Assorted Links (10/29/2011)

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

World on Wi-Fire – Niall Ferguson

Hat tip to my friend Ken Coffel for pointing out this excellent article written by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson…

My challenge to Paul Krugman

Wonderful essay by George Mason University economist Russ Roberts on the differences between being a truth-seeker and an ideologue. The primary application pertains to economics, but Professor Roberts’ ideas are applicable to a wide range of topics which encompass our worldviews…

Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side?

This PBS interview of NYU law professor Richard Epstein on the economics of income inequality is superb and well worth the 9 minutes you’ll spend watching it…

Are Firms Responsible for Creating Jobs?

This is an intriguing essay which addresses the concept of “corporate social responsibility” through a number of different lenses. The referenced Friedman 1970 New York Times Magazine article is available at, and the 2005 Reason Magazine debate between Friedman and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is available at

Review & Outlook

“European deal has something for everyone, except the real problem, The Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.”

Allan H. Meltzer: Four Reasons Keynesians Keep Getting It Wrong

“In The Wall Street Journal, Allan Meltzer writes that concern over future tax rates is one of the main reasons for reduced investor confidence.”

Facebook Popularity Tied to Brain Size – Video

“Bloomberg’s Shannon Pettypiece reports on the effect the amount of Facebook friends has on the brain.” Really??? I can’t help but wonder how much grant money this academic research received, and what the sources of funding are…

Does Government Spending Stimulate Private Activity

In her working paper entitled “Does Government Spending Stimulate Private Activity” (see, UCSD economist Valerie Ramey finds that “…in most cases private spending falls significantly in response to an increase in government spending …increases in government spending do lower unemployment …virtually all of the effect is through an increase in government employment, not private employment. See for an hourlong interview of this and other related research.

Charles Calomiris: The Mortgage Crisis—Some Inside Views

“In The Wall Street Journal, Charles Calomiris writes that insider emails show that risk managers at Freddie Mac warned about lower underwriting standards—in vain, and with lessons for today.”

Henninger: Our Un-Presidential Debates

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that Michael Vick went to prison for staging dogfights, but for presidential debates, it’s legal.”

Crony Capitalism Comes Homes

I don’t often agree with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, but I think he may be onto something here…

Robert A. Sirico: The Vatican’s Monetary Wisdom

“In The Wall Street Journal, Father Robert A. Sirico writes that the Vatican understands that more than just ‘greed,’ fiat money and central-bank policies caused the financial crisis.” Excellent critique of the Vatican’s recently released report entitled “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority”…

Wendy Huanjie Wang: Employment and the Captaincy of Your Soul

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wendy Huanjie Wang writes that it’s a dog’s life for job seekers these days.”

Review & Outlook: Remedial Economics

“The Wall Street Journal says the ‘Occupy’ folks learn the limits of wealth redistribution.”

Malcolm Gladwell: The strange tale of the Norden bombsight

“TED Talks Master storyteller Malcolm Gladwell tells the tale of the Norden bombsight, a groundbreaking piece of World War II technology with a deeply unexpected result.”

Why we need more capitalism, not less

“The economist Milton Friedman liked to point out that capitalism is a profit-and-loss system. Profits encourage risk-taking. Losses encourage prudence, which is just as important. Over the last 25 years, however, government policy has been laissez-faire when it comes to profits, and socialist when it comes to creditor losses. That is a very destructive cocktail. It has encouraged imprudent risk-taking financed with large amounts of borrowed money. When you subsidize recklessness, you unsurprisingly get a lot more of it.”

Assorted Links (10/26/2011)

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

Democracy is SO inconvenient

“Democracy is so inconvenient when your party controls the Presidency and the opposition can block your legislative agenda.”

David Malpass: How the Euro Zone Can Restore Confidence –

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Malpass writes that investors are looking for a home for trillions in idle Federal Reserve-generated dollars, and a little reform in Europe might attract them.”

Vatican Calls for Global Oversight of the Economy

“Citing the need for democratic and ethical principles in the marketplace, Roman Catholic Church officials suggestion the creation of a supranational economic authority.”

Time Use During Recessions

The NBER working paper “Time Use during Recessions” …” investigate(s) what activities occupy household members’ time when they are unable to find work as a result of an economic downturn …roughly 30 to 40 percent of the “extra” nonworking hours associated with unemployment go to working in the home, … 30 percent – goes to sleeping longer and to watching television …searching for another job …takes up only about 1 percent of the extra hours.”

