Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Unbelievable! Yale has App State Envy
Will Obama be the "Haiti President"?
Tyler Cowen says yes and predicts that over 1,000,000 Haitians will be living in (I assume he means US run) "refugee camps for the foreseeable future". He closes with the line that "everyone in Haiti is looking to president Obama".
I know that Tyler has a deep and special relationship with Haiti. He introduced me and Mrs. Angus to the work of Antoine Oleyant and Edouard Duval-Carrie. But I personally do not foresee the US getting involved in a huge long term way in Haiti.
One reason is our history. I don't see how we can get away running things there. Could a mission there survive if American soldiers killed Haitian people?
Another reason is politics. Haitians don't vote. I realize there are a fair number of Haitians living in the USA but they are not a powerful lobby and I don't think are likely to become one. It's not clear to me what groups would favor the US taking the lead in running and reconstructing Haiti.
Another reason is that, as Tyler himself points out, it's a no-win situation. If we do take over, we are unlikely to be successful. Obama probably does not want to "preside over the collapse of a country of more than nine million people" but, contra Tyler, I don't understand why he has to or will do so.
Reconstructing Haiti needs to go through the World Bank or the UN. Not because those institutions would do a better job, but simply because the US can't / won't / shouldn't be seen as the party that bears the responsibility for the outcome.
Where the magic happens
Spring semester starts today. For some reason I thought I'd show y'all my office. Mrs. Angus and I put $0.49 per square foot laminate floating flooring down over the ancient and foul carpeting in our building, and I built my own set of office furniture last year in our garage. Here it is (click on pics to enlarge):
Monday, January 18, 2010
A Little Lunch at Nello's....
Russian billionaire Abramovich drops $50k for a nice lunch.
The Ward Boss writes, "Look, I had the Milanese, and the water. I'm not submitting receipts to be reimbursed for anything else...."
Good. I am not sure that the $7k+ "tip" would have made it through Duke's accounting office.
(A copy of the bill....) (Click to enlarge)
Now, you are thinking, "3 bottle of wine? For $1,500? WOW!" But wait, check again, you missed a zero....Plus, tax is more than $3,200, and the tip is more than $7,300. Nice tip...
Come on Eileen!
Change of government in Chile
Since the end of Pinochet's dictatorship in 1990, Chilean presidential elections had been won by the left coalition group Concertación. Yesterday, Concertación lost the presidency to a candidate of the right, businessman Sebastian Piñera. This is partly because they ran a very poor candidate in ex-president Eduardo Frei, and partly because the coalition itself is unraveling.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Good on ya, Rog!
The OKC: where we take our processed meats VERY seriously
I am not joking:
Investigators said it happened at a southwest Oklahoma City home when Howard Jones thought his roommate ate his Spam.
Officers said the men argued and then Jones hit him in the head with a sledgehammer....
Police arrested Jones on suspicion of assault.
I can only imagine what would have happened if it had been braunschweiger!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
How come people named Kevin are so darn smart?
Great stuff from Kevin Murphy (source here):
(Q) What about skepticism toward the government: Isn’t that also a key part of the Chicago tradition?
(A) Sure. You have to ask why would the government get it right. You can’t just say, here’s a market failure and the government needs to step in and address it. You have to look in detail at what the government might do, and compare the relative effectiveness of the two.
Labels: tell it like it is
Friday, January 15, 2010
This....THIS is entertainment
WOW! I almost get creamed in a drug bust.
So, I walk to the service station where we have our car worked on. It's 4.2 miles, but it's pretty, and today was a nice day. So I walked to go pick up the Lincoln, which had had some battery cable work.
Here is the route I walked.
Between 3 and 5 minutes after I passed this spot, this happened. Here is the raw video footage, after the white van ran over the "stop strips."
Note how after two cops are holding him down a third cop comes and puts a knee on his neck. If the guy is not resisting, that is likely to make him try to resist, just so he can breathe.
Also, watch when the camera pulls back at the end. At least 20 cop cars. That is what I saw, though of course at earth level, when I came out of the McDonalds across the street, and saw that cop world had opened in the middle of Creedmoor Road at rush hour.
I wish I had been three minutes later. It would have been cool to see.
Against the grain
I guess I am the only person misguided enough to be against the “Federal Crisis Responsibility Fee” to be levied on the largest US banks. Besides the usual suspects, Brookings is in favor and Mankiw gives a qualified endorsement.
To me, though, it's heinous. Here's why:
1. It's supposed to be for TARP recovery, yet remember, money is fungible, these revenues can't /won't be earmarked. It just goes into the giant slush fund.
2. Basic tax incidence theory tells us that a significant part of this tax on banks will be passed on to their customers, presumably the very people the administration is trying to placate with the fee to begin with.
However, let us grant the idea that banks got a TARP gift so it's only fair they repay it. Well,
3. Many big banks have already repaid their TARP funds
4. Some banks were strong-armed into taking TARP funds that they didn't want in order not to stigmatize the banks that did need them.
