spend it.

I could save it under the assumption that I must prepare for the worst but I would rather spent it as a way to forestall or prevent the worst. How can that money be spent most effectively?

Is it the longest supply chain that touches the most people? Or is it the spending that most quickly goes into an individual's pocket?

My guess is that if we're talking charity you should still probably be donating to the Against Malaria Foundation or something. SARS-2 isn't that big a deal.

I'd love your thoughts on this new jurisdiction project: prospera.hn

Post-Scarcity and utopian economics - why are most economists wishing to keep us on the 'optimum cycle' status-quo principle. We deserve better.

Cost disease. Alex did some great writing on this for certain sectors, but many others remain unexplored. If we want to enter a new era of "building" and "accomplishing great projects", we need new tools to explain why they're so expensive now, or at least estimate their real costs more accurately for planning purposes.

Longer term visions of what is likely in the future and how it should shape what we are doing today. For example:

1. When will it be possible to 3D print essentially everything that is sold today? What could we print in the future that we cannot make today? How will that affect employment, transportation, etc.?

2. When might we expect to have fully functional artificial wombs? How will that affect gender norms, the concept of the family, etc.?

3. What tail events are we likely to experience in the next 1000 years and how might that shape the future (would have been nice to have done one of these on pandemics last year!).

4. What is the future of human brains and bodies. Is it some age of em feature where humans recede and a digital universe in our shadow rises instead? Will we replace more of our body with mechanical parts, or grow better parts that are genetically engineered?

Questions like that!

You wrote in mid March that there no Straussians in a pandemic. Do you still think that? What is your current take on the question you asked then (So what is the margin of bad outcomes where, after that point, a major change in strategy should set in?). Isn't it interesting how few people are asking this question while at the same time plenty of people are saying we have had enough?

I really enjoy "The economist view of X profession" commentaries and the dialogues that follow.

Yes, i thought the epidemiologist takedown was fascinating. maybe shine that same lense on advertisers, educators, architects, etc.

I’m high.

zero point/new energy technologies fight against the national security act

Race and wokeness. And more on culture and american politics.

Can you link to smart articles on politics more? That would be great.

thanks.

Thoughts on why or how economics as a profession really does not address this: https://thereformedbroker.com/2020/05/12/value-investing-is-immortal/
and speaking of American culture and politics consider this sentence:
Most of what happens in the show occurs because the writers wish to elicit a specific set of emotions from the audience, and the plot follows a predictable literary strategy that successfully does just that. The problem comes when viewers internalize plot lines designed for their emotional effect and use them as the frame through which they understand politics and power in the world outside of the show. From here https://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2015/06/fiction-and-strategist.html

What are the systemic factors that drive the failure of the regulatory state? How would you *fix* the regulatory state? (And please don’t just say fewer regulations...)

Investment advice :).

Seriously would be interested in what you think optimal portfolio is at the moment.

I've read a few blog posts talking about how strong demand for the US dollar is hurting other countries, in one case even comparing it to the gold standard. Is there anything to these theories? How could I learn more about it?

That isn't the reason I come here =).

More discussion about state and local finances.

I’d love to see which questions of Covid-19 research you once thought we’re open but now think are closed, or vice versa.

Rebuilding America's culture of achievement.

I've enjoyed the foray into UFOs. Please bring Ross Douthat back and ask him to give more details on his views on the supernatural, including UFOs.

I second the UFO stuff.

Less UFO's. You are blowing our cover.

your thoughts on parenting. youve raised a kid and you see hundreds of of other peoples kids at GMU every year.

what have you learned that leads to better outcomes for kids? what nonsense out there should we avoid?

Good one, seconded

Would be interested in this as well, +1

Count me as fourth on this one. What are the best ways for the average person to improve outcomes for their kids beyond read to your kids everynight are there any systematic ways to teach and improve reading and maths skills and at what age levels

If you want the thoughts of someone who appears to have only had contact with the children of elites well I guess that's a fair request. You won't get much sense in relation to the lives and raising of most children.

He teaches at GMU not Harvard

GMU is a third-tier state school - a commuter school by any definition. It is not Harvard, nor Oklahoma, nor Virginia Tech, nor William and Mary.

GMU minus sports and F150 drivers = U of OK

Frankly, I would read what you have to say on *any* subject, but here's this: The impact of the pandemic on how you view ethnic dining? Whether your tastes will remain promiscuous? Whether in the next six months you see yourself e.g. returning to a favorite restaurant located in a strip mall vs. in your neighborhood? Do you find yourself ordering for delivery more (which may exclude some favorite restaurants that don't deliver to your neighborhood)? Whether you are finding yourself returning to old favorite dishes (including childhood favorites) in lieu of trying something new? Whether in light of the coronavirus you re-evaluate what you consider to be 'safe' restaurants and/or cuisines? Whether you view the food you ingest or recommend others ingesting differently i.e. in terms of functional foods/to build immune system vs. joie de vivre?

Sick of COVID content. Progressive hivemind can't stop talking about it, lets not bring that shit here.

U got Covid just from watching the news here?

More about pickles

Ponies. No matter how creative and perverse you are, there's only so many uses to which a pickle can be put. Ponies are by all measures more useful, *especially* for more perverse possibilities. Therefore, obviously, superior.

I’d like to see some economic comparisons between covid and other large shocks, such as WW2.

Followup on Sue Denim et al. Quality/reliability of modeling across academic disciplines and scientific endeavors. New best practices going forward?

I'd love to see more discussion of state capability libertarianism, of culture and institutions (e.g., launching from Alesina & Guiliano 2015 JEL) and of public goods provision without state institutions (in the traditions of Ostrom, Libecap, et al...).

Higher Ed and the various institutional, ideological, and economic equilibriums therein.

Rent seeking behaviors, and regulatory capture, at the state and local level. I'd like to see some shoe-leather type investigatory journalism on what's actually going on with local health departments, building codes, etc.

At the federal level, too.

1. What print magazines should I subscribe to and why? How does the answer change if I don't care about fancy pictures?

2. Overrated or underrated: mathematics (in and of itself, not boring talk of their use and misuse in social science).

Not so much a discrete topic -- but more posts that call-out the underlying assumptions of widely-accepted points of view. For example: the recent post on how people who praise COVID approach of countries like South Korea area also implicitly endorsing forced quarantine. Given the increased mood-affiliation and polarization around lock downs, I would find this even more valuable.

What’s more dangerous to bank systems, something rated AAA turning out risky, or something rated below BB- being confirmed as very risky?
Basel Committee’s risk weights:
AAA rated 20%, below BB- rated 150%
What do they know about risk management?
http://subprimeregulations.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-letter-to-financial-stability-board.html

How COVID might affect social stratification?
How COVID might affect development of teens & children? What can we learn from past crises? How is this one different?

-Life extension: can we really live longer in an age of pandemics?
- will a world wide recession cause anitger migration wave from Africa/Middle East into Europe?
- How does Mexico resolve its organized crime problem ? Or is that unsolvable

*another migration wave

It's also possible migration will decrease because Europe is being hit the hardest by the virus.

