Category Archives: Assorted Links

Assorted Links (4/30/2014)

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

The Piketty Panic

Upon reading one of Professor Krugman’s latest missives about Thomas Piketty’s new book entitled “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” I was fascinated to learn that just because I am not philosophically favorably inclined toward some of Professor Piketty’s policy recommendations (e.g., the imposition of a global wealth tax), this apparently means that I must therefore be an “apologist for America’s oligarchs”…

First Thoughts on Piketty

Harvard econmist Greg Mankiw provides an excellent synopsis of the strengths as well as weaknesses of Piketty’s new book on inequality…

In Illinois, Tax Increases Become an Article of Faith

“In The Wall Street Journal, Heather Williams discusses a religious coalition that is advocating progressive income taxation for Illinois.”

The Jewish Conductor and the Polish Pope

“In The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski interviews conductor Gilbert Levine about his experiences with Pope John Paul II.”

Partners in Ethanol Crime

“The Wall Street Journal writes that the corn-fuel mandate has been an invitation to mass fraud.”

Why Obama’s Keystone opposition reeks of politics

“There are at least 100 million reasons why the president has held up the decision on the Keystone pipeline, POLITICO’s Ben White says.”

How to Energize a Lackluster Recovery

Excellent tutorial on the economics of taxation by Stanford University economist Ed Lazear. “In The Wall Street Journal, Edward Lazear writes that allowing the full and immediate deductibility of capital investment would spur economic growth and raise wages.”

Hedging Away Our Future

“Al Lewis comes across a new Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study that says hedge funds may contribute more to instability in the financial system than previously thought. Well, duh!”

How Americans Die

“Americans die in smaller portions each year, but what kills us is changing.”

Bubble to Bust to Recovery: Housing and the U.S. Economy

Fantastic data visualization that succinctly summarizes the causes of the housing bubble and what is happening now as real estate markets recover…

Google now spends more on lobbying than almost every other corporation

A case study on rent seeking, provided by none other than Google!…

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Economists reaching a conclusion…

There’s the famous saying (attributed to George Bernard Shaw) that if all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion. However on the topic of pay for college athletes, a panel of 45 economists known as the “IGM Economic Experts Panel” (cf. http://www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel) have come very close to a consensus; the official statement reads as follows: “If the NCAA let colleges pay athletes with more than scholarships (which currently may cover tuition, books, room and board), then top colleges in men’s basketball and football would pay most athletes substantial sums beyond full scholarships.”

 

 

 

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High frequency Trading…

Although I should probably read the new “Flash boys” book by Michael Lewis, after watching the 60 minutes interview with Steve Kroft I am quite disappointed in Lewis (or perhaps more accurately, the “artful” editing of the interview by the CBS news “team”). University of Houston finance professor Craig Pirrong makes a rather compelling argument that high frequency trading (HFT) actually makes markets more informationally efficient. Professor Pirrong notes, among other things, that the “… bulk of informed trading is rent seeking, and a tax on the risk allocation functions of financial markets”; if this is true then one can argue that HFT may actually be welfare-improving. Also see Tyler Cowen’s blog posting entitled “*Flash Boys*, the new Michael Lewis book” from earlier today; Professor Cowen likes Lewis’s book but cautions not to “…confuse the emotional tenor of the stories with a final and well-reasoned attitude toward the phenomenon more generally”.

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Assorted Links (4/5/2014)

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

Oppressed by the Ivy League

“The Wall Street Journal on what Dartmouth’s president should have told bullying students.”

Where Have All the Workers Gone?

“The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but rising numbers of Americans have dropped out of the labor force entirely. The problem is more than just cyclical, writes Glenn Hubbard.”

Is newspaper coverage of economic events politically biased?

“New research from Hassett & Lott says yes.”

A ‘Noah’ for Our Secular Times

“In The Wall Street Journal, Charlotte Allen writes that Hollywood’s latest story of the Ark is more Gnostic than Jewish, Muslim or Christian.”

A Catastrophe Like No Other

“The president tries to put a good face on ObamaCare, Peggy Noonan writes.”