5. Over 50 billion of TARP money went to automakers GM and Chrysler and this money won't be paid back. This is I believe the biggest chunk of TARP funds that won't be recovered. Why should big banks pick up that bill?
6. In the larger picture, this ex-post targeting of very narrow groups, whether punitively as in this case, or positively as occurred in the health bill negotiations, is a disturbing trend in the current administration's method of operation.
7. Finally, this is mere window dressing when compared to what needs to be done with our banking sector. Leverage needs to be limited. Some enlightened form of Glass-Steagall needs to be re-instated. Credit default swaps should trade on exchanges. We need real reform in this sector not a populist, window dressing, revenue grab.
Downright Sexy: Verticality, Implicit Power, and Perceived Physical Attractiveness
Brian Meier & Sarah Dionne, Social Cognition, December 2009, Pages 883-892
Abstract: Grounded theory proposes that abstract concepts (e.g., power) are represented by perceptions of vertical space (e.g., up is powerful; down is powerless). We used this theory to examine predictions made by evolutionary psychologists who suggest that desirable males are those who have status and resources (i.e., powerful) while desirable females are those who are youthful and faithful (i.e., powerless). Using vertical position as an implicit cue for power, we found that male participants rated pictures of females as more attractive when their images were presented near the bottom of a computer screen, whereas female participants rated pictures of males as more attractive when their images were presented near the top of a computer screen. Our results support the evolutionary theory of attraction and reveal the social-judgment consequences of grounded theories of cognition.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Labels: articles to read
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Interesting: Fed Making Money, But May Need to Have Fire Sale
The Fed is making huge "profits," and depositing them with the Treasury.
Now, in order to support the financial sector and stop deflation, the Fed bought up huge quantities of debt, spending down its account at the Treasury.
It is making lots of money on some of that debt, which turns out to have been pretty solid.
On the other hand, lots of that debt is still pretty low in value, because of uncertainty. More than $1.5 trillion of that debt is private, or quasi-private (it's not t-bills!), in the sense that it is made up of mortgage-backed securities or collateralized debt obligations, or else bonds issued directly by the mortgage giants.
Here's the thing: if inflation cranks up, the Fed is going to have to unload a buttload of debt, really fast. The only way to sell that much debt, and take excess cash out of the economy, is to sell at fire sale prices.
So, if there is inflation, the Fed is going to take truly ginormous capital losses on the debt it will have to sell. But this is exactly Bernanke's plan, the one he is so sure will work to prevent inflation. Big Ben's talk at the AEA meetings made much of this policy. But who in the world is going to buy CDOs in this market?
The lagniappe: Lots of the CDOs are based on fixed interest rate mortgages. If there is inflation, the capital value of those gets hammered. All the rest are based on ARMs of some kind. And for those the PAYMENTS skyrocket with nominal interest rates, and defaults go up, and AGAIN the CDOs' capital value takes it right up the ol' gazoch, with a red hot poker.
This is not really a good policy.
(Nod to the Ward Boss)
The Pot Calling the Kettle Whack
(I wrote about the "El Jefe" Nutty Buddy four years ago...)
(Nod to Josh H)
(SUPER UPDATE: I missed this the first time I saw it! Fantastic idiocy. Right at the six minute mark (5:59) in the video, the moron says that a baseball hits unprotected juevos with 2,400 pounds of force. Not clear what the units are...per square inch? Kinetic energy? But, okay, call it 2,400 pounds of force. THEN the moron says that the Nutty Buddy reduces this to 110 pounds of force. Let's suppose that's right. THE MORON CONTINUES: "That's a 2000% reduction in force!" Really? 2000% reduction? Impressive. Actually, going from 2,400 down to 110 is a 95% percent reduction in force, dude. Any decrease more than 100% means that those juevos are exploding outward and exerting force on the baseball. Ouchie!)
What sets the great ones apart is their attention to detail
Case in point:
Chavez says producers should be making "socialist soap operas."
He said Sunday he recently visited Cuba "and they have soaps there. But they're not capitalist soap operas."
Come on Venezolanos, show some initiative. He can't be expected to do EVERYTHING!!
Grade Inflation: Bad
Less grade inflation ==> more effort by students. Less "happiness," perhaps, but more effort and more learning.
Real Costs of Nominal Grade Inflation? New Evidence from Student Course
Philip Babcock, Economic Inquiry, forthcoming
Abstract: College grade point averages in the United States rose substantially between the 1960s and the 2000s. Over the same period, study time declined by almost
a half. This paper uses a 12-quarter panel of course evaluations from the University of California, San Diego to discern whether a link between grades and effort investment holds up in a micro setting. Results indicate that average study time would be about 50% lower in a class in which the average expected grade was an "A" than in the same course taught by the same instructor in which students expected a "C." Simultaneity suggests estimates are biased toward 0. Findings do not appear to be driven primarily by the individual student's expected grade, but by the average expected grade of others in the class. Class-specific characteristics that generate low expected grades appear to produce higher effort choices — evidence that
nominal changes in grades may lead to real changes in effort investment.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Funky days are back again
Durant is the man in OKC
Great article in SI.com about how Kevin Durant has turned from a defensively liability to a defensive assest and how with him on board, the Thunder are winning with defense.
