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June 22, 2015

"Book Review: The Redistribution Recession"

Philip Greenspun reviews U. of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan's book, The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy. Here's the TL;DR:

With 363 pages of analysis and mathematical models, Mulligan shows that essentially all of what we have observed since 2009 can be explained by the following:

  • many able-bodied Americans will not work if they have a reasonably attractive alternative
  • the federal government, starting in 2009, made not working much more financially rewarding for tens of millions of working-age adults . . .

This is an important book and deserves to be read by anyone interested in the U.S. economy. There is a lot of interesting information still accessible even to those whose econ/math background isn’t adequate for fully appreciating Mulligan’s mathematical model.

April 29, 2015

Three reviews of John Tamny's new book

Mercatus Center's Veronique de Rugy: "John Tamny Is Making Economics Popular Again".

Scott Granis at Calafia Beach Pundit: "Recommended Reading".

Mark Hendrickson in Forbes.

I haven't read Tamny's book yet, but in the "popular economics" genre, I heartily recommend Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics, Harold Winter's Tradeoffs, and Steven Landsburg's, The Armchair Economist.

April 27, 2015

"Cheated turns over a rock, fully exposing UNC's 'student-athlete' scandal"

George Leef reviews Cheated.

If you remember (or have read about) Watergate, you’ll see how closely that debacle resembles the current scandal at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

UPDATE: Link fixed now. Thanks, Dave.

April 08, 2015

"Sound Familiar? A report from the battlefield in the war on clichés"

Joseph Epstein reviews It’s Been Said Before which sounds like a book I'd like to read if only to find out what the author's complaint about "slippery slope" is.

March 17, 2015

"Detroit Is Dying Because GM Stuck Around, New York City Booms Because Nabisco Did Not"

John Tammy:

When depressed U.S. cities are talked about in the media, the explanation for their decrepitude is nearly always described through the prism of a departed industry, a natural disaster, or overseas competition.  Pittsburgh is allegedly a shadow of its former self because the steel industry is no longer vibrant,  Galveston, TX supposedly never recovered from a hurricane back in 1900, Flint, MI and Detroit are depopulated because the U.S. car industry has been eclipsed by more efficient global producers, and then Selma, Alabama’s limp economy was recently reported in the New York Times as a function of still-healing scars from the 1960s Civil Rights struggles.

The problem with the diagnoses offered up is that they don’t measure up to the most basic of logical and observable realities.  Particularly the industry explanations for a city’s demise.  Indeed, the departure or decline of already established forms of work would far more likely signal an economic renaissance whereby the economy of a city evolves with the times, with abundant wealth the result.

Mr. Tammy's forthcoming book get a nice review here.

Finally, an elegantly rendered book that makes the dismal science engaging, with real-world examples from Hollywood, rock ‘n roll, and sports, including actor Ben Affleck,  the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, and the Dallas Cowboys. Real life stories of people struggling with the real life consequences of government officials who too often view the economy in the abstract.

March 03, 2015

"Retirement: When you should take Social Security"

Larry Kotlikoff has co-authored a new book on the subject. I recommend it, especially if you don't know about "declare and suspend" and "spousal benefits"

February 23, 2015

"The Time Everyone 'Corrected' the World’s Smartest Woman"

The short version of an amazing stain on the American professoriate.

(I think it's a terrific example to use in stat classes. There's even at least one entire book about it.)

January 27, 2015

"Changing Climates of History"

Interesting look at recent work by prominent historians on the role of climate in history.

For the most part, these five senior historians use climate change to discuss economic and political history. Unexpected climate shifts, or brief climate shocks, brought crop failure, hunger, unrest—these arguments appear time and again in these five books. In particular, climate shifts help explain economic distress and political violence.

January 20, 2015

"Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias"

Kyle Smith reviews The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia.

Smith's conclusion is consistent with other work I've seen: even if Scandinavians really were terrifically happy, they are key features of their societies that wouldn't transfer well to other countries, particularly the U.S.

December 09, 2014


Professor Peter Gordon smacks Martha Nussbaum a little and has some kind words for Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle's new book, Bootleggers and Baptists

Here's yet another application of the theory: "‘Bootleggers’ and ‘Baptists’ Agree on Energy".

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