Month: December 2021
This paper demonstrates that the measured stock of China’s holding of U.S. assets could be much higher than indicated by the U.S. net international investment position data due to unrecorded historical Chinese inflows into an increasingly popular global safe haven asset: U.S. residential real estate. We first use aggregate capital flows data to show that the increase in unrecorded capital inflows in the U.S. balance of payment accounts over the past decade is mainly linked to inflows from China into U.S. housing markets. Then, using a unique web traffic dataset that provides a direct measure of Chinese demand for U.S. housing at the zip code level, we estimate via a difference-in-difference matching framework that house prices in major U.S. cities that are highly exposed to demand from China have on average grown 7 percentage points faster than similar neighborhoods with low exposure over the period 2010-2016. These average excess price growth gaps co-move closely with macro-level measures of U.S. capital inflows from China, and tend to widen following periods of economic stress in China, suggesting that Chinese households view U.S. housing as a safe haven asset.
NIMBYs can be so bad that they make the London Blitz look good:
We exploit locally exogenous variation from the Blitz bombings to quantify the effect of redevelopment frictions and identify agglomeration economies at a micro-geographic scale. Employing rich location and office rental transaction data, we estimate reduced-form analyses and a spatial general equilibrium model. Our analyses demonstrate that more heavily bombed areas exhibit taller buildings today, and that agglomeration elasticities in London are large, approaching 0.2. Counterfactual simulations show that if the Blitz had not occurred, the concomitant reduction in agglomeration economies arising from the loss of higher-density redevelopment would cause London’s present-day gross domestic product to drop by some 10% (or £50 billion).
The Nobel prize lectures were online this year which gave Josh Angrist and MRU an opportunity to produce a Nobel prize lecture unlike any ever before! Josh gives a commanding yet down-to-earth talk with lots of graphics, animations and even a few guitar riffs! Indeed, Josh’s Nobel Prize lecture includes a clip from his MRU videos. Future Nobel laureates take note!
I’m also very happy that Josh focused much of his lecture on his very important work on charter schools. Watch for the stunning graph showing how Boston charter schools close the black-white achievement gap.
Josh’s work with MRU has really paid off on camera! Congrats Josh!
David Card gives a more traditional but very good lecture. Guido Imbens lecture is excellent and nicely complements Josh’s lecture and also includes some great graphics. Nobel lectures will never be the same.
The prevalence of consanguineous marriage among the Arab population in Israel increased significantly from 36.3% to 41.6% in the decade from 2007 to 2017. First-cousin and closer marriages constituted about 50% of total consanguineous marriages in the two periods surveyed. Consanguinity was found to be significantly related to religion and place of residence. Thus, the prevalence of consanguineous marriage remains high among the Arab population in Israel, similar to other Arab societies.
Is it a story of early secularization?:
This research shows that secularization accounts for the early decline in fertility in eighteenth-century France. The demographic transition, a turning point in history and an essential condition for development, took hold in France first, before the French Revolution and more than a century earlier than in any other country. Why it happened so early is, according to Robert Darnton, one of the “big questions of history” because it challenges historical and economic interpretations and because of data limitations at the time. I comprehensively document the decline in fertility and its timing using a novel crowdsourced genealogical dataset. Then, I document an important process of secularization at the time. Using census data available in the nineteenth century, I show a strong association between secularization and the timing of the transition. Finally, I leverage the genealogies to account for unobserved pre-existing, geographic, and institutional differences by studying individuals before and after the onset of the transition and exploiting the choices of second-generation migrants.
With both the Beatles and chess peaking this year in terms of media coverage, at times I have felt like I am thirteen years old again. But now the WCC match is over, and Magnus Carlsen has solidified his claim to GOAT. Carlsen has now won five such matches, and he has always won when he has needed to. Since he broke through the 2800 rating point, he has never fallen below it, not once. As a study in “management,” he is most of all a study in consistency. Nepo played even with him for five games, but then fell apart. Carlsen does not fall apart. Karjakin and Caruana played even with him for a whole match, but when the pressure was on in the rapid tiebreaks guess who was reaching new peaks?
I suspect this last match means the death of the slow classical format for the world championship. The last three matches have been deadly dull. You can cite particular reasons for the lack of excitement, but the fundamental problem is that the players are too good and a very well played chess game is a clear draw. It is hard to see how that gets reversed. On top of that the match format encourages risk-aversion and openings such as the Petroff for Black. There is too much advance openings preparation.
A Carlsen-Firouzja rapid match is what I wish to see, and somehow I expect the market will oblige. To have a repeat of what we just witnessed — even if the challenger shows up as the inspired player — just isn’t going to cut it. The cost is that we may not have a well-defined world champion by the time the next cycle moves toward its climax.