Hot Grandma N.E. Prostitute
Poll Cats: Congressional Repubs hammered by 75%
Harvard Takes One in the Shorts
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Good Thing I'm Already Married!
Murdering the Data
These guys got in touch with their inner Grier. Turns out if you poke a fork at the wall around econometric studies of death penalty deterrence, then roaches come pouring out.
Estimating the Impact of the Death Penalty on Murder
John Donohue & Justin Wolfers, American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming
Abstract: This paper reviews the econometric issues in efforts to estimate the impact of the death penalty on murder, focusing on six recent studies published since 2003. We highlight the large number of choices that must be made when specifying the various panel data models that have been used to address this question. There is little clarity about the knowledge potential murderers have concerning the risk of execution: are they influenced by the passage of a death penalty statute, the number of executions in a state, the proportion of murders in a state that leads to an execution, and details about the limited types of murders that are potentially susceptible to a sentence of death? If an execution rate is a viable proxy, should it be calculated using the ratio of last year's executions to last year's murders, last year's executions to the murders a number of years earlier, or some other values? We illustrate how sensitive various estimates are to these choices. Importantly, the most up-to-date OLS panel data studies generate no evidence of a deterrent effect, while three 2SLS studies purport to find such evidence. The 2SLS studies, none of which shows results that are robust to clustering their standard errors, are unconvincing because they all use a problematic structure based on poorly measured and theoretically inappropriate pseudo-probabilities that are designed to capture the key deterrence elements of a state's death penalty regime, and because their instruments are of dubious validity. We also discuss the appropriateness of the implicit assumption of the 2SLS studies that OLS estimates of the impact of the death penalty would be biased against a finding of deterrence.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Europe: you guys know it's not a single country, right?
The latest debate in the blogosphere revolves around comparing the economic performance of the US relative to Europe. This is problematic, as people are not using a common metric or any real data analysis. Krugman has claimed that any superior US performance in growth is only due to increased population.
In 1980, where this debate seems to start, we can see that all the European countries I've chosen were considerably poorer than the US except for Switzerland.
Below I list Per Capita GDP as a % of US Per Capita GDP for selected European countries in 1980 and 2008:
Austria 74.06 76.72
Denmark 81.96 78.82
France 81.31 72.91
Greece 48.29 52.33
Ireland 45.97 90.70
Italy 70.78 63.70
Neth 79.15 78.83
Norway 81.15 93.01
Portugal 43.30 46.07
Spain 49.53 55.62
Sweden 80.40 78.81
Switz 101.0 79.56
UK 69.61 76.47
Germany 66.34 (2008 only)
As one can see, the European experience is quite varied. Greece, Portugal and Spain have done a little bit better than the US over the period but are still extremely poor in comparison at roughly half of US per capita GDP in 2008.
So, it's very misleading to talk about growth or wealth levels in "Europe" as if one number captured the European experience. Italy and France appear to be from different worlds than Norway and Ireland!
It is also not correct that US growth has been higher only due to population growth. Many European countries, including large ones like France, Germany and Italy have seen their per-capita incomes fall relative to the US since 1980.
Why No "Credit" for BHO?
My good friend, Jennifer Merolla, chair of Claremont Grad School's Politics and Policy Department, has a piece in the HuffinPuff Post. Interesting...
Throughout most of his presidency, public support for George W. Bush increased in conjunction with the terror threat level. Conventional wisdom tells us that the public rallies behind the sitting president when its national security is perceivably threatened. Yet, following the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt, approval ratings for President Barack Obama have remained fairly flat. Is this lukewarm response to our current president symptomatic of public apathy toward terrorism?
Hugo Cracks Down on Inflation
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Venezuelan devaluation
The Bolivar has been pegged at 2.15 to the dollar for about 5 years. Over those 5 years, Venezuelan inflation has ranged from 15 - 30 percent per year while US inflation ranged from 0 to 5 percent per year. That is to say, unless the Bolivar was massively overvalued when pegged in early 2005, it has become way overvalued. Yesterday, President Chavez ordered the devaluation of the Bolivar to 4.3 per dollar (2.6 per dollar for some specific imported goods).
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Rush Can't Play Tom Sawyer?
A post in the Chronicle
A Sunday stroll in Normatopia
Robert Frank pummels a straw man
In todays NY Times "Economic View" Frank opines:
Saturday, January 09, 2010
How not to do statistics
Let me start by saying that i like The Painted Area blog. However, they have cooked up a stinky statistical stew that I suggest you do not eat:
We've found examining a team's rebounding margin is a quick, simple way of projecting playoff success....it was no surprise that strong rebounding is a key component to winning titles. But we found it interesting that out of the 40 teams to make the Finals in that 20-year span between '87 to '06, only four teams had a negative rebound margin for the regular season. We also found that the +1 rpg margin threshold seems to be a strong indicator if a team can win the title....Currently (stats as of 1/6/10), the Lakers (+2), Magic (+2.6), Cavs (+3.8) and Spurs (+4.1) are in good shape in the rebound margin department.
