Results for “those new service sector jobs”
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Tuesday assorted links

1. Updated data on unicorns, including Chinese numbers.

2. Those new Indian service sector jobs: A CCTV Company Is Paying Remote Workers in India to Yell at Armed Robbers.  And Stalin’s Economic Council.

3. NYT profile of Emily Oster.

4. What is ranked-choice voting, and why is NYC using it?

5. More arguments about Tether and crypto stability.

6. Why are so many people writing about social epistemology?

7. Happiness researcher Edward Diener has passed away (NYT).

Wednesday assorted links

1. The economics of vending machines.

2. Geneva introducing a minimum wage of $25 an hour.

3. Senegal proceeding with festival that usually attracts four to five million people (NYT).

4. Those new service sector quarantine work for the super-rich jobs.  And Covid-19 and acedia.

5. New calculations on what is needed for herd immunity.

6. A much quicker and easier serological test.

7. Lessons from the Israeli second wave.  Good stuff, but I would note a common tension found in many discussions.  When arguing against herd immunity and “segregate the old” approaches, it is common to note “you can’t stop the young from infecting the old,” though that point in the broader picture does not in fact work against herd immunity approaches.

Tyrone joins…that group…

Many of you ask me for reports of my evil twin brother Tyrone, but of course I demur because I am too embarrassed to pass along his doings.  They get worse and worse.  Nonetheless, Tyrone said he was going public with this one, so I thought the damage was done in any case.  The sad news is that Tyrone is now an active proponent of QAnon.  How can he fall for such fallacies and stupidities?  He sent me this letter to explain his decision:

Dear Tyler:

You have yourself blogged about the import of child abuse, and asked why it is not condemned more widely, most of all among elites.  You even wrote that the right wing ignored the issue — I thought it is time to remedy that!  We needed a right-wing movement to protect the world’s most vulnerable citizens, and it turned out that looked like QAnon.  Besides, who is more of an elite than I am?

To be sure, the QAnon movement has its excesses, but do not all social movements?  At least it attacks criminals rather than defending them.  The key question is whether social movements shine a light on abusive practices that need further scrutiny, and there QAnon passes with flying colors.

QAnon truly has attracted attention — just look at all the complaints about Facebook enabling it.  In this world you haven’t arrived until someone can turn a criticism of you into a criticism of Facebook.

Jeffrey Epstein was convicted of…stuff…and the world’s elites continued to treat him as normal and to take his money and fly on his plane.  He wasn’t cancelled.

Roman Polanski had a successful and feted career after repeatedly doing very bad…stuff.

The sexual abuse of children has turned out to be rampant in the Catholic Church and also in Hollywood.

I saw the new HBO documentary Showbiz Kids: “In my experience, I know a lot of kids that grew up in the industry. And what surprised me when I got older was finding out that pretty much all of the young men were abused in some way, sexually.”

French intellectuals — and was there ever more of an elite than them? — petitioned to repeal age of consent laws so they can do…bad stuff…with less fear of the consequences.  (See?  Petitions really are wrong!)

By the way, Berlin authorities placed children with pedophiles for thirty years.  And that is in Germany, a country with relatively responsible governance.

This is all so sickening I can’t go on any further, and we haven’t even discussed all that goes on over the internet.

There is in fact an epidemic of child abuse, it ruins or seriously damages many millions of lives, and elites are complicit in covering it up and refusing to address the preconditions that generate so much of it.  These same elites often downplay or discourage the elevation of social conservatism, one of the few possible regulatory mechanisms society might have.  In the very worst situations, these elites are directly complicit in covering up the abuse of children.  Many of the elites partake in it themselves.

Which group has done more to publicize these failings than QAnon, the worthy successor to The Jerry Springer Show?

Yes, Yes I know.  I do not endorse all of their hypotheses concerning political economy.  Maybe Donald Trump will not in fact set all things straight, and perhaps the apocalypse is not around the corner.  No, the molesters do not worship Satan, but given their behavior they might as well.  Should we lock up all those journalists?  I don’t know.  Comet Ping Pong was never as good as Pupatella anyway.  But look — this is what you get when you build a mass movement.  The message does get dumbed down and the crazies climb on board, just as we have Antifa and some other weird groups and demands connected to what are otherwise valuable social marches.  Tyler — you have to get used to this new world of internet communications!  Walter Cronkite is gone.  Either compete or give up, and I’m not willing to do the latter.

