The Harvard University Worklife Wizard
, created by an international team of journalists, economists, and statisticians, is Barbara Ehrenreich's wet dream. It's also a fantastic resource that has flown pretty much under everyone's radar. The Worklife Survey
drives the constantly-revised, constantly-refined Salary Comparison Tool
, which is always hungry for more data about employment from around the world. And when they say they want data from everyone, they mean it-- there's even a VIP Salary Checker that pits the wages of the Yankees against those of the Red Sox
. (Plus if you take the survey, you can apparently earn a chance to win a trip to South Africa). Personally, I love the Workplace Horror Stories
(and there's a competition there too). I can't look at a nail clipper the same way now.
Milton Friedman has died.
One of the most famous economists to come out of the Chicago school
, his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom
was a straightforward challenge to the predominant Keynesian model
that government intervention was frequently necessary to prevent market failures, arguing instead that the way to true political freedom was through economic freedom. He was a devout monetarist
and although conventional wisdom conflates conservatism with laissez-faire economics, he described his own philosophy as liberal
in the Enlightenment sense of the word. His 1980 book Free to Choose
, written with his wife Rose in conjunction with the PBS series
of the same name, explained in layman's term his philosophy of how a truly free market works for the benefit of society.
Breaking the Chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart.
Barry C. Lynn argues Wal-Mart is a monopsony
, and should be dealt with the same way A&P
and Standard Oil
were many years ago.
The First Law of Petropolitics, in short, argues that the price of oil and the pace of freedom operate in an inverse correlation. As the price of oil goes up in what I call petroauthoritarian states—like Iran, Sudan, Venezuela—the pace of freedom goes down. These regimes can afford to be less responsive to their people and outside pressure. And as the price of oil goes down, the pace of freedom goes up because these regimes have to open up to the world if they want to deliver for their people, and they have to empower their people more.
But how to lower oil prices and help freedom on its proverbial march? Many, from Alan Greenspan
to Andrew Sullivan
to Ray Magliozzi from Car Talk
think the answer may be to . . . raise the gas tax?
The Pigou Club
is an ever-updated list of economists, politicians and others who have advocated Pigouvian (or is it Pigovian?
) taxes to not only lower oil prices, but reduce greenhouse gases, fix the federal deficit and strengthen our national security. Though some remain more than a little hesitant to jump on the bandwagon
and others remain skeptical
that the movement is anything more than "just talk," this could be an idea whose time has come, especially since the gas tax isn't as regressive one would think
As virtual worlds economic activity
grow, the importance of Real Money Trade
comes to the fore. When does fraud inside game worlds
become illegal? when do earnings from online worlds become taxable?
], and what happens when real day traders
get interested? [more inside]
, a young Bangladeshi economics professor named Muhammad Yunus
founded Grameen Bank
to implement microcredit
— lending small sums to the very poorest members of society. Today, he and his bank share
the Nobel Peace prize
, a profit-making
company with social objectives, has lent $5.3bn to 6.4m people. 97% of borrowers are women, as Yunus believes
[video] "men will do whatever they could to enjoy for themselves personally [but] women looked at it for the children, for the family and for the future."
The Bitchun Society
is now open for all of your Whuffie
-market needs. Or cynical mocking, take your pick.
Via (of course) BoingBoing
. Can a brother get a ping? Confused?
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
Plunging into the shadows:
"In thinly traded, lightly regulated and untransparent markets
, the bold
can make an awful lot of money—and they can lose it
on an even more extravagant scale... In today's caffeine-fuelled dealing rooms, a barely regulated private-equity group could very well borrow money from syndicates of private lenders, including hedge funds, to spend on taking public companies private. At each stage, risks can be converted into securities
, sliced up, repackaged, sold on and sliced up again. The endless opportunities to write contracts on underlying debt instruments
explains why the outstanding value of credit-derivatives contracts has rocketed
to $26 trillion—$9 trillion more than six months ago, and seven times as much as in 2003."
Foreign Aid: Can it work? The conundrum facing the rich countries is that everywhere in the developing world, and particularly in Africa, you see children dying for want of pennies, while it's equally obvious that aid often doesn't work very well....But the pitfalls of aid tend not to be discussed among humanitarians, at least in loud voices, for fear of scaring donors. And now along comes William Easterly, in his tremendously important and provocative new book, The White Man's Burden, which asserts with great force that the aid industry is deeply flawed.
