Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Sunday, February 28, 2010
How interesting. Restaurant refuses to serve customer because customer does not tip.
1. If a tip is required, is it a tip?
2. Can restaurants refuse to serve someone, based on the refusal to pay a voluntary gratuity? After all, the restaurant could add 18% to its price, and give the extra money to the servers/table chef (it's one of those "Japanese Steakhouse" places with a mostly Latino staff).
3. Isn't a petition, and public scorning, the right thing for the customer to do, if she disagrees.
2. Yes, but then I think a private restaurant can refuse to serve anyone, at any time, for any reason. What part of "private" don't you understand?
(Nod to Anonyman, who even tips at Locopop, because he is washed in the milk of human kindness, even though that took a LOT of milk)
Pay the Pfand, Lower Crime Rates!
Externalities from Recycling Laws: Evidence from Crime Rates
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming
Abstract: This paper tests whether laws that encourage bottle recycling and also increase the labor incomes of low-wage workers have the additional effect of reducing petty crime rates. A simple choice theory model of crime participation and labor supply suggests that low-wage workers may substitute time and effort away from illegal activity to legal and remunerative recycling activity. Between 1973 and 2001, eleven states and one city enacted bottle recycling laws, and this paper exploits the variation in the year of implementation of the bottle laws to measure and test for any reduction in crime rates. The results show that city-level petty crime rates in bottle law states are on average 11% lower than city-level petty crime rates in non-bottle law states. Although the primary positive benefits of recycling income go to low-income individuals, the unexpected secondary benefit of lower crime rates affects both high- and low-income individuals.
It is important to allow everyone to share the religious experience of recycling. Except during "quiet time."
(Nod to Kevin L)
Labels: articles to read
Nolan Chart, Conservatives, Vegans, and Cheeseburgers
Angry Alex, on the Nolan Chart:
It says I'm a Libertarian. *Stands up in a room full of people and says 'My name is Alex and I'm a Libertarian and a recovering NeoCon.' I then duck a bottle chucked at me by Mike Huckabee.
Listening to Mike Huckabee preach the merits of conservatism is like hearing someone preach the virtues of a vegetarian diet while stuffing down a bacon double cheeseburger. Just sayin'
Labels: We get letters
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Starbury is gettin' it done in China
I really didn't think he'd stick it out, but Stephon Marbury is tearing up the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), with as much passion as David Stern is showing tearing up his CBA (collective bargaining agreement).
Friday, February 26, 2010
Glenn Beck--NOLAN CHART GOD
OMG, OMFG! Glenn Beck actually did the Nolan Chart on the air.
I was riding an exercise bike at the gym, and saw it up on one of the screens. I started pointing and grunting loudly. No one noticed, though, because I often do this.
But, this time....how cool! (EXCEPT THAT IT CRASHED THE SERVER. YOU CAN'T GET IN TO THE NOLAN CHART SITE).
Try this, instead.
Labels: Libertarian Party
Bob Lee's Account
My man Bob Lee gives his account of the "meeting" we had with Erskine Bowles.
I pass it on without comment, except to say that it's all true.
There are two short movies attached to this post, one to document my big self sitting next to Erskine (which no doubt means that he has no future in electoral politics, in spite of his considerable talent as a finance and budgets guy), and the other to document the young lovelies in whom Bob Lee expressed a paternal interest (a health concern, since they had all had navelectomies). As for me, I never noticed the cheerleaders, being so horrified by the uniforms of the (so-called) players out on the floor for UNC.
Oh, yes, and there was a game.....
Thursday, February 25, 2010
"You have the charisma of a damp rag, and the appearance of a low-grade bank clark."
Nobody can ream you a new one like a Brit MP. Even a Brit MEP.
Well played, sir.
(Thanks to Tommy the Gotta Be Brit)
Birds, Monty Hall, and Nothing to Sneeze At
Are birds smarter than mathematicians? Pigeons (Columba livia) perform optimally on a version of the Monty Hall Dilemma
Walter Herbranson & Julia Schroeder
Journal of Comparative Psychology, February 2010, Pages 1-13
Abstract: The “Monty Hall Dilemma” (MHD) is a well known probability puzzle in which a player tries to guess which of three doors conceals a desirable prize. After an initial choice is made, one of the remaining doors is opened, revealing no prize. The player is then given the option of staying with their initial guess or switching to the other unopened door. Most people opt to stay with their initial guess, despite the fact that switching doubles the probability of winning. A series of experiments investigated whether pigeons (Columba livia), like most humans, would fail to maximize their expected winnings in a version of the MHD. Birds completed multiple trials of a standard MHD, with the three response keys in an operant chamber serving as the three doors and access to mixed grain as the prize. Across experiments, the probability of gaining reinforcement for switching and staying was manipulated, and birds adjusted their probability of switching and staying to approximate the optimal strategy. Replication of the procedure with human participants showed that humans failed to adopt optimal strategies, even with extensive training.
