Month: July 2021
Las Gemelas, 1280 4th st. NE, 202-866-0550.
There are two places here, a restaurant and on the other side of the (small) mall is a tacqueria. The tacqueria is the best Mexican food this region has seen. Real blue corn tortillas, everything else authentic, could be mistaken for excellent real Mexican food in Mexico. The morning green chile chorizo tacos are the must-get – one of the best dishes in town – but everything is very good.
The restaurant proper has a small number of truly excellent dishes, and a bunch of “quite good” dishes, noting the menu is pretty small. The first time I went the lamb Borrego soup was the knockout, the second time it was off the menu but the pork cheeks enchilada with mole was an A+, again one of the best dishes in town. I quite liked the toast with honey, though it hardly seemed Mexican (not a complaint, just a warning). If you go to the restaurant, make sure you figure out what you really should be getting. In addition, the visuals and décor are very nice in both, excellent places to sit and take in the crowd and surroundings.
Overall, this is a major advance for this region’s Mexican dining, and the prices are entirely reasonable.
Here is an appreciation. Via Mike T.
The future of crypto, cities, and inflation: "I don't think of crypto as a currency. I think of it as a new set of institutions." – @tylercowen
Listen to the full episode here: https://t.co/0DyOOSHCaB
.#cryptocurrencies #Crypto #Ethereum #bitcoin #btc #NYC pic.twitter.com/ytBDfY59LX
— James Altucher (@jaltucher) July 9, 2021
With average daily consumption of 2.2 liters of Coca-Cola, Chiapas leads the world…It’s more than five times higher than the national average…
According to a 2019 study by the Chiapas and Southern Border Multidisciplinary Research Center (Cimsur), residents of the southern state drink an average of 821.25 liters of soda per person per year.
Broken down, the immensity of the quantity seems even more astonishing: every man, woman and child in Chiapas drinks an average of 3,285 — yes, three thousand two hundred and eighty-five – 250-milliliter cups of soda a year, according to the study.
According to the Cimsur study, among the reasons why Coca-Cola and other refrescos are so popular in Chiapas are marketing campaigns in indigenous languages – mainly Mayan – and limited access to clean drinking water.
Here is the full story.
2. Jasper Johns owns some pretty amazing small Cezanne watercolors (scroll through to see them all).
A systemic issue that I think is shocking is that Britney has to pay for everyone. In this case, she not only pays for her own court-appointed counsel, she pays for her dad’s lawyers — he has multiple sets of lawyers who are actively fighting against her wishes in court. Recently, one set of her dad’s lawyers billed $890,000 for roughly four months of work, which is about $10,000 a day. And that includes PR specialists that were defending the conservatorship to the media.
Here is further information. Sounds optimal to me! After all, I have a friend who knows somebody who is in a coma and needs a guardian. Nothing to see here, move on people…why would you ever expect the political economy of this issue to yield suboptimal results, given how well the rest of our bureaucracies work…?
Fortunately it was just ruled that Britney can hire her own lawyer to represent her.
Via Shaffin Shariff.
1. I had a fun and wide-ranging conversation with Jonah Goldberg on the Remnant. We covered the economy, immigration, cyborgs and the Baumol effect among other topics.
2. Tim Harford covers fractional dosing at the FT:
The concept of a standard or full dose is fuzzier than one might imagine. These vaccines were developed at great speed, with a focus on effectiveness that meant erring towards high doses. Melissa Moore, a chief scientific officer at Moderna, has acknowledged this. It is plausible that we will come to regard the current doses as needlessly high.
3. The Brunswick Group interviews me:
Act like you’re in a crisis. That has been economist Alex Tabarrok’s advice since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tabarrok was among the earliest and loudest voices arguing for urgency and risk-taking when it came to increasing rapid testing, investing in vaccine capacity, and employing flexible vaccine dosing. In hindsight, he has been proven regularly right when most health experts were wrong.
That is the title of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
In a remarkably honest yet radical speech last month about stablecoins, Fed Governor Randal Quarles argued that current payments systems already incorporate a great deal of information technology — and they are improving rapidly. The implication is that a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, is a solution in search of a problem.
