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Obama nominates Alan Krueger as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers

White House economic policy largely originates with The Council of Economic Advisers, CEA, who directly advise the President of the United States. CEA research and publish the annual Economic Report of the President[ .pdf ], which details the state of the nation's economic health. Today President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Princeton Economist Alan Krueger as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, who previously held the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy, has written on a wide range of topics, from the economics of rock music [ .pdf ], the causes of terrorism [ .pdf ] and American's changing work / life balance. But Krueger is best known as a labor economist who has extensively researched long term unemployment. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Aug 29, 2011 - 69 comments

It's a normative theory

As is well known, having six legs is the only possible defence against Dutchmen but, in unrelated news, Brad DeLong comments on the tendency of economists to blame prediction failures on irrational people failing to model the theories rather than the theory failing to model the people. He also highlights how this applies to waltzing with Darwin on starships. Or something like that. [more inside]
posted by DRMacIver on Aug 28, 2011 - 54 comments

March of Time

From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeingforeign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 22, 2011 - 8 comments

The Food Riots of 2013

Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute say they've uncovered a pattern that triggers riots wherever it's found. What is that pattern? The price of food. When it rises to a certain level, social unrest & violence are soon to follow. According to their calculations the food price index is due to peak in August of 2013, assuming no corrective action is taken. The original paper is here.
posted by scalefree on Aug 21, 2011 - 49 comments

Marx was right. Capitalism may be destroying itself.

Roubini warns of global recession risk. In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, Economist Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics warns that the risk of a global recession is higher than 50%, suggests investing in cash, blames George Bush for the United States' economic predicament, advocates higher taxes, warns of a possible break-up of the European monetary union and states that "Karl Marx was right". [more inside]
posted by moorooka on Aug 15, 2011 - 122 comments

"all this amazing wealth is fragile, a castle built on sands of illusion...."

Has the Higher Education Bubble Popped? According to the CSM, the boom in demand for bankers, barristers, and bureaucrats is over.
posted by blue_beetle on Aug 11, 2011 - 79 comments

FiveThirtyEight rips apart Standard and Poor's ratings

Nate Silver: Why Standard & Poor’s Ratings Are Substandard and Porous
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Aug 10, 2011 - 46 comments

זו הכלכלה, טמבל

Over the past three weeks, Israel has experienced what may perhaps be the largest, spontaneous / grass roots social protest of the secular middle class that it has witnessed in decades. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns throughout the country have been protesting cuts in government funding to health care and education, and massive, exorbitant rises in taxes and housing costs -- and demanding change. Tent cities have sprung up in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in public gardens and parks throughout the country. And they may not be going anywhere: polls indicate Israeli support is "exceptionally high". [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 3, 2011 - 58 comments

Well, that about wraps it up for growth.

UCSD physicist Tom Murphy inaugurates his blog Do the Math with two posts on the thermal limits of energy use on earth and the related absurdity of infinite economic growth.
posted by adamdschneider on Aug 1, 2011 - 59 comments

The Medium Chill

"We now have a smallish house in a nondescript working class Seattle neighborhood with no sidewalks. We have one car, a battered old minivan with a large dent on one side where you have to bang it with your hip to make the door shut. Our boys go to public schools. Our jobs pay enough to support our lifestyle, mostly anyway. If we wanted, we could both do the "next thing" on our respective career paths..... Fact is, we just don't want to work that hard! We already work harder than we feel like working. We enjoy having time to lay around in the living room with the kids, reading. We like to watch a little TV after the kids are in bed. We like going to the park and visits with friends and low-key vacations and generally relaxing. Going further down our respective career paths would likely mean more work, greater responsibilities, higher stress, and less time to lay around the living room with the kids. So why do it?" David Roberts in Grist on satisficing, voluntary non-affluence, and the medium chill.
posted by escabeche on Jul 27, 2011 - 179 comments

I'll take the Double Dip to go

There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home, however much Washington might hope they will.

