Thursday, 10 December 2009

The bonus claw, why doing nice things is apparently bad, recycling things as lecture notes

So, most people are pretty cheerful about this? I like the phrase "claw"; reminds me of those games in the old penny (quarter?) arcades where you tried to steer the metal grabbing thing to pick up prizes like puppets and gold watches. Of course, if bankers do leave London its not entirely bad news; it is a bit crowded here anyway. So, who says the government doesn't try to make people happy?

Trying to introduce related current stuff into my lecture notes; we are still recovering from a big financial crisis to that economist didn't do much to prevent, and economists did help justify a lot of the loosened regulations. Actually, a certain flavor of economists are keen to justify this garbage Of course "the crisis of 2008 is best described as a crisis of regulation—not a crisis of capitalism." The market is always right of course, except when people try to do something nice like buy Christmas presents or buy a cup of Fair Trade coffee. This latter individual overpriced cup of coffee seems to have been cited everywhere as ironclad "proof" that Fair Trade is just another way they try to rip you off.

Shameful personal research promotion time: for a different (i.e., better) view, see my paper with Joon, see p 21 for a range of markup comparisons. Also tried to turn that paper into lecture notes. And this week I present "the case against education." As for the justification for the Christmas presents; well, that's an upcoming paper I hope.

Please, let flow any comments on how I got it wrong in these lecture slides, or my slides on the health care debate or any of them.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Once it is in the NY Times then we can believe it.

Some nice quotes from Matthew Crawford.

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

Of course, they could if they moved here, but that part of the market has not really been opened yet.

There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions.Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to “keep things on track.” I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

So, how do we manage? Computer solitaire?

Is this an "education bubble" popping?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Anonymous voting

Do we want elected ocials to vote on their own salary
publicly, in a secret ballot, or have an arbitrator determine it?

First criterion: Which yields a better decision?

Second criterion: Which method helps us learn more about our elected

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Trust rituals and the bill

Say you are eating dinner with a large group of acquaintances. You ask everyone to contribute what they think they owe. You collect and add up the money. Does the total add up to less than the bill (plus tip, etc) or does it add up to more than the bill.

What do you learn from this experience?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

What are the interesting/important questions?

If you could have the answer to any "economic" question, what would that question be?
Sometimes I am not sure economists are asking the right questions, or we even know what it is we are trying to answer.

Comments on my web site

I am trying to create a discussion board for researchers, students, and normal people, to talk about economics and whatever else. This will be tied to my web site:

Will see how this goes....

First open question: any suggestions for my web site, and how to integrate it with a comment board?