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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

Some Light Reading

Hatred and Profits: Getting Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan (50 page pdf). Steven Levitt, of freakonomics fame, along with Roland Fryer, has just released a new academic paper that assesses the rise and fall of the KKK from a variety of perspectives. From one of the authors ...It details the rise and fall of the Klan in the 1920s. Incredibly, the Klan had millions of members at that time, and most of them were reasonably well-educated. Based on a variety of data sources, we argue that, despite its size and education levels, the group nevertheless had little measurable impact on society or politics...
posted by jourman2 on Sep 18, 2007 - 12 comments

Laffer Curve Cultists

"Here is what makes the rise of supply-side ideology even more baffling. One might expect that a radical ideology that successfully passed itself off as a sophisticated new doctrine would at least have the benefit of smooth, reassuring, intellectual front men, men whose very bearing could attest to the new doctrine's eminent good sense and mainstream bona fides. Yet, if you look at its two most eminent authors, good sense is not the impression you get. Let me put this delicately. No, on second thought, let me put it straightforwardly: They are deranged." Feast of the Wingnuts - How economic crackpots devoured American politics, by Jonathan Chait. Counterlink: Arthur B. Laffer explains his curve.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 5, 2007 - 41 comments

We’re too sophisticated to allow bioregional commerce.

Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
posted by ZachsMind on Aug 29, 2007 - 110 comments

AC/DC Economics

On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson By Dr. Robert J. Oxoby, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Calgary (.pdf)
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Aug 22, 2007 - 36 comments

Constitutional Showdowns: a good thing for constitutional and political efficiency

Constitutional Showdowns. Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule analyze constitutional showdowns, ask what rate and level of showdowns would be socially optimal, and ask whether socially optimal showdowns will be supplied by government institutions acting to promote their policy preferences and institutional interests.
posted by dios on Aug 10, 2007 - 9 comments

Sexy time

Have More Sex! I'll get less AIDS! University of Rochester professor, Slate columnist and pop-economist du jour Steven Landsburg argues in his newest book, More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics, that those among us who take few sexual partners would better serve the greater good by being more promiscuous. So, who's chaste, condom-equipped and free tonight?
posted by jckll on Jul 9, 2007 - 47 comments

The many costs of bottled water

Fast Company covers the twisted economics and ironies of the bottled water industry. "In Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water."
posted by allterrainbrain on Jul 3, 2007 - 146 comments

The wages of sin... are fabulous!

High salaries and rising property values in Sodom and Gommorah? There Goes the Neighborhood: How and Why Bohemians, Artists and Gays Effect Regional Housing Values.
posted by orthogonality on Jun 23, 2007 - 38 comments

Free Parking

A games and economic theory argument against intellectual property. Watt's on first in academic paper.
posted by klangklangston on Jun 21, 2007 - 42 comments

The Happy Planet Index: a Better Way to Measure Well-Being?

The Happy Planet Index presents an alternative to GDP for measuring standard of living. It ranks countries by measuring life expectancy and self-reported life satisfaction against an "ecological footprint" needed to support that country's lifestyle. The press release claims that well-being is not based on high levels of consumption, but many don't agree. Full report in PDF here. Vanuatu tops the charts, while Zimbabwe and Swaziland lie at bottom. Critiques here, here, here, and here. A critique of happiness indices generally here.
posted by shivohum on Jun 3, 2007 - 19 comments

Dictatorships do it efficiently

"Dictatorships are not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state," says Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. Unless we abandon welfare programs, he suggests, the free world might be overwhelmed by the staggering efficiency of free-market totalitarianism. Is it just me, or have conservatives been waxing poetic about the benefits of dictatorship lately?
posted by verb on Jun 1, 2007 - 94 comments

The Myth of the Rational Voter

Why are American voters reluctant to support free market policies when professional economists have achieved near-consensus? Bryan Caplan of the Cato Institute investigates. (pdf)
posted by stammer on Jun 1, 2007 - 71 comments

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good God would permit us to be pirates.