Perhaps something dealing with how social media will distort the way art responds to The present crisis and how that compares to past and pre social
Media crises.

How the Federal Reserve has embraced Modern Monetary Theory and smiled while doing it.

What are the economic implications of Europe’s failure to integrate their immigrants? Looking out 25 or 50 years, is Europe more or less significant than today?

Does China get old before it gets rich?

Do separatists groups around the world - Basque, Scotland, Taiwan, etc. succeed? Are they economically viable?

Sports are talking about the protocols to start their seasons and there are a lot of discussions about locations, tests, wages, etc, but nobody is talking about "systemic risks".

If a player from team A gets infected and is sent to self-quarantine, should all their teammates self-quarantine too? What about their rivals that were in close contact with the infected person? In terms of scheduling this will be a disaster (i.e. the Yankees won't be able to play for two weeks so they need to make up those games later on?). What if players from more than one team gets infected? Maybe each team needs to have two separate squads? What is your take on this?

Any musings on a personal level about how this has affected you, now that travel, restaurants and classrooms are all down for the count? Back to normal soon, or "the world of yesterday"? Will any of this spawn a new book? ("The Great Staycation")

Any chance that MRU could now evolve into a degree-granting online university in its own right, albeit with a single department for now? You guys are surely better poised to do something along these lines than most academics. You have connections for fundraising and the legacy presencial universities will not be hiring promising young talent despite multi-billion-dollar endowments. (per https://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2020/04/university-finances.html)

I'd like to see real-time risk assessment nationally and by area. I'd also like this to be compared to other risks we take in life and work but never realized (like driving).

Discuss how the ability of so many people to continue working via the Internet suggests that traditional measures of the economic importance of the Internet are even more wildly understated than usually thought (i.e. countercyclical effects of the Internet or something).

Metacognition. I often return to "How I practice at what I do" and "How public intellectuals can extend their shelf lives" when prompting my students' critical thinking or when I'm in need of mental defragging.

Advice for medical students

What have you changed your mind about in the last year? 5 years? 10 years?

Regulation of speech.

Total freedom is unworkable, eg. this comment section would become unreadable within a couple of months if it lacked moderation. Not so much from the trolls as from the spammers.

But can we rely on private entities, be they MR or Facebook, to do their own self-regulation? Tyler seems to think the answer is yes but I'd like to see more exploration of that.

Speaking with Taleb again would be nice.

A lot of countries are against short selling. Being a short seller, I’d like to hear about how it benefits markets. I’ve seen some research on that.

Please bring Joseph Henrich to discuss his new book.

There is not much written on social classes in North America. There was a book on class by Fussell in the early 90’s. Maybe you could interview someone like Dittmann: https://www.andreadittmann.com/research

1. Personality theory
2. Effective management
3. Happiness research

More of everything, Tyler. I rely utterly on the insights, tips, and direction you provide.

Two problems that I see as interrelated:

(1) Are most mainstream media outlets, save for Fox News, biased to the left? If so, how does this bias operate? Is it entirely unconscious or to some significant extent conscious?

(2) To what extent is the fact that well-known commentators hew to partisan lines damaging? Here's an example: when it comes to this Michael Flynn story, I see people on the right like Andy McCarthy thinking that what had been done to him before the charges were dropped as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, most legal observers on the left think that the only grave miscarriage of justice is dropping the charges. I have no idea what to think, because it seems that right-wing and left-wing commentators almost always stay on their reservations. I'm always left with the feeling that if all facts had been held constant, save that Flynn was a Democrat working for a Democratic administration, then the same commentators currently apoplectic would be sanguine, and the same commentators who are sanguine would be apoplectic. Consequently, I don't feel like I can trust anyone about this case, because their commentary seems to be based on the outcomes rather than the procedures. The only people I trust are people who regularly go off the reservation. But who does that? David French? Tyler Cowen? Kevin Drum?

Are there any ways to manipulate incentive structures so that government employees become less numerous and more competent?

Ditto for university employees.

By all means include the case of Admiral Byng in your arguments.

Tell us the answer to which blog it was you said you couldn't stand to read due to its obnoxiousness about 8 years ago. I tried thinking like Sherlock Holmes, but it didn't work. Many guessed it was this blog. Was that right?

I would like to see you discuss your teaching philosophy, both broad and narrow. Do you worry about your effectiveness as a educator? How do you measure it, and how do you improve?

Even though teaching is as big a part of academic life as research, the professors I follow online never seem to discuss it seriously. The only exception I can think of offhand is Henry Farrell. What is your perspective on this?

You sometimes post the syllabuses you set, but rarely (never?) exam papers. But it seems to me that exam essay questions might be just as stimulating for learning than reading lists, if not more so. Do you disagree?

Earlier this year you linked an article by the architect Michael Sorkin, called Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know (https://www.readingdesign.org/250-things). Are there similar things you could list for economists?

zoning and its many distortions

What is the best to study Econ for undergrads?

+1

Also: Recommend a couple of Econ books for teens.

How has the Tyler Cowen production function changed during quarantine? I notice, for example, many more daily links than the pre-quarantine era. Are a lot more interest things going on or is your consumption changing?

I love the production function question. Often the guest has a poor or at least banal response. What should I take from that? I likely have a poor response? (How can I improve my response and my production function?) Or maybe, don't bother trying to improve as these people are quite successful regardless? Or maybe, achieving success is banal? Or??

What changes in social norms will endure in some form as we return to whatever passes for normal? Or will there be greater polarization as the still-vulnerable interact with the covid-rejectors?

What effects will we see in academia in the next year, 2 years, 5 years?

What does Tyrone think about all this? Is he isolating?

Without getting partisan, it would be interesting to see ongoing dialogue/commentary around the unwinding of the social contract in the US and the possible collapse of our republican form of government. As with many low probability events, this topic is often ignored or dismissed as partisan hyperbole. But what do a series of extraordinary actions by this president/administration portend for the balance of this Presidency and those that follow? Will the norms busted be restored after his Presidency, and if not, does this represent an existential risk to the the future of our Republic? How might future Congress' respond to these actions and attempt to rein in the Presidency, and what are the limits that Courts should permit?

I won't provide an exhaustive list here, but some of the most troubling trends include: (1) far-reaching attempts to significantly curb Congressional oversight (e..g, no-cause terminations of senate-confirmed appointees, abusing the "Acting" agency head designation to further reduce Senate's advise/consent function, taking extreme legal positions in court to inhibit House subpoenas, etc.); (2) abusing the bully pulpit of the Presidency to attack non-elected gov't officials, members of the media. and even average US citizens (including casually accusing people of murder); (3) lies, lies and more lies, lies big and small, lies unimportant and consequential; and (4) ... (n)... sadly too many to list here.