Bono: Who Is Jesus?

“What does U2 frontman Bono pray for? Watch and find out!”

Climate Activists Uncaged

“A writer for Gawker has suggested that the government arrest anybody who doesn’t believe in climate change. Seriously?”

Big data: are we making a big mistake?

Five years ago, a team of researchers from Google announced a remarkable achievement in one of the world’s top scientific journals, Nature. Without needing the results of a single medical check-up, they were nevertheless able to track the spread of influenza across the US. What’s more, they could do it more quickly than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Google’s tracking had only a day’s delay, compared with the week or more it took for the CDC to assemble a picture based on reports from doctors’ surgeries. Google was faster because it was tracking the outbreak by finding a correlation between what people searched for online and whether they had flu symptoms.

Sympathy For The Devil

“In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit. Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course… Aronofsky hasn’t “taken liberties” with anything. The Bible is not his text.”

The Beauty of Mathematics

“Michael Atiyah talks about what beauty means in mathematics and its importance in proof.”

 

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Assorted Links (3/31/2014)

“Tax-and-spend politics has driven Paris to the brink.”

Administration is making up good news about Obamacare

“The administration’s upbeat numbers about Obamacare don’t add up.”

“Leftists have their dearest Das Kapital fantasies confirmed by the theories of a Parisian economist.”

How to Cheat on a Test Using Electronics

This week I am giving midterm exams in my classes at Baylor University. I sincerely hope that nobody tries any of the cheating “strategies” outlined in this wikihow.com posting. Gotta love the “tagline” for this article: “Cheating on a test is never a good idea. You cheat both yourself and your future. However, if you must, at least try to do it right.”

EconTalk: Christy and Emanuel

This episode of EconTalk was one of the best yet. I highly recommend this hourlong podcast for anyone who is interested in getting beyond soundbites pertaining to climate change and actually understanding some of the science, methodological, and policy-relate issues…

“Is religion good for American society? It depends.”

Mr. Putin’s Revealing Speech

“At the Kremlin, he makes the case for an increasingly aggressive Russia, Peggy Noonan writes.”

The President’s Foreign Policy Paradox

“In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead writes that Obama’s global wish list can’t be achieved while decreasing commitments overseas.”

Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray

“Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch ‘Groundhog Day’ (again). Charles Murray offers some tips on how to live to the fullest, adapted from his new book, ‘The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.'”

Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)

This is a an awesome documentary I highly recommend it!  “Directed by Morgan Neville. With Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill. Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now…”

Minimum wage hike comes with costs

“As income rises, government aid program payments are either reduced or cut off entirely, leaving those with wage hikes at a disadvantage.”

Companies Find Autism Can Be a Job Skill

“Some employers are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace. Software company SAP, for instance, believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs.”

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Assorted Links (3/29/2014)

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

Holy Men

After reading this review of the new blockbuster film “Noah”, I think I’ll pass…

Mr. Putin’s Revealing Speech

“At the Kremlin, he makes the case for an increasingly aggressive Russia, Peggy Noonan writes.”

The President’s Foreign Policy Paradox

“In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead writes that Obama’s global wish list can’t be achieved while decreasing commitments overseas.”

Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray

“Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch ‘Groundhog Day’ (again). Charles Murray offers some tips on how to live to the fullest, adapted from his new book, ‘The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.’

Twenty Feet from Stardom

“Directed by Morgan Neville. With Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill. Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now…”  This is an awesome documentary – I highly recommend it!

College sports unions: ‘Careful what you wish for’

“Assuming the ruling on Wednesday that allows Northwestern University football players to unionize stands all challenges, it may not be so easy to do.”

Minimum wage hike’s unexpected drawback for the poor

“As income rises, government aid program payments are either reduced or cut off entirely, leaving those with wage hikes at a disadvantage.”

How Autism Can Help You Land a Job

“Some employers are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace. Software company SAP, for instance, believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs.”

Religious Groups Split on ‘Noah’ Judgment

“Hollywood’s first big-budget Bible movie in almost 50 years draws mixed reactions for straying from the original text.”

