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Economics

December 10, 2014

"Wheat People vs. Rice People: Why Are Some Cultures More Individualistic Than Others?"

I find explanations of differences in culture and in economic systems due to geography potentially very appealing. (Geography, unlike many other factors, can be safely assumed exogenous.) So this hypothesis is quite interesting.

But the author doesn't mention, oddly, the similarity between this idea and Wittfogel's notion of "hydraulic civilizations".

December 09, 2014

"How Washington made itself irrelevant"

By Bruce Katz, Vice-President of Brookings[!]:

Now that the midterms are behind us, let’s have an honest assessment of what’s really happening in our nation’s capital: The federal government’s power is diminishing. Washington is becoming less effective at addressing many of our nation’s problems and less consequential in bolstering the cities and regions that drive the economy.

"Romance"

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".

December 08, 2014

"What is the most marketable skill set that every economist should have?"

Fron EJMR:

An ability to ask simple but fundamental questions, get the answers you want using data that nobody else has access to, and talk very slowly making the whole thing look a lot more important than it really is.

In my experience, the "data that nobody else has access to" is really important. It's wonderful protection against replication and criticism.

"6 Compelling Correlations That Make Absolutely No Sense"

Terrific stuff for a statistics or quantitative methods course.

"Even health economists have trouble choosing the right plan"

Steve Allen, Associate Dean, College of Managment, NC State:

First, the plans are maddeningly complex.  It is relatively easy to see the rates, deductibles and copays (I am not saying easy, just easy compared to what comes next) but very tough to figure out what you are actually buying.  Which medical conditions are covered and which are not?  If you need medical services, which providers are included in the network covered by the plan? 

December 04, 2014

"The State of Illinois Has Hope, and Needs Change"

Let's hope the new Republican governor can help.

Illinois pensions are billions and billions in debt.  Illinois voters are not dumb.  Rauner gave them credit for that.  The pension liability is bigger than people really know because the state doesn’t account for the rate of return or the actual liability correctly.  Wirepoints has chronicled that.  Rauner has consistently gotten great rates of return for his investors. Hopefully, he will get the next 8 years to straighten Illinois out.  Illinois voters knew for certain if the state continued down the current path, Illinois was headed for total destruction. That pension debt could destroy the startup community we have tried to build here.

December 03, 2014

"California pension funds are running dry"

The odds are in favor that a hell of a reckoning is coming in Cali.

The City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System, for instance, had more than enough funds in 2003 to cover its estimated future bill for workers' retirement checks. A decade later, it is short $3 billion.

The state's pension goliath, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, had $281 billion to cover the benefits promised to 1.3 million workers and retirees in 2013. Yet it needed an additional $57 billion to meet future obligations.

The bill at the state teachers' pension fund is even higher: It has an estimated shortfall of $70 billion.

Call it Detroit West.

December 01, 2014

"Gross national profit: Washington’s wealth and waste"

One reason for DC's prosperity:

One growth industry, due to the vast expansion of the federal government’s tax and regulatory rules, is lobbying. Businesses spent $3.24 billion last year on lobbying, up from $1.45 billion in 1998 and $200 million in 1983. Two-thirds of US senators and representatives joined the lobbying industry after leaving office in 2012, up from a small fraction in the 1960s.

"The History and Danger of Administrative Law"

Powerful argument from Philip Hamburger, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law. It's a condensed version of his book, published earlier this year, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

(Adrian Vermeule, John H. Watson Professor of Law at Harvard,  vigorously disagrees.)

 

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