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Sir John Templeton, 1912-2008, RIP and thank you for the investing lessons.

The simple phrase "it's different this time" are the four most expensive words in the English language. Sir John Templeton, 1912-2008, we thank you for this lesson and countless others. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jul 9, 2008 - 67 comments

Nature's Creative Destruction

Natural disasters are good for the economy. No, they aren't. Yes, they are. Well, maybe sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't. (pdf) It helps if somebody makes a movie or a television show about it. The Broken Window fallacy.
posted by anotherpanacea on Jul 8, 2008 - 17 comments

The Economic Organisation of a P.O.W. Camp

In the latter years of the second world war, the economist RA Radford was a prisoner of war. After the war ended, he wrote this now well known (if you're an economist) article on the economic structures that emerged in the POW camps. (JSTOR link) [more inside]
posted by pharm on Jul 6, 2008 - 20 comments

The political-economy perspective on women's rights

Women's rights: What's in it for men? - "Women in rich countries largely enjoy gender equality while those in poor countries suffer substantial discrimination. This column proposes an explanation for the relationship between economic development and female empowerment that emphasises changes in the incentives males face rather than shifts in moral sentiment. Technological change that raises demand for human capital may give men a stake in women's rights." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 29, 2008 - 29 comments

Buy Now, It'll Only Go Higher

Is speculation a prime cause of high oil prices? Yes, No, Maybe. (Very Wonkish)
posted by Xurando on Jun 27, 2008 - 94 comments

Floating university moored

The Scholar Ship, an international floating university stewarded by top universities in Morocco, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Mexico, USA, and Ghana, have temporarily suspended all voyages due to lack of funds - mainly caused by the withdrawal of main sponsor and initiator Royal Caribbean International. The program ran two voyages in 2007 and 2008 before shutdown. Alumni and prospective students on Facebook and Ning are busily sourcing options to revive the organization, while Semester at Sea is offering spaces to students who were accepted for the now-cancelled voyages. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jun 14, 2008 - 9 comments

Is Ben Bernanke a finally coming out of the closet?

While the wild crowd call it "Woodstock for Central Bankers", others get festivities off on a sour note, referring to it as "Understanding Inflation and the Implications for Monetary Policy". Regardless of what your invitation to this party reads, it starts today, Monday June 9th on the 50th anniversary of The Phillips Curve, a previously discredited forecasting tool which may be revived by Ben Bernanke at The Federal Reserve. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jun 9, 2008 - 6 comments

Kiki and Bubu

Kiki and Bubu! Austrian art collective monochrom presents the adventures of two sock puppets. Part One: Kiki and Bubu and The Shift. "Bubu wants to know why his dad is busy all the time. And Kiki explains him why... because of the neoliberal shift." Part Two: Kiki and Bubu and The Privilege. "Bubu ran into a bunch of liberals and they gave him a book. They said if he doesn't read it, they're going to beat him up. But Bubu can't read! And so Kiki helps..." [Via BB]
posted by homunculus on Jun 7, 2008 - 6 comments

Islamic Banking - a compelling mix of religion and finance

While western banking institutions continue to reel from the credit crunch, Islamic banking, with assets approaching one trillion dollars, is growing at roughly 20% pa by offering Sharia compliant - and only Sharia compliant - financial products. But compliance to Sharia law in matters financial is not easy (previously). [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jun 6, 2008 - 44 comments

They're messing with LIBOR - UhOh!

Underlying several hundred thousand Student Loans, millions of Adjustable Rate Mortgages and trillions of dollars worth of financial derivatives is the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR. Launched in 1986 by the British Bankers' Association (BBA), LIBOR is the most widely used benchmark of short term interest rates.

And with the recent credit market difficulties still fresh in the minds and impacting the balance sheets of many market participants, the way LIBOR is calculated - and the interest rates charged - may be changing. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 30, 2008 - 22 comments

Not to be confused with the Glooper.

The Phillips Machine, also known as the Moniac, is a early analog computer for economic modeling with an unusual twist: all of the computation is done by water flowing through its pipes. The flows represent taxes, income, and so on, and the chambers represent balances held by various bodies. Floats attached to pens can provide graphical output such things as GDP and interest rates, and valves can be opened and shut to change the state of the system in real time. You can listen to a BBC radio segment on the origin of Phillips machine, or see a demonstration of one of the only extant working models at the University of Cambridge. [more inside]
posted by Upton O'Good on May 24, 2008 - 12 comments

Everything you think you know about inequality is wrong.