As Labor Day 2006 winds to a close, America's long & twisted history with Organized Labor seems to never come to rest on any one side of the fence, opinion wise. While we hate the idea of the evil CEO
crushing the employees underfoot, there's something profoundly un-American about bolshevikism
. This excellent collection of political cartoons
from Life Magazine from the early decades of the 20th Century explores both sides of the debate, reminding us at the end of the day that nobody loves a fat man
Fair Price Energy
. One persons idea for a free market solution to the fossil fuel problem.
The International Networks Archive
is an effort by a group of sociologists to understand 2,000 years of globalization through mapping the network of transactions that link the world, rather than geography. The project is still ongoing, but you can see some of the results: an interactive map that uses travel time
to visualize the world; a graphic of the growth of Starbucks and McDonalds
; the distribution of government jobs
(apparently the 3,412 postal inspectors can carry firearms); the cashflows of movies
; and, of course, the world at night
. There is also access to a lot of detailed data, as well as more maps and information at the Mapping Globalization
Nauru was once a lovely place.
Despite its small size and isolation, Nauru's story
is one of monumental dimensions. Things have gotten pretty grim
. But it looks like Naurans may get a reprieve
of sorts. Will it be pretty
Game Theory at the movies. The Princess Bride
demonstrates the use of common knowledge, Butch Cassidy
laments pareto equilibrium, and Swingers
is an example of pooling equilibrium. Though no longer on the site, you can still see the most involved rock, paper, scissors game ever filmed [.mov]
Dr. Schelling's neighborhood.
Is segregation the holdover of a racist past or an inevitable result of simple mathematical processes? After you've read the theory
, try it for yourself here
. Dr. Thomas Schelling won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics
for developing these ideas, but not everybody agrees
that he deserved to.
is the knowledge of Life and everything pertaining thereto." The collected works
of Alfred Lawson
- professional baseball player
, aviation pioneer
, and philosopher
- are available to all. [more inside]
Hans Rosling is on a mission (flash video).
The founder of Gapminder
(previously discussed here
) gives an inspired talk about the third world, while turning statistics into beautiful graphics. Of course, the folks at Google
are already all over this.
Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution asks
: "Assuming you start from a multi-dimensional global utility maximum, which Lancastrian characteristics—with non-trivial shadow prices—would you like more of in a corresponding unconstrained equilibrium?"
How valuable is your favorite sports star to his or her team? Sports economics
take center stage as the NBA finals are underway in the United States and World Cup fever has gripped the rest of the world. Malcolm Gladwell
reviews the Wages of Wins
, where “Freakonomics meets ESPN”
economics columnist for Slate
, wrote on April 7 : "...if (Bush appoints) an A-list Wall Street CEO (for Treasury Secretary), I'll buy a copy of Dow 36,000
and eat the first chapter." Bush appointed Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson
on May 30
. Today, Gross makes good on the promise
A collection of links to videos about economics for those who want to learn more about the dismal science.
Have your war and heat it too?
As the war approaches the $350 billion mark, Cass Sunstein notes: "For the United States, the economic burden of the Iraq war
is on the verge of exceeding the total anticipated burden of the Kyoto Protocol
." Costs may rise as high as $10 trillion.
At least we know it wasn't about oil: in a good year, Iraq makes about $14 billion
on fossil fuels. (via
John Kenneth Galbraith
, an influential and unorthodox economist, has died
, at age 97.
The Wealth of Networks. Yochai Benkler
is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A few years ago he wrote one of the seminal papers on Commons-based production, Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm
. Now he has a new book - The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
. You can buy it
, download it
or add to it
The avuncular state
- "A smarter, softer kind of paternalism is coming into style"
UCLA Economist Ed Leamer reviews Thomas Friedman's "The world is flat." (.pdf) When the Journal of Economic Literature asked me to write a review of The World is Flat... I shipped it overnight by UPS to India to have the work done. (via)
God ... to get paid.
Does doubling your church (temple, mosque, buddhist shrine, wiccan house of worship, etc.) attendence really lead to an increase in your
income? Or someone elses? Let the causation/correlation games continue.
President Bush on the state of the US Economy,
including a discussion of the national debt and rising global interest rates, from today's news conference.
John T. Reed’s analysis of Robert T. Kiyosaki’s book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'.
has spun a business empire off his book, including follow up publications, TV appearances and columns
that make suprisingly broad statements about what's worth doing.
The other religious riots.