Occupy Wall Street and Washington’s History of Financial Bailouts

“Occupy Wall Street reminds me of a doctor who sees a patient with a broken arm, decides that both arms are broken, and proceeds to amputate them: The diagnosis is half right, and the cure may be worse than the disease.”

The Fighter Fallacy

“President Obama’s current campaign strategy totally misreads the country.”

Martin Feldstein: The Tax Reform Evidence From 1986

“In The Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein writes that experience implies that the combination of tax-base broadening and tax-rate reduction would raise revenue equal to about 4% of existing tax revenue.”

Notable & Quotable –

“Steve Malanga writing at the Manhattan Institute’s, Oct. 21, on why public-sector workers report such higher level of work-place injury than their private-sector counterparts.”

How much can the 99 percent squeeze out of the 1 percent?

“Allow me to introduce some real data into a popular sound bite: the bottom 99 percent versus the top 1 percent. Everyone likes a tax paid by someone else…”

The Wild Ride of the Wealthiest 1% –

“The once-stable incomes of America’s biggest earners now fluctuate dramatically from year to year. And as go the rich, so goes much of the economy. Adapted from Robert Frank’s The High-Beta Rich: How the Manic Wealthy Will Take Us to the Next Boom, Bubble and Bust.”

Andy Kessler: In San Francisco, There Are Many Ways to Occupy Wall Street

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Cross Country column, Andy Kessler writes that not all Occupy Wall Street protesters are alike in the Bay Area: One guy says he’s taken the ‘best of social networking and high-frequency trading and built a system that beats those Wall Street thieves at their own game.'”

Assorted Links (10/21/2011)

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

How Steve Jobs Saved the Music Industry

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ed Nash writes that before Apple’s iTunes, the stealing of MP3 files was rampant and seemingly unstoppable.”

The GOP Wins by Bruising

“The debates have been an unexpected success, Peggy Noonan writes.”

No More Years

“Obama looks increasingly likely to lose, Pete du Pont observes. What then?”

Gadhafi and the Swindle of Dictatorship

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami writes that we needn’t dispatch our forces to all lands of trouble, but our burden of celebrating liberty on foreign shores endures.”

Who You Are

“As Daniel Kahneman’s next book comes out, let’s reflect on the pioneers who explored and authenticated the flawed terrain of our cognitive faculties.”

The Second Great Contraction: Kenneth Rogoff interview

“The economist and coauthor of This Time Is Different explains what history can teach us about the global downturn and why climbing out of it is still rife with risks.”

The GOP and RomneyCare

“The Wall Street Journal says the Republican front-runner’s principles should be tested.”

Blame the Fed for the Financial Crisis

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ron Paul writes that the Federal Reserve prolongs the financial crisis because it fails to grasp that manipulating interest rates is as destructive as any price control.”

Stricter Regulation Driving Expected Increase In Litigation

“Despite facing slightly less litigation in 2011 than in 2010, businesses in the United States and United Kingdom are seeing more regulatory actions and internal investigations, according to the Eighth Annual Litigation Trends Survey from international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski.”

EU Leak Shows Wind, Solar Energy to Double Power Bills

“According to a leaked European Commission report on the future of energy in Europe, the slow switch to greener sources of energy is going to push the cost of electricity through the roof.”

Are Employers Requiring People to Work Longer Hours?

“With fewer people working and those employed working fewer hours, it’s not surprising at all that the nation’s total hours worked dropped significantly, an economist writes.”

Those Cheating Teachers! A New Freakonomics Marketplace Podcast

“This year alone has seen teacher-cheating scandals in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, and elsewhere; in this week’s Times, Sharon Otterman reports how New York State is trying to curtail cheating and offers some specific instances of past cheating.”

‘Too Big to Fail’ Is Simply Too Big

“In The Wall Street Journal, Jon Huntsman writes that Dodd-Frank needs to be reformed in order to remove the government’s implicit promise to bail out financial institutions that are deemed too big to fail.”

Cain’s Stimulating ‘9-9-9’ Tax Reform

“In The Wall Street Journal, Arthur B. Laffer writes that the new sales tax in Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s ‘9-9-9’ tax plan could be raised in the future—but so could any other tax, and Cain’s proposal would jump-start the economy.”