Quarles also suggested that the Fed tolerate stablecoins, just as central banking has coexisted and indeed thrived with numerous other private-sector innovations. Stablecoins can serve as a private-sector experiment to see if individuals and institutions truly desire a radically different payments system, in this case based on crypto and blockchains. If they do, the system can evolve by having some but not all transactions shift toward stablecoin.
There need not be any “do or die” date of transition requiring a perfectly functioning CBDC. But insofar as those stablecoins can achieve the very simple methods of funds transfer outlined above, market participants will continue to use them more.
Quarles argued that with suitable but non-extraordinary regulation of stablecoin issuers, such a system could prove stable. He even seems to prefer the private-sector alternative: “It seems to me that there has been considerable private-sector innovation in the payments industry without a CBDC, and it is conceivable that a Fed CBDC, or even plans for one, might deter private-sector innovation by effectively ‘occupying the field.’”
In essence, Quarles is willing to tolerate a system in which privately issued dollar equivalents become a major means of consummating payments outside of the Fed’s traditional institutions. Presumably capital requirements would be used to ensure solvency.
For many onlookers, even hearing of innovation in finance raises worries about systemic risk. But perhaps the U.S. would do better by letting information technology advance than trying to shut it down. And if you are afraid of instability, are you really so keen to see foreign central bank digital currencies fill up this space?
If you are still skeptical, ask yourself two final questions. First, which has been more innovative on these issues: the private sector or the public sector? Second, how realistic are the prospects that Congress takes any effective action at all?
This is now a world in which radical monetary ideas are produced and consumed like potato chips. I say, pass the bag.
2. “On this German farm, cows are in charge…” (NYT)
3. Claudia Goldin on the gender pay gap (NYT).
5. “A patient with a spinal injury was left waiting in a corridor at Sunshine Hospital for 14 hours on Monday just days after Australia’s leading doctors warned that hospitals across the country were at “breaking point”.” Link here.
Here is the audio and transcript, recorded outside in SW Washington, D.C. And no, that is not a typo, he does call himself “Alexander the Grate,” his real name shall remain a secret. Here is the event summary:
Alexander the Grate has spent 40 years — more than half of his life — living on the streets (and heating grates) of Washington, DC. He prefers the label NFA (No Fixed Address) rather than “homeless,” since in his view we’re all a little bit homeless: even millionaires are just one catastrophe away from losing their mansions. It’s a life that certainly comes with many challenges, but that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the immense cultural riches of the capital: he and his friends have probably attended more lectures, foreign films, concerts, talks, and tours at local museums than many of its wealthiest denizens. The result is a perspective as unique as the city itself.
Alexander joined Tyler to discuss the little-recognized issue of “toilet insecurity,” how COVID-19 affected his lifestyle, the hierarchy of local shelters, the origins of the cootie game, the difference between being NFA in DC versus other cities, how networking helped him navigate life as a new NFA, how the Capitol Hill Freebie Finders Fellowship got started, why he loves school field trip season, his most memorable freebie food experience, the reason he isn’t enthusiastic about a Universal Basic Income, the economic sword of Damocles he sees hanging over America, how local development is changing DC, his design for a better community shelter, and more.
COWEN: What’s the best food you end up with? Where is it from? What’s an A+ for a food day?
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: You want my classification system?
COWEN: Let’s hear it, absolutely. I’m a foodie, too.
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: Okay, you’re jumping around, too.
COWEN: Yes, this is the point of the podcast. This is the jump-around podcast.
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: Yeah, but let’s consummate one thought at a time. There’s some cool stuff here, fun stuff. Alright, that’s the beginning of the Bums Banquet. For those that are not fully acclimatized, we had a classification system. This is a class A. It hasn’t even been taken out of its wrapper. Class B, maybe there’s one bite — TYO, trim your own. We found some of it still in its wrapper. Double A would be from the hand of the person donating to us. Triple A would still be hot.
COWEN: What’s a D? C–?
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: Only the rats know that. A lot of forks here, but we’ll keep it to the general stuff first. Anyway, after hours, at the picnic tables of the [Library of Congress] Madison Building, that’s where this happened. Eight-foot diameter tables, so we could fit 10 people around there. That was a continuation of the Freebie Finders and the Bums Banquet and all that.
