Month: May 2021
You all know by now that the measured rate of price inflation came in at 4.2%, much higher than expected. Many people wish to maintain this is not a major problem, and maybe they are right. But here are three views you cannot hold simultaneously:
1. The distribution of income really matters.
2. Workers don’t have nearly enough bargaining power, and are at a disadvantage in negotiations and renegotiations.
3. Higher rates of price inflation are not a problem.
Higher rates of price inflation, of course, lower real wages unless workers can bargain back up the nominal wage to reattain their previous real wage. You could try the “poor people win it back on their nominal debt” argument, but a) debt has to be high relative to the future stream of wages, b) wages also serve allocational and motivating functions, and c) if worker wages don’t rise much to offset the inflation, future borrowing will be more costly, in real terms too even though it looks like “only a nominal interest rate increase.”
Some Korean couples have found a way to redefine romance — by gifting each other Tesla and other blue-chip stocks.
It all started when securities brokerage and investment banking company Shinhan Investment Corp started listing “stock gift cards” on the KakaoTalk mobile app’s “Kakao Gift” store around Christmas last year.
Perhaps inspired by Kanye West’s 2017 Christmas gift to Kim Kardashian, which included Amazon, Apple, Disney, and stock, KakaoTalk allows would-be wooers to purchase stock in Starbucks rather than simply a latte from the coffee chain. Daters can also select more expensive stocks, including Apple stock gift cards sold at 25,000 KRW ($22), or Tesla stock gift cards, which go for 30,000 KRW ($26)…
According to statistics seen by Korean media outlet Chosun Ilbo, the Shinhan Investment bank sold more than 20,000 “stock gift cards” since the launch of the program on December 24, 2020. Shinhan noted that the stocks were most popular among customers in their 20s and 30s.
Here is the full story. Is this a way of signaling you really do want the relationship to be about money (and a high savings rate?) to a relatively high degree? Or does the particular choice of stock show that you do (do not) understand your partner very well?
The sickest legend of them all.
Absolutely gorgeous. pic.twitter.com/HC7Gyl6jDR
— Michaël van de Poppe (@CryptoMichNL) May 12, 2021
5. Is the Chilean pension system unraveling? (Bloomberg)
The underlying dataset of the portal is open-access and has information on total cases, deaths, estimated reproductive rate, total clinics and hospitals at the district level. Our hope is that residents of high-risk district will adjust behavior if their area has a precariously increasing reproduction rate over time. Even better if aid and medical support that many organizations are mobilizing at an impressive pace could be allocated based on district-level evidence. District-level bureaucrats can incorporate this additional information in planning their pandemic response (most of us have read about the striking example of what the District Collector of Nandurbar was able to achieve to prepare against the second wave). Finally, central and state governments could tailor their pandemic response given the obvious paucity of resources and time based on district-level risk estimates.
Overall, knowing where the virus will strike next can help save lives — by guiding behavior change, local public health measures, and allocation of scarce resources.
This is an important resource. Anup Malani, Satej Soman, Sabareesh Ramachandran, Ruchir Agarwal, Sam Asher, Tobias Lunt, Paul Novosad, and Aditi Bhowmick are some of the people working on this.
Shares in Chinese food delivery giant Meituan have fallen sharply after its boss reportedly shared a 1,000-year-old poem on social media.
The Book Burning Pit by Zhang Jie was posted, then deleted, by the firm’s billionaire chief executive, Wang Xing.
The Tang dynasty poem was interpreted as a veiled criticism of President Xi Jinping’s government.
Meituan is currently under investigation over allegations of abusing its market dominance.
The company is one of China’s biggest takeaway food delivery and lifestyle services platforms and is backed by technology giant Tencent…
Despite the statement, Meituan’s Hong Kong-listed shares have fallen by around 14% since the market opened on Monday morning. Investors are jittery as Chinese business leaders who have been seen to criticise the government have found their companies come under intense scrutiny from authorities.
Here is the full story. Via Rich D.
Michele W. (citing @ogbrenna) asked on Twitter:
You’re on a first date with someone, and they tell you the name of their favorite book. You immediately leave. What’s the book?
This caused Atlas Shrugged to trend, and The Bible was another popular response. It is striking to me how, with a simple change of setting, and a shift in the mood affiliation of the example, how discrimination on the basis of religion suddenly is glorified and celebrated. Funny how few cited The Quran, or for that matter “The Hebrew Bible,” albeit for two very different reasons.
(By the way, I’ve been going around to many San Francisco book stores, and none of them carry the new Sarah Ruden translation of The Gospels, which is likely a significant work. I could feel people looking down on me as I asked for it. Part of me wanted to say “But this is Sarah Ruden,” but that would be making the problem only worse. Since I did not feel tempted to say “But this is God,” perhaps I am part of the problem.)
Why not email a bit with a potential date beforehand, if such matters are so important? Or is this meme a simple, never-to-be-enacted revenge fantasy for those who don’t quite have the options they might ideally prefer?
