Assorted Links (2/28/2011)

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

Who’s Paid More? Experts Can Disagree

www.nytimes.com

“Detailed analyses of whether state workers are overpaid have come down on either side.” Not surprisingly, liberal-leaning think tank studies tend to view state workers as underpaid vis-à-vis private sector workers, whereas conservative-leaning think tanks come up with the opposite conclusion…

How Beneficial is Widespread Medical Screening?

www.advancingafreesociety.org

Excellent essay on this very important topic by economics Nobel laureate Gary Becker!

Unions vs. the Right to Work

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Robert Barro says that states should consider passing right-to-work laws that will reduce the power of unions. Collective bargaining on a broad scale, he says, is more like an antitrust violation than a civil liberty.”

Break a leg

www.economist.com

“Do you have the claim forms with you? WITH categories like “sound mixing”, “make-up” and “art direction”, this weekend’s Oscars ceremony appears to celebrate almost every aspect of film-making. Insurers, how ever, do not make the red carpet, which may be why Fireman’s Fund has started nominating the year’s “riskiest film”.”

Atlas Shrugged Movie

www.atlasshruggedpart1.com

“Atlas Shrugged The Movie finally makes it to the silver screen 54 years later. Based on Ayn Rand’s epic novel, the Atlas Shrugged Movie comes to a theater near you April 15th.”

Is ‘Shutting Down Government’ A Threat Or A Promise?

blogs.forbes.com

“Perhaps gridlock can accomplish what reason can’t.”

Risky Roadmap to $7 a Gallon Gas

www.huffingtonpost.com

“Some Persian Gulf watchers say more political uprisings, swelling strife throughout the Middle East,mean likely oil supply disruptions, higher crude prices and a bigger bite at the gas pump, perhaps as much as $7 a gallon.”

Indiana Governor Bores In on Federal Debt

online.wsj.com

“Gov. Mitch Daniels rescinded collective-bargaining rights for state employees six years before that became an issue in Wisconsin; now he ponders a G.O.P. presidential run with a stern cut-the-debt message that would usually be politically problematic but might fit the times.”

Go Ahead, America, Leave It to Bieber

online.wsj.com

“From commodity prices to the state-budget crisis, Justin Bieber has wisdom to spare, says Joe Queenan.”

B-Schools: It’s time to globalize

management.fortune.cnn.com

“New research has revealed a sizable gap between what the business world needs and what business schools provide to their students. What’s standing in the way and what can business schools do to step up their game?”

“Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of the Printing Press,” J. Dittmar (2011)

afinetheorem.wordpress.com

“Dittmar reexamines the case for economic effects of the printing press by looking at growth in city population – a good proxy for economic growth in the 1500s – in cities that had the press versus those that did not. He finds cities that got the press grew quite a bit faster than those did not.”

The Real Problem with Government Employee Unions

www.american.com

“Although collective bargaining by government employee unions may offend one’s sense of justice, what’s truly unacceptable is government labor’s stranglehold over the local, state, and federal governments with which they bargain.”

Federal effective tax rates (taxes as a percentage of income)

The CBO tracks “…federal effective tax rates (taxes as a percentage of income) across household income groups for the four largest sources of federal revenues–individual income taxes, social insurance (payroll) taxes, corporate income taxes, and excise taxes–as well as the total effective rate for the four taxes combined.” (Hat tip to George Mason University’s David Henderson).  The following link from CBO’s website slices and dices these data in all sorts of different directions: http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/taxdistribution.cfm.

Professor Henderson provides the following summary:

  • The bottom quintile paid 4.3 percent of income in taxes,
  • The top quintile paid 25.8 percent of income in taxes,
  • The top decile paid 27.5 percent of income in taxes,
  • The top 5 percent paid 29.0 percent of income in taxes, and
  • The top 1 percent paid 31.2 percent of income in taxes.

One important takeaway here is that while Social Security (i.e., the so-called “payroll” tax) “…reduces the “progressivity” of the tax system, (it) does not come close to reversing it”; federal effective tax rates are clearly quite progressive indeed!  Professor Henderson also parses some other interesting insights from these data – his blog post about this topic is well worth reading!

Assorted Links (2/25/2011)

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

The Internet Helps Us Get Serious

online.wsj.com

“Rhetoric’s renaissance may lead us out of the current crisis, Peggy Noonan argues.”