For whatever structural reason, elite media seem less obsessed with child abuse as an issue than is “non-elite media.”  That is simply a reality we need to work with, and our unwillingness to discard traditional canons of journalism has led to the perpetuation of these abuses for centuries, indeed dating back to the very founding of the American nation.

Haven’t you read Marcuse on repressive tolerance?

And come on, this very serious guy just wrote this, but not about QAnon:

“But actually diving into the sea of trash that is social science gives you a more tangible perspective, a more visceral revulsion, and perhaps even a sense of Lovecraftian awe at the sheer magnitude of it all: a vast landfill—a great agglomeration of garbage extending as far as the eye can see, effluvious waves crashing and throwing up a foul foam of p=0.049 papers. As you walk up to the diving platform, the deformed attendant hands you a pair of flippers. Noticing your reticence, he gives a subtle nod as if to say: “come on then, jump in”.”

The rot runs much deeper than the fallacies of QAnon.

Besides, it seems that the guy behind QAPPANON (don’t ask) is “a New Jersey man in his forties with prominent roles in technical analysis and IT security for the banking sector.”  Could there be a more reliable source?

And Tyler, I know your criticize me for following these conspiracy theories. But you yourself have written of the need to imagine a future very different from the present and then bring it about? Is that not what a conspiracy tries to do?  Do we not need to counter these evil conspiracies with some more benevolent plans?

Most of all, when it comes to evaluating social movements, you can only elevate so many victims at once.  Isn’t the notion of children as the true victims the most universal and indeed the only vision that can unify this great nation?  People complain about the truth-stretching in QAnon, and OK I get that, but isn’t their real worry the revolutionary re-appropriation of which groups in society can be granted true, #1 victimhood status?  Just as Christianity accomplished a similar revaluation way back when?  (And look at some of the wacky stuff that they believe — ever read The Book of Revelation Tyler?)

I don’t want QAnon to be in charge, but what other tool do we have to force elites to deal with this issue?  Aren’t these just Saul Alinsky tactics?  QAnon isn’t going to control Congress anyway.

Besides, is not apophenia one of the roots of creativity?  Have not Millenarian movements played key and sometimes beneficial roles in Western history?  Is not Christianity itself a Millenarian movement?  How about all that weird ass shit on the back of your dollar bill?

Child abuse is the #1 issue in society right now so…pick your side!  If you don’t like it, stop your silly blogging and come up with a better anti-child abuse movement.

TC again:  See?  This is why Tyrone doesn’t appear much on this blog any more.  It used to be a funny or sometimes even thought-provoking schtick, but these days things are so out of control you’ve got to stick with message discipline.  You can’t just let one speculation lead to the next, because we have so many crazies with major league internet platforms.

Rationalism.  Fact-checking.  Only one family member at a time (sorry sis!).

Please return tomorrow, or perhaps later in the day, for a proper analysis of the incidence of property tax reform in eastern Colorado.  And perhaps there will be some new service sector jobs as well — you can apply!  In the meantime, let’s hope that Tyrone’s QAnon fandom isn’t one of them.

And no, I’m not going to try to reenter the Philippines.

Will the coronavirus make the digital divide worse?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

Now consider issues beyond specific user groups. The U.S. will almost certainly need to introduce a “track and trace” system, using information technology, preferably with privacy safeguards. One version of this idea uses geolocation methods, which tracks where people are in physical space and sends individuals a text message if they come into close contact with others diagnosed with Covid-19.

That technology requires participants to have a smartphone. The federal government probably will not mandate smartphone usage, which would both be politically unpopular and difficult to enforce. Nonetheless, businesses are likely to turn to such schemes to increase workplace safety. But again, exactly who already owns or afford a smartphone? Some of the jobs with the closest physical contact, such as service jobs, employ relatively low paid workers.

Companies may well decide to help workers buy smartphones, perhaps with government subsidies too. But that would then make having a smartphone a job requirement, including in the retail and public sectors.

This would create a new and in some ways more serious digital divide. Imagine you want to visit your local shopping mall. Its owners might require that you subscribe to one of the Covid-19 tracing apps. Or imagine not being able to get your license renewed without a smartphone certifying your health status.

