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Economics

October 22, 2014

"Behind a NYT call to bust up Amazon"

Ira Stoll, in the New York Post, speculates on the reason for Krugman's call for antitrust action against Amazon:

It’s enough to make a cynic suspect that the Times’ panic over Amazon isn’t about online retailer’s market power or disparate treatment at all, but the fact that Amazon’s CEO owns The Washington Post, a newspaper that competes with The New York Times.

Or about the fact that the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, reportedly has libertarian-oriented politics rather than Krugman’s statist views.

UPDATE: not to be missed is Marc Andreessen's annotation of Krugman's column.

"Obama Donor Blocks Access to Hagan Stimulus Records"

"Cronyism all the way down."

October 21, 2014

"How the feds block Ebola cures"

Tell me again about how great the FDA is.

Two years after 9/11, Congress created Project Bioshield to speed up the commercialization of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. A key part of the plan: Get the FDA to evaluate innovations quickly by using the same scientific advances that were used to discover them.

The agency balked.

Pandemic vaccines and drugs don’t move through the FDA approval process faster. Instead, drug- and device-development times actually increased more than 70 percent over the past decade because the FDA keeps demanding more studies and more data using outdated techniques.

And, no, the FDA is not using the best science to ensure safety. Time and again, it has waived regulations when politically expedient.

Or as Glenn Reynolds cracks, "Government is just another word for the things we do together."

"This Is What It Looks Like When 'No Brainer' Trades Go Spectacularly Wrong"

A useful illustration of why there is never a "no brainer" trade.

October 20, 2014

"The One App You Need To Mention On Your Resume If You Want A Job At Google"

Econ Ph.D. students, send your resumes to Google!

Spoiler: the app is Matlab.

"Culture Wars All the Way Down"

Jonah Goldberg at the top of his form. Half funny, half original, insightful analysis. Even though this column depreciates economics a bit, it's a good argument. And I really like his discussion of "wedge issues".

So the other day I was on Fox talking about the minimum wage, or rather I was on Fox to talk about the politics of the minimum wage. I made the point I’m about to make right now. The reason Democrats are always trying to raise the minimum wage is so they can get Republicans to vote against the minimum wage, a point others have made in the past (including, I recently learned, Kevin Williamson in this excellent primer on the issue). More broadly, the minimum wage is a wedge issue for Democrats. The fact that it is at best an insignificant and silly idea and at worst really terrible economics is entirely beside the point.

When I first started following politics in a serious way, “wedge issues” were terrible, no good, very bad things. David Broder, Tom Edsall, Eleanor Clift, and others would decry the use of wedge issues — race, abortion, patriotism, etc. — because they “divided” Americans. What this really meant was they divided the enduring Democratic coalition, separating out working-class whites and other constituencies moving rightward with Reagan. Looking through the hundreds of stories on Nexis from the late 1980s and early 1990s on the sinister exploitation of such issues is really a lot of fun. Here’s a headline from a 1989 Edsall piece in the Washington Post: “GOP Honing Wedges for Next Campaign; Party Aims for Partisan Advantage by Making Corruption, Drugs and Crime Divisive Issues.”

Good lord! Will those Republicans stop at nothing to win elections? 

"Ebola Comes to America: Krugman & Stiglitz Must Be Delighted"

This is mean, nasty, over the top, and I liked every word of it.

"Amazon Must Be Stopped"

The editor of New Republic thinks Amazon is a monopoly.

Many people reply effectively. Here are three.

Annie Lowrey, New York: "Amazon is Not a Monopoly".

Joe Nocera, New York Times[!]: "Amazon Plays Rough. So What?"

Reihan Salam, Slate: "In Praise of Amazon".

 

"Shale Boom Has America Sitting Pretty"

As the kids used to say, "No duh!"

Cheap energy is key for economic growth, and a glut of natural gas is leading to a kind of small renaissance in American manufacturing, especially in energy-intensive industries. More fracking means more gas, lower prices, and growth potential for firms that use that gas.

October 16, 2014

"Don't Care About the Deficit? Now You Should"

Fine article with one important qualification: the deficit per se doesn't matter; goverment spending does. The growth rate of government spending must be cut, and soon.

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