Obamacare’s Year of Delayed Deadlines

Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the law’s recent track record…

Want a Raise? Quit Your Job

A particularly interesting takeaway from this article is that quit rates tend to be higher when the labor market recovers since already employed workers quit jobs in order to take advantage of better opportunities (I.e., a better match and often a bump in pay). Of course when this occurs it also creates opportunities for unemployed workers to find gainful employment. Unfortunately the labor market remains weak; thus quit rates remain somewhat suppressed and with limited labor market mobility this limits wage growth…

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“Unknown” Callers and the upcoming Texas Primary Election

All I can say is, thank God for Google Voice. The Texas Primary Election is scheduled for March 4, 2014, and since the automated robo-calls that the political candidates are spamming “we the taxpayers” with are typically configured to generate “Unknown” caller ID’s, all I had to do in Google Voice was to set it up to automatically reject all such callers. The voicemail then automatically gets routed to an appropriate location (AKA my email Spam folder J)…

From: Google Voice [mailto:voice-noreply@google.com]
Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 3:28 PM
To: Jim Garven
Subject: New voicemail from Unknown Caller at 3:25 PM

Voicemail from: Unknown Caller at 3:25 PM voice_logo_sm2.png
Hello James, This is U. S. Senator John morning and I’m reaching out to you IN your neighbors in Austin to let you know that 4 too long, total spending is gone nearly on checked by in reducing about was budget amendment to the Constitution. I’m fighting possibility to Washington, the taxes families and small businesses practice every day. The president is liberal allies in Congress think they can taxes spend their way into prosperity in Texas. We know that won’t work. I won’t stand Ford and I hope you won’t either your votes important so please vote early for me, John, Corning, so I can protect taxpayers. While taxes to keep more money in our walls, instead of sitting at the Washington this Call’s been paid for but my campaign Texas for Senator John Corning, 85124948535.
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Assorted Links (2/15/2014)

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

1 in 4 Americans unaware that Earth circles Sun

news.yahoo.com

No, this is not from The Onion… “Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.”

Obama’s Favorite Gini

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes that the Democratic left will never support the real solution to income inequality.”

The Presidential Bible Class

online.wsj.com

“Abraham Lincoln’s diligent reading of the Good Book informed the Gettysburg Address.”

Here’s What ‘Income Equality’ Would Look Like

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Scott Hodge writes that if you take about $4 trillion from the top 40% of families and give it to the bottom 60%—voilà, no more inequality.”

Laffer Curve Explains Why Obama’s Class-Warfare Tax Policy Won’t Work

nationalreview.com

“A new video featuring UCLA economist Tim Groseclose explains why trying to maximize tax revenues is a bad idea.”

Those who can’t, teach

economist.com

The Economist predicts the end of business schools as we know them…

The Party of Less Work

nationalreview.com

“Democrats are celebrating the CBO’s report that Obamacare will reduce the number of workers.”

Downtonomics: A fictional estate’s troubles echo in the modern world

washingtonpost.com

“Eight things ‘Downtown Abbey’ can teach you about economics…”

Freedom for the Job-Locked

nationalreview.com

“At a time when millions want work that doesn’t exist, Democrats are claiming victory by trimming the amount of work actually being done.”

The GOP’s Botched Plan on Immigration and Welfare

reason.com

“Poised to take the Senate, Republicans spurn newcomers while embracing handouts, surveilance for natives.”

Socialism in Venezuela, like Socialism Everywhere, Means Shortages

cato.org

“After 15 years, Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution is finally reaching socialism’s signature achievement: shortages of toilet paper.”

Gender Pay Gap: When You’ve Lost Slate…

cato.org

“Hanna Rosin is the latest in a long line of careful writers to correct bogus numbers about the alleged gender pay gap. So why do politicians keep using the bogus numbers?”

Grim prognosis

economist.com

“THE Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was supposed to transform American health insurance. Critics have long feared that it would do much more. Republicans have cast Obamacare as a job-killing, economy-crushing villain. Democrats have brushed them off, exalting the law as a blessing to American industry. On February 4th this fiery debate was doused with reason, in the form of a 182-page report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The new data are devastating to Democrats.”