All of a sudden the U.S. will have a new segregation — between those who have smartphones and those who don’t. If you’re on the wrong side of that divide, many places and services will be hard if not impossible to reach.

And to close:

It is plausible that the U.S. could end up with 10% or more of the population exiled from many key institutions of American life — simply because they lack the right kind of technology.

Don’t get me wrong; the digital divide deserves the additional attention soon to come its way. The trick will be ensuring that any proposed solutions don’t just trade one kind of divide for another.

I can’t even figure out how to work those parking spots that are “app only” for the parking meter.  Pity me!

Will monetary tightening halt the labor market recovery?

My latest Bloomberg column is on that topic, here is one bit:

…these days more and more economists, especially those with Keynesian sympathies, are insisting that higher legal minimum wages don’t lower employment much, if at all. If higher real wages don’t much hurt employment, we shouldn’t expect lower real wages to much boost employment. This “new wisdom” on minimum wages contradicts Keynesian labor economics and implies inflation won’t much boost employment, if at all.

And:

One thing we do know about inflation is that voters hate it. Economists sometimes treat this belief as irrational, assuming that workers in aggregate will get raises to compensate for the higher prices. This is true for many top performers, whose income growth would exceed inflation regardless. But a lot of other workers are concentrated in somewhat bureaucratic service-sector jobs, they have weak bargaining power, and their pay is not indexed to inflation. If the rate of price inflation is 4 percent rather than 2 percent, for many people that means their take-home pay is worth 2 percentage points less than it would have been under modest inflation.

And this:

Most discussions about monetary policy aren’t about economic theory (properly understood) at all. Rather they are about blaming the system, as people feel a sense of outrage that somehow someone isn’t trying hard enough to fix basic problems. Most of the claims out there, when put under the microscope of reason, dissolve into a beautiful, brilliant agnosticism.

Here is the full column.  Note that Bloomberg now has a paywall, with I believe ten free articles per month.  Here is information on subscription offers, I urge you all to increase the velocity of money.

Monday assorted links

1. Virginia gets serious about congestion pricing on Rt.66, some tolls $30 or maybe higher?

2. Union Square chess hustling, circa 2017.  Those old service sector jobs, but updated.

3. China Titanic markets in everything: “For a premium price of 200,000 yuan ($30,000), a guest can play the role of Rose, one of the movie’s star-crossed protagonists.”

4. Profile of Rod Dreher.

5. “…☺ does not necessarily look smiling to everyone.”

6. Claims about Industrial Revolution wages.

7. Some written-out summary points from my podcast with David Perell.

Wednesday assorted avian links

1. Do Trump’s speechwriters follow MRU?  It seems part of Trump’s speech last night borrowed an idea/reference from our recent MRU “complacent class” video.

2. Those new puffin fan service sector jobs.

3. “Failing to see the logic behind this decision, Whitney regards it as “just nuts.” But it’s not unusual for things to get messy in the world of avian taxonomy…

4. A new fossil shows ancient penguins were as tall as people for 30 million years.

5. Complacency and the future of work, an adaptation of part of the book.  And Quartz adaptation from Complacent Class on America’s productivity slowdown.  And my bit on Charlie Rose.

The political economy of inflation

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

Just think how the U.S. has changed. Compared to earlier decades, economic growth and wage growth have slowed, the population has aged, average job tenure is longer and Americans are much less likely to move across the country for a new job. Furthermore, more Americans have ensconced themselves service-sector jobs, where they’re sheltered by formal tenure or strong networks of allies at work. We are more set in our ways, and that means people with jobs feel more threatened by inflation.

In the rarefied world of economic theory, higher inflation would translate into higher nominal wages fairly quickly, keeping the real, inflation-adjusted wage constant.  But that doesn’t happen automatically, because employers will only pay their workers more if they fear those workers will leave or rebel. With lower levels of labor-market and geographic mobility, and with more two-income families, it’s harder for many workers to threaten to quit than before.

The net result is that inflation would leave many workers with permanently lower wages, as in essence the central bank would be giving them a wage cut that their own employers probably would not have dared.

Do read the whole thing.

Are work hours allocated justly and efficiently?

That is the topic of my latest NYT column for The Upshot.  Here are some excerpts:

In short, most older people already enjoy a much better deal than Keynes had predicted for the entire work force. The 1930 Keynes essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” didn’t even mention retirement, perhaps because he was accustomed to a world in which so many people worked until they died or were seriously disabled.