Ok, people got that? Rebound margin = playoff success and look, the best teams this year seemingly have a good margin.
Or do they?
Well folks, the league leaders in rebounding margin (as of 1/8/10) are the Memphis Grizzlies at 5.3. Interestingly the blog does not mention them as playoff contenders, but does mention the number 2 and 3 teams in the league which are the Spurs and the the Cavs. They also do not tell you that Portland and Chicago also have rebound margins higher than the LA Lakers.
Regarding the magic +1 margin as the cut off for greatness, there are 10 teams in the Association with such a mark and 6 of them are Memphis, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Utah. Will any of these teams win a playoff series this year?
Friday, January 08, 2010
Man! Lance Armstrong has really let himself go
Life imitates art
As previously noted, Jayson Williams appears to be a devotee of "Arrested Development", while this rascally miscreant clearly is a big "Seinfeld" fan:
Thirty-two-year-old Craig David Jr., of Smithfield, was charged Wednesday with robbery and disorderly conduct.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wow, I am watching the BCS championship game and it's like watching a rousing game of Russian roulette!
Labels: tuck fexas
This week's sign of the apocalypse
Stupid Okie tricks
I wonder how many KPC readers are familiar with this quaint Oklahoma New Year's tradition:
Gives new meaning to the term "buns of steel", eh?
Hat tip to Jack Hobson and his facebook friends.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Not quite how I remember it
I am a fanatic for the late lamented Unicorns. "Who will cut our hair when we're gone" is a classic of the 'aughts. Some of them are now in a good but not great group called Islands, and Islands have put out an awesome video with Micheal Cera.
Smells Like Clean Spirit
The Smell of Virtue: Clean Scents Promote Reciprocity and Charity
Katie Liljenquist, Chen-Bo Zhong & Adam Galinsky, Psychological Science, forthcoming
"Two experiments demonstrated that clean scents not only motivate clean behavior, but also promote virtuous behavior by increasing the tendency to reciprocate trust and to offer charitable help...The link from cleanliness to virtuous behavior appears to be a nonconscious one: in neither experiment did participants recognize an influence of scent on their behavior, and in Experiment 2, perceived cleanliness did not differ by condition nor correlate with the effects. These findings carry important implications for environmental regulation of behavior...By demonstrating that the association between morality and cleanliness is bidirectional, the current research identifies an unobtrusive way – a clean scent – to curb exploitation and promote altruism...The current findings suggest there is some truth to the claim that cleanliness is next to godliness; clean scents summon virtue, helping reciprocity prevail over greed, and charity over apathy."
(Nod to Kevin L)
Labels: articles to read
Just do it?
An interesting new NBER working paper by Aizenman and Marion (ungated version here), tries to figure out how much we will use inflation to reduce the debt to gdp ratio, which is predicted to hit 70, 80 and 100 percent in 2019 by the OMB, CBO and IMF respectively.
They argue that shorter debt maturities weigh against using inflation while increased debt holding by foreigners increases the attractiveness of using inflation and come up with a 5% inflation semi-prediction:
"When economic growth is stalled, the U.S. debt overhang may trigger an increase in inflation of about 5 percent for several years."
Go Ben, get busy.....????
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Here's an update on Jayson Williams:
How to make a bad impression
Say that you are ex-NBA player Jayson Williams. Your original murder trial partly cleared you, and now you are just chillin' waiting to be retried for reckless manslaughter.
Lord Acton was, and is, correct
Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immorality in Behavior
Joris Lammers, Diederik Stapel & Adam Galinsky
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Abstract: Five studies explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy, a situation
characterized by imposing strict moral standards on others but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself. In Experiment 1, compared to the powerless, the powerful condemned other people's cheating, while cheating more themselves. In Experiments 2-4, the powerful were more strict in judging others' moral transgressions but more lenient in judging their own transgressions. A final study found that the effect of power on moral hypocrisy depends on its legitimacy: When power was illegitimate, the moral hypocrisy effect not only disappeared but reversed, with the illegitimate powerful becoming more strict in judging their own than others' behavior. This pattern, which might be dubbed hypercrisy, was also found among low-power participants in Experiments 3 and 4. We discuss how patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy among the powerful and powerless can help perpetuate social inequality.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Best dancing in a music video
I've been thinking about this for a while and I have it narrowed down to two choices:
The first is this gem for the song "Praise You" by Norman Cook (Directed by Spike Jonze):
The second is this classic by OK Go:
What do y'all think? Which is your favorite? Or suggest another contender.
Economic Competence of the Parties
An excellent reason to trust Libertarians, because our party
is NEVER in power!
Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments
Alan Gerber & Gregory Huber
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 153-173
Abstract: Previous research shows that partisans rate the economy more favorably when
their party holds power. There are several explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.