Your Cash for Their Clunkers

“The Wall Street Journal says another White House energy favorite hits financial trouble.”

Wi-Fi and the Mobile Meltdown

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins says that wireless hotspots may be the solution to the problem of a spectrum ‘shortage.'”

Lessons From and For the Class Struggle on Wall Street

“There is much to be learned from the Occupiers—and the Occupiers have much to learn …blaming “greed” for economic malaise is like blaming gravity for plane crashes”.

Two Signs that K-12 Education Monopoly is Crumbling

“Via Reason Foundation education policy analyst Lisa Snell comes news of two great developments in the liberation of kids (and their parents) trapped in public schools.”

The Great Restoration

“Behind the noise of our activist protest movements hums a quiet engine of determined Americans trying to repair our economic values.”

Obama’s Big Green Mess

“How the White House lost its eco-mojo.”

Unions To Wall Street: Die Yuppie Scum, But Do My Homework First

“Will Wall Street save public sector unions? The U.S. Post Office certainly hopes so. While union representatives were standing at the front door of America’s major banks, shouting about corporate greed and holding signs and blowing horns, the National Association of Letter Carriers chiefs were slipping through the back entrance for advice on restructuring their organization.”

Notable & Quotable

“French economist Frederic Bastiat writing in 1850 on governments justifying spending only based on ‘that which is seen,’ while ignoring ‘that which is not seen.'”

Assorted Links (10/18/2011)

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

What’s an $800 Billion Stimulus Worth?

“What’s an $800 billion stimulus worth? Negative $475 billion, according to Burton A. Abrams of the University of Delaware.”

A New Spending Record

“The Wall Street Journal says that Washington had its best year ever in fiscal 2011.”

The Euro Crisis—Lessons From Bear Stearns

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Skeel writes that Europe can’t afford to bail out Italy, so it might as well send the right message now by forcing Greece to restructure its debt.”

From Tehran to Tijuana

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Global View column, Bret Stephens writes that it’s time to notice Iran’s decades-old infiltration of Latin America.”

The Contradictions of Harold Koh

“In The Wall Street Journal, Main Street columnist William McGurn writes that the former Yale Law dean who hounded the Bush administration over its interrogation policies is now justifying drone strikes.”

Polling the Occupy Wall Street Crowd

“In The Wall Street Journal, pollster Douglas Schoen writes that in interviews, protesters show that they are leftists out of step with most American voters—yet Democrats are embracing them anyway.”

Tim Harford — Innovation works in mysterious ways

“Innovation works in mysterious ways.”

Streetwise Professor » Occupy This

“The Occupy [Insert Location Here] has to be the most inarticulate, inchoate, and incoherent protest movement in history. A decidedly motley collection of progressive types, heavily laden with aging Boomers pining for their Glory Days of the ’60s protests and younger clueless wannabes.”

Notable –

“Mark Steyn writing in the Orange County Register, Oct. 14, on middle-class decline and what Occupy Wall Street protesters expect as their birthright.”

Why block health screening that can raise red flags for cancer, save lives?


“Forty years ago, my mother-in-law learned from a mammogram at age 57 that she had breast cancer. We immediately sought the best available treatment.”

Obama’s latest re-election strategy: Find villains to blame


“Charles Krauthammer hits the nail on the head…”What do you do if you can’t run on your record on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see?””

Occupy Wall Street’s Crony Capitalism

“In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz explains that political extortion by New York City politicians created Zuccotti Park, and it now allows the protesters to remain there despite the noise, filth and stink.”

Three Policies That Gave Us the Jobs Economy

“Amity Shlaes writes in The Wall Street Journal that over 25 years, Apple and other innovators yielded employment for a whole region, improved our standard of living, and led a national economic boom.”

ObamaCare Starts to Unravel

“The Wall Street Journal reports on the real story behind the Class program failure, and what to do now.”

The Exasperation of the Democratic Billionaire

“In The Wall Street Journal, James Freeman interviews Mortimer Zuckerman, the real-estate and newspaper mogul who voted for Obama but began seeing trouble as soon as the 2009 stimulus went into the pockets of municipal unions.”