Time magazine outlines five common destructive myths about how to stimulate U.S. Growth.
posted by AndrewKemendo on Jul 16, 2011 - 42 comments

The pivot from the quantitative finding to the speculative explanation

Everyone knows that correlation doesn't imply causation, but researchers invariably need to come up with plausible explanations (i.e., models) for the patterns found in their data. However, very different models can "explain" the same pattern. The books The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It and Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places by Oxford economist Paul Collier try to explain why some countries have remained poor using data from econometric studies. In his very interesting review (PDF), Mike McGovern, a political anthropologist at Yale, critiques the types of explanations found in popular economics books. Statistician Andrew Gelman has further thoughts on descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Jul 13, 2011 - 59 comments

Sluggish growth is no mystery: No one has any money

The housing bubble was the last chance most middle-class families saw for grasping the brass ring. Working hard didn’t pay off. Investing in the stock market was a sucker’s bet. But the housing bubble allowed middle-class families to dream again and more importantly to keep spending as if they were getting a big fat raise every year. - How the Bubble Destroyed the Middle Class
posted by Slap*Happy on Jul 11, 2011 - 205 comments

Science & technology might be exempt from E.U. austerity measures

There is an European Commission budgetary proposal to boost E.U. funding for science and technology by 45% from €55B to €80B by trimming some fat form the controversial Common Agricultural Policy. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 7, 2011 - 6 comments

Not what it says on the tin

"Any industry would be proud of an average annual growth rate of 34% over ten years and of a global reach from Austria to Taiwan. But the headlong expansion of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which by May this year controlled almost $1.5 trillion of assets (not far short of the $2 trillion in hedge funds), has become a matter for concern among financial regulators. Could ETFs be the next source of financial scandal, or even of systemic risk?" Characterizing the Financial sector "like a hyperactive child" that "can never leave a good thing be", The Economist appears to be wishing for the ETFs to be better regulated because "it would be a shame if reckless expansion spoiled a good innovation".
posted by vidur on Jun 26, 2011 - 28 comments

Germans should remember...

Albrecht Ritschl (web site / papers) of the London School of Economics says Germans should remember their status as postwar debtors when offering advice to Greece.
posted by - on Jun 25, 2011 - 20 comments

The Growth Ponzi Scheme

The Growth Ponzi Scheme, a series of five blog posts on the financial underpinnings (or lack thereof) of the American post-war development pattern. 1: The Mechanisms of Growth - Trading near-term cash for long-term obligations. 2: Case studies that show how our places do not create, but destroy, our wealth. 3: The Ponzi scheme revealed - How new development is used to pay for old development. 4: How we've sustained the unsustainable by going "all in" on the suburban pattern of development. 5: Responses that are rational and responses that are irrational.
posted by parudox on Jun 23, 2011 - 84 comments

Being able to write is like being the pretty girl at the party

David Mamet discusses free-market economists, studying Kaballah, Aristotle's conception of drama, Tennessee William's expensive habit, and his love for Sarah Palin. Oh, and his HBO movie about Phil Spector (whom he believes is innocent). Previously, previously, and previously.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 on Jun 12, 2011 - 80 comments

Support Telepath Local 153

The Washington Post asks: Can Mutants And Humans Really Co-Exist? Metafilter's own Mightygodking responds.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 10, 2011 - 80 comments

The Polite Society

"The argument is straightforward: When less legal work is available, more illegal 'work' takes place. ... But there have long been difficulties with the notion that unemployment causes crime. " Author James Q. Wilson on crime, law enforcement and the economy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Jun 9, 2011 - 13 comments

Outliers

The World Top Incomes Database (click on "Graphics" and select countries, years and other variables) (via)
posted by vidur on Jun 7, 2011 - 5 comments

The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire!