Charles Krauthammer – Rubicon: A river in Wisconsin

washingtonpost.com

“Gov. Walker is about to show what fiscal seriousness really looks like.”

Race To The Bottom?

blogs.the-american-interest.com

“Is America in a race to the bottom, or are we going through what the Austrian born economist Joseph Schumpeter would call a process of “creative destruction”?”

Wisconsin Democrats Abuse the Quorum Call

advancingafreesociety.org

“Today– George Washington’s Birthday–we are seeing Wisconsin politics at its worst. A state long known for policy innovation—social security, welfare reform, school vouchers, and much more—is now witnessing a seldom-seen but dreadful abuse of basic democratic practice—the abuse of the legislative quorum call.”

Run Mitch, Run

nytimes.com

“For Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana, the 2012 moment calls.”

Make Everybody Hurt

nytimes.com

“Debt fighters everywhere, including Wisconsin, must establish a set of practices to help us cut spending effectively now and in the future.”

The Federal Reserve Is Causing Turmoil Abroad

online.wsj.com

“In the Wall Street Journal, George Melloan writes that few protesters in the Middle East connect rising food prices to U.S. monetary policy, but central bankers do.”

The Myth of Corporate Cash Hoarding

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute writes that companies hire more workers when they have income to pay them—not by liquidating financial assets.”

Apple is dictating all the terms – and we shouldn’t have to accept them

guardian.co.uk

“Computer giant wants more control of media business and a bigger slice of profits.”

Why Nobody Can Match the iPad’s Price

wired.com

“This Wired article discusses the economics of how Apple’s vertical integration and retail strategies enable it to keep the iPad at the $500 price point…”

How the Fed prints money without any ink

finance.fortune.cnn.com

“If the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program is printing money, why is the growth of new currency in circulation below average?”

The showdown between public unions and cash

advancingafreesociety.org

“The showdown between public employee unions and cash-strapped state governments on display in Madison should be bad news for President Obama and the Democrats.”

What kind of gun control?

advancingafreesociety.org

Nobel economics laureate Gary Becker provides a very thoughtful and empirically grounded essay on the issue of gun control…

Women Likely to Continue Outpacing Men in Education

blogs.wsj.com

“Young women are outpacing men in educational attainment and there’s little sign males will make up ground any time soon.”

The Weekend Interview with Paul Ryan: Ryan’s Charge Up Entitlement Hill – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Interview, Paul Gigot interviews Rep. Paul Ryan. The GOP’s fiscal leader explains why House Republicans will vote to reform Medicare and why the public is ready to listen.”

Why The King’s Speech Leaves Me Stuttering

online.wsj.com

“The royals at the center of the Oscar front-runner are simply spiffing, says Joe Queenan, but give him the proles of True Grit and The Fighter any day.”

Where Have the Good Men Gone?

online.wsj.com

“Too many men in their 20s live in a kind of extended adolescence—and women are sick of dealing with them. An excerpt from Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Turned Men Into Boys by Kay S. Hymowitz.”

Two Cheers for the Maligned Slacker Dude

online.wsj.com

“Men in their 20s may be putting off adulthood—but they are still changing the world. Nathan Rabin responds.”

The Intelligent Investor: Why Companies Are Hoarding Cash

online.wsj.com

“Politicians have been carping about the more than $2 trillion in cash sitting idle in corporate coffers. But much of it isn’t in the U.S.; it is abroad. And it isn’t likely to come back home unless U.S. tax laws change.”

Why Does College Cost So Much?

economix.blogs.nytimes.com

“A conversation with Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, economists at the College of William & Mary and the authors of a book on the cost of college.”

Researchers Study the World’s Information Explosion

blogs.wsj.com

“What is information, and how much is there? Researchers are attempting to answer the question, with some very big numbers.”

Power of the Market – The Pencil

youtube.com

“Milton Friedman uses a pencil to explain how the operation of the free market promotes harmony and world peace.”

The case for fiscal austerity

George Mason University economist Russ Roberts makes the case for fiscal austerity in his Congressional testimony from last week in which he critiques the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Dr. Roberts is the proprietor of Econtalk, which Austin Frakt so aptly describes as “the best continuing education money can’t buy“.The transcript of Dr Roberts’ testimony appears here, and here’s the video:

Assorted Links (2/18/2011)

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

Goodbye to All That — 2004-2007

pajamasmedia.com

“In times to come, the period between the failed campaign of John Kerry and the Democratic control of the Congress, coupled with the beginning of the successful surge, should be known as “The Insane Years.” This was the era in which Guantanamo was a gulag, renditions were the stuff of Hollywood movie”

Is Your Job an Endangered Species?