Body art, deviance, and American college students
Jerome Koch, Alden Roberts, Myrna Armstrong & Donna Owen, Social Science Journal, forthcoming
Abstract: This research examines the relationship between body art (tattoos and
piercings) and deviance. With the increasing mainstream presence of visible tattoos and piercings among entertainers, athletes, and even in corporate boardrooms, we wonder the extent to which long-time enthusiasts and collectors regard the phenomenon as encroachment. We use sub-cultural identity theory to propose that individuals with increasing evidence of body art procurement will also report higher levels of deviant behavior in order to maintain and/or increase social distance from the mainstream. We tested this proposition by surveying 1753 American college students, asking them to
report their level of body art acquisition and their history of deviance. Results indicate that respondents with four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings, or piercings located in their nipples or genitals, were substantively and significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other illegal drugs, and a history of being arrested for a crime. Less pronounced, but still significant in many cases, was an increased propensity for those with higher incidence of body art to cheat on college work, binge drink, and report having had multiple sex partners in the course of their lifetime.
Tattoo and piercing as signals of biological quality
Slawomir Koziel, Weronika Kretschmer & Boguslaw Pawlowski, Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming
Abstract: Tattoos and non-conventional piercings are used in many societies. There are several social reasons for which people use these forms of body decorations (e.g., marking social status or signaling membership within a subculture). However, it is interesting why only some people within a group that uses body decoration as a badge of membership decide upon such decorations. Since both tattoos and piercings can present health risks (e.g., due to blood-borne disease transmission risk), we postulate that people who decide to have such a body decoration might have relatively higher biological quality and that tattoos/piercings can be an honest signal of genetic quality. The possible opposite hypothesis is the “attractiveness increase hypothesis,” according to which people use body decorations to increase their own physical attractiveness or to hide some shortcomings in their appearance (e.g., low body symmetry). To test these hypotheses, we compared body fluctuating asymmetry, which is considered a good measure of developmental stability, between individuals wearing tattoos and/or non-conventional piercings (n=116) and a control group (without such body decorations) (n=86). We found that majority of the absolute and relative fluctuating asymmetry indices had significantly lower values in individuals
with tattoos/piercings than in the control group. This effect was strongly driven by males. Higher body symmetry of the men having tattoo or piercing indicates that this type of body decoration in the western society can be related to the honest signal of biological quality only for men. We did not find support for the “attractiveness increase hypothesis” for either sex.
This all seems rather odd to me. "Multiple sex partners over the course of a lifetime" is a sign of deviance? Maybe multiple sex partners at the same time, sure, but not over a lifetime.
And tattoos and piercings are signs of higher biological quality? But then men of higher biological quality are more to have had multiple female sex partners, if women use this signal correctly. And then it's the tatoos that cause the multiple partners, not the "deviance" that leads men to have tattoos.
(Nod to Kevin L, who has multiple tattoo partners)
Your Hugo Chavez update
As academics around the world emerge from the holiday and shuffle back to work, I know that one question is foremost in their minds: What's Hugo Chavez been up to lately?
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Oops! Sorry, man. Here's a new computer for you. (Did they lose the other one?)
As is usually the case in situations like this, the TSA hasn't admitted to doing anything wrong, and in a letter to Elliott's attorney, simply states that his subpoena is "being withdraw [sic] as no longer necessary."
(Nod to Anonyman, who also notes that it seems odd that confiscation was even an issue in a civil case, before there was a hearing.)
(UPDATE: Shawn notes, in comments, that this lady had her laptop "blown up" by Israeli TSA. And, it appears to be true. Yike!)
Development: It's a lot funnier than you might think
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates.
2. Why your aid project won't work. For example:
Rich countries should open their markets to exports from developing countries. Therefore your aid project won’t work.
Rich countries do things which are very bad for poor countries, like erecting trade barriers, buying oil and enforcing intellectual property rights. This is unassailable proof that aid does not work.
3. Why your aid project will too work. Here's a taste:
Thousands of children die of X every day, so my project will work.
You may think my project to prevent/enhance/promote/incentivise/develop/reduce/empower X won’t work, but don’t you know that 1,000 children die of X every second (it’s a well established fact that Dambisa Moyo is now personally responsible for the death of every African child). Because so many people will die every day without our help, my project will work.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
GPS: Doom, or Lifesaver?
What is it with these people in Oregon? It happened again, like it happened before. 100 years ago this sort of behavior would have meant the end of that strain of the human family. After all, there are no lifeguards in the gene pool. And men are idiots.
On the other hand, I have mostly had the opposite problem, about using GPS. Usually it happens when I am riding with a woman (either the LMM, usually, but during the campaign my manager, Barbara, wife of frequent commenter Tom). I can't get the women to trust the thing enough.
The problem is that (many) men think in terms of a grid, with the car being a point in two dimensional space. North, South, East, West, that sort of thing. Women (many, not all) think in terms of executing a sequence of instructions: Go to Red Lobster, turn right, then go a ways and turn left before you get to that BP station with the giant yellow tire. Women (many, not all) seem disturbed if you violate the sequence of instructions, to take a "short cut." Men (basically all) love the idea of short-cuts, and are (almost always) wrong about it being shorter. So the skepticism of women, as in the two Oregon cases above, is well founded. Not saying one is better, just saying there really is a difference between man directions and woman directions. Like here.