1. How to modernize anti-trust and a discussion of the size of the problem. Please don’t hold back because of your social circles.
2. How to fix healthcare. If you don’t like Medicare for All, I’d like to see you propose something better. To say that the status quo is untenable is an understatement. Please be irreverent with the medical industry when you need to be. They don’t really want to fix the healthcare problem because they are the problem, so they’ll say things like “Americans want unnecessary procedures,” “we are over-regulated,” “it’s those darn insurance companies” or my favorite “Americans are...physically different.” God forbid doctors would be paid less if the healthcare sector wasn’t a crony scam.

Economics of urban street design with a focus on parking and cycling, please.

Talk about Lord of the Rings.

The new thinkers we should be paying attention to. Who is the new Scott Alexander or Gwern?

1- Higher quality Thiago

2- Tyrone should return from retirement. In particular he should critique the views of other economists. If you need a ghost writer, I know a guy.

3- Under rated off the beaten path US places to visit.

4- Actually assign a grade to some of the studies linked here. The grades don’t have to be related to the conclusions, just give us some signal towards what a quality written paper is as opposed to one less so.

5- There should be “what economists got wrong” tag. They couldn’t have gotten everything right in the last 20 years.

6- Signal boost more of your non-US readers/contributors. Some of my favorite posters here are those that bring local views. Your US readers are far too conceited to be useful anymore.

7- How has economics contributed in the recent past, the present and will contribute in the future.

Personally, my favorite part of this blog is when you troll your readers. I would like to see more of this. It’s so much fun watching the unraveling.

I would like to read fewer things, which is to say, I wish you would slow down and think through what you publish more carefully. I feel like too many times what I read here informs me more about the outlines of Tyler Cowen's confirmation biases than about the topic at hand.

Sorry Dave -- Tyler is all about the clicks, nothing more.

A subject which is most often mentioned but never studied with any knowledgeable input: what are the strenghts (if any) and waeknesses of federal agencies? This will require many off the record comments by contractors working with an agency, consultants, lawyers retained by agencies and more views from those in a position to compare the private sector to government.
A start, outline the number of employees per agency, turnover, civil service salary grades, work hours, car pooling options determining work hours, automatic salary increase, annual bonus rules, sick leave , retirement policy, termination (if any) over some period, number of employee lawsuits filed against each agency.

Many more questions can be asked but not likely answered: sampling of daily congressional contacts with each agency, number of congressional requests for special handling of employment applications, constituent meetings, contract letting, agency actions (favors) etc.

So many comments on federal agency management on this site are sadly uninformed and remote from reality.

Ranking of fast food restaurants.

I hate to say it but this is an under rated idea. I’ve often said that so much of CWT is centered around signaling that let’s have some openness. What are your guilty pleasures? When was the last time you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Have you ever put chips on a sandwich? Shamrock Shake overrated? If you walked into a small town bar, what would your drink order be? When was the last time you took in a sporting event and didn’t sit in expensive seats?

American fast food ranges from ok (Taco Bell, Panda Express) to bad (McDonalds) to downright terrible (Jack N the Box). I am excluding fast casual chains from that assessment.

Strip mall “ethnic” food is miles ahead American fast food. It’s not even close. It’s also better than American fast casual for the most part. Chipotle is a good deal for a whole meal, but you know what? It’s bland. The flavors aren’t exciting. Shake Shack and other elevated burger joints are usually pretty good though.

Addendum: I must give a shout-out to Vapiano’s. They are an international fast casual pasta chain with a growing presence in the U.S. They make the pasta in front of you at a counter then you take it to your table. Fresh, tasty, fully customizable, and cheaper than an Italian sit-down. They have surprisingly good ambiance to boot.

I think the consistent quality of McDonald's is a plus and underrated. I like to frame the problem as, if you are stuck at an airport, which places would you eat at. I would go with McDonald's over Taco Bell any day.

I honestly don’t get the obsession with McDonalds fries, even among otherwise “high brow” individuals. I am not averse to fatty food, quite the opposite. But, no joke, I find their fries to be bland. Their nuggets taste off-putting. Their burgers our downright revolting. They were in the OK category for me when they had 1/3 pound angus steak burgers. Those were always moderately enjoyable. Now the only McD meal I slightly enjoy rather than merely tolerate is the pancake platter with steak biscuit (and it’s still somewhat off-putting).

Consistency is overrated, especially consistent mediocrity.

I especially enjoy your writings and interviews on subjects like literature, art, and history. At the margin more of that would be lovely.

More on China...Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, why did it stagnate so badly in the 1800s and 1900s, where is it going. Dikotter and Jung Chang's work.

Discuss good ethnic restaurants outside of the NOVA area!

Lots of discussion on high IQ groups, but how should society manage the 70-100 IQ groups? How has it done so in the past?

Vitamin D, more studies every day

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/202005/research-suggests-link-between-vitamin-d-deficiency-and-covid-19-deaths

Topics:
Risk management vs prediction
Variolation
Cognitive dissonance amongst Trumpers

Plain-English tutorials on economic fundamentals (i.e., not dry textbook, but not hip-breezy either). Monetary policy, the national debt, minimum wage, etc.

1. Blog-post length discussion of favorite books fiction, e.g. Glass Bead Game. Fiction readers especially in popmedia don't seem to have a good way of unraveling the thread of why they enjoy certain works, a lot of discussions consists of winks and subtle nods but I'm not sure they're nodding and winking at the same things.

2. After running Stubborn Attachments through a podcast wringer, how stubborn have those attachments proved in the end. Does any of the current situation think we need to build stronger foundation from which to grow (e.g should the smartest individuals be focused on fixing reg state??), do we need better discourse, or do you view it as same-as-it-ever-was, push forth?

I know you’re not a big football fan, but this season might be of interest to you. Tom Brady has left the New England patriots for tampa bay and we’ll finally get some glimpse into the question of how important he was to the Patriots dynasty. This is basically like if Tim Duncan left the Spurs late in his career. As someone interested in management science and the success of sports teams, you should take note. The success of the patriots dynasty is unprecedented in the nfl and we’ll finally get some idea of the relative importance of brady versus coach belichick

1. How you allocate your personal capital. Has this crisis changed your financial worldview?
2. An update on your personal tech ecosystem.

Periodic updates on "state capacity libertarianism" as a research program. What are the most important questions to understand and who is trying to answer them?

Long run productivity of tech - clearly FAANG are some of the most productive firms in history, but now that growth is flattening we see it takes a small army of exceptional talent to maintain giant tech products.

We also see zombie unsupported tech everywhere including in critical infra. AOL is still a fairly valuable corp after all. When a physical firm loses customers it goes out of business and something needs to be done with the physical assets to rejuvenate them or you vacant lots inviting vagrancy etc.

Then there's too-big-to-manage tech that's buggy in spite of all the talent devoted to it (IoT hacks, windows bugs, zoom bombing)

By the time you go through a full tech cycle (whatever that means), between monocrop type risk of wide-scale software deployment (higher risk) + zombie/insecure tech + too big to manage tech, how much productivity are we truly adding?