But one more thing about the lunches. We’re an overfed population — the affluent society. Are you really hungry three times a day? It’s a luxury to have that many. When people have to hesitate, “What am I going to eat now?” Truth to tell, I don’t really need it, but it’s become a tradition, a tradition of the affluent. We don’t need to eat as much as we do. It’s more habit than anything.
But the kids, the junior-high kids throwing their lunch away — they didn’t know that at the bottom of the bag, their mamma left a napkin with a stick figure on it, saying, “Hi, hope you’re having a good time in DC. Love, Mom.” Mother’s love comes along with a peanut butter sandwich. But under the napkin is up to $2 in change or bills for drink money, [laughs] so there’s cash left behind there, too.
Alright, let’s back up a few tangents here. Man, you have a lot of things out on the floor here.
COWEN: A lot of things going, balls being juggled.
COWEN: Some economists I know have promoted the idea — it’s called universal basic income, and it’s something like every person would get $10,000, including NFAs. Is this a good idea?
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: Yes, Finland… Okay, save that for that because I’m going to ask you —
COWEN: You can ask me your question now, but also just indicate if you think that’s a good idea, bad idea, in between, and then you ask me yours.
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: Alright, I want to ask you — just the answer. National debt — this was before the multi-trillion-dollar relief bills had been signed into law by the president.
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: A progressive algorithm, no doubt, but I don’t know if they’ll factor in if it’s the five-year plan for the $5 trillion and they’ll add $1 trillion automatically to this amount. But it’s pushing $30 trillion, which is, what? You can scan this quick — $84,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.
COWEN: So you’re a fiscal conservative?
ALEXANDER THE GRATE: I’m just an observer at this point. The point is, I see this number, and I see a sword of Damocles hanging over the economic head of America. I know a lot of it’s built in, but theoretically, if all this came due catastrophically overnight, do we have a plan?
Recommended, you won’t find many podcast episodes like this one. It is noteworthy that Alexander has a better and bigger vocabulary than the median CWT guest. Also, this is one episode where listening and reading are especially different, due to the ambient sounds, Alexander’s comments on the passing trains, and so on — parts are Beckettesque!
We show that a gender earnings gap can exist even in an environment where work tasks are similar, wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions. The 11 percent earnings gap in our setting arises from female operators taking fewer overtime hours and more unpaid time off than do male operators. Consequently, we observe that gender neutral policies can have differential effects on the two sexes.
We find that female operators value time, as well as schedule controllability, conventionality, and predictability more than male operators. Male and female operators choose to work similar hours of overtime when they are scheduled months in advance, but male operators work nearly twice as many overtime hours when they are scheduled on short notice. Moreover, male operators game the overtime system more than female operators: when faced with an undesirable schedule, male operators take unpaid time off, but also work more overtime during the rest of the week, resulting in an increase over base income.
Thus, the 11% wage difference wasn’t a result of employer discrimination. One might say the wage gap was a result of “systematic sexism” in family roles but if so is the sexism hurting women, who earn less, or men, who spend less time with their families? If all partners were unisex wouldn’t it still make sense for one partner to be more work-flexible than the other due to increasing returns?
One positive lesson is that employers who can increase schedule controllability might be able to make workers better off and lower wages making employers better off. It’s not clear, however, if such bills are left on the sidewalk but it’s not impossible.
It’s interesting that similar results were found for the gender wage gap among Uber drivers–men made more but not because of employer discrimination, which isn’t even possible in this context, but because on average there are small differences in how men and women drive, men drive a bit faster for example.
Photo Credit: FCPS.
1. Russ Banham, The Fight for Fairfax: Private Citizens and Public Policymaking. A well-informed story of the great men and women who built up Fairfax County, Virginia, including Til Hazel, Sid Dewberry, Earle Williams, Jack Herrity, George Johnson, Dwight Schar, and others. WWNN: “We were never NIMBY!” It is striking how much the key builders were not born as elites.
2. Dan Levy, Maxims for Thinking Analytically: The wisdom of legendary Harvard professor Richard Zeckhauser. How many of us will end up getting books such as this in our honor? If you are curious, Zeckhauser’s three maxims for personal life are: “There are some things you just don’t want to know,” “If you focus on people’s shortcomings, you’ll always be disappointed,” and “Practice asynchronous reciprocity.” Zeckhauser, by the way, was on my dissertation committee.