Gas against wind…

Compelling essay by Matt Ridley which makes the case for natural gas versus wind as an energy source. Hat tip to my Baylor colleague, Dave VanHoose, for pointing this article out to me…

Assorted Links (10/12/2011)

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

“But Economics is Not an Experimental Science,” C. Sims (2010)

“Christopher Sims, a winner of yesterday’s Nobel, wrote this great little comment in the Journal of Economic Perspectives last year that has been making the blog rounds recently.”

Free market groups: Federal earthquake insurance is a bad idea

“Should the federal government bail out state run disaster insurance programs? New legislation creating such a bailout is developing in Congress to strengthen earthquake insurance along the west coast.”

Peter Wallison: Wall Street’s Gullible Occupiers

“In The Wall Street Journal, Peter Wallison says the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been sold a bill of goods—reckless government policies, not private greed, brought about the housing bubble and resulting financial crisis.”

EU: 16 Steps Forward, One Giant Leap Back?

“We are down to the final 12 speakers of the final parliamentary session before the (hopefully) final and (probably second to the last) vote in the last parliament on the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), the €440 billion bailout fund to hold the eurozone together.”

Racist Republicans Flocking to Cain

“Either a lot of Democrats have been slandering millions of American voters as racist, or the Tea Party hasn’t gotten the word that Herman Cain is African American.  That is the only conclusion that can be drawn after a slew of recent polls shows that Cain is picking up the ‘teavangelical’ vote…”

The Milquetoast Radicals

“The Occupy Wall Street movement is playing small ball with false equivalencies.”

Occupied by Government

“Many demands are being made, but sadly, if these were ever implemented, they would make problems worse by lowering the standard of living for all — especially for the poor! I will proceed to address some of the demands in plain English, hoping to reach out to them.” (Also see my blog posting “On the Optimality of Inequality” at for a thought experiment which shows that inequality is inevitable in a free society.)

Notable & Quotable –

“President John F. Kennedy on tax cuts in his 1963 State of the Union address.”

David R. Henderson: A Nobel for Non-Keynesians

“In The Wall Street Journal, David R. Henderson describes the work of Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims, who this week won the Nobel Prize in Economics after careers that demonstrated how people’s expectations about government policy make it difficult for officials to affect the economy…”

Review & Outlook: The Return of Rational Expectations

“The Wall Street Journal writes that Nobel Prize economics winners Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims are out of step with the Keynesian vogue.”

Nobel for Sargent and Sims — Marginal Revolution

“The Nobel in Economics goes to Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims, for empirical macroeconomics.”

The federal family is faltering

“In societies governed by persuasion, politics is mostly talk, so liberals’ impoverishment of their vocabulary matters. Having made federal spending suspect, they advocate “investments” — for “job creation,” a euphemism for stimulus, another word they have made toxic.”

How TV Debates Have Changed the Race

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes notes that televised debates have dominated the GOP primary campaign, giving free publicity to marginal candidates, pitting all candidates against each other, and giving President Obama a pass.”

The Corporate Exec: Hollywood Demon

“Edward Jay Epstein writes in The Wall Street Journal that it’s no surprise protesters want to ‘occupy Wall Street,’ as Hollywood’s ubiquitous villains these days aren’t Nazis or Communists but businessmen.”

The Solyndra Economy

“The Wall Street Journal writes that Administration emails regarding the federal loan guarantee for the failed solar-panel company reveal the reality of politicized investing.”

Crovitz: Steve Jobs and the Future of Newspapers

“In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz recalls a conversation with Steve Jobs about newspapers, which he said would soon all be online.”

Wall Street Disgruntled Utopians

“The Occupy Wall Street protestors are looking more and more like the shock troops of the Democratic Party’s electoral tactic of class warfare.”

Report: Millions of Jobs Heading Home from China

“Time to pop the champagne? The return of manufacturing jobs from China to the US could generate as many as three million new jobs in the US by 2020, according to a new study by the well-regarded Boston Consulting Group.”

Putin Sees His Moment

“For the past year, the debt crisis has monopolized Europe’s attention to the extent that many forgot the EU did anything besides argue about debt levels. Apparently many in Europe feel the same way, as efforts to bolster its relationships along its Eastern periphery — once a central focus of EU policy…”

Richard Green on the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Quoting from Professor Green’s congressional testimony on the mortgage interest deduction, “…the Mortgage Interest Deduction is a residual of the 1913 tax code, accomplishes little that its supporters claim for it, pushes capital away from plant and equipment toward housing, and benefits high income (although perhaps not very high income) households more than the remainder of the country.”