And why when capital is awash are we romanticizing the 'capital light' sector?

1. The US regulatory state seems to be fairing poorly, others relatively well (Aus/NZ, Singapore, HK, Finland). Is there a disparity and what drives it? Sectoral focus (finance vs health vs transport) particularly interesting.
2. Implications of COVID globally on urban density demand, associated productivity, city design, localisation living.
3. Comparison of econometric vs data science vs super forecasters in leaving restrictions, recurring global trade etc.
4. Consideration of double-dip policy responses, broken down internationally.

Savings. One way to prepare for a crisis is to save money, but famously many Americans have no money saved for a rainy day, let alone a prolonged event. Can we do better next time? Can government policy help?

Thanks for asking. I'be interested to see more
Subsidy Programs,
Military
education
role of 501(c)3 organisations
Maybe more on Emerging Market and Foreign markets.

Non-market valuation. It has come up in the pandemic re the value of a statistical life and is important for the cost of climate change and environmental degradation more generally.

Unexamined premises of Covid-19 official advice that just don't mesh with each other. For example, we're told not to touch our hands to our faces (mucus membranous places on our faces) for fear that we touched the virus and then give it to ourselves by touching our mouth, nose or eyes, but we are also told that there is no possibility of food-born contraction of the disease. So, if my finger touching my lips can give me Covid-19, why can't the salad that touches my lips? The usual response makes no sense--that your stomach acids will eat away the Coronavirus. But I thought touching my tainted finger to my lips could give it to me, even though my finger never makes it down to my stomach. The other typical response is that there has never been a documented case of food-born contraction of this virus. Fair enough, but we don't look for it. When looking for sources of infection, we look for travel to a hot spot, close contact with an infected person or community spread. Why assume that the third category (community spread) could not include someone coughing on the lettuce on my taco and then that lettuce touching my lips before it is swallowed? I get why hot food is likely okay, but the cold, wet stuff? Have you seen anything on this?

I'm very interested in learning more about your thoughts on architecture and living spaces in general.

Research on Covid-19 and consequences of the current crisis. Would like to read you thoughts on optimal policy response as well.

Among narrower questions, I would like to know what you think on increasing partisanship. Do you think that growing political tribalism in this country becomes outright dangerous and will lead to major disaster in the coming years?

If there was one thing you could emphasize and encourage most to school-aged children, what would it be (e.g. long-term economic growth)?

Many of the current leaders in the western world are clowns/comedians. Is this a coincidence or a trend deserving an explanation?

Putin is playing 4D chess. He backed a genocidal Assad in Syria to create a refugee flow into Europe. That disrupted European politics, and then the alt right infection jumped the pond (with lots of help from Russian online interference).

Not only did tribalism jump the pond, it’s everywhere. Tribes beget tribes. Thankfully, younger generations never bought into this trend (see Brexit support stats). Things will change. I hope we don’t replace the alt-right with alt-left tankies though. They’re not very different. Some of Sanders’ base can be described as cynical tankies. Sanders himself is partially tanky. Corbyn is fully tanky. Since Putin loves chaos in the developed world, he has the following order of preferences:

Alt right > alt left > normal politics

If Trump loses, Putin will shift his global manipulation to uplift tankies. He already has experience with that, provoking Sanders’ supporters to take down Hillary (using mass social media manipulation and targeted leaks to paint her as Satan). This cycle he provoked them against Warren (Sanders’ supporters were calling her a snake with toxicity and hatred reminiscent of Russian bots).

Warren was probably the best candidate, and Putin is certainly happy that she’s not in the running anymore. Here’s why: if Trump loses to Biden, Russia won’t have to try hard to switch America to alt-left politics. It’ll be a constant 4 years of unrelenting manipulation aimed at associating disgusting imagery with Biden and the DNC, angering democratic youth and further increasing strife in society.

Both the alt-left and alt-right are easy on Russia and its dictator friends.

Conspiracy theories that explain everything.

How inventive.

I always love a good movie review.

I would like more stories about dragons.

Best books on X. My past favorites include the one best Book on country X. Some suggested best book topics:

1. Biographies on key individuals
2. Productivity
3. Philosophy
4. Key periods: Enlightenment, Revolutions
5. Economists

Two suggestions: more policy wonkish ideas and more of the joyfully random stuff you somehow discover, dig out and share. (How else would I now know it will cost at a minimum a billion US dollars over 6 years to reduce wild horse numbers?!)

Economic myths that have been proven to be false from experience (ala Shillers book)

Economic predictions that proved to be false and why

Policies that are popular but seldom work: Government Business (tariffs and tax policies) support that failed and why--I've taken to read industry studies written in the 70s to the mid 80's that advocated for trade policies that would protect the American textile industry, the American television industry, the American steel industry etc. from foreign competition. The protection didn't work, and in the case of steel, delayed the introduction of new technology,.

Also a review some early work on the computer industry and predictions people made concerning that industry before the introduction of the mini and then micro computer.

Likely permanent changes to business after the pandemic. What will be the nature of "work": if we move to working at home, rather than going to an office, will that make it easier for businesses to offshore the work that is being done at home.

What will be the pace of new product introduction and adaption when buyers cannot meet at conventions with sellers who want to demonstrate new products.

Also a discussion of the decline classical economics and the ascendency of Behavioral Economics Industrial Organization (models where firms employ BE to compete for customers and reduce rivalry among themselves) and modern experimental economics involving consumer behavior which departs from the classical model.

By Shiller's book I mean the very interesting Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events. Book illustrates and discusses narratives disproven by events that have driven economic policy and remain in our discourse even today.

Personality psychology, cattle mutilations

How would you expand the tax base?

Given the abysmal contribution to public discourse provided by 501(c)(3), for purposes of increasing revenue as well as curbing the torrents of snark and onanism in the interest of of public health, would you support a 40 percent gross receipts tax on 501(c)(3)-(5) entities?

Similarly for interests of both revenue and public health, would you support an excise tax on social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and the like) of say $25 per account per year?

You have vigorously promoted Georgist real estate taxes. Would you similarly support such taxes for an assessed value of virtual real estate, i.e., .com, .org, and .edu domain names, of say $2 per thousand dollars of assessed value?

You have trumpeted the virtue of YIYBY, but have not addressed the impact of turning every neighborhood into a dump on work incentives. Many young people worked very hard to escape low rise condominium hell holes. But if there are no nice neighborhoods to aspire to live in, what is the point of pushing for advancement?

You have often seem to have argued in of world government and death to national sovereignty. What do imagine might be the risks associated with a world government?

CDC has over 10,000 employees and they are averaging over $100,000 per year and 168 of whom have base salaries over $200,000. In the last 10 years the federal government spent $100 billion preparing for pandemics. You have decried the failure of our regulatory state, but should the federal government even be involved at all? Wouldn’t the German model of much greater state responsibility with no federal enforcement responsibility be obviously the best alternative to the current farce?