Still....let me give an example on the other side. After the Charlotte debate on Oct 15, Barbara and I were heading back to our hotel rooms. "Bertha" (my name for the female GPS voice) said to turn left on a particular road, call it Smith Road. Barbara refused, because she didn't know that way. ("We have to go over to the Roy Rodgers, then cut behind the Bojangles, and go past the Kroger, and then take the next left...Course that Kroger isn't there anymore. But it used to be.")
After 20 minutes, we pass Smith Road again, this time coming in from our left. It had cut straight through, while we did a ten mile loop. Clearly, it would have been much shorter to blindly follow the GPS. Barbara: "I know, I know. It would have been shorter, but I didn't know that way!"
Bottom line: when it comes to campaign managers on the road, or wives anywhere, anywhere at all, just do what they say. You will all be happier.
(Nod to Anonyman for the Oregon link)
Somali pirates are the Alan Greenspans of Kenya!
It's true people, the Associated Press wouldn't lie:
NAIROBI, Kenya – Property prices in Nairobi are soaring, and Somali pirates are getting the blame.
The hike in real estate prices in the Kenyan capital has prompted a public outcry and a government investigation this month into property owned by foreigners. The investigation follows allegations that millions of dollars in ransom money paid to Somali pirates are being invested in Kenya, Somalia's southern neighbor and East Africa's largest economy.
"Pirates have money not only in Nairobi but also other places like Dubai, Djibouti and others," said Abdulle. "I have invested through my brother, who is representing me, in Nairobi. He's got a big shop that sells clothes and general merchandise, so my future lies there, not in the piracy industry."
You gotta love the forward thinking, eh? After all you can't spend your whole career in the piracy industy.
I resemble that remark!
Very funny story in the WSJ about how weird economists are.
Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.
Top 10 disasters of the 2009 Obama administration (in no particular order):
1. Cash for Clunkers
2. War escalation in Afghanistan
3. Giant government health care expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus package
6. Expansion of "state secrets" doctrine
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Geithner as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits
Top 10 disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration (in particular order):
1. Cash for Car Companies
2. War in Iraq
3. Giant Medicare expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus "rebate" checks
6. PATRIOT Act
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Paulson as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits
(Nod to Wes Benedict...)
Friday, January 01, 2010
The KPC approach for 2010...
Am Econ Assoc Meetings RAP VIDEO PREMIERE!
In 2010, whatever you do, don't welsh on Javaris!
This story is shocking even to this jaded old blogger:
NEW YORK (AP)—Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Javaris Crittenton(notes) drew guns on each other during a Christmas Eve locker room argument over a gambling debt, according to The New York Post.
Citing an anonymous source, the newspaper reports in Friday’s edition that the standoff was sparked when Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources tell the Post.
Labels: OK Corral
1994? Or 1964?
New Years Miracles
1. OU won a bowl game! Go Stoops!
Labels: Okie horn blowing
Thursday, December 31, 2009
I can! Canoe?
Shareholder Value Destruction
Shareholder Value Destruction following the Tiger Woods Scandal
Christopher Knittel & Victor Stango, University of California Working Paper, December 2009
Abstract: We estimate that in the days beginning with Tiger Woods' recent car accident and ending with his announced "indefinite leave" from golf, shareholders of
companies that Mr. Woods endorses lost $5-12 billion in wealth. We measure the losses relative to both the entire stock market and a set of competitor firms. Because most of the firms that Mr. Woods endorses are either large or owned by large parent companies, the losses are extremely widespread. Mr. Woods' top five sponsors (Accenture, Nike, Gillette, Electronic Arts and Gatorade) lost 2-3 percent of their aggregate market value after the accident, and his core sports-related sponsors EA, Nike and PepsiCo (Gatorade) lost over four percent. The pace of losses slowed by December 11, the date on which Mr. Woods announced his leave from golf, but as late as December 17 shareholders had not recovered their losses.
Labels: articles to read
The LMM Dances with Neanderbill
Rowland S. Howard has died!
People it has been a very bad week for the music world. On the heels of Vic Chesnutt, Rowland Howard has died of liver cancer.
Stupid Human Tricks
Article from the Wilmington Star News (I was in Wilmington to do a radio interview on THE BIG TALKER)
Man arrested day after leading Wilmington PD on chase through town
A man was arrested Tuesday night after he led police on a chase in Wilmington the night before, officials said. Johnnie Mack Shingler, 23, faces charges including speeding to elude arrest, driving the wrong way on a divided highway and driving without a license, according to Sgt. Matt Hardee of N.C. Highway Patrol.
Shingler is from the state of New York.