Assorted Links (10/7/2011)

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

Incomes are Created, Not “Distributed”

“Regarding the recent rash of the anti-social sentiment called “envy,” one point to keep in mind is that the common use of the term “income distribution” (or “wealth distribution”) stacks the deck in favor of those people who are prone…”

A Tribute to Steve Jobs

“A tribute to Steve Jobs and the legacy he has left the world.”

The Top 1%

“Robert Lieberman, a political scientist at Columbia University writes in Foreign Affairs: The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions…”

Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition

“The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see beyond the capabilities of our unaided eyes. Almost 2000 entries from 70 countries vied for recognition in the 37th annual contest, which celebrates photography through a microscope.”

The Future Is Getting Better All The Time

“W. Brian Arthur, in a report for McKinsey, writes that we are witnessing enormous fundamental changes to the global economy: “in fact”, he writes, “it may well be the biggest change ever in the economy.” This change is due to what Arthur calls “the second economy” or a “digital economy” that exists …”

Twenty-First Century Excommunication

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway writes that the Episcopal Church is now insisting that any congregation that breaks away over Episcopalianism’s liberal doctrinal and political stances must disaffiliate from Anglicanism entirely.”

Steve Jobs and the Coolest Show on Earth

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Gelernter writes that like everyone who counts most in the world, Jobs made himself up as he went along, occupying a job category whose total size was always one.”

The Wire and Elasticity

“(The Wired’s) …drug kingpin Stinger Bell learns about elasticity of demand and then applies it to his business.”

Cain’s Post-Racial Promise

“In The Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley writes that black individuals who don’t see themselves primarily as victims are a threat to the political left.”

Occupy Wall Street Protest Presents Democrats With a Populist Puzzle

“The Democratic Party is grappling with the promise and peril of the anticorporate populism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, seeking to tap its energy without opening the party to charges of class warfare.”

Why the Stimulus Tanked: Untimely, Untargeted, Untemporary

“Over at U.S. News & World Report, Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy explains why the stimulus failed to stimulate.”

Warren Buffett, the Keystone Pipeline, and Crony Capitalism

“A decades-long crusade by the environmental left to convince us that oil is evil, unsustainable, and destroying our planet has yet to accomplish its goal of eliminating oil as a fuel, but it has succeeded in making oil damned expensive.”

5 Facts About Climate Change

“Robert Bryce on why global warming alarmists are losing their crusade.”

Why geezers give the best investment advice Jonathan Burton’s Life Savings

“Don’t trust anyone over 30. That was a rallying cry for the counterculture 1960s. But nowadays, people seeking investment advice probably should be suspicious of anyone under 50.”

Occupy Wall Street: A Sucker’s Game

“Ill-informed protestors should be demonstrating outside the White House.”

Book Review: The Price of Civilization

Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan provides a stellar critique of Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs’ (gloomy) new book entitled “The Price of Civilization”…

What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules?

“In The Wall Street Journal, former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton images how pro football would look if players who made it through three seasons could never be cut from the roster.”

Stimulus Has Been a Washington Job Killer

“In The Wall Street Journal, economists John F. Cogan and John B. Taylor write that the political graveyards are full of politicians who thought that temporary, targeted economic policies would get them re-elected.”

Ward Connerly: What Happened to Post-Racial America?

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ward Connerly writes that affirmative action is flourishing today, undermining the color-blind vision of Kennedy and King.”

Stephens: The President of Contempt

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Global View column, Bret Stephens writes that to Barack Obama, America is lovable in proportion to the love it gives him in return.”

Elizabeth Warren and the Blessings of Government

“In The Wall Street Journal, Russ Roberts of George Mason University writes that if the state stuck to public goods like roads, police and education, we might feel better about paying our taxes.”

Last Chance to Save the Euro

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Cochrane writes that a Greek default won’t destroy Europe’s currency—bailouts will.”

Obama’s Jobs Bill: Read It and Weep

“The dim news about the current economic situation has prompted the Obama administration to put forward its latest, desperate effort to reverse the tide by urging passage of The American Jobs Act (AJA), a turgid 155-page bill. The AJA’s only certain effect is to make everything worse than it already is…”

The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems

“This is a guest post by Duncan Watts, a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Labs, and the author of Everything is Obvious: Once You Know The Answer.”