Why would the USA not want to adopt a Swiss style constitution and government structure?

The economics and geopolitics of climate change.

Melancholy among academics.
Your favorite things Soviet.
The optimal number of math PhDs worldwide.
What historical works of art were anticipated to be great prior to creation, were immediately declared to be great at creation and have continued to be judged great ever since?
The future of Northern New Jersey.
Who are the greats that still walk among us (other than McCartney)?
Why

Greats:
Ringo! Was a big star before he joined the Beatles! (look it up)
Jack Nicklaus, in my opinion, the greatest champion athlete of all time and certainly the single finest exemplar of good sportsmanship.

I think it'd be useful to have something like syllabi for various topics. I always enjoy the "what I'm reading" posts as good recommendations, but they're pretty (understandingly) scattershot. One of my big takeaways from reading MR is that if I want to know more about topic X, I shouldn't find a book about it, I should find 5-10 books/articles/etc and just draw in a bunch - but I think curating something on what those 5-10 things are on various topics would be could be a nice addition to the blog.

Classical music recommendations!

More URBANISM please!!

How do we fix our cities?

Plausible discussion about how we can actually make progress against the NIMBYS.

I'm interested in the relationship between changes in inequality and changes in the distribution of worker productivity over the past 30 years. Basically, in occupations such as assembly line work, bank tellers, accountants, car sales, machine repair (etc) the productivity distribution was roughly a normal distribution, with a variance such that the 90th percentile worker was maybe twice as productive as the mean. In 21st century occupations like computer programming, creative digital content, and knowledge work generally, the productivity distribution is a Pareto distribution, where the top few percent are many times more productive than the mean. This underlies inequality, and to a large degree explains why return on average labour has been less than the average return on capital.

What do we do about this? Do the water taximen have to retrain as bridge builders? Or do we redistribute the bridge tolls to their pensions? What are the moral issues? Why does it seem like nobody is actually thinking hard about this? I see a lot of pieces pointing out these phenomena and whining about it, but few actually making bold proposals and normative judgments.

As I write this I realise this has a lot in common with "Average is Over", so, I guess, just more about that please. It underlies all the political issues, even China.

Talk about China. Do you think you will ever go back in the near future? How does that make you feel? Is there going to be a break between the USA and China economically? On what lines will they separate? Who is going to go along with which side? What will Europe do?

Are you guided by a theory of mass media communication?

I observe that the blog mostly criticizes indirectly, you're more willing to suggest that liberal concerns are grounded when interviewed, and your columns mostly deflect attention from wherever it is centered. If I were to speculate, I'd say you read Haidt's "Righteous Mind" and tried to create structures for communicating that don't immediately ignite motivated reasoning (I note many keyboard warriors remain in MR's comments). Is "Straussian reading" just meant to trigger a counter reaction to motivated reasoning? If you don't have a theory, then what principles might guide a theory of internet communication?

I looked up the US Supreme Court rulings on same sex marriage today. If I'm reading this right, they were 5-4 all the way through to 2015. Do you think those conservative justices would modify their ruling if they could today? And in such rulings what do you see about the judicial capacity to reason?

How would you respond to the Groundhog Day version of eternal recurrence? Is the solution Bill Murray's character arrives at the best?

Marcel Duchamp on chess.

More thinking on big picture questions about the future. Obviously, we're all in survival mode now trying to get through this pandemic, but what's the point if we're headed into a bleak, regressive future?

One thing I really enjoyed about culture in the 90s (at least Internet culture) was how optimistic about the future it was. What happened to ideas like transhumanism, post-scarcity, etc.? It seems these topics are hardly even discussed nowadays.

Now that God is dead, the meaning of life comes from human progress. If we don't discuss that progress, what is left but nihilism?

I imagine the quarantine has prevented you from going to some of your favorite eating spots or trying new ones. It would be nice to hear what you are cooking at home and if your repertoire has expanded due to the virus.

Please interview John Gray about the pandemic.

You linked to a recent piece of his, and I want to hear lots more.

Private market employee compensation is generally opaque. Few sources are remotely credible (Glassdoor? Data is sparse and often outdated. Professional surveys? Can be fudged and often too broad. Private forums? Data is often anecdotal and not easy to pool). Private market compensation often includes salary, bonuses, profit sharing, retirement matches, health benefits, all of which may distort the value of the offer for the employee, who is usually going alone against a (likely) more competent HR, army of consultants and expensive market research on industry compensation.

How can compensation become less opaque for the private market job hunter? What is the next evolutionary step beyond Glassdoor? Will compensation becoming less opaque cause greater inflation or higher share of corporate profits to go towards employees? If private market compensation becomes less opaque over time, could we expect better / more efficient labor market matching as an outcome and subsequent improvements in private firm productivity?

Scenarios for the future -- e.g. your scenario for post-pandemic New York was good. Also, more views on underrated things and "the people who should rise in status"

- Rent seeking/ reg capture/ Regulatory arbitrage
- Effects of aging US median age on productivity, Econ growth and stability
- mental health/ economics of suicide
- macro and the US clothing industry with Brooks Brothers up for sale, looming bankruptcies, rise of “fast fashion,” constraints on Chinese trade,

What is the best explanation for why Columbus, Ohio is the only city in the north (Northeast + Great Lakes) that has experienced something approaching sunbelt level metropolitan population growth?

- Chicago is expensive and plagued by a legacy of bad governance (note: this only explains the net outflow, Chicago is still the dominant city in the Midwest by far).
- Wisconsin does not have a cosmopolitan legacy
- Detroit is in a sad, sad state
- Indiana.....lol
- Ohio has a cosmopolitan legacy, most of it is in a sad, sad state, but Columbus and Cincinnati are not quite in Detroit’s situation. People who want to be in a nice metro area that isn’t southern and isn’t expensive are attracted to Ohio’s major cities. There’s a ceiling to this though. Columbus isn’t a big city by any means. It still strikes my as quaint when I visit it. Cincinnati is dominated by a few big companies in a way that Chicago never would be by virtue of its size.

Opportunity (private investment, gov't experiments, social, labor market) arising out of COVID-19 chaos

1 - Supply side subsidies vs demand side subsidies

2 - Are health insurance markets broken or is health insurance expensive because healthcare is expensive?

Education policy and reform. Given that no other domain of inquiry has greater civic implications, I’m always surprised at how little time our public intellectuals spend on education, particularly k12.

Speaking this afternoon with someone working in University development (i.e. fundraising), they mentioned that they, and other fund raising groups are getting a "things are uncertain, call back in 6-12 months) response when they call medium to larger potential donors. Smaller to medium donors say their contribution dollars have already gone to charities with more immediate needs (foods bank, Salvation Army, or even impacted family).

So, what effect, short term and longer term, will COVID have on charitable contributions? Should large and smaller charitable contributions be redirected during this period? If the economic damage is longer lasting?

1. Your NBA takes are often interesting. Which current star player do you think is most overrated? What’s your view on the Houston Rockets - is it OK to admire their efficiency and detest their aesthetics? Or are those two positions irreconcilable in your view?

