Assorted Links (9/30/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):

Behavioral Economics

  • Opting in vs. Opting Out, by Richard Thaler

New York Times: “If choosing to be an organ donor were easier, would more people donate? It’s a question for behavioral economics.”

Health Care Reform

  • How a Tax Can Cut Health Costs, by David Leonhardt

New York Times: “Lobbyists for unions and big business are staunchly opposed to a tax on generous health insurance plans, but their motives are questionable.”

  • The WSJ Guide to ObamaCare – A comprehensive collection of editorials and op-eds published in the Wall Street Journal from February – September 2009.
  • Why Obama Bombed on Health Care, by Holman Jenkins

Wall Street Journal: “The public wasn’t dumb enough to believe the public option would save money.”

Foreign Policy

  • We’ve Been Talking to Iran for 30 Years, by Michael Ledeen

Wall Street Journal: “The seizure of the U.S. embassy followed the failure of Carter administration talks with Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime.”

Risk and Insurance

  • In commemoration of its 50th anniversary, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (they’re the “crash test” guys) has published a video that shows how a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan fares in a front end crash with a 2009 Chevrolet Impala:

Assorted Links (9/29/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


Finance & Development : “Jeremy Clift profiles psychologist (and 2002 Nobel Laureate) Daniel Kahneman.”  Professor Kahneman is one of the “founding fathers” of behavioral economics.

Financial Crisis

Mr. Hulbert provides a useful summary of current academic research questioning the role played or not played by executive compensation contract design during the financial crisis.

Dr. Miron explains why the Obama administration’s expansion of TARP is just a “…further bailout for the banks”, and how housing subsidies “will help generate the next crisis by encouraging homeownership among people who cannot afford it”.

Foreign Policy

Boston Globe: “Today’s entry is the first of a new regular feature on the Big Picture: a monthly focus on Afghanistan. From now on, I will post such an entry at least once every month as long as necessary. Violence in Afghanistan has reached its most intense of the eight-year-old war despite record levels of U.S. and NATO troops being sent to fight the Taliban. July and August were the two deadliest months to date for coalition forces, and September is already the 3rd-deadliest, with 38 U.S. deaths – 68 total including all coalition members. With an apparently resurgent Taliban and over 120,000 foreign troops on the ground, and a recent push for the U.S. to consider sending 40,000 more (beyond the additional 21,000 troops still committed but yet undeployed), the situation in Afghanistan could possibly become even more intense in the near future. Collected here is a one-month collection of photos related to Afghanistan for September, 2009. [Past entries in category Afghanistan] (43 photos total)”


Math and Philosophy

New York Times: “A comic-book tour of logic, math and madness, populated by Bertrand Russell and other superheroes of philosophy.”

Assorted Links (9/28/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


Wall Street Journal: “Why the French want to redefine economic growth.”

Health Care Reform

Wall Street Journal: “Let’s have an honest debate before we transfer more money from young to old.”

  • Why Medical Malpractice Is Off Limits, by Philip Howard

Wall Street Journal: “A few thousand trial lawyers have a lock on Democrats, who refuse to consider any legal reform.”

Wall Street Journal: “Insurance competition across state lines is a better idea.”

Assorted Links (9/27/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


Wall Street Journal: “The decline of newspapers is a tragedy for democracy. How can it be stopped?”

Financial Crisis

  • One Year Later, by Duncan Niederauer

Wall Street Journal: “Reform of Wall Street means smarter financial regulation, not over-regulation.”

Foreign Policy

New York Times: “Fighting the Afghan war the easy way hasn’t worked. Only the full counterinsurgency doctrine offers a chance of success.”

Health Care Reform

New York Times: “To help pay for a health care bill, one proposal involves capping the amount people can put into special accounts for health-related spending.”

Here’s a classic example of a tax increase on the middle class that won’t be called (by the political class, anyway) a tax increase. 


  • Morals Class Is Starting; Please Pass the Popcorn, by Patricia Cohen

New York Times: “Michael J. Sandel’s “Justice,” long one of the most popular classes at Harvard, will now be available for free online and on public television.”


  • Congress Needs a 72-Hour Waiting Period, by John Fund

Wall Street Journal: “Voters want enough time to debate bills. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t.”

  • Interview with Mitch Daniels: ‘We Are the Initiators’, by Kim Strassel

Wall Street Journal: “The Indiana governor on how to be an activist—and also a popular—Republican conservative.”

Assorted Links (9/25/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


Knowledge@Wharton: “The French president and Nobel Prize laureates want you to be happy – and a new economics study thinks you should be, too.”

Financial Crisis

Wall Street Journal: “The level of asset prices and associated risk premiums will demand careful assessment as we return to normal.”

Foreign Policy

  • Commit to Afghanistan or Get Out, by Kori Schake

Wall Street Journal: “We shouldn’t send Americans to fight and die if we’re not in it to win.”

Health Care Reform

  • Bad Medicine, by Pete du Pont

Wall Street Journal: “ObamaCare is hazardous to your health.”

  • Understanding the Baucus health bill, by Keith Hennessey
  • Doubling Down on a Flawed Insurance Model, by John Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel Kessler

Wall Street Journal: “Obama’s plan takes the problems of the current system—mandates, runaway spending and more—and makes them worse.”

Assorted Links (9/24/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):

Financial Crisis

  • Bank Pay and the Financial Crisis, by Jeffrey Friedman

Wall Street Journal: “G-20 accounting rules, not bank bonuses, put the system at risk.”