One thing the contemporary world definitely has not come to terms with is how much a highly feminized culture will be (rather strongly) enforcing new forms of discrimination, albeit cloaked under different and rhetorically emancipatory principles.
Addendum: Here is a statistics variant.
A randomized-trial of community-level mask promotion in rural Bangladesh during COVID-19 shows that the intervention tripled mask usage and is a cost-effective means of promoting public health.
Here is the underlying NBER working paper.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is the section on Miami:
In Miami and Miami Beach I had a wonderful time. But I don’t see the area as a new and budding tech center. Many tech entrepreneurs moved there during earlier phases of the pandemic, but many have since left. Perhaps the region is more of a place to spend tech money than to earn tech money.
The positives for southern Florida are clear: It is a major crossroads with significant connections to Latin America and the Caribbean, it is a fun place to live, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez is pro-tech, and there is no state income tax.
Yet that is not enough. Miami does not have a top-tier university, and the city does not have much of what I would call “nerd culture.” The city’s first language is arguably Spanish, but the tech world is mostly English, and its current ties to Asia are more important than possible future connections to Latin America.
Renowned venture capitalist Keith Rabois is in Miami and is a staunch advocate for the city. It would not be surprising if Miami developed a few significant tech companies due to his influence. Miami could also become more of a center for crypto wealth. If you’ve earned a billion dollars through Bitcoin, and live part of the year in Puerto Rico to avoid capital gains taxes, is there anywhere better to hang out and spend your wealth than Miami?
All that said, I do not see Miami as a serious contender to be a major tech center.
Comments on NYC and the Bay Area then follow…
This paper tests the theory of mixed strategy equilibrium using Maradona’s penalty kicks during his lifetime professional career. The results are remarkably consistent with equilibrium play in every respect: (i) Maradona’s scoring probabilities are statistically identical across strategies; (ii) His choices are serially independent. These results show that Maradona’s behavior is consistent with Nash’s predictions, specifically with both implications of von Neumann’s Minimax Theorem.
The author is Roderick Matthews, and the subtitle is A New History of British India. This book has been highly controversial for its supposed “whitewashing” of British rule in India, but so far I find it insightful and indeed revelatory. It is to date my favorite book this year, most of all conceptual but also remarkably well-informed historically. Here is one excerpt:
Ultimately, we should condemn [British] colonialism not because it was self-glorifying and arrogant, but because it was small-minded and fearful.
Colonial rule was undoubtedly heavily responsible for the fact that India remainder both poor and backward — but the high Rah hid a subtler hypocrisy, in the way that Indian landlords, for a muddle of humanitarian and political reasons, were denied the scope that their British counterparts had allowed themselves. British landowners drove their tenants off the land and adopted new methods of husbandry to increase profitability, which allowed them to create the agricultural surplus that stimulated the industrial revolution, and provided Britain with a float of national wealth to pay for colonial adventures. Rural India remained overmanned and underproductive.
This short charge sheet differs from the extensive accusations made by modern left-leaning historians, who recognize economic exploitation but choose instead to emphasize cultural issues, especially the bureaucratization of Indian society and the introduction of capitalist norms. This is hardly fair, because the progressive middle classes in India would have done broadly the same things if they could. Almost nothing of the imperial administrative agenda was undone in independent India. However, it is true that the modernization process was rushed and defective. It was too self-interested, and the guiding hands were not indigenous. Something similar might have emerged, but with a more Indian face. We cannot know.
I will be covering this book more, but so far strongly recommended. It is no accident that the author, while an experienced Indian historian, is not an academic.
Mostly I think American schools have been closed for way too long, but I am typically wary when I read “dogmatic” cases for universal school reopenings, especially when those reopenings are not done under the proper circumstances, namely good data and plenty of testing, or low case levels. Here is one new piece that sheds some new light on the topic:
This paper examines the effect of fall 2020 school reopenings in Texas on county-level COVID-19 cases and fatalities. Previous evidence suggests that schools can be reopened safely if community spread is low and public health guidelines are followed. However, in Texas, reopenings often occurred alongside high community spread and at near capacity, making it difficult to meet social distancing recommendations. Using event-study models and handcollected instruction modality and start dates for all school districts, we find robust evidence that reopening Texas schools gradually but substantially accelerated the community spread of COVID-19. Results from our preferred specification imply that school reopenings led to at least 43,000 additional COVID-19 cases and 800 additional fatalities within the first two months. We then use SafeGraph mobility data to provide evidence that spillovers to adults’ behaviors contributed to these large effects. Median time spent outside the home on a typical weekday increased substantially in neighborhoods with large numbers of school-age children, suggesting a return to in-person work or increased outside-of-home leisure activities among parents.
That is a new NBER working paper by Charles J. Courtemanche, Anh H. Le, Aaron Yelowitz, and Ron Zimmer. In other words, having the kids at home kept the adults tied down and less mobile. Of course, even with this result, there is still a case for reopening the schools, but I am happy to see some of the trade-offs recognized.
How to do build *actually* inclusive companies.
– Dump credentialism.
– Seek talents online wherever they are.
– Build remote, async, international.
That is from Tim Soret, via Balaji.