On Monday, Hardee said, troopers joined a pursuit, which was started around midnight Monday by Wilmington police who spotted a 1972 Plymouth Valiant driving without a license plate, Hardee said. The chase went from Wilmington, down Carolina Beach Road and toward Monkey Junction. At one point, Hardee said, the fleeing driver drove north in the southbound lanes of College Road. Rather than following, troopers tracked the driver from the other side of the road. Eventually, the driver ditched his car off of Trombay Drive, ran into the woods and escaped.
Authorities found pictures of Shingler and his birth certificate in the car, Hardee said. – David Reynolds
1. A 1972 Plymouth Valiant? REALLY?
2. The guy left his picture and birth certificate in the car. IN. THE. CAR.
3. Monkey Junction?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Gas Me With a Spoon: Three Articles....
Pain at the Pump: The Differential Effect of Gasoline Prices on New and Used Automobile Markets
Meghan Busse, Christopher Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, NBER Working Paper, December 2009
Abstract: The dramatic increase in gasoline prices from close to $1 in 1999 to $4 at their peak in 2008 made it much more expensive for consumers to operate an automobile. In this paper we investigate whether consumers have adjusted to gasoline price changes by altering what automobiles they purchase and what prices they pay. We investigate these effects in both new and used car markets. We find that a $1 increase in gasoline price changes the market shares of the most and least fuel-efficient quartiles of new cars by +20% and -24%, respectively. In contrast, the same gasoline price increase changes the market shares of the most and least fuel-efficient quartiles of used cars by only +3% and -7%, respectively. We find that changes in gasoline prices also change the relative prices of cars in the most fuel-efficient quartile and cars in the least fuel-efficient quartile: for new cars the relative price increase for fuel-efficient cars is $363 for a $1 increase in gas prices; for used cars it is $2839. Hence the adjustment of equilibrium market shares and prices in response to changes in usage cost varies dramatically between new and used markets. In the new car market, the adjustment is primarily in market shares, while in the used car market, the adjustment is primarily in prices. We argue that the difference in how gasoline costs affect new and used automobile markets can be explained by differences in the supply characteristics of new and used cars.
Qualitative Effects of Cash-for-Clunkers Programs
Eugenio Miravete & Maria Moral Rincón
University of Texas Working Paper, October 2009
We document how automobile scrappage incentives similar to the '2009 Car Allowance Rebate System' (CARS) may influence drivers' tastes in favor of fuel-efficient automobiles. Between 1994 and 2000 the market share of diesel automobiles doubled after Spanish government sponsored two scrappage programs. We show that demand for diesel automobiles was not driven only by better mileage; that gasoline and diesel models became closer substitutes over time; and that automobile manufacturers reduced their markups on gasoline automobiles as their demand decreased. These programs simply accelerated a change of preference that was already on its way when they were implemented.
Malapportionment, Gasoline Taxes, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Lawrence Broz & Daniel Maliniak
University of California Working Paper, November 2009
Gasoline taxes vary widely among industrialized countries, as does support for the United Nations’ effort to curtail the use of fossil fuels to address the climate change problem. We argue that malapportionment of the electoral system affects both the rate at which governments tax gasoline and the extent to which governments participate in global efforts to ameliorate climate change. Malapportionment results in a “rural bias” such that the political system disproportionately represents rural voters. Since rural voters in industrialized countries rely more heavily on fossil fuels than urban voters, our prediction is that malapportioned political systems will have lower gasoline taxes, and less commitment to climate change amelioration, than systems with equitable representation of constituents. We find that malapportionment is negatively related to both gasoline taxes and support for the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (where “support” is measured as the duration of the spell between the signing of the Protocol and ratification by the domestic legislature).
Nod to Kevin L, who walks)
Labels: articles to read
Sneak peek at Andy Roddick's tennis wardrobe for 2010
Izod has really outdone themselves!!
Labels: I love Twitter
Flip Saunders has had enough!
Flip went medieval on his team's sorry ass after the Wizards lost to my Thunder last night. Here are some selected quotes:
Spots will be open. If guys don’t like it, that’s fine but that’s the way it’s going to be,”
“Guys want to come out of the zone and play man-to-man, but they can’t guard anybody. I can go out there on that floor and take anybody on our team on one-on-one at 52 years old and drive right around them,” Saunders said. “We’ve got to wake up. As I told them: Don’t think it can’t get any worse, because it can. There’s no question it can. We’ve got to have a sense of urgency.”
Montesquieu famously had this amazingly racist explanation of the different "characters" of nations. And it was based on....weather! Weather causes "certain" people (for the racist M, that would be "dark" people) to be lazy and no 'count. Check this:
Spirit of the Laws: Book XIV. Of Laws in Relation to the Nature of the Climate
1. General Idea. If it be true that the temper of the mind and the passions of the heart are extremely different in different climates, the laws ought to be in relation both to the variety of those passions and to the variety of those tempers.
2. Of the Difference of Men in different Climates. Cold air constringes the extremities of the external fibres of the body; this increases their elasticity, and favours the return of the blood from the extreme parts to the heart. It contracts those very fibres; consequently it increases also their force. On the contrary, warm air relaxes and lengthens the extremes of the fibres; of course it diminishes their force and elasticity.