2. Seconded on your teaching philosophy. How did/do you read teaching evaluations - both yours and for tenure, promotion, and lateral recruitment cases in which you are voting? What do you try to learn from them that is not directly teaching-related?

3. Seconded on takeout - what, when if ever, and if so under what circumstances.

Board games (other than chess).

Mr. Cowen, you haven't talked about me and my arrival to Earth in 2045 in quite some time, and I'm feeling a bit slighted.

Personal positive impact (not institutional) of giving
economics

Here are two subject I would to read more about.
1. A comparison of how much public land there is in the Western US compared to other countries. Also if there is a similar setup in other countries where it is used in so many ways and is easily accessible for the public.
2. How much money is recaptured by the federal government directly and indirectly
from stimulus programs and other government activity.
For example if they recapture 20% how come a trillion dollar package is never explained as an $800 billion package after the money returns in taxes over the following years.

More fast grants/emergent ventures content

I’d like to hear an exploration of Bright’s complaint.

He sent an alarm up the chain at HHS, and he claims they torpedoed it.

Who is ‘they’? Who specifically is the layer of management this civil servant professional tried to work with?

Are they long term deep state operatives, are they recent political appointees, are they second tier weather vanes?

Seems to me we have a live case study of what went wrong

great podcast
i would love to hear you talk about
happiness versus utility and usefulness
bitcoin * u.s. dollar
service versus product emphasis in the u.s. and
timeline of the price of commodities as marginal costs approach 0

1) More on the US being a " free trade zone" instead of a democracy. Not your quote but I found it to be an interesting point, something I'd like to explore more in a non-conspiratorial way.

2) PhD level economics and the strengths a non-mathmatician can bring to the field. The GRE post from a few days ago was awesome. Who are some of these people and what have they accomplished in economics?

3) anything you can post from other academics and experts you respect in any field that can give us MR readers perspective. You do a great job at this already, so please keep it up.

4) The early punk scene. I sense a revival coming soon.

1. The current (since 9/11) shit show that is America
2. Your own confirmation biases

Dive into your sources and inspirations of information? Who do you follow that maintains a similar-type of blog such as tech related, philosophy related etc but in a similar tone and level of casual yet strong rigor such as yourself ?

I like your posts the most when you just go on and on about something not all that important - maybe your realization, on second thought, that some old econ professor was a lot dumber or a lot less dumb than you thought, not that anyone in the entire universe ever cared about such second thoughts - I mean, seriously, who expects anyone, professor or not, to have anything useful and original to say ----- but if they are true, they are true.

Also, really the only reason I did not stop reading this blog 10 years or so ago, when I stopped reading most blogs and switched back to reading most things off-line, was the fact that you would actually venture "sincere" (as in Great Pumpkin pumpkin patch sincere) opinions on things like Finnegans Wake or the less crazy chapters in the General Theory, things which I realize most people are correct in not caring about, but which for some reason I find to be interesting ...... because, in fact, God knows, they are interesting ..... or you would literally talk about the entire Mozart corpus and which stretches of K numbers were not as good as other stretches, but more important, let's be honest, we all know that most economists are just the same as mid-level managers at Home Depot, just guys who we all want to do well but not exactly people who are going to explain real difficult problems, but every once in a while you and Alex have tried to explain real difficult problems, for example how to help actual specific individual people stuck in poverty you have never met, or how to assess the god-awful arrogance and dangerous imbecility of Mr X or Professor Z, or why certain theories are obvious covers for bad actors, while other theories are not that effective but have hope ....

and of course, you are never going to write about the GREAT PLAGUE of our days, the way the rich and happy encourage the losers in life to abort their babies, and how so many people profit (money and votes) from that trade which equals in its coldheartedness the slave trade of the Turks and the Moors and their counterparts in Europe from many years ago. But it would be nice.

If reality sucks for years, will virtual reality's hour come round at last?

ai GPpp s

see how easy

History like fall of the Roman Republic, and lessons for today.

How to make statistical models

AI

More economic history please!

Perhaps you could talk about of some of your favourite non-fiction that has stood the test of time?

More on geopolitics; more on aliens; more on post-scarcity economics/ society; more on anthropology and sociology. Thanks!

More IO stuff, please

More info about the economics of particular industries. The early episodes of EconTalk or your early work on the economics of art are a good example. There's just so much knowledge and insight that goes into producing everyday objects and services.

1) Government debt. Intuitively, it seems obvious that there must be some limit to how much debt the US government can responsibly amass, yet why don't we ever seem to see any concrete warning signs that such a limit exists, or do we? Also, if such a limit does exist, what are some politically viable mechanisms for adhering to those limits.

2) Medical ethics. Why does it seem so difficult to develop coherent ethics around medical issues? Many people seem convinced that we should incur great societal cost (economic, loss of liberty) to extend the lives of virus-vulnerable elderly even for as little as 6 mos to 1 yr yet oppose spending research resources, or even find it unethical, to try to extend general-population human life for centuries (longevity research). Also, the Charlie Gard case, where parents weren't allowed to seek treatment even when paying for it from private sources. We require strict proof of safety and efficacy for drug and device (?) interventions but not for social interventions like lockdowns. Mask-wearing requirements, which is a kind of medical device intervention, also does not seem to require the same testing for safety and efficacy as other medical devices.

A CWT with President Trump. Or Putin.

Even if politicians were willing (audience is too small), what responses could Tyler elicit from them that reporters could not? They will be cagey and evasive and constantly pivoting to their talking points. It wouldn't suit the CWT format at all.

At the risk of making the list too long:

--The incentives of individuals in bureaucracies, both government and private.
--How selection and survivorship bias shape the groups we observe.
--How low-probability, high-impact events shape our world.
--Fat-tail domains more generally.
--Limits to knowledge.
--How to think and especially perform in unstable environments.
--The psychology of role-playing and its interaction with "rational" behavior.
--How people are non-optimizers.
--Opportunities in a post-COVID world.
--Government debt.
--Private debt.
--Land-use law.

Thank you so much for the awesome work on COVID-19.

What tax structure would optimize the Covid recovery?
The velocity of money has fallen off a cliff.
The present tax structure favours saving and capital investment. This is the opposite of what is needed.
We need a tax structure that encourages increasing the velocity Of money.
How about instead of income tax, personal taxes work like a VAT tax. Only income you don’t spend on Local labor or local content is taxed.

I'd like to read about Tyler's favorite places to travel and his favorite foods to eat. I'd also like to read about Tyler's advice for 20-somethings

The future of cities and urbanization. Housing and mass transit issues. How will the pandemic change urban life?

I’m curious why human beings exchange one brutalism for another ... Be it left wing communism or trump stupid ism. And why the more knowledge we have the less we care!

Distopia is easy. Utopia is hard. Good ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.