Teenagers are also ahead of Keynes’s workplace predictions. Several decades ago, about 55 percent of teenagers had jobs, but lately only about 35 percent do. In addition, service sector jobs have been replacing jobs involving manual labor. While enormous disparities exist among teenagers of different races and income groups, over all, life has gotten easier for them.

And:

If people in all of these groups are working less, then someone must be working more. The answer, overwhelmingly, is women, who have taken on an Atlaslike role in supporting American economic growth.

There are reasons to believe that at least some of the growth in female work hours has been an unfair burden. It is well known, for instance, that men do not come anywhere close to fully sharing in the household chores or child rearing when their partners are working, and that often means more stress for women. Furthermore, the best available evidence, from Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, both professors of public policy at the University of Michigan (Mr. Wolfers is also a regular contributor to this column), suggest that overall female happiness in America has been declining, while age-adjusted death rates for middle-aged white women — though not for white men — have been increasing. Those troubling trends are perhaps another sign that the distribution of stress has been uneven.

Many men are working too little, and perhaps many women too much.  But why isn’t there more smoothing of leisure over time?

On the other hand, many women do receive significant recompense in leisure time eventually — once they become older. Because women on average live longer than men, they are likely to have more years in retirement. Yet it is a strange society that disproportionately bunches much work and stress for so many women in the middle of their lives, and rewards them only much later with leisure. It is a kind of feast or famine for work, leisure and earnings.

Most economic models don’t account for these patterns, and instead assume that people engage in what is called smoothing behavior, in which leisure and work is evenly distributed across the years. Yet Americans as a whole are not experiencing that kind of moderation.

That is the real labor supply puzzle, and I don’t know of any consistent model which explains that along with other basic labor supply facts.

Monday assorted links

1. Detroit renaissance fact of the day.

2. Earth fact of the day: “According to BIS total public and private debt to GDP for the world stands at 265% vs 220% at the peak of the prior credit cycle”  Good thing those interest rates are low, I guess.

3. A comic on RCTs.

4. MIE: a history of farting for money.  Those old service sector jobs…

5. MIE: death by chocolate.

6. Cato on Oregon.  Better background than I’ve seen from any other media source.

7. Is Brazil just a China problem?

Which social groups and classes should fear higher price inflation?

Paul Krugman considers who is helped and hurt by higher rates of price inflation, and he sees the big losers as the wealthy oligarchs (and see his column today here).  In contrast, I see the big losers as those with protected service sectors jobs who do not wish to have their contracts reset.  If you are a schoolteacher, a nominal wage cut is likely to mean a real wage cut because you don’t have the power to renegotiate into a deal as good as the one you started with.  The declining labor mobility of the United States in general means that workers are more vulnerable to higher rates of price inflation.  A guy living in Cleveland who plans on leaving for Houston is probably less worried about nominal variables, because he will be doing a new contract negotiation anyway.

We all know that inflation is extremely unpopular with voters.  We also observe that inflation remains extremely unpopular in a variety of northern European economies, which typically have more egalitarian distributions of income (though not always wealth) than does the United States.  In any case the top 0.1 percent in those countries has less wealth per capita than in the U.S. and, at least according to progressives, less political influence too.

Of course the ability of inflation to erode rents is one of its virtues.  The super-wealthy are often earning rents, but typically those rents are structured to be relatively robust to changes in nominal variables.  For instance the rent might take the form of IP rights, or resource ownership rights.  Simple loans of money, as we find in traditional creditor-debtor relationships, just aren’t monopolizable enough or profitable enough to be a major source of riches for the most wealthy.

I was puzzled by this comment on Krugman’s:

But there is one small but influential group that is in fact hurt by financial repression which is just like what Hitler did to the Jews: again, the 0.1 percent.

People that wealthy can put their money into hedge funds, private equity, private capital pools, and the like.  Of course there is risk involved but they have a chance as good as anyone to earn the highest rates of return prevailing in an economy, through creative uses of equity and on top of that very good accountants and tax lawyers.  The very wealthy also have the greatest ability to hedge against inflation using derivatives and commodities, if they do desire.

In other contexts, Krugman (correctly) stresses that price inflation lowers the real exchange rate of a country (and thus is not neutral, supporting the view that nominal variables really do matter).  So one big group of gainers from domestic inflation are those who invest lots of money overseas, wait for some inflation, and eventually convert their foreign currency holdings back into dollars for a very high net rate of return.