So, as of today, I predict that chess fundamentally has changed and won’t go back. No more Capablanca vs. Alekhine or Fischer vs. Spassky at slow speed. That’s just going to mean too many drawish opening choices.
Addendum: Please put aside your barbaric talk about Fischer Random 960. It obliterates the ability of the viewer to make sense of the board, so why bother? The rapid matches sponsored by Carlsen and others already have shown there are simpler, more viewer-friendly, and more intuitive ways to restore excitement to the games.
I have not had the chance to read this through, but here goes:
Documenting environmental pollution damage affects the magnitude of aggregate output, net of pollution damage, and the contribution to national product across economic sectors. For example, air pollution damage from the production side of the economy amounted to over 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002…
I have presented estimates of these effects in the US economy between 1957 and 2016. This period featured the passage of the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1970 and its subsequent implementation through the 1970s, as well as several business cycles. This research suggests that pollution damage began to decrease just after the CAA was enacted, and the orientation between GDP growth and that of the adjusted measure, or environmentally adjusted value added (EVA), switched.
If we use the standard measure of GDP, growth indeed slowed down after 1970. If instead we augment GDP for environmental damages, the period after 1970 was actually faster! The adjustment both slows down growth from 1957-1970, and speeds up growth after 1970.
Worth a ponder.
2. “Interestingly, our results are completely moderated in U.S. counties that forbid alcohol sales, which suggests that alcohol is a necessary channel through which exposure to violent video games contributes to crime.” Link here.
Two new boxed sets are not only among the best releases of the year, they are some of the best guitar recordings of all time. The first is Doc Watson: Life’s Work A Retrospective, four CDs of wonder and much better than any other Watson collection.
The second is Bola Sete, Samba in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1968. Sete has remained a largely obscure figure, with his reputation kept alive by a few cryptic John Fahey comments over the years. His LPs have been hard to find, and they did not always reflect the full quality of his playing. His best YouTube clips would come and go. This boxed set shows Sete to be one of the best acoustic guitarists of the 20th century. He is rooted in Brazilian bossa nova, but can play everything including Duke Ellington and Villa-Lobos. Here is Ted Gioia’s appreciation of Sete.
In terms of original contribution and historical import, this has to be the release of the year in any field of music.
I’ll be getting you some classical music recommendations soon.
From David McKenzie at the World Bank, here is one excerpt:
Data from big middle-income countries, and English-speaking Africa were most common, with no papers on the Middle East and North Africa, and very little study of the poorest places: In both samples, India, Brazil, and Colombia (and the U.S.!) were the most common countries studied, with a smattering of papers from East Asia, other South Asian countries, and Latin America, and one from Russia with nothing else on Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Of the World’s 25 poorest countries, only one (Mozambique) was the subject of study; of the five countries that contain half the World’s poor, there were papers on India and Bangladesh, but none on Nigeria, DRC or Ethiopia.
Here is another:
RCTs have far from overtaken development, difference-in-differences is the most popular identification method, yes, people still do IV, and no, no one does PSM on the job market: The pandemic may have reduced the ability of people to do some field experiments, but this year at least, only 20% of the top school sample, and only 6% of the World Bank sample were doing RCTs. More than one quarter in both cases were using difference-in-differences. RDD and IVs were used in about 10% of the papers each, and structural models were common in the World Bank sample (which has more trade and macro papers). None of the papers used propensity score matching.
The blog post is interesting throughout. Via the excellent Samir Varma.
That is the theme of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
How will institutions react to a proliferation of cases?
Imagine that a significant percentage of students in a school test positive, but no one is seriously ill. Will that school feel compelled to shut down and move to remote learning?
One possibility is that administrators will realize that virtually everyone is going to catch omicron anyway, articulate that reality to their constituencies, and plough ahead with face-to-face instruction. An alternate scenario is that the mere mention of Covid will prove so scary that closure will be inevitable. After all, how much will be known a month or two from now about the prospects of getting Long Covid from omicron? I am expecting a lot of school closures.
Another habit that will be hard to break is tracking the severity of the virus by counting cases. Until now, cases have been pretty good predictors of subsequent hospitalizations and then deaths. If cases become more detached from bad outcomes, will institutions and authorities be able to respond rapidly to that new reality? By the time they adjust, if they do, omicron might have come and gone.
To those who are inclined to worry, it will be scary how quickly omicron cases accumulate. It might feel as if the apocalypse has arrived, even if a lot of that short-term case activity is simply an acceleration of illness rather than an increase in the year’s total. (How scared would we get if most of the year’s murders happened in the first six or eight weeks of the year?) In any case, hospitals will have to be ready. But it is likely that a lot of health-care professionals might test positive early next year as well.
There is much more at the link.