Sneezing in Times of a Flu Pandemic: Public Sneezing Increases Perception of
Unrelated Risks and Shifts Preferences for Federal Spending
Spike Lee, Norbert Schwarz, Danielle Taubman & Mengyuan Hou
Psychological Science, forthcoming
"Exposure to a mundane event (a sneezing person) related to a salient health threat (a flu pandemic) increased the perception of a substantively related risk (contracting a major disease) and shifted policy preferences from other current priorities (green jobs) to the production of flu vaccines. Moreover, the heightened perception of risk generalized to threats that have no substantive relationship with influenza (heart disease and dying from crime or accidents). Such generalization across hazards is assumed to reflect reliance on current feelings in intuitive risk assessment (Johnson & Tversky, 1983; Loewenstein et al., 2001). Debriefing suggested that people have no insight into these processes; they assume that exposure to a sneeze may influence their perception of flu risk, but not their perception of
unrelated risks. Future research may fruitfully address the assumed affective mediation of the observed effects, their persistence over time, and the likely role of media attention to the hazard associated with the event, which was not manipulated in the present studies."
(Nod to Kevin L)
Labels: articles to read
Dan Lee: Mixed Martial Artist
Where to put your money, non-Mungowitz edition
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The End of Rickrolling?
At first, it appeared that Rickrolling was going to be harder.
But, as the update at bottom points out:
UPDATE: Rejoice! Google says that the Rickroll was flagged mistakenly: "With 20 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we count on our community members to know our Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them," a statement from the company read. "We review all flagged content quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the guidelines, we remove it, on average in under an hour. We also have a team that is dedicated to identifying and removing spam from YouTube. Occasionally, a video flagged by users or identified by our spam team is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring video or videos that had been removed."
That's pretty plausible. With all the annoyances of the Rickroll prank, I bet more than a few people flag it as spam every day.
So, if you have never been Rickrolled....here. Turn it up.
And if you want to Rickroll Like Teen Spirit.....it's your lucky day.
(Nod to Angry Alex, who probably is angry because he got Rickrolled once too often. A man can only take so much....)
Giving a talk in Denver on Friday. Working on polishing my presentation, but it will probably turn out like this:
YIKES! Run while you can.
Tomorrow night, Thursday, at 10:30 pm EST, the clock will go below 3,000!
That is, I will have less than 3,000 hours of remaining Chairitude.
Please do raise a glass of your favorite adult beverage, even if it is milk, and remember back with Oliver Wendell Holmes: Three terms of an imbecile is enough.
Markets in everything: How to laugh in Oklahoma edition
Oklahoma now has our very own "laughter coach"; an individual named Tyler Slater.
Labels: H. L. Menken was right
Bumper Sticker Rorschach Test
Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli are said to have used “ambiguous designs” to test the creativity of art students by asking the student to describe what they saw. Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach used symmetric ink blots to reveal subjects’ unguarded thoughts.
We have a bumper sticker on the Lincoln that seems to be a Rorschach test, also.
What I mean is that each person's reaction to the bumper sticker actually reveals more about that person than anything else.
Last night, the LMM went to the grocery. Came home, and we found this tucked under the windshield wiper. Now, we appreciate the sentiment. And it's nice it's written in purple crayon, on the back of fast food restaurant "color me" sheet; clearly the writer is a mom, with a young child. Thanks, ma'am. We are glad we are not alone!
But.... It should be noted that the bumper sticker was put on that car in 2004, and the bumper sticker refers to the Patriot Act, the federalized War on Drugs, the War in Iraq, and so on. It is quite true that the bumper sticker applies equally to the Obama administration. But I'm not sure we would get the "great american" moniker if our fan knew the actual origins of the sentiment expressed.
Dr. Rohrschach would be proud.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Tommy the Driving Brit Visits Stata
College Stata-tion may never be the same....