The Age of Imperialism is over, but its impact remains, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy through cultural norms. Comparing individuals on opposite sides of the long-gone Habsburg Empire border within five countries, it shows that firms and people living in what used to be the empire have higher trust in courts and police.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 on Jun 3, 2011 - 21 comments

Brutal Economics of Cable TV

The success of The Walking Dead, paradoxically, has left the network with an unusual dilemma. Like the executives of Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, AMC is facing an existential question: How do I grow my business without sacrificing who I am? The Zombies at AMC’s Doorstep. TL;DR version: How AMC Explains the Brutal Economics of Cable Television
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 29, 2011 - 83 comments

Psychological Costs of War

New working paper by three economists estimates the psychological costs of war at between $1.5 and $2.7 billion. [more inside]
posted by scunning on May 28, 2011 - 10 comments

What is the economic value of the internet?

The McKinsey Global Institute has published "Internet Matters: The Net's sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity" [70 Page PDF or just the Summary]. "On average, the Internet contributes 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil... For governments, investments in infrastructure, human capital, financial capital and business environment conditions will help strengthen their Internet supply domestic ecosystems." Found on Marginal Revolution where Tyler Cowen has a few interesting comments.
posted by Blake on May 26, 2011 - 8 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

smaller companies are using robots

Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 20, 2011 - 52 comments

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency. Trading at eight dollars this week—and being used to pay for everything from freelance programming jobs to magic mushrooms—it has been described as “the most dangerous open-source project ever created” and “an unambiguous challenge to the government monopoly on the power to print money.” Estimated at over 20 petaFLOPS the Bitcoin network is currently the fastest virtual supercomputer in the world. [more inside]
posted by howlingmonkey on May 18, 2011 - 296 comments

I drank your milkshake

PBS's excellent weekly news magazine, Need to Know, explains why European broadband speeds are racing ahead of the USA. Britain now has 400 broadband suppliers with service available for as little as $6/month. Bonus: Harvard's Berkman Center reports on broadband supply trends around the world.
posted by anigbrowl on May 13, 2011 - 53 comments

how to organize society

-A parable for the world economy
-The economics of a parable, explained
-The Mauritius Miracle
posted by kliuless on May 12, 2011 - 9 comments

Koch exerts deep influence with endowed positions

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university. [more inside]
posted by foggy out there now on May 10, 2011 - 97 comments

Grouponomics

The Sharing Economy (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 5, 2011 - 12 comments

speculative, but instructive, economics

In a pinch, upgrade the humans or redistribute the robots - "[S]uppose [as a factory owner] I replace all my workers with machines... This squeeze has many implications, one of them being that here is an important sector of the economy in which more or less all the gains accrue to the owners of capital and more or less none to the working class..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 1, 2011 - 98 comments

The economics of Death Star planet destruction.

Furthermore, let’s remember that Alderaan isn’t gone. It’s just blown up. Suddenly all the metallic elements that were languishing away in the planetary core are floating around in the void, ripe for the plucking. And anyone who can plausibly claim to have owned them is dead. You can build a lot of Death Stars with that much tungsten. Well, not even a lot—but maybe one.
The Overthinking It Think Tank takes a look at “the economic calculus behind the Empire’s tactic of A) building a Death Star, B) intimidating planets into submission with the threat of destruction, and C) actually carrying through with said destruction if the planet doesn’t comply.” [more inside]
posted by kipmanley on Apr 29, 2011 - 78 comments

When are Krugman and Mankiw just going to make out already, jeez

Keynes v. Hayek Rap Battle: Round 2 (SLYT, about 10 mins) EconStories revives the econ beef to end all beefs. Previously. [more inside]
posted by dismas on Apr 28, 2011 - 32 comments

Tax Facts Hardly Anyone Knows

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 18, 2011 - 191 comments

brittle efficiency and shallow triumphalism

Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
posted by kliuless on Apr 17, 2011 - 93 comments

The Free-Banking vs. Central-Banking Debate

Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2011 - 47 comments

The State of White America

In a lecture entitled The State of White America Charles Murray, a W. H. Brady Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of the controversial The Bell Curve, details the thesis of his upcoming book Coming Apart: Over the last half century, the United States has developed a new lower class and a new upper class that are different in kind from anything America has ever known. The second contention of the book is that the divergence of America into these separate classes, if it continues, will end what has made America America. [more inside]
posted by ob1quixote on Apr 12, 2011 - 76 comments