An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization. [alternate link] To effectively organize their banditry, pirates required mechanisms to prevent internal predation, minimize crew conflict, and maximize piratical profit. [ssrnfilter]
posted by monju_bosatsu on May 30, 2007 - 18 comments

Economics and Its Discontents

Heterodoxy is by definition not widely popular, and so it goes in the field of economics. Lately, though, the orthodoxy has been on the defensive against a faction that's named itself post-autistic economics. Arising in France, it has spread around the world, capitalizing on the widespread feeling that all's not well in the field of economics. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on May 29, 2007 - 57 comments

May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan

SUV sales are up. In spite of higher gas prices and concern about global warming, Americans still want bigger cars. It might not be enough to save the Hummer H2, though.
posted by 1f2frfbf on May 24, 2007 - 136 comments

"Pro-environmental nations experience better economic outcomes on several measures, controlling for other factors, than nations with lax environmental policies."

Environmentalism, globalization and national economies, 1980-2000 [Schofer and Granados in Social Forces, Dec 06] Triple-punch! (1) "We find no impact of environmentalism on foreign investment and trade. Firms and investment do not appear to be fleeing countries with strong environmental standards." (2) "While it is common to assume that environmentalism targets industry, the agricultural sector may be [negatively] affected more significantly." (2) "[S]ociologists influenced by world-system theory [posit that] the relationship between environmentalism and growth could be spurious: environmentalism does not cause growth, but rather coincides with the economic success of core nations. However, broader results do not support this."
posted by Firas on May 19, 2007 - 6 comments

The wisdom of Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger

“Academic Economics: Strengths and Faults After Considering Interdisciplinary Needs” (.pdf)
posted by Kwantsar on May 17, 2007 - 12 comments

Geek fight

Freaks and Geeks keeping it real. [TNR login=metafilter pwd=metafilter] In late March, New Republic columnist Noam Scheiber posted an article strongly criticizing, among other things, Chicago Economics Professor Steve Levitt's "cute and clever" approach to the dismal science, now famously known as Freakonomics. Levitt replied last week with a post of his own. And now, Scheiber has appears to want some more of this.
posted by psmealey on May 3, 2007 - 40 comments

Race in basketball

Are NBA referees racially biased when calling fouls? In a paper [PDF] released yesterday, economists Wolfers and Price claim that an all-white team would win two extra games over an 82-game season.
posted by Aloysius Bear on May 2, 2007 - 99 comments

"Divergence of Interests" is one way to put it.

"The church of global free trade, which rules American politics with infallible pretensions, may have finally met its Martin Luther." A thorough summary in The Nation of the brilliant but ignored Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests by Ralph Gomory, former IBM Senior Vice President for Science and winner of the National Medal of Science. His heresy? Arguing, with supporting technical and economic data, that multinational corporations and their home countries have divergent interests in shipping skilled labor and advanced technologies overseas, and that this "divergence" is a net negative for the American economy and the American public. Globalization, he argues, has its losers, the United States paramount among them.
posted by Pastabagel on Apr 20, 2007 - 76 comments

2007 Reith Lectures

Over the next four weeks, Jeffrey Sachs will be giving the 2007 BBC Reith Lectures. Download [MP3] the first week's lecture ("Bursting at the Seams"), or subscribe [XML] to the podcast. Listen to the 1999-2006 lectures in full, or hear historic lecturers such as Bertrand Russell and J.K. Galbraith.
posted by Aloysius Bear on Apr 13, 2007 - 14 comments

Mind the gap. Wait, nevermind.

Income inequality continues to rise. Or maybe not.

Professors Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty and the Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds debate on how to measure[PDF] income inequality. Despite the ongoing debate, President Bush has decided, "The fact is that income inequality is real; it's been rising for more than 25 years."
posted by peeedro on Mar 30, 2007 - 81 comments

The Economics of Fat

Cheap Donuts and Expensive Broccoli: the Effect of Relative Prices on Obesity. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for the period 1982-1996, we find that individual BMI measures, as well as the likelihood of being overweight or obese, exhibit a statistically significant positive correlation with the prices of healthful relative to unhealthful foods.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Mar 27, 2007 - 61 comments

Leisure time study

I'm so glad I'M not an Alpha. Economists Mark Aguiar and Erik Hurst have published a study (pdf) saying that Americans have more leisure time now than they did in 1965. And that most of these gains have gone to the poor.
posted by Trochanter on Mar 12, 2007 - 65 comments

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