Labels: people and places
Fat, Populist, and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Politics, Son
For some blue-state conservatives who honed their political skills by continuously debating liberal peers, mingling with attendees presented unique challenges. Jesse Eiseman and Tyler Trumbach, who came from Columbia University to attend the conference, interrupted a spirited debate over the fall of the Roman Empire to complain to The Daily Beast about the anti-intellectual bent of fellow conservatives at CPAC. 'They have an opinion, but they don't give evidence to back it up, they don't use logic,' Trumbach said. Eiseman added, 'In a lot of ways I feel closer to left-wing intellectuals...I love the populists, I agree with them on many things, but I am scared of what happens when people stop thinking.' The two quickly took to hiding their name badges showing their college in order to avoid ridicule after speakers trashed academic elites onstage. 'There are a lot of anti-Ivy Leaguers around,' Eiseman said....For all the differences between them, however, most attendees said they felt little tension with their fellow conservatives on a personal level.
“We respect each other's viewpoints,” Travis Korson, a George Washington University student, said. “You just don't talk about things you disagree [about].”
[Benjamin Sarlin, The Daily Beast]
If having been to college is embarrassing, the "movement" has a problem. (Nod to Kevin L)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Exteme Home Makeover, Okie style
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Repeat after me: Opportunity Cost
Holy half-wit, Batman! This person has zero concept of opportunity cost.
Hard to tell, exactly, but I think the implied value of this person's time is about $6 per hour. So, if you are making minimum wage, by all means take his advice.
Otherwise, read this, and stop shopping once you have to make a new reservation for $1 decrements in plane fare.
Markets in everything: Lactation edition
People, meet Freda Rosenfeld, the "breast whisperer".
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Video on Cit United V FEC: Munger v. Nichol
This is so great in so many ways. Thank you Mr. Reuters!
"How does Germany have the cheek to denounce us over our finances when it has still not paid compensation for Greece's war victims?" Margaritis Tzimas, of the main opposition New Democracy party, told parliament. "There are still Greeks weeping for their lost brothers".
So, I am sure you don't need any help in breaking this down, but seriously, WTF???
Greek public finances are shot because of the lost interest on German reparations?
But the very best part of all this is that Germany HAS ALREADY PAID REPARATIONS to Greece!
From the same article:
In 1960, Germany paid Greece about 115 million deutschemarks to compensate victims of Nazi persecution.
Oh, Greece, is there anything you won't stoop to?
Can You Judge a Sleaze Book by Its Title?
The Texas billionaire’s pregnant bride: An evolutionary interpretation of
romance fiction titles
Anthony Cox & Maryanne Fisher, Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, December 2009, Pages 386-401
Abstract: In this paper, we focus on the titles of popular modern romance novels,
published by Harlequin Enterprises, in order to ascertain whether these books pertain to women’s sexspecific mating interests. Presumably, market demands have shaped the titles of Harlequins, such that books with titles that reflect topics of interest to women will sell the best. Two forms of analysis were undertaken to investigate whether the titles are in agreement with predictions informed by evolutionary psychology. First, we identified the most frequently occurring words to determine the most prevalent issues addressed by titles. Second, we performed a qualitative analysis to identify the most popular, recurring themes that appear in the titles. Our results indicate that Harlequin romance novel titles are congruent with women’s sex-specific mating strategies, which is surmised to be the reason for their continued international success.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Econ Karma gonna get you.
Wow, talk about bad timing. People could the entire Euro sovereign debt crisis be the universe's way of sticking up for its most favored sons and daughters (economists)?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The Duke Lacrosse case gets a new twist
The accuser in the case, Crystal Mangum, was arrested in Durham last night:
Police charged her with attempted first-degree murder, five counts of arson, assault and battery, communicating threats, three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, injury to personal property, identity theft and resisting a public officer.
A judge set her bond at $1 million during a Thursday morning court appearance.
This seems like a bit of overkill, as no one was actually harmed, the "arson" is from burning her significant other's clothes in the bathtub, and the "identity theft" is from giving the police a false name when they arrived at the scene. The child abuse is because there were three children in the house at the time of the domestic dispute.
Oh, Durham PD, will you ever do anything right?
I can tell you this right now, If a Durham cop ever tries to arrest me, I will resist to the best of my abilities!
Just What I Needed
Anonyman writes that the CORRECT answer for investment, and monetary policy, in my Fox Business fiasco, would have been something like this. So, let me address the gold / silver / fiat money question.
I have just never understood why there is so much concern over currency, as if this were the number one problem. No question that a fiat money does in fact give the government enormous power. But the currency is more a reflection of power the state already has, rather than a cause of it. Three short points:
1. If the currency is "backed," or convertible, then the government has to store a gigantic amount of physical bullion as a reserve. But then the government can easily devalue the currency by changing the official, as opposed to black market, exchange rate of dollars for gold. There is no protection there, none. And you can't fix the exchange rate, because the value of gold as a commodity and investment in its own right fluctuates, a lot. That means the actual value of dollars would fluctuate with a commodity. That's not stability, that's giving government more power than it had before.