I’d like to see the more of examples of the non-ironic the average is over. More, this would have been funded as an emergent venture 10 years ago. More, this looks like something a person with a degree in Progress Studies would have done. More, this is not the low hanging fruit. More, ex ante I wouldn’t have thought this was going to happen, but here it is, bravo.

I'd like to see more discourse on disaggregated effects of immigration on society. For example, what are the industry-specific effects on growth, wages, and employment. Similarly, how beneficial to society is a high skill immigrant vs a low skill immigrant? Immigrants influence based upon initial visa type? I would predict that not all immigration is equally beneficial. If so, how could the US better select for and attract high-utility immigrants? What are the key predictors of contribution?

I would love to hear more about inflation - both related to the economic response to COVID and in general. A few jumbled things that I've been thinking through include:

How much does improving product quality (e.g. iPhone vs. iPhone 10) distort the way that we measure inflation?
What will be the impact on inflation in the mid to long-term from the economic response to COVID?

I forgot one - what is the impact of cash flow negative companies on inflation? Many seemed focused on "blitz-scaling" through undercutting existing companies prices rather than significant product or service differentiation.

I'd be interested in hearing the views of behavioral economists on how people are and are likely to react to the presence of the virus in the context of what is going on around them. What well developed maxims about human behavior can be applied? How important is the Recency Effect or proximity to the virus or the media you consume in dictating one's behavior?

These are more about your website:
- a central place for all you book reviews
- same for interviews, etc
- describe frequently used terms like "Straussian" for newbies and those of us sitting at the back of the class
- what is "State Capacity Libertarianism" anyways?
- More Tyrone please.

Please, more posts on "UFO" sightings and related speculation on aliens when the objects in question are actually, quite obviously, geese.

A description of what a minimal, libertarian state that would not be failing us right now might look like.

How to revive manufacturing in North America and move towards a domestic supply chain.

Know more about and compare how different countries are facing covid, with comparative analysis

I always enjoy “What I’m reading”. Wondered if this can be expanded to include Alex Tabarrok and perhaps guests you interview on the podcast?

My favorite subject is book reviews.

Would like to listen to a podcast discussion (sorry, changing mediums) with you and Seth Godin on K-12 education. Bonus points for ideas parents can use to supplement education and critical thinking at home.

Squaring economic growth with sustainability in the long run.

More on investing.
Quantitative investing.
Asset Allocation.
Valid hedge fund strategies.
Hedge fund replication.
Stock market timing using economic indicators.
How to forecast interest rates. (They are a lagging indicator, so they should be more predictable than most things. )

I would like you to, over the next couple of years or so, familiarize yourself with video games by playing some of the old classics and prominent current ones, and have them inform your writing, with maybe an occasional post on "What I'm Playing".

What is the basis of your belief that human life is "sacred"? Absent religion, which I think you have said you have little interest in the details of, and more respect for the less you delve into it: how came you to affirm the centrality of human life while having much less concern for the whole panoply of life on Earth? Is your upbringing, or the values of your parents, involved somehow? Or was it introduced into your thinking by some ideology or other? Or does it just feel right/normal to you? I am not being passive-aggressive, just curious in the way that you are curious about aliens. Certainly I know others who feel the same way - "life" is the set of human life - but they tend to be Christians, and uncomfortable with reflection.

Mr. Cowen your blog is fantastic I try to each everything that comes over. You had a post a couple weeks ago where either you or an article you were forwarding were explaining all the things that were illegal with Medicare and the restrictions that created. I would very much like more content like that where each side of the political aisle is having their positions explained with rationale thought, studies, and examples, rather than what you find on Twitter which is mankind at its worst in many instances. I say that restrictions within Medicare is a political topic rather than a health topic because those regulations were all the underlying reasons why certain parts of the public want to change or lessen Medicare's involvement, but those parties themselves, on both sides, don't often make very good arguments they just yell. Saying Medicare made such and such illegal and probably shouldn't be and here's why, is worth knowing. And there would be equivalent topics on the other side that perhaps could be better explained. Provided everyone is willing to listen.

does anybody remember last year when the economy was very good &the postmodern monetary theorists wouldn't shutup about how they
could safely crashland the economy, redistribute wealth, decrease inequality and a buncha other stuff?
the postmodernmonetarytheorists musta left town

This blog has been incredibly valuable to me for the breadth and depth of issues it covers and the (generally!) very worthwhile comments many of these posts generate.
I'm not a trained & educated economist, but I'd very much like to see more posts about all aspects of economic inequality. The political impacts of what appears to be a significant increase in inequality post-Cold War are growing in significance. Thank you, John Harvey

I haven't seen any estimates of the unemployment rate vs the expected unemployment rate of an economy that closed social spaces.

Realistic policy solutions to combat NIMBYism and the urban housing shortage. Specifically looking into inclusionary zoning/"affordable" housing mandates. Simple economic logic would say that such schemes lead to less housing overall, since market prices must rise to subsidize the "affordable" units. We might expect many otherwise feasible projects to no longer pencil out, leaving many un- or under-developed parcels pristine. Most large American cities are demanding more and more of this kind of low income-subsidized-by market rate housing schemes, but where is the data that it works, or results in more housing than a more market supply reform?

I'm a bit disappointed that recent urbanism Conversations with Tyler episodes (Alain Bertaud) and Econtalk episodes have discussed abstracts, but did not address this highly popular, (possibly) untested policy solution.

Always enjoy what you are reading updates. I would love to see a more frequent update on what you are watching in terms of television, documentaries, and films

I'd like to see more about U.S. urban housing shortages.

It ties phenomenally well to your other work (e.g the complacent class), its causes are poorly communicated to general audiences, and its implications are widespread (geographic mobility, labor productivity, birth rates, and quality of life).

Your life as a bildungsroman, how you have grown, not only or even merely as an intellectual economist, but as a person of your times. Reflections on your emotional life. The Sorrows of Young Tyler, even a confession, like JS Mill's discovery of Wordsworth's poetry.

Changes and impact on higher education and universities.

New ideas and or trends that may emerge due to recent (and potentially lasting) stresses.

How to solve the Münchhausen Trilemma

I'd also ask to go back and review past predictions. So that we can learn from our past mistakes. There is a replication crisis in science, yes? I'd say it's worse in the prediction biz, where pundits are rarely "audited" (of course see Tetlock on the other hand). I'd look for predictions that had good support across many economists, and ask how they went wrong, if they did. E.g. after the great recession, government policies would unleash a wave of inflation. E.g. given the state of the Greek economy, it surely must exit the EU. More?

Thoughts, articles, interviews on things related to design. Not engineering design but rather industrial design, product design, graphic design etc. How does design relate to economics, sociology, anthropology. How was the history of our relationship with design changed? Is there a correlation between periods of high social output of "good design" and economic growth/people's happiness?

The world is in an asset bubble, fueled by cheap money.
The bubble so far seems to be immune to the consequences of Covid-19.
What happens when the bubble bursts?
Should I be buying Survivalist gear?

