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 tobacco; 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 wiki.
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?
The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead.
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, here & here. Dr. Thomas Schelling won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for developing these ideas, but not everybody agrees that he deserved to.
"Lawsonomy is the knowledge of Life and everything pertaining thereto." The collected works of Alfred Lawson - professional baseball player, aviation pioneer, economist, scientist, theologist, 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”
Daniel Gross, 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.
The Wealth of Networks: the seminar. We've talked about The Wealth of Networks before. Now Crooked Timber is hosting a web seminar on the book & the ideas in it. How it works: a bunch of smart guys read the book & write essays on it, then post them for anyone to read & comment on. You can read them all together (PDF) or separately with comments: Norms and Networks, A General Theory of Information Politics, Why Do Social Networks Work?, Whose Networks? Whose Wealth?, Mediating the Social Contradiction of the Digital Age, The Dialectic of Technology & the author's response. And now you can join in too!
Econ 101. 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)
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'. [cache] Kiyosaki 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.
Man spends $100k on imaginary nightclub to tax those who hunt its native dinosaurs. Man is likely to make a profit. <bgsound>
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: A union-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 gone crazy.
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. (list here 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."
Embracing Illegals: Companies are getting hooked on the buying power of 11 million undocumented immigrants - The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface [pdf]
Researchers from the University of Chicago and MIT (PDF file) have analyzed data obtained from an unnamed major online dating service to try to uncover how the online dating market works. Shockingly, they have discovered both sexes care strongly about physical appearance and a woman's choice depends on the income and education of the men. Recent NY Times article about same. Paper authors other papers here.
How Powerful Is Productivity? TCS interviews Former Carter Staffer (and Democrat) William Lewis, who makes some interesting remarks about worker productivity: There were many disparaging comments made in the US and maybe even stronger abroad, (and especially in Japan) about how the US labor force was getting what it deserved because it was lazy, uneducated and maybe even dumb. And of course, the Japanese then showed -- the really capable, competent Japanese manufacturing companies -- showed that was wrong by coming here, building their own factories, managing American labor and taking a lot of other local inputs and coming within five percent of reproducing their home country productivity.
The "ransom" model. "It works like this: They described the basic gist of the game on their web site, and set a ransom of $600 for it. If they received $600 in donations by September 2005, they would finish creating the game -- and then release it on their site, for anyone to download for free. (If they didn't get the full $600 in time, they would donate whatever money they'd received to a homeless shelter.)" And it worked! Here's some additional links described in the comments: The Street Performer Protocol and Fundable.org.
That "liberal bastion" PBS and that "wacky" Christian Right AGREEING on something? Does the "Sith Lord of unbridaled capitalism" really deserve to be hated? Does it bear watching? A new movie will take a look: (Registration -free link). Why are growing numbers "ready to join the ranks of all right-thinking people the world over in declaring Wal-Mart an outpost of hell on earth"??? The full 60 minute Frontline program video is available online.
Monkey Business Something else happened during that chaotic scene, something that convinced Chen of the monkeys' true grasp of money. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of money, after all, is its fungibility, the fact that it can be used to buy not just food but anything. During the chaos in the monkey cage, Chen saw something out of the corner of his eye that he would later try to play down but in his heart of hearts he knew to be true. What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)
The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition by Jeffrey Miron of Boston U.. So far, endorsed by 500+ economists, including Milton Friedman.
*End prohibition and save $7.7 billion in govt. expenditure.
*Tax its sale, like alcohol, and generate $6.2 billion in revenue.
*End prohibition and save $7.7 billion in govt. expenditure.
*Tax its sale, like alcohol, and generate $6.2 billion in revenue.
Foreign Exchange TV with Fareed Zakaria - I'd heard about it, but thought it was only showing on OPB; checked again and lo and behold all the episodes are online! Watched a couple episodes so far; they're pretty good, esp if you're into foreign policy and stuff :D
Remember Long Term Capital Management? The hedge fund whose collapse threatened “a systemic crisis in the world financial system”? Most people in the investment industry claim that they have learned the lessons of LTCM, but what about the rise of synthetic CDOs, “complex structures that employ wads of credit derivatives to build leverage on top of leverage-what some skeptics call "imaginary" structures?" Investments in these financial instruments has exploded from under 1 trillion USD in 2001 to more than 5 trillion at the end of last year. Are problems with synthetic CDOs behind the recent rumors of "hedge fund frailty?" largely stolen from The Agonist