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler writes that technology is eating jobs—and not just obvious ones like toll takers and phone operators. Lawyers and doctors are at risk as well.”

Review & Outlook: Athens in Mad Town

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal on the showdown between public unions and taxpayers in Wisconsin.”

Where the Leaders Are

online.wsj.com

“In a time of crisis, two governors show Washington the way, Peggy Noonan writes.”

Charles Krauthammer – Obama’s Louis XV budget

washingtonpost.com

“Obama’s first post-commission budget marks a return to obliviousness.”

The Madison Blues

blogs.the-american-interest.com

“The world has been watching the upheavals and protests shaking the Middle East these days, but it’s just possible that the disturbances in Madison, Wisconsin mark what will ultimately prove to be a bigger turning point in world history.”

Tomorrow Never Comes

nytimes.com

“President Obama keeps promising to get serious about the national debt, but nothing’s happening. Where’s the leadership?”

The President’s proposed deficits and “primary balance”

keithhennessey.com

“Today we’ll look at President Obama’s proposed deficit path, as yesterday we looked at his spending and revenue paths.”

Till Debt Do Us Part

american.com

“The European marriage between its peripheral and core countries shows all the signs of the parties having irreconcilable differences.”

Will Green Nukes Save the World? | Fast Company

fastcompany.com

“Amidst the darkening clamor over global warming, declining fossil fuel reserves, conflicts over oil supplies, and rumors of heavy-handed governmental attempts to curb our carbon-hungry lifestyles, a welcome glow of hope is emerging on the energy technology horizon.”

Your Spousonomics Questions, Answered

freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com

“Last week, we solicited your questions for Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, co-authors of the new book Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. Here are their answers, covering everything from sex to divorce to … gulp … apology.”

Race to the Top of the Laffer Curve

american.com

“David Leonhardt of the New York Times has it exactly backward: America’s corporate tax rates are driving economic activity abroad.”

The Contradictions of ObamaCare

american.com

“Why does Health and Human Services want to exempt millions of consumers from an ObamaCare regulation it just implemented to protect consumers?”

The long term budget problem begins now

keithhennessey.com

“The dotted red line shows us that, over the past 50 years, federal government spending averaged just over one-fifth of the economy (20.2% of GDP). The dotted blue shows us that, over the past 50 years, federal revenues averaged just over 18% of GDP…”

The Experience Economy

nytimes.com

“What happens when wealth and living standards diverge?”

After Obama’s Budget, Republicans Need a New Strategy

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Malpass says the big spenders are setting the GOP up for another phony debt ceiling debate. The party should unify around a proposal to put a ceiling on debt as a share of the economy.”

Ecuador Court Orders Chevron to Pay

online.wsj.com

“Hat tip to my good friend, Tom Butler, for pointing this article out to me. Here are some of his legal perspectives on this case: “What an interesting legal tangle this Chevron Ecuadorian case is. Multinational, competing int’l jurisdictions, The Hague Court, conflicting injunctions, etc… Better than a Grisham novel.”

Budget Battle Lines Drawn

online.wsj.com

“President Barack Obama offered a 2012 budget Monday that would reduce the federal deficit over time but still leave spending at historically high levels because of mushrooming health and retirement programs.”

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens reflects on an earlier revolutionary moment—namely, Iran in 1979—in which Western thinkers were too quick to embrace fundamentalist Muslims they little understood.”

Want to Boost the Economy? Lower Corporate Tax Rates

online.wsj.com

“Harvard economist Martin Feldstein writes in The Wall Street Journal that the increased flow of capital to the U.S. from lower corporate taxes would result in greater productivity and higher real wages.”

A Way Forward for the Mortgage Market

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Peter J. Wallison writes that the housing system can function perfectly well without government backing. The key, he argues, is making sure most mortgages are prime loans.”

ObamaCare and the Medicaid Mess

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Peter Suderman,an editor at Reason magazine, discusses the severe state budgetary crisis posed by escalating Medicaid costs, and why the crisis will get worse under ObamaCare. He discusses reforms such as federal block grants.”

Review & Outlook: The Cee Lo Green Budget

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal on the cynical and unrealistic White House budget.”