People are therefore more vigorous in cold climates. Here the action of the heart and the reaction of the extremities of the fibres are better performed, the temperature of the humours is greater, the blood moves more freely towards the heart, and reciprocally the heart has more power. This superiority of strength must produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority, that is, less desire of revenge; a greater opinion of security, that is, more frankness, less suspicion, policy, and cunning.
In short, this must be productive of very different tempers. Put a man into a close, warm place, and for the reasons above given he will feel a great faintness. If under this circumstance you propose a bold enterprise to him, I believe you will find him very little disposed towards it; his present weakness will throw him into despondency; he will be afraid of everything, being in a state of total incapacity. The inhabitants of warm countries are, like old men, timorous; the people in cold countries are, like young men, brave.
Now, unbelievably, check this!
The Income–Temperature Relationship in a Cross-Section of Countries and its Implications for Predicting the Effects of Global Warming
John Horowitz, Environmental and Resource Economics, December 2009, Pages 475-493
Abstract: Hotter countries are poorer on average. This paper attempts to separate the historical and contemporaneous components of this income–temperature relationship. Following ideas by Acemoglu et al., we use colonial mortality data to account for the historical role of temperature since colonial mortality was highly correlated with countries’ average temperatures. The remaining income–temperature gradient, after colonial mortality is accounted for, is most likely contemporaneous. This contemporaneous effect can be used to estimate the consequences of global warming. We predict that a 1°C temperature increase across all countries will cause a decrease of 3.8% in world GDP. This prediction is robust across functional forms and an alternative method for separating historical effects.
Wow! Global warming allows lefties to be racists! Yikes!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Doing the least with the most
Quien es lo mas Loco?
People, who the craziest? Janet Napolitano or Al Queda?
Monday, December 28, 2009
Starry, Starry Bush Roads
Anonyman writes, "They followed a forest road for 35 miles?!? GPS doesn't seem like their biggest problem."
About this, I mean.
What's your favorite thing about this incident? Here are two of MY favorite things:
1. Thinking about the conversation the LMM and I would have if I got us that lost in the mountains, for three days, using GPS. "STOP and ask for directions!" "Ask WHO? Besides, I know where we are. Look at this map!" "I told you not to...." and "I think there are some lights up ahead," and so on.
2. The woman's name is Starry Bush-Rhoads. No, really. They got lost for three nights in the mountains on bush roads, and her name is....well, you see my point.
Labels: We get letters
The Grand Game!
Sometimes here at KPC someone sends a link that is just SO sweet that we have to examine it, savor it, and then leave it by the side of the road to rot.
While Sweden has a large state and well developed public services, in Japan government social expenditure makes up an unusually small part (compared to other OECD countries) of its Gross National Income. The same contrast exists among US states - even between neighbouring states like Vermont and New Hampshire. Vermont takes the big government route and New Hampshire the small. But despite the contrast in how greater equality is achieved, Sweden, Japan, Vermont and New Hampshire all enjoy good health, lower rates of most social problems - i.e. all the benefits of greater equality.
Here is just such a link, a set of "studies" so noisome, so nonsensical... well, enjoy. Here is the "evidence" page. This is a rare combination of almost painful self-importance and bad social science.
J. Gruber joins the dark side
People, did you know that any money you actually get to keep is simply a temporary tax break generously allowed to you by a beneficent and magnanimous government?
"So in the end, we have a policy that provides the necessary financing to pay for subsidies to low-income families; induces employers to buy more cost-effective health insurance, lowering U.S. health-care spending; offsets a bias in our tax system that favors more expensive insurance; and raises wages by $223 billion over 10 years."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I have written about nachas before. But about sports.
Today, I had to take the YYM down to the Urgent Care Clinic, because he had pink eye, and we needed some antibiotic eyedrops.
On the way home, we were talking about theories of the origin of the moon, and the problem of caclulating mass, and LaGrangian points (I had not heard of these...)
The YYM is quiet for a minute, and then says, "I was wondering the other day about kinetic energy of a bullet. So I calculated the kinetic energy of a .50 caliber bullet from a M-82".
(I'm thinking, okay, not so hard, you just need estimates of the mass of the bullet, and the muzzle velocity....Still, very cool that he would actually try to calculate it!)
He goes on, "And I wondered how fast a small car, say a Smart Car, would have to be going to have the same kinetic energy."
He looks over. "About 16 miles per hour. A .50 caliber round from an M-82 sniper rifle has the same kinetic energy, at least when it leaves the barrel, as an empty Smart Car traveling at 16 miles per hour."
This, for a father, produces a flood of pure hormonal nachas. To think that this is an interesting question is pretty great. To be able to solve for it is a sign that he actually has learned something in physics. And to bring it up in casual conversation, as a random factoid, ensures his admission to the club of geek-nerds.
I'm so proud....
(UPDATE: I haven't checked the algebra. He may have gotten it wrong. But it SOUNDS about right, in order of magnitude)