Month: March 2022

I Booked an Airbnb in Kyiv

I booked 5 nights at an Airbnb in Irpin, a heavily bombed city near Kyiv.

I’m not going. (And I told the host I wasn’t going).

The host replied:

Любі друзі дякуємо за допомогу. На ці гроші ми зможело допомогти сімьям які залишились без будинків. Дякуємо

Dear friends, thank you for your help. With this money we were able to help families left homeless. Thank you

It’s a very strange world in which you can book an apartment in a bombed city thousands of miles away.

Would this form of charity pass the Givewell test? Probably not. Still I am glad to have done it. Not to make light of the situation, but the look on my wife’s face when I told her I had booked an Airbnb in Kyiv was priceless.

NFT markets in everything

Ukraine plans to become the first developed country to issue its own collection of non-fungible tokens, as it looks to capitalise on a flood of crypto donations to back its war against Russia.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice-prime minister, announced the plan in a tweet on Thursday and said Kyiv would reveal details of its NFTs soon.

The move is the latest sign of the Ukrainian government embracing digital assets as a way to fund its armed forces in their battle, and comes after it raised more than $270mn in “war bonds”.

One for each Russian tank destroyed?  Here is the full FT story, via Natasha.

Norway Chess cancels Alexander Grischuk

He is kicked out of a forthcoming tournament, even though he has been critical of the war in Ukraine.  In case you haven’t already guessed, Grischuk is Russian in his citizenship.  This stuff never stays very accurate or fair.

Here is more on Grischuk and other Russian players, a grim and deeply unfair story (in German, covers Nepo, Svidler, Dubov, others who have spoken out).  To be clear, I am strongly in support of pulling all tournaments from Russia and Belarus, as FIDE has done.  It is targeting the individuals that I object to.

Elsewhere, from an email:

The editors of the “Studies in the History of Philosophy” have decided not to pursue the project of publishing a thematic issue devoted to Russian religious philosophy.

Russian cats are now cancelled too.

I would say this: if you are working in the United States and are from Russia, your chance of a big promotion just went way down, no matter what your political views.  They are not going to make Chekhov Captain of the Enterprise, not now at least.

As for the oligarchs, I am all in favor of initiating court cases against Russian law breakers, whether in domestic courts or at The Hague.  And if those individuals are found guilty, and the process generates yacht seizure as the appropriate remedy, bring it on.  But just taking the yachts without true due process?  Nein, Danke.

Jesse Michels interviews me at Hereticon

Jesse’s description was “Wide ranging discussion with the brilliant @tylercowen. Topics include: Satoshi’s identity, Straussian Jesus, the Beatles and UFOs. Taped in early January but he presciently expresses concerns around Russia/Ukraine”

Great fun was had by all, and they added in nice visuals.

Sentences about unemployment

As in the data, the price of risk in our model sharply increases in recessions. The benefit from hiring new workers therefore greatly declines, leading to a large decrease in job vacancies and an increase in unemployment of the same magnitude as in the data.

Yes, nominal wages are sticky but this is the other and all-important side of the hiring equation.

That is from a new and important NBER working paper by Patrick J. Kehoe, Pierlauro Lopez, Virgiliu Midrigan, and Elena Pastorino.  There is much more to their general model than that single sentence would indicate.

(Small) markets in everything

Ralph Nader spent a career bashing corporate executives. Now he’s written a book praising some. It’s not going down too well.

Tentatively called “Twelve CEOs I Have Known and Admired,” the book is more than a little off-brand for the man who upended the world of auto safety with the blockbuster “Unsafe at Any Speed” and then attacked corporate behavior in a number of other industries.

Based on a string of rejection letters from publishers, Mr. Nader said he fears he’s been typecast, making any accolades he might have for corporate tycoons a hard sell. His literary agent, Ronald Goldfarb, advised him to change course and go negative, he says.

“He wanted chapters on bad CEOs,” Mr. Nader said of Mr. Goldfarb.

“I didn’t tell him what to write,” Mr. Goldfarb retorts. “I told him what I could sell.” The two parted ways after working on the manuscript for three months.

Mood affiliation strikes again.  Nader fans don’t want to positively affiliate with CEOs, and “love letter” types do not always wish to affiliate with Nader.  (By the way, here is my 2014 chat with Nader.)  Here is the rest of the Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg WSJ article.

How is U.S. urban public safety changing?

This paper argues that changes in human activity during the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unusual divergence between crime rates and victimization risk in US cities. Most violent crimes declined during the pandemic. But analysis using foot traffic data shows that the risk of street crime victimization was elevated throughout 2020; people in public spaces were 15-30 percent more likely to be robbed or assaulted. This increase is unlikely to be explained by changes in crime reporting or selection into outdoor activities by potential victims. Traditional crime rates may present a misleading view of recent changes in public safety.

Here is the paper by Maxim Massenkopf and Aaron Chalfin, via the excellent Samir Varma.

Further Wednesday assorted links

1. The boycott of Russian science.  In general I am more comfortable with boycotting the Russian nation directly, rather than aiming at individual “Russians” (how defined?) outside the borders, who may or may not have a legally meaningful link/liability to the Putin government.  And simply calling them “oligarchs” does not change that calculus!

2. Ukrainian currency down only ten percent since November.

3. Art works being lent by Russia.  So far not yet cancelled.

4. Very good FT piece on the political powerlessness of the Russian oligarchs.

5. Crypto start-ups with no real names attached (NYT), the facts of the article are more interesting than the moralizing.

6. More on Russian aviation.

7. What some Russian nationalists are expecting.

An index for state capacity

This paper contributes to the literature on state capacity by developing a method that yields an index of state capacity with far more comprehensive data coverage across time and countries than has been possible previously. Unlike narrower measures of fiscal capacity or legal capacity, the index is more comprehensive, using data from the Varieties of Democracy dataset on fiscal capacity, a state’s control over its territory, the rule of law, and the provision of public goods used to support markets. Like the previous literature, it demonstrates that the historical prevalence of warfare predicts state capacity. Several exercises are performed to demonstrate the validity of the index in measuring state capacity.

That is from a newly published paper by Colin O’Reilly and Ryan H. Murphy, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Tuesday assorted links

1. “People emotionally tied to robots can undermine relationships with co-workers.

2. Metaculus giving about 75% odds that Putin is still in power a year from now.  And Fiona Hill on the mind of Putin.

3. Russians have dollar-denominated mortgages.

4. Those new service sector jobs who needs a bear conflict manager?

5. Do you really want that private ambulance in Sweden?

6. Why the Russian air force has been so poor.

7. Benjamin Yeoh podcast with Alec Stapp (Institute for Progress) on policy, the internet, think tanks, and more.