Investment in financial literacy and saving decisions

voxeu.org

“Previous research has suggested that low levels of financial literacy can often be blamed for poor financial decisions by individuals, with knock-on effects for the wider economy. This column adds empirical evidence based on cross-country aggregate and micro-data, showing that indeed countries with higher financial literacy also have higher saving rates and greater wealth.”

CoCo bonds as a way of preventing risk

voxeu.org

“Contingent Convertible (CoCo) bonds have been suggested as a way to ensure that banks keep aside enough capital to help them through financial crises. This column proposes a market-triggered CoCo buffer to maintain risk incentives during periods of high leverage. It argues that this will also activate risk information discovery through the market prices of bank securities and increase activism by outside shareholders.”

Assorted Links (2/13/2011)

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

Understanding economic illiteracy

sunsentinel.com

“”Unicorns don’t exist.” All economic logic follows from this observation. Simple, right? Unfortunately, the poor state of economic understanding among many Americans indicates to me not only that the idea is subtly complex, but also that people do have an affinity for mythical, horned creatures.”

Review & Outlook: Runaway Trains

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal says President Obama’s high-speed rail plan is a fiscal pipedream.”

Emerging Markets as Partners, not Rivals

nytimes.com

“Achieving economic prosperity is not like winning a game, and guiding an economy is not like managing a sports team.

Geithner’s Exit Plan for Fannie & Freddie

economics21.org

“If we could go back in time, decades ago we would have phased out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Iran Bans Valentine’s Day

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Melik Kaylan writes that the regime’s posture turns the smallest gestures into thrilling acts of subversion.” Hopefully the political freedom contagion which began in Tunisia and just swept through Egypt will continue unabated on its way to Iran!

The Weekend Interview with Charles Plosser: The Fed’s Easy Money Skeptic

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady interviews Charles Plosser, president of Philadelphia’s Federal Reserve bank, who says that Monetary policy can’t retrain people. Monetary policy can’t fix those problems.”

Harry Reid’s Reagan Revisionism

online.wsj.com

“James Freeman says in The Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary that Democrats unable to dent the enduring popularity of Ronald Reagan are now trying to recast America’s 40th president as one of their own — sometimes with hilarious results.”

Review & Outlook: 800,000 Fewer Workers

online.wsj.com

“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director (Douglas Elmendorf) estimated that ObamaCare will cause the labor force to shrink by about half a percentage point by the end of the next decade… (by reducing) “the propensity to work.” As with any other government subsidy, people receiving “free” health care won’t have as much incentive to search for a job or work full time.”

The Obama Administration on Housing Finance

econlog.econlib.org

“The long-awaited report has been released. I will have extended comments below the fold. Overall, I was disappointed to see that the report is heavily waited toward strategy and tactics, without adequate consideration of objectives. Nobody seems to want to step back and ask fundamental questions…”

Is the House on Track to Reverse the Spending Binge?

advancingafreesociety.org

“The goal of the new House leadership is to reverse the spending binge of the past three years. They have already laid out the first step: the House Appropriations Committee has agreed to spending levels for nondefense discretionary spending for fiscal year 2011. However, because the previous Congress did not pass a budget for 2011, the year will be nearly half over before the new budget is passed and this is causing confusion about what the agreed spending levels mean…”

Denial puts U.S. deeper in debt

ajc.com

“The national debt has grown by $3 trillion since President Barack Obama took office, the most rapid growth under any president since FDR’s war-time defense buildup.”

Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims

blogs.the-american-interest.com

“Pharaoh Hosni is out; the Mubarak dynasty is done. This had to happen and, whatever comes next, the downfall of an undemocratic leader well past his sell-by date is a good thing in and of itself. The nation of Egypt is not a personal possession to be handed down like an heirloom from generation to generation.”

Doing God’s Work—At the Office

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, Rob Moll writes of the increasingly popular view that we are called to be co-creators of a flourishing life on earth.”

Review & Outlook: ‘Pedal Misapplications’

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal says Ray LaHood recants on Toyota.”

Reaganomics: What We Learned

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, economist Arthur B. Laffer notes that lower tax rates, tighter money and deregulation created a boom that created over 21 million jobs from December 1982 to June 1990.”

The Time for Spending Cuts Is Now

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael J. Boskin writes that the White House is arguing that ‘draconian’ cuts will derail the economy. In fact, cuts are necessary to preserve tax rates that are compatible with economic growth.”