While much of the world's press has covered the Muslim cartoon riots, not nearly as much ink has been spilled over the continuing violence in Nigeria. A good analysis of underlying factors here
A Shell report
points to oil as a proximate cause of violence as well. For oil companies, this may not be a bad thing
(If I was more interested in trolling, I'd have framed this as "Christian Leaders Fail to Condemn Religious Violence." The real world's a little more complex).
Religious extremism: the good, the bad, and the deadly
(pdf) is an academic paper offering an alternative analysis of economic self-interest as a motivation for terrorism.
A University of California San Diego economics professor
is among the world's leaders in a small but growing field of study that uses economic principles to gain a deeper understanding of radical religious groups
Economist Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics
, has long posited
a controversial thesis that legalized abortion help reduced crime, by reducing unwanted children, prone to crime. However, a new paper argues
that Levitt (& Donohue) made serious errors in their research. Properly analysed, abortion has no significant effect on crime. Levitt disagrees
, of course.
I'm the 24,519,565 richest person on earth!
According to the Global Rich List, which says I make more than 99.506% of the people alive today. Only 24.5 million people between Bill Gates & myself...
Co-winner of the Nobel prize in economics
Robert Aumann of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem gave a very interesting interview
about how he became interested in economics, math, and the "topology of bagels." How he applied logic from the Talmud
to bankruptcy and other economic events was described nicely at Slate here
The 2005 Nobel Prize
for economics goes to Robert J. Aumann
and Thomas C. Schelling
. Marginal Revolution
has a wonderful
set of posts
that link to various related resources, like a summary
of Aumann's work or Schelling's views
on global warming.
Since Sliced Bread:
-sponsored contest to find and develop ideas to improve the U.S. economy - the winner will receive $100,000. Entries range from virally-spreading an anti-exploitation shame meme
to increasing US world domination
Other greatest ideas since sliced bread include your own personal jesus toast, corporate logos on toast, and Liberty.
The Million Dollar Homepage.
Sure, you could buy gigabytes of online storage for a year with $100, but wouldn't you much rather have 10x10 pixels here? Is it stupid? Yes, but havn't you always wanted to make hundreds of thousands of dolars without doing anything?
The Utopian Nightmare
: "What is utopianism? It is promising more than you can deliver. It is seeing an easy and sudden answer to long-standing, complex problems. It is trying to solve everything at once through an administrative apparatus headed by “world leaders.” It places too much faith in altruistic cooperation and underestimates self-seeking behavior and conflict. It is expecting great things from schemes designed at the top, but doing nothing to solve the bigger problems at the bottom."
Also, be sure to check out the the 16 ideas, values and institutions that may not be with us 35 years from now written by a variety of interesting people and compiled as part of Foreign Policy's 35th anniversary (although not all are free or available without registration).
"What's most shocking about Grand Theft Auto isn't embedded sex scenes. It's the financial chicanery of the game's maker." Fortune's
Bethany McLean - one of the few journalists to question Enron's stock price
in early 2001 - has just taken a good look at Take Two Interactive
, and she doesn't like what she sees. Four CEOs since 2002, execs dumping stock in recent months, fraudulent "parking transactions
" that dramatically overstated earnings...and yet its stock price has remained bouyant
. "How, in an era when investors are supposedly obsessed with corporate governance, are this firm's troubles so easily overlooked?"
Have you ever thought your boss might be a sociopath?
According to some, you just might be right. A recent film called The Corporation actually goes so far as to argue that American-style free markets select for sociopathic tendencies
. While some on the left seem all too eager to chime in with their self-righteous “I told you sos,” others on the right dismiss all such notions to defend free markets with open contempt… Which is strange when you consider that free market theory owes its existence to Darwin’s theories of natural selection
, which many on the right don't accept. Seriously--help me sort this out, or else I'm going to have to conclude we've all
What if we can't afford to save the world?
An interesting debate between Sierra Club’s Carl Pope and the outspoken Bjørn Lomborg. (The “saving the world” bit might seem like hyperbole, but the really interesting question this debate sparks for me is this: Hypothetically, if it really came down to it, would anyone be willing to save the world for free? And if not, what does that imply about our values system and personal priorities? What does it say about the practical utility and limitations of monetary-based economic systems?
Dad's salary is skyrocketing - on TV.
all averaged by profession and adjusted for inflation) "Today's TV dads average salaries of $195,000 after adjusting for inflation, according to Salary.com."