The One Percent Nation

Joseph Stiglitz in May's Vanity Fair ; Inequality: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret. (via)
posted by adamvasco on Apr 6, 2011 - 85 comments

We have to wean fish off water

"The paper puts forward a small but novel idea of how we can cut down the incidence of bribery. There are different kinds of bribes and what this paper is concerned with are bribes that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. I shall call these 'harassment bribes'. Suppose an income tax refund is held back from a taxpayer till he pays some cash to the officer. Suppose government allots subsidized land to a person but when the person goes to get her paperwork done and receive documents for this land, she is asked to pay a hefty bribe. These are all illustrations of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society. The central message of this paper is that we should declare the act of giving a bribe in all such cases as legitimate activity [PDF]. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state." [more inside]
posted by vidur on Mar 31, 2011 - 37 comments

You have put me in here a cub, but I will come out roaring like a lion, and I will make all hell howl! - Carry A. Nation

For the good of the nation, you won't be able to drink your favoured beer. At least, if the collection of middlemen monopolies called America's Beer Distributors and their lobby have much to say about it. [more inside]
posted by converge on Mar 31, 2011 - 67 comments

Why Not a Negative Income Tax?

Why Not a Negative Income Tax? "What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? [Nobel-prize winning economist Milton] Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT."
posted by shivohum on Mar 14, 2011 - 106 comments

Read the Classics: "Top Twenty" isn't quite "Truest Twenty," but....

Via the Economist: the top twenty papers from 100 years of the American Economic Review. (This post is mostly pdfs.) [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 10, 2011 - 28 comments

The Economic Super-Cycle

We've had 2 economic super-cycles before. One from 1870 to 1913. Another from the end of World War II until 1973. Now we may be in the midst of another, this time the cycle is all about the emerging consumer class in Asia. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 3, 2011 - 49 comments

A turning point in economic development?

"Towards a Sustainable Global Golden Age" (four youtube links) is a talk by Carlota Perez comparing the current revolution in information and communications technologies (ICT) to four prior technological revolutions. She argues that each revolution has started with a long phase of experimentation driven by finance, which leads to a financial bubble and subsequent crash. The short phase of recovery from the crash is followed by a long phase of consolidation driven by concrete productivity gains and government policy. She believes that NASDAQ was the crash in the ICT revolution, and that we are still in the recovery phase, partly because cheap oil and manufacturing labor facilitated a reemphasis on unskilled-labor- and energy-intensive means of production. She speculates on what may come out of the consolidation phase she hopes we're now entering. [more inside]
posted by Coventry on Mar 3, 2011 - 4 comments

Neoclassical economics, j'accuse

"Adbusters invites economics students around the world... to join the fight to revamp Econ 101 curriculums and challenge the endemic myopia of their tenured neoclassical profs." The gist of the Kick It Over Manifesto is largely environmental.
posted by gusandrews on Feb 28, 2011 - 68 comments

Social Calculation and Coordination Problems

Trust, Coordination Technology* & The Experience Economy - "It could be that the nature of technological change isn't causing the slowdown** but a shift in values.*** It could be that in an industrial economy people develop a materialist mind-set and believe that improving their income is the same thing as improving their quality of life. But in an affluent information-driven world, people embrace the postmaterialist mind-set. They realize they can improve their quality of life without actually producing more wealth." (via mr) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 28, 2011 - 46 comments

Welcome to the 21st century, Australian economy.

The Australian Government has committed to a price on carbon from 1 July 2012, prior to a likely full emissions trading scheme within three to five years. The Opposition are outraged, predicting a people's revolt. This should clearly define the next election.
posted by wilful on Feb 24, 2011 - 102 comments

Direct investment for homelessness?

Homelessness: Cutting out the middle men (Economist) "The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them". [more inside]
posted by asymptotic on Feb 18, 2011 - 64 comments

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