Health Care Reform

  • J&J CFO: Biggest Nightmare Is Public Health Option, by David M. Katz

CFO Magazine: “The most damaging thing the reform effort could do would be to create a public option in which “pricing is so restricted and choice is so limited that there’s no incentive to innovate,” he added. “If the movement is toward not providing adequate reimbursement for research that’s done to create a new product, my fear is that not enough research will be done.”

  • From Bismarck to Obama, by Daniel Henninger

Wall Street Journal: “If you are going to pass a Big Idea such as universal health insurance, you need to give the public a Big Reason.”

  • The FDA Rejects Another Good Cancer Drug, by Matt Alsante

Wall Street Journal: “No wonder people are worried about bureaucrats controlling health care.”

New York Times: “Researchers estimate that doctors’ fear of lawsuits leads to up to $60 billion a year worth of wasteful treatment.”


Executive Summary: “We want others to find us good, fair, responsible and logical; and we place even more importance on thinking of ourselves this way. Therefore, when people behave in ways that might appear selfish, prejudiced, or perverted, they tend to engage a host of strategies designed to justify questionable behavior with rational excuses: “I hired my son because he’s more qualified.” “I promoted Ashley because she does a better job than Aisha.” Or, “I read Playboy for the articles.””

Boston Globe: “A huge outback dust storm – 500 km (310 mi) wide by 1,000 km (620 mi) long – swept across eastern Australia and blanketed Sydney on Wednesday, September 23rd, disrupting flights and ground transportation and forcing people indoors for shelter from the hazardous air, gale-force winds, and in some places hailstorms. Those few who ventured outside, especially at dawn, were greeted by a Martian sky, familiar landmarks blotted out by the heavy red dust blowing by. Collected here are a few photos of the worst dust storm Sydney has seen in 70 years, three of which you can click to see a before/after fade effect. (26 photos total).”

Assorted Links (9/23/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


Financial Crisis

  • Bank Pay Controls Aren’t the Answer, by Andy Kessler

Wall Street Journal: “It was leverage, not a ‘thirst’ for risk, that toppled the financial system.”

Health Care Reform

New York Times: “Researchers calculated that if deaths due to smoking were excluded, the United States would rise to the top half of the rankings for developed countries.”

Foreign Policy

  • Obama and the Politics of Concession, by Mark Helprin

Wall Street Journal: “Iran and Russia put Obama to the test last week, and he blinked twice.”

Public Policy

Wall Street Journal: “Americans believe Washington squanders half of every tax dollar.”


  • Lottery Math 101, by Carl Bialik

Baylor economists Grinols and Henderson on health insurance and health care reform

One month ago, I blogged about a new book entitled “ Health Care for Us All: Getting More for Our Investment” written by Baylor economists Earl Grinols and Jim Henderson (see “ Baylor University Economists Call for Different Tack on Health Care Insurance”).  I would like to call attention to guest columns by both of my colleagues that appeared this Sunday in the Waco Tribune-Herald:

  • Waco Tribune-Herald: Earl L. Grinols, guest column: A lesson on how health insurance really works
    Waco Tribune-Herald, Sept. 20, 2009 (guest column about health care reform by applying basic economic principles by Dr. Earl L. Grinols, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Baylor, and co-author of the book, “Health Care for Us All,” with Baylor economics professor Jim Henderson)Americans have expressed displeasure with House Bill 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,” as well as a proposed Senate version still in process, because both contain bad economics and bad ideas. Yet, one cannot beat something with nothing.
    Read More
  • Waco Tribune-Herald: James W. Henderson, guest column: Busting apart the big myths about health care
    Waco Tribune-Herald, Sept. 20, 2009 (guest column by Baylor economics professor James Henderson, who separates fact from fiction in the ongoing health care debate; Henderson is co-author of “Health Care for Us All” with Dr. Earl L. Grinols, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Baylor)The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. — President John F. Kennedy, commencement address at Yale University, June 11, 1962. It’s often difficult to sort out fact from fiction in the ongoing health care debate. Both sides are exaggerating issues and torturing data to make their points. The result is often confusing and misleading.
    Read More

Assorted Links (9/22/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):

Economics and the Financial Crisis

Wall Street Journal: “Tariffs, rising state and federal taxes, and currency devaluation ruined the 1930s, and they could do the same today.”

Foreign Policy

Wall Street Journal : “Mr. Obama bankrupts his country while appeasing his foe.”

Wall Street Journal : “Why is the president hesitating on more troops to fight his ‘war of necessity’?”

Game Theory

  • Game theory and pricing cell phone minutes, by Presh Talwalkar


  • Three Cheers for Irving, by David Brooks

New York Times : “The 24 recipients of the “genius awards” include a poet, a scientist, a journalist, a mixed-media artist and others.”

New York Times : “Irving Kristol thrust himself into every ideologically charged battle of his age, but he was able to pick a side without losing his clarity.”


  • Counting the Tea Party Protesters, by Carl Bialik
  • Heading Home: Getting to First Base, by Doug Glanville

New York Times: “In professional baseball, the leadoff hitter has a relentless job, with expectations to get on base by any means necessary and to wreak havoc on opponents when possible.”

Assorted Links (9/21/2009)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading today (organized by topic):


  • The Debt Clock

Freakonomics: “In the spirit of its Big Mac Index, The Economist rolled out its Global Debt Clock, which features a running global-public-debt tally.”

  • Back in Demand, by Greg Mankiw

Wall Street Journal: “A great thinker has his admirers and detractors. Do his ideas logically cohere?”

Financial Crisis

Health Care Reform

Wall Street Journal: “Why limit an innovative industry to a certain percent of GDP?”