Everything you think you know about inequality is wrong. This guy disagrees. But it's not that bad, honest. And free trade with China is a good thing for poor Americans. But are these guys the next Yugo?
posted by Cool Papa Bell on May 19, 2008 - 68 comments

Sell in May and go Away but buy back on St. Leger Day

Academic discussions of stock markets frequently reference The Efficient Markets Hypothesis; an idea that share prices are fairly valued, their prices reflecting all available information. However folklore such as "Sell in May and go away", which proved prudent in 2007, clashes with this theory. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 15, 2008 - 11 comments

Why everything new in finance has already been new at least once before

The year was 1978. The US Dollar was collapsing, inflation was beginning to surge, the American economy was on the brink of recession and many warned of the perils of easy money. Needless to say, Arthur Burns, 10th Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, had a tough job. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 8, 2008 - 91 comments

Food cartels - haven't we seen these before?

Oil's got one. So does cocaine. There used to be one for light bulbs and another for uranium. While we know one currently exists for diamonds, some folks think the music industry has one. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 5, 2008 - 21 comments

The Brilliant Issue

I asked Nathan Myhrvold, C.E.O. of Intellectual Ventures and widely considered to be one of the smartest people in technology, if he is brilliant. "If you put yourself in that camp, you might be correct," he teased. "But then, you're also an asshole." The Brilliant Issue profiles Porfolio's picks for best game-changers, upstarts, rebels, connectors and other influencers. [more inside]
posted by Non Prosequitur on May 2, 2008 - 10 comments

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

"The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 1, 2008 - 98 comments

Maria Theresa Thalers

The Maria Theresa Thaler (or MTT), a coin first minted in 1741 and continuously to this day, remained legal tender in parts of the Arabian peninsula as late as 1970, where it was much prized both as a coin and for jewelry [magazine article] Incredibly important for trade between Europe and the Middle East, the MTT had a great impact on history. For more information turn to Maria Theresa's Thaler: A case of international money an indepth article about the MTT by Adrian Tschoegl.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 8, 2008 - 10 comments

Crop price anomalies baffle economists

Odd Crop Prices Defy Economics. For finance and economics geeks: Could a drugstore sell two identical tubes of toothpaste, and charge 50 cents more for one of them? Of course not. But, in effect, exactly that has been happening, repeatedly and mysteriously, in trading that sets prices for corn, soybeans and wheat — three of America’s biggest crops and, lately, popular targets for investors pouring into the volatile commodities market. The curious thing is that these price anomalies should be ripe for arbitrage. There should be no gap between the price of say, wheat in the cash market and the wheat futures contract on the day the contract expires.
posted by storybored on Mar 30, 2008 - 25 comments

Barings redux?

Credit Suisse will take a $2.65 billion hit to earnings and post it's first quarterly loss since 2003 due, to no small part, to deliberate mispricing of asset backed securities by several traders operating at all levels of seniority across the 143 year old institution. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Mar 21, 2008 - 33 comments

Brok en Pip e l ine

An unprecedented five consecutive years of stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health is putting America at risk - a few prominent research institutions get together to voice their concern over flat funding of the National Institutes of Health over the past 5 years, in their report The Broken Pipeline (pdf). Bloggers comment [1, 2, 3].
posted by Gyan on Mar 14, 2008 - 40 comments

The Next Bubble

The Next Bubble: Priming the markets for tomorrow's big crash. A layman's primer on the genesis and future of today's economic troubles, at Harper's Magazine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on Mar 13, 2008 - 79 comments

New Trade Theory

Where no economist had gone before. Paul Krugman posts a type-written paper on interstellar trade which he wrote as "an oppressed assistant professor" in the '70s. I do not propose to develop a theory which is universally valid, but it may at least have some galactic relevance. [pdf link]
posted by grobstein on Mar 11, 2008 - 25 comments

It's an Attention Economy, we just live in it

Some say economics is changing so radically that attention is of more value than money or material wealth. If that's true, then should Paris Hilton and Britney Spears be considered role models? Must we each be stars in order to be a success, to get anything achieved, or to gain even the slightest traction?
posted by kmartino on Feb 28, 2008 - 32 comments

Hoping for a new voodoo?