While the show itself is tired and repetitive, I've always wondered about the economics of the crab boats in the show The Deadliest Catch; i.e. financing, regulatory and fishery management issues, compliance costs re applicable laws at land and at sea, risk and insurance...everything from crushed hands to the boat outright sinking, compensation/the deckhand share system, externalities/risk shifting (dude has a heart attack, Coast Guard sends helicopter). Lots there.

I’d like to see something completely different from what has been mentioned so far, namely more on the current status and literature on the Theory of the Firm (industrial organization) in the vein/tradition of Coase.

Seems to me, it is not so much the right v left but owners of capital (employers) vs non owners (employees), so why do more small businesses give share options and how should a small business owner think about structuring this? Small businesses are the ones who need the most support from staff but accessing this extra motivation from staff this way often tends to be looked upon as crazy by most. Like to know your thoughts Tyler, or what should I read on this, or which company is a good case study? Thanks

The failures of economists and our capitalistic system as in,
Ray Dalio: We must reform capitalism, not abandon it
https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/15/perspectives/ray-dalio-capitalism

How about some updates on the 3D printing technology? It seems to be doing a good job helping with PPE manufacturing. Shouldn't the technology deserve a Fast Grant?

1) How would you respond to Claudia Sahm's critique about some popular macroeconomic ideas in this Twitter thread?

https://twitter.com/Claudia_Sahm/status/1257396172727214081

2) How would you respond to Jared Bernstein's controversial article in Vox: "What economists have gotten wrong for decades - Four economic ideas disproven by reality."

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/7/19/20699366/interest-rates-unemployment-globalization-minimum-wage-deficit

I enjoyed Jared Bernstein's article. Thank you. I would like to see Tyler respond to this article, too.

Jared said: "In every case, the costs fall on the vulnerable"

I think this statement gets to the heart of many issues.

I doubt Tyler will respond directly. He does not seem to like actually presenting his own views.

But it would be great if he did.

State capacity -- how do we measure it? Across which parameters do states vary and why? How do we explain divergences in capacity across states? How to combine a preference for smaller tax-to-GDP takes with greater state capacity?

Thanks - love the blog and podcast.

Conversation with Robin Hanson on UFOs, the unknown, and finding patterns in noise.

Curious on your opinion on the recent direction of Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed

I'd like discussion of gender ideology and trans activism. I know the topic seems almost entirely immune to calm & clear thinking but that's why we need someone with a more dispassionate perspective to take it on. Eg a response to the arguments laid out by Helen Joyce here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaBzGoBfcOQ

+1
In addition: how do economists think about tragedy?

What has happened to the concerns about global warming/climate change in the face of COVID-19 pandemic?
How can we continue to make progress about this critical world threatening environmental catastrophe in the age of COVID-19?
Perhaps if we can just print enough Fiat Money, we can address all concerns? Is MMT/UBI part of the solution?

More of the sort of "hard truths" public policy stuff that is easily shareable, like the "uni-disciplinary approach to public policy advice" post immediately following this post.

Education as signaling vs education promoting expertise and skill.

Requirements for sustainability reporting have gained momentum in the last few years (https://www.cpajournal.com/2018/07/30/the-current-state-of-sustainability-reporting/).

In your opinion, do you think investors and regulatory agencies will mandate or strongly recommend standardized reporting for COVID-19 issues? What metrics do you think investors and regulators will want to see to measure an organization's COVID-19 response? For example, do you think investors will mandate reporting for employee testing rates within the organization?

AFAIK, you are involved in the following:
You have a family.
You teach at GMU.
Your write MR EVERY day.
You do ‘Conversations with Tyler’ for which you do a lot of prep.
You write books pretty regularly – 12 in 16 years.
You’re on Twitter very often.
You write the TC Ethnic Dining Guide which requires you to sample new restaurants regularly.
You do many talks, podcasts, interviews.
You write your Bloomberg columns.
You read a lot of books even if you don’t finish some.
Apologies if I’ve missed anything.
A pretty scary production function, which I cannot recall you expanding on. I realise there is overlap in some of these but it’s at such a level that I’d welcome some account of it.

Hihi. Waddya know, the random lurker leaves a comment on a page 2 article!
Could you please add in the jargon for whatever theme you are using for the blog post?
I remember reading that you are motivated by inspiring us to think like economists, helped greatly by your gift to use easily accessible language for us. That's great until touched by the autodidact's curse and some nugget seems interesting enough to dig into.
We read these sesquipedalians, and think we understand them, but getting it just a little bit wrong messes us up because we have no supporting context. Try to find that context and the ones who have it guard it behind walls of arrogance and condescension like it's a talisman protecting them from being common.
The opportunity for a deeper understanding passes and so many knowledgeable people seem to prefer that we only scratch along the surface.
For example:
In my day-to-day blue collar, dirty fingernail life "State Capacity Libertarianism" is a mouthful of pure wank, but after half hour of putting it all together and the penny finally drops, you get a sparkle in your eye like the flyaway shards of diamond lodged in your cornea because Steve thought it was funny to see flies get caught in the turbulence from the brand new drill bit of a manufacturer with poor quality control while the supervisor is explaining the site's traffic management plan to the truck drivers.

I live in Calgary Alberta Canada, which has been long very dependent on energy revenues to help provide a high level of service at a low level of taxation. Provincially, this means royalty revenues allow us to have costly public services without a sales tax, municipally this means an expansive, uncongested, costly to serve city floated mostly by high property tax revenues on a small share of very expensive downtown office towers.

This doesn't seem viable at the moment (this year's provincial budget forecast West Texas Intermediate in the $50 something per barrel range and those expensive downtown towers that paid big property taxes are 1/3 empty and losing value). At best, this seems highly unpredictable and may not lend itself to a diversifying, innovating economy capable of sustaining our quality of life through future shocks and changes. The provincial government is doubling down on oil and gas and hoping prices will rebound, while the municipal government is gradually shifting some of the property tax share from commercial assets to residential.

What should we do?

Would be interested in your views on ray dalio's writings - radical transparency, long term debt cycle, imperial cycles. Also Peter zeihan's geopolitical theses.

Has the war on terror better prepared America to face the rise of china militarily than people realise?

Piero Scaruffi's list of classical masterpieces? https://www.scaruffi.com/music/classica.html

Maybe too late, but 'Favorite Things Michigan'?

Sorry for being late to the party, but I'd appreciate more on how the new state of affairs impacts the environmental movement. It's quite clear from Covid that science and policy exists firmly alongside and is activated by behaviour. That's something the environmental movement frequently ignores - the political and business reasons for action. What are your insights?

Thank you.

How should we think about the cost of government spending when real interest rates on government debt and inflation are both very low? Specifically, how important are these possible costs and am I missing anything?

1) Crowding out private investment.
2) Large deficits raising the possibility of future inflation.
3) Opportunity cost: could we just cut taxes instead? Or allow dollar-holders to benefit from more deflation by not raising government spending?

Comments for this post are closed