Freeing Workers From the Insurance Trap

nytimes.com

The editorial board of the New York Times claims that reducing full-time employment opportunity is a feature, not a bug of the ACA…

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Assorted Links (2/1/2014)

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

Nina Munk on Poverty, Development, and the Idealist

www.econtalk.org

Nina Munk provides a very interesting case study on how the road to hell is often paved with very good intentions indeed! Here’s the quote from EconTalk: “Nina Munk, journalist and author of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. Munk spent six years following Jeffrey Sachs and the evolution of the Millennium Villages…”

Obama Seeks to Borrow More from Poor, Middle Class

online.wsj.com

“President unveils new plan to finance government; declares climate change “a fact.””

Obama’s State of the Union’s Most Despicable Moment: Using Wounded Vets as Props

reason.com

“The most emotionally powerful moment in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was also its most morally dubious.”

State of the Union 2014

www.youtube.com

“The Cato Institute’s annual State of the Union response video features a number of prominent Cato scholars who analyze the President’s address, highlighting inaccuracies, flawed logic, and even the occasional positive remark.”

New Snowden Revelation: NSA, GCHQ Look Through Apps To Find Personal Data

reason.com

“The efforts were part of an initiative called “the mobile surge.””

A Victory for the Little Sisters Against the ObamaCare Birth-Control Mandate

online.wsj.com

“The Supreme Court suspends ObamaCare’s birth-control mandate for the order of nuns, the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.”

More Imperfect Unions

www.nytimes.com

“Marriage in America has been on the decline, but there is little honest talk about the root causes.”

So What Was The Point of Obamacare Again?

www.nationalreview.com

“The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the uninsured haven’t been rushing to sign up for insurance under Obamacare.”

‘Hand of God’ spotted by NASA space telescope

www.nbcnews.com

“Religion and astronomy may not overlap often, but a new NASA X-ray image captures a celestial object that resembles the “Hand of God.””

Obama’s polls fall as middle class gets his number

washingtonexaminer.com

“Are you dazed and confused by Barack Obama, the nominal Democrat, whose conduct as president since 2009 has seen him sink from nearly 70 percent to 40 percent or less in the national polling, from which he has seemed to learn nothing, but still marches on?”

Bill Gates on minimum wage hikes

overlawyered.com

“The Microsoft founder “warned against raising the minimum wage Tuesday on Morning Joe, saying it results in a ‘huge tradeoff’ that can adversely affect households in poverty.””

Inequality Fallacies

www.nationalreview.com

“The Left gets the facts wrong on economic and racial disparities.” Repeat after me: correlation is not causation…

Aetna could be forced out of Obamacare: CEO

www.cnbc.com

Here’s an update on the so-called insurance death spiral: “Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini tells CNBC that Obamacare has failed to attract the uninsured, and he offered a scenario in which the insurance company could be forced to pull out of program.”

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Risk off: Why some people are more cautious with their finances than others

One of the feature articles in the current issue of The Economist is entitled “Risk off: Why some people are more cautious with their finances than others”. Here are some key takeaways from this article:

1. Economists have long known that people are risk-averse; yet the willingness to run risks varies enormously among individuals and over time.

2. Genetics explains a third of the difference in risk-taking; e.g., a Swedish study of twins finds that identical twins had “… a closer propensity to invest in shares” than fraternal ones.

3. Upbringing, environment and experience also matter; e.g., . “…the educated and the rich are more daring financially. So are men, but apparently not for genetic reasons”.

4. People’s financial history has a strong impact on their taste for risk; e.g., “… people who experienced high (low) returns on the stockmarket earlier in life were, years later, likelier to report a higher (lower) tolerance for risk, to own (not own) shares and to invest a bigger (smaller) slice of their assets in shares.”

5. “Exposure to economic turmoil appears to dampen people’s appetite for risk irrespective of their personal financial losses.” Furthermore, a low tolerance for risk is linked to past emotional trauma.

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