100 Economics Question of the Day: An Intermittent Blog

Sunday, September 11, 2011

...And the Damage Done

Ten years later, some things are a blip, no matter the publicity.

While others abide, less noted.

New Yorkers, hug a fireman today—for the ones who died because "modernization" meant moving Disaster Operations from the safety of One Police Plaza to the 25th floor of the already-attacked-once 1 WTC, not making certain radio communications worked.

Then, if you can, go visit the Empty Chairs. If you're really brave, try to explain to your kids why the life of the secretary for the NYSSA—a kind woman who read Laurell Hamilton books and had a life outside of Series 7 and 63 and 24 and 8 and...—was worth so much less than a Cantor Fitzgerald salesman who was intermediating between two financial intermediaries in an already-overcrowded space.

Then try to explain why 11 Sep 2001 was an act of terror, but 11 Sep 1973 was a heroic effort that lead to The Chicago Boys (who presided over the only period when that country grew slower than the rest of the area) and the Chilean Pension System so beloved by Herman Cain, so hated by even its originator.

And, if I haven't offended enough people yet: those of you in DC and Boston who had friends and relatives at the Pentagon or friends and relatives on the flights, wonder why the Two Towers get all the attention.

Happy September 11th, and What It Hath Wrought.

Never forget.

cross-posted from skippy the bush kangaroo

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

If They're All Young Hooligans, Why Are Four of Eleven Over 35?

With a hat tip to Tim Harford, The General Manchester Police are reporting their already-public-record convictions via Twitter (@gmpolice).

On a quick check, four of the eleven so far convicted (including the one woman), are over 35. So far:

It appears that legendary "moral decay" began under Margaret Thatcher. Whodathunkit? Well, maybe David Cameron in 2007:

Sometimes a piece of research is published which goes straight to the heart of the national debate – it holds up a mirror to the whole of society and makes us see ourselves as we really are.

That happened this week. On Wednesday, Unicef published a report entitled "An overview of child well-being in rich countries." It brings together comparative research on the material, educational and emotional state of childhood in 21 developed nations.

Britain comes bottom of the list....

Ten years after the current [Blair] Government was elected on the promise to end child poverty and make education its number one priority, Britain comes 18th out of 21 rich countries on material wellbeing, and 19th out of 21 on educational wellbeing. According to the report, British children are among the poorest and least educated in the developed world....

On the radio yesterday morning two local residents were interviewed about the spate of killings in their area....One said, "the children don't seem to have anything to do. They just roam the street.” When she was asked who she blamed for that, she said "the Government, really. They're closing down all the community centres."

Now I like to agree when people blame the Government for things that go wrong. And, more seriously, I also agree that there is a problem with the lack of community facilities in our big cities....

Ultimately, we didn’t need the Unicef report – pages of statistical analysis – to tell us there is a problem with the emotional wellbeing of Britain’s children....

We need common sense in schools. It is madness for the authority of teachers and heads to be second-guessed by outside evaluators when they want to impose simple discipline in their own classrooms. It is madness for a teacher to fear that if he restrains a child who is violently bullying another child, he will end up in court on charges of abuse. It is madness for schools to have to cancel outdoor trips because their insurance policies won’t cover them in case of mishap.

Indeed, it is grimly instructive that the only measure in the Unicef report where Britain does not come at or near the bottom – where we come a respectable 12th out of 21 – is (you guessed it) health and safety. Our children might be the loneliest, worst behaved, unhappiest children in the developed world– but at least they are protected from sprains and bruises....

And I hope they illustrate something of what the Conservative Party under my leadership stands for. When we were last in government, in another political era, we stood for economic revival. We now stand for social revival. We used to stand for the individual. Now we stand for the family, for the neighbourhood – in a word, for society.

How's that working out?

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Is Warren Buffet the 2008 version of 1907's J. P. Morgan?

The only reason not to answer "yes" seems to be whether there are other Great Financiers of the Day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

IF values must be GE 0, how do we account for extinctions?

Economists tend to assume an ordered set of preferences, and holdings in all securities /commodities to reflect that.

To make the math work, the standard assumption is that the holdings are >=0. This includes the assumptions of Arrow-Debreu, which is the model usually used to bash Stern supporters.

That is, in most cases, you hold zero of a specific stock or commodity by choice.

I live diving. I like coral reefs. If I read the Stern Report correctly—or even just heard Sir Nicholas's presentation at January's AEA meeting correctly—the coral reefs are not going to be around within 50 years.

The obvious conclusion is that someone placed a negative value on coral reefs.

But this contradicts the model, which requires x.GE.0.

So how do we explain extinction (a real phenomenon, and one not to be confused with "creative destruction") in economic modeling?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Questions on Economic Growth in Developing Countries

  1. If the prescription for open markets and universal trade used by many of the "Washington Consensus" is accurate, can someone please cite two examples (I'd probably settle for one, but it would have to be a Really Good One) of companies that have made the transition using that method?
  2. Relatedly, how is a country supposed to develop a Competitive Advantage in such a scenario?

Cross-posted at Marginal Utility.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Question of the Fundament

Given that no corporation in its right management would ever attempt to maximize GDP, why do economists believe that GDP is an appropriate benchmark for a society?

(Cross-posted at Snark of the Day, but rather a serious question if you think about it.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Footnote for the Ages

With a hat tip to Greg Mankiw via David Friedman, comes this from Todd Kendall's "Pornography, Rape, and the Internet" (PDF):
35 On the other hand, as discussed earlier, more dating also means more opportunities for date rape.