Which group of people might that be?  The super wealthy of course.  (This internationalization of returns for the super wealthy, by the way, is one big difference between current times and the 1970s.)

I am not suggesting that the very wealthy are out there pushing for higher inflation.  But they are much more protected against such inflation than Krugman’s analysis suggests, and the middle class in protected service sector jobs is more vulnerable than is usually recognized.  There is a reason why 4-6% price inflation has become the new third rail of American politics.

Addendum: Here are some related comments from Brad DeLong.  I understand the very wealthy as believing (rightly or wrongly) that higher rates of price inflation increase economic uncertainty without providing much in the way of benefit for the real economy.  So, given that belief, why should they favor higher price inflation?  Since the status quo is based on low rates of price inflation, a switch to higher inflation would in fact disrupt markets (for better or worse), which would send a kind of self-validating short-run signal, at least apparently affirming this view held by the super wealthy that inflation will increase economic uncertainty.

Is Robert Gordon underestimating the progress of automation?

In his recent NBER working paper, Robert Gordon wrote:

This lack of multitasking ability is dismissed by the robot enthusiasts – just wait, it is coming. Soon our robots will not only be able to win at Jeopardy but also will be able to check in your bags at the sky cap station at the airport, thus displacing the skycaps. But the physical tasks that humans can do are unlikely to be replaced in the next several decades by robots. Surely multiple-function robots will be developed, but it will be a long and gradual process before robots outside of the manufacturing and wholesaling sectors become a significant factor in replacing human jobs in the service or construction sectors.

So how is it with those skycaps?  I queried Air Genius Gary Leff and he wrote this back to me:

There are still people picking up/loading bags onto the planes, but —

American Airlines has tested self-tagging of bags in Boston, Austin, and Orlando
http://boardingarea.com/aadvantagegeek/2012/11/14/american-airlines-orlando-mco-self-tagging-tag-bag-luggage-system-check-i/

Qantas has permanent bag tags that work with RFID readers at the airport, you check in online and drop your bag at the bag drop and leave.  This works for their Australian domestic flights.  (I do have a “Q Bag Tag”)
http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/q-bag-tag/global/en

British Airways is trialing an end to paper tags, they began with Microsoft employees in Seattle this past fall
http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthewing/2013/11/07/british-airways-new-electronic-baggage-tags/

Brussels Airlines on intra-European flights departing Brussels
http://brusselsairlines.prezly.com/brussels-airport-and-brussels-airlines-test-automated-self-baggage-drop-off-

BWI is working on their baggage systems to accommodate self-checking of bags
http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/general_assembly/bwi-moving-forward-with-new-hotel-self-bag-check-in/

And that required no more than a few minutes thought from Gary.

The Autor, Dorn, and Hanson paper on trade and technology

Several other bloggers already have covered this important paper, but there remain underexplored details.  Overall the main result is that trade has had more of a negative impact on employment than we used to think.  I won’t attempt a summary, but here are a few further results of note:

1. In the Providence, Rhode Island area the trade exposure to China for 2000-2007 went up by $3,490 per worker.  For New Orleans the same increase was only $490 per worker.

2. Technology gains and mechanization in a region do not predict employment declines, but they do predict polarization of wage returns.  (I do think that automation will create problems for labor markets, but I think that issue is more about our future.  It also was true, for a while, in our more distant past, as outlined by David Ricardo.)

3. The negative employment effects of technology on manufacturing jobs peaked in the 1980s, and since have declined.  The negative employment effects of technology on service sector jobs have been rising.  On net the effect on employment across all sectors has stayed roughly constant over the last few decades.

4. Women and older workers are those most likely to lose their jobs because of technology.

5. The employment effects of exposure of a region to Chinese imports are significant.  A good deal of this effect works through the labor force participation rate rather than through measured unemployment per se.  This by the way is one indication that the labor force participation rate does contain relevant information about the health of the labor market.

6. The authors classify jobs into the categories of abstract, routine, and manual, and suggest that routine jobs are most vulnerable to automation.  Maybe, but I would not take this for granted.  Better software in a car can forestall mechanical problems, and thus replace the manual labor of the automobile mechanic, even if we cannot imagine how a robot could itself do the car repair work.