3. Adeeb Khalid, Central Asia: A New History from the Imperial Conquests to the Present. Could this be the best history of Central Asia? The author takes special care to tie the region to the histories of Russia and China, the author seeming to have a specialization in Russian history, and for me that makes the entire enterprise far more intelligible. Useful for Xinjiang history as well, here is one useful review of the book.
4. Paul Greenhalgh, Ceramic: Art and Civilisation. Picture book! Need I say more? And a big one.
Edward J. Watts, The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea. How has the decline of Rome been discussed and analyzed throughout the ages, including by the Romans themselves?
Loyd Grossman, The Artist and the Eternal City: Bernini, Pope Alexander VII, and the Making of Rome. Has all the virtues of a picture book, but the price of a regular book. With the common educated public, Bernini is still probably underrated.
Michael S. Malone, The Big Score: The billion dollar story of Silicon Valley is the new Stripe Press reprint.
Seth David Radwell, American Schism: How the Two Enlightenments Hold the Secrets to Healing Our Nation. This is not a book written for me, but it is nonetheless good to see someone putting forward Enlightenment ideals as a solution to our problems.
But for some players, securing a prestigious title meant more than just playing well. It is an open secret in chess that many players cut side deals with tournament organizers and other top competitors that help them achieve norms they might have struggled to get legitimately.
This culture touched the Momot club. Many of its members acquired their grandmaster credentials in Crimea, at tournaments in places like Sudak and Alushta that were known as “norm factories” — where, for as little as $1,000, organizers would make sure players accumulated enough points for a norm.
But there were other, more subtle, ways to succeed, too. Far from prying eyes, secret agreements and cash exchanges to arrange results were not uncommon, according to interviews with chess players and FIDE officials. In a sport so wholly obsessed with status, title and rank, even selling a game could be accomplished for the right price.
Mikhail Zaitsev, who achieved the rank of International Master and is now a chess coach, estimated that of the world’s roughly 1,900 living grandmasters, at least 10 percent have cheated one way or another to acquire the title. Shohreh Bayat, one of the leading arbiters in chess, describes such arrangements in the plainest terms. “Match fixing,” she said, “is cheating.” Some hopefuls didn’t even have to play a game of chess to get the points they needed: Some tournaments, she said, took place only on paper.
Here is more from Ivan Nechepurenko and . at the NYT
Seeing a pile of resumes already, several leaders of law firm antitrust practices are predicting many more government attorneys heading for private practice in the coming months as a new-look Federal Trade Commission forms under the leadership of chairperson Lina Khan.
“I’m getting a lot more resumes across my desk from the FTC,” said the co-chair of one antitrust practice in an Am Law 100 firm who declined to be named so that he could discuss an agency that he frequently interacts with. “There’s a lot more people coming out, and they’re going to get snapped up fast.”
While some staff turnover in the wake of an administration change is routine, law firm leaders said the number of agency lawyers seeking out career options outside the FTC appears to be high now and they are anticipating more later in the year. They attribute that, at least in part, to agency lawyers who have different views compared with Khan’s ideas of what constitutes antitrust behavior and how to bring cases…
“I think there’s a real disquiet there now—even in what I would say is a pretty liberal agency,” the antitrust co-chair said. “Eyebrows are up over some of the most recent moves, which to some career attorneys at the agency might see as a little heavy-handed. I won’t be surprised if more folks decide maybe now’s the time to test the [private practice] market.”
Those are the (largely Democratic) lawyers — just imagine how the economists must feel! Here is the full article, with further detail, brutal throughout. It is at least comforting to see that if you try to destroy America’s greatest companies, there is some pushback in the system.
1. ‘We Don’t Need Another Michelangelo’: In Italy, It’s Robots’ Turn to Sculpt — link here (NYT).
2. The ecosystem that is Minnesota: “Goldfish dumped in lakes grow to monstrous size, threatening ecosystems.”
6. John Cochrane on a carbon tax and the economics of extraction. Are we just postponing the problem?
7. Mas-Colell update (in Spanish). It seems he is off the hook for the money?