In 1980 Ronald Reagan surrounded himself with economic thinkers that challenged the prevailing Keynesian doctrine with supply side economics. In the same way that Arthur Laffer and Milton Friedman drove Reagan's thinking. A new generation of economists from the University of Chicago are advising Barack Obama. Will behavioral economics change politics the way supply side economics did a generation ago?
posted by humanfont on Feb 26, 2008 - 58 comments

Queue for the soup kitchen may start here

"What we are now seeing is the break up of Bretton Woods mark 2." The Guardian's economics editor, Larry Elliot, on growing fears of a global depression. [single link op-ed alert]
posted by ClanvidHorse on Feb 25, 2008 - 122 comments

Double Nickelled & Dimed

"In a test of the American Dream, Adam Shepard started life from scratch with the clothes on his back and twenty-five dollars. Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and a small savings." Introduction to the book which arose from his "journey", which was inspired by Barbara Ehrenreich. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Feb 15, 2008 - 243 comments

Mythbusting Canadian Health Care

Mythbusting Canadian Health Care, Part I. Part II: Debunking the Free Marketeers. [Via Orcinus.]
posted by homunculus on Feb 13, 2008 - 227 comments

Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different?

Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have compared the recent US subprime mortgage crisis with five downturns in industrialized economies in the past 30 years in their brief paper, Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? (pdf). Their conclusion: “given the severity of most crisis indicators in the run-up to its 2007 financial crisis, the United States should consider itself quite fortunate if its downturn ends up being a relatively short and mild one.” Summarized, with some data and charts, here. Via.
posted by ibmcginty on Feb 9, 2008 - 19 comments

Goodbye to Hegemony

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony. "Just a few years ago, America’s hold on global power seemed unshakable. But a lot has changed while we’ve been in Iraq — and the next president is going to be dealing with not only a triumphant China and a retooled Europe but also the quiet rise of a 'second world.'" [Via The Washington Note.]
posted by homunculus on Jan 27, 2008 - 63 comments

Logical Explanation?

Why do the poor commit more crime? Is it because they are irrational? (via marginal revolution) [more inside]
posted by wittgenstein on Jan 24, 2008 - 105 comments

Stickk.com: Motivate Yourself to Reach Goals by Paying if You Don't

Stickk.com allows people to undertake commitment bonds: promises that they will do something (lose weight, quit smoking, etc.) or else forfeit a pre-determined amount of money to a charity. Either the honor system or a referee can be used to decide if the goal is met. The idea is related to Nobel prize-winner Thomas Schelling's concept of strategic precommitment. More here, here, and here.
posted by shivohum on Jan 18, 2008 - 17 comments

"To redeem the demand tickets they have written, the balancers must in turn sell dragonslayer tickets."

Nitroeconomics (if you want to sound more scientific you can call it synthetic economics) is different. It is set in the virtual world of Nitropia, which doesn't exist but easily could.... We can use nitroeconomics to understand real situations in the real world, such as the subprime crisis, with a simple three-step process.... The first cool thing about Nitropia is that it has no financial system at all. Unlike other, inferior virtual economies, it does not distinguish between "money" and other virtual objects. A monetary token in Nitropia is an object like any other - a magic sword, an inflatable penis, or whatever. A player in Nitropia who has a lot of money just owns a lot of these tokens. There is no special, separate "bank balance."
A[n Austrian-school] straightforward explanation of the present financial crisis (part 1) [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Jan 17, 2008 - 28 comments

The world's oldest profession in the Windy City.

Steven Leavitt and Sudhir Venkatesh, of Freakonomics fame, investigate prostitution. According to the working paper [pdf], prostitutes in Chicago are more likely to sleep with the police than get arrested by them.
posted by Sticherbeast on Jan 12, 2008 - 27 comments

The Rise of China

The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive? "China's rise will inevitably bring the United States' unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China -- but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Dec 29, 2007 - 29 comments

limits

The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy - naked capitalism reprints (with added commentary) an FT article by Martin Wolf on why it's vital for (civilised) society to sustain a 'positive-sum' world, otherwise: "A zero-sum economy leads, inevitably, to repression at home and plunder abroad." Wolf's solution? "The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity." Of course! Some are calling for more socialism, while others would press on to build more megaprojects. For me, at least part of the solution lies in environmental accounting and natural capitalism :P
posted by kliuless on Dec 19, 2007 - 42 comments

The NYT asks six people whether the US is in a recession

You Can Almost Hear It Pop, by Stephen S. Roach
The Facts Say No, by Marcelle Chauvet and Kevin Hassett
Bet the House on It, by Laura Tyson
Not if Exports Save Us, by Jason Furman
Nobody Knows, by James Grant
Wait Till Next Year, by Martin Feldstein

Stolen, HTML and all, from Calculated Risk.
posted by Kwantsar on Dec 16, 2007 - 24 comments

Too tall!

