Assorted Links (6/24/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Economics for (and by) 10th Graders – Freakonomics Blog –

“An economics primer written by 10th graders.”

Bounding the Price Impact of the New Home Buyer Credit

“1.6 percent is still less than the housing price increase reported by Case-Shiller over the most recent twelve months. So, even if a 1.6 percent impact were not exaggerated, housing prices would have been stable or increasing over the past year even without the credit.”

Sculpture Made by Bees

“Dutch designer Tomáš Gabzdil Libertiny made a sculpture of Jesus that was completed by bees. He erected a sealed glass container with his mold inside. Libertiny then released 40,000 bees who worked on the honeycombed surface of the mold.”

France Loses; Warren Buffett Wins : NPR

“Berkshire Hathaway sold an insurance policy that would have paid $30 million if France won the World Cup.”

The Classroom Still Matters – Freakonomics Blog –

“Classroom instruction beats the internet in a new paper.”

Drop Argentina from the G-20

“The G-20 heads of state will gather June 26 and 27. One issue that should be on the agenda: Argentina’s unsuitability to remain a G-20 member.”

Arthur Levitt: A Missed Opportunity on Financial Reform –

“In The Wall Street Journal, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt asks: How could Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have escaped the Democrats’ attention?”

John Yoo: Democrats and the McChrystal Fiasco –

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Yoo says that Democrats during the Bush years egged on military resistance to Bush’s war policies, further increasing distrust between civilian and military leaders.”

Notable & Quotable –

“Max Boot writing yesterday in Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog on General Petraeus replacing General McChrystal in Afghanistan.”

American Thinker: Paul Krugman, the Self-Contradicting Economist

“An argument that questions the credibility of economists in general is that there are a number of disagreements among many economists, and not all of them can be right at the same time. In the case of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, these disagreements come from Krugman himself, as he holds contradictory opinions on a large number of topics.”

Nonsense 4.0 at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas

I wholeheartedly agree with Steven Landsburg’s assessment of Anatole Koletsky’s Wall Street Journal essay (see, excerpted from his book Capitalism 4.0. A better title for Koletsky’s tome would be Nonsense 4.0!

How the Unemployed Spent Their Time in 2009 – Freakonomics Blog –

“They weren’t doing the laundry.”

Schumpeter 2.0 — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“A great thinker’s contribution not only appears in his or her finished works and arguments, but also within the rich intuitions or core ideas that underlie the arguments.”

Unintended consequence of expanding liability…

According to, “Proposals in Congress to raise U.S. liability costs to $10 billion to drill for oil in the Gulf could leave just three companies — BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc — with the finances to self-insure”.  As I recall, prior to the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, liability for offshore oil drilling was capped at $75 million. Thus, an unintended consequence of expanding liability by a factor of 133 times (from $75 million to $10 billion) would be to make it virtually impossible for the insurance market to insure offshore oil drilling liability, which in turn would ensure that only the very largest companies in the world will have the financial capacity needed in order to be able to continue to pursue deep water drilling as a business activity (because companies such as BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have the resources to self-insure this liability risk!). 

Lenny Bruce quote affirming free enterprise

I love this Lenny Bruce quote:

“Capitalism is the best. It’s free enterprise. Barter. Gimbels, if I get really rank with the clerk, ‘Well I don’t like this’, how I can resolve it? If it really gets ridiculous, I go, ‘Frig it, man, I walk.’ What can this guy do at Gimbels, even if he was the president of Gimbels? He can always reject me from that store, but I can always go to Macy’s. He can’t really hurt me. Communism is like one big phone company. Government control, man. And if I get too rank with that phone company, where can I go? I’ll end up like a schmuck with a dixie cup on a thread.”