Moreover, based on the empirical distribution of height and wages, the optimal height tax is substantial: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay about $4,500 more in taxes (pdf) than a short person earning the same income. Draw what inferences you will.
posted by Pants! on Dec 15, 2007 - 41 comments

Other Things Equal by Deirdre McCloskey

How to Be a Good Graduate Student, How to Organize a Conference, Economical Writing: An Executive Summary, Why Don't Economists Believe Empirical Findings?, The Bankruptcy of Statistical Significance, The A-Prime, C-Prime Theorem, and many other articles in PDF format (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the others) originally published in the very entertaining “Other Things Equal” column by Deirdre McCloskey in the Eastern Economic Journal.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Dec 15, 2007 - 19 comments

What Happened to My Forty Acres and a Mule, Fool?

40 acres and a mule has been a slogan of African-American economic aspirations ever since the legislation creating the Freedman's Bureau promised ex-slaves parcels not exceeding forty acres each, to the loyal refugees and freedmen. General William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15 decreed that the land on slave plantations be seized and distributed to freed slaves, but Andrew Johnson rescinded the order and vetoed expansion of the Freedman's Bureau. Both Henry Louis Gates and Dalton Conley have associated the failure to grant freed slaves their "40 acres and a mule" with the wealth gap between black and white Americans, but now an economics grad student, Melinda Miller, has brought important quantitative data to the debate in a new research paper. [more inside]
posted by jonp72 on Dec 14, 2007 - 43 comments

In the future, we're still all raging dirtbags.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita uses rational choice theory to predict the future.
posted by anotherpanacea on Dec 4, 2007 - 55 comments

Countdown to a Meltdown

Countdown to a Meltdown : long but fascinating speculative retrospective on the causes and impact of the 2009-2016 economic collapse. [via Marshall Brain]
posted by pheideaux on Nov 25, 2007 - 73 comments

Money as Debt

Money as Debt. Paul Grignon's 47-minute animated presentation of "Money as Debt" tells in very simple graphic terms what money is and how it is created.
posted by psmealey on Nov 24, 2007 - 61 comments

Treasury: Income Mobility Substantial. Pew: But Not Enough.

A new U.S. Treasury Report (press release) reports that tax returns from 1996 to 2005 show that income mobility in the U.S. is "considerable," with rising earnings, and top earners who often stumble. The WSJ crows. Pew releases its own research (reports, press release) on income inequality today with a multi-decade outlook, but summarizes the findings as that American families' income mobility is still highly dependent on their parents' position. Forbes and a The New Republic blog try to reconcile the reports. Meanwhile, blacks appear to be downwardly mobile.
posted by shivohum on Nov 13, 2007 - 45 comments

Striking Out

Striking Out by James Surowiecki. "As TV writers hit the picket lines, Surowiecki discusses the motivations and consequences of labor strikes. Historically, he argues, strikes have rarely ended up benefiting workers; the deals reached are usually similar to offers on the table before workers walk out. So why strike? For one thing, he writes, striking may clarify how serious your employer is about his stated position. And strikes are often about fairness, rather than economics -- people tend to reject deals they view as unfair, even when doing so leaves them worse off. A cogent analysis offering some interesting, timely tidbits of economic theory." [via]
posted by shotgunbooty on Nov 13, 2007 - 12 comments

Origins of the US carpet industry

How do regional clusters of economic activity get started? For example, why is Dalton, a town in northern Georgia, the center of the American carpet industry? It started with a farm girl named Catherine Evans, who made a tufted bedspread as a wedding present in 1900. Via Paul Krugman.
posted by russilwvong on Nov 10, 2007 - 9 comments

Countries that look like their Phillips curve

Some countries are shaped like their economic Phillips curve. Japan bears a strong resemblance to its Phillips curve. The Czech Republic does too, a little. And Canada’s similarity to its Phillips curve it less obvious, but it’s still there.
posted by tepidmonkey on Nov 4, 2007 - 21 comments

The 2007 Frédéric Bastiat Prize

The 2007 Frédéric Bastiat Prize for Journalism has been awarded to Amit Varma (economics journalist for Mint and writer of the interesting India Uncut blog). Clive Crook (Atlantic & FT) was second. The Prize was developed to encourage, recognise and reward writers whose published works elucidate the institutions of the free society, including free trade, property rights, the rule of law, freedom of contract, free speech and limited government. [more inside]
posted by patricio on Oct 31, 2007 - 1 comment

And yes, the band did play on.

It was twenty years ago today... [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 19, 2007 - 27 comments

Low-Paid, Liberal, Nonprofit Yuppies Unite!

The Trap. Are you a young, college educated liberal who can't afford health care or a place to live? In his new book, Daniel Brook says you are getting screwed by being forced to choose between a job that you would actually like or selling out so you can have a middle class lifestyle.
posted by afu on Sep 29, 2007 - 114 comments

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