2. If the currency is actually made up of a certain amount of gold or silver alloy, then again its value would fluctuate with the price of the commodity. Worse, it would be heavy, inconvenient, and would wear out over time, wasting tons of gold each year rubbed off on the inside pockets of consumers. How would credit cards work? Very little of our money is currency. You can't possibly have real metal money, because that would (again) be more of a restriction on liberty than the current system.
3. We could get rid of fiat money altogether. Just private money. But the transactions costs of doing that, worrying about inflation and fluctuating exchange rates between different private currencies, would be enormous.
Here's the thing: the government doesn't control the money supply NOW. If you have a credit card, or several, you can create large amounts of new money, all by yourself. Anytime you secure a new line of credit, and actually spend it.... there goes the money supply. And if the government buys bonds, in "open market operations," that doesn't mean that banks will lend. The velocity of money is endogenous, as we have seen recently as credit dried up and people (and banks) held much larger cash balances in the forms of savings and reserves.
Again, I'm not denying that a fiat money creates enormous power for the state. Of course it does. But the war on drugs, the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, restrictions on the right to marry, restrictions on hiring, regulations and taxes on small business, involuntary annexation....I could go on. Why would you start with money, as the number one problem?
And if you DO think that money is the problem, why not work on fractional reserve banking, derivatives, restrictions on competition in insurance, and so on? The obsession with the currency.... I don't get it.
More on Google case
More info on Google case, dismissed for lack of standing.....
The decision itself
Box Cutter Didn't Help Much
Robber with box cutter found hiding inside a box.
They'll never think of looking for me here!
Bad Day on TV
I have blogged before about television. It's a bad gig. Don't like it, and clearly not good at it.
But, got the call from FOX: come on the show, and talk about Greece. So I gave my thoughts on the situation in Greece. (Okay, these are likely Angus's thoughts, but I may have gotten them right. I tried to listen carefully.)
1. People are fleeing the Euro, which makes the fall self-perpetuating. But Euro seemed stable just last summer, as recently as September, in fact rose against dollar all summer. Does instability matter, within such a large area? After all, within EU everything is in Euros. That's the advantage of a currency union. (Answer: Yes, it matters. EU depends on imports of most raw materials, especially petroleum. If the Euro falls, it will actually help German economy, and France to lesser extent. But the problem is not a decline in the Euro, but rather break-up of the currency union. The main problem is POLITICAL, not ECONOMIC. The only way to save the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) is to take actual money away from the larger nations and prop up the financial systems. Technically possible, but what is in it for the big players, France, Germany, not clear why they would pay for bad policies in PIGS. Greece is small, and could be propped up. A welfare state to pay for poor folks is one thing. But paying for the lies and fake accounting of the Greek government, in the aftermath of the Olympic fiasco, is quite another.)
2. Could this kind of meltdown happen in US? (Answer: Strangely, less likely now, though US is sucking pretty hard. The only main rivals for international currency of choice are the dollar and euro. Dollar is in trouble, because of huge deficits, accumulated debt. US may lose its credit rating, as threat of default becomes real. Problem is that the debt, denominated in dollars, can really only be exchanged for euros, or euro-denominated assets of some kind, if you want to sell dollars, or dollar-denominated assets, on secondary markets. Amazingly, it is STILL better to park your funds in dollars, and US government bonds, than in most other places, especially (post-Greece) in Euros. Problem is that there are huge, truly huge, amounts of cash on the sidelines. People are looking for a safe haven, and also for some kind of return. US rates are so low that investors are getting no return. But the Euro collapse on markets, and political instability in Europe, actually mean that US is somewhat protected in the short run. BUT IT WON'T LAST. Level of US debt is not a problem, but the rate of increase IS a problem. If Asian countries sitting on cash mountain get out of dollars, the effects would be catastrophic. We could see large inflation, and high real interest rates, within three years. In the best case scenario, by 2020 80% of US federal budget will be spent on entitlements and debt service. We have given up all our room for maneuver. One more crisis, and the US might default on its debt. Combined with EU problems, could actually cause worldwide financial meltdown. We are looking at 1932, not 2009, as the worst case scenario.)
Anyway, I hear back from the producer. Neil Cavuto, host at FOX, is interested in hearing how the US might turn out like Greece, not how Greece going down saves the US bacon in the short run. (Here's Neil, in action on Fox)
Sure, I can do that. There are parallels, absolutely, and the fact that US has an independent monetary authority could make things more dangerous. After all, Greece can't devalue the drachma, because they use euros. Their "sovereign" (as if you can call the Greek government anything but a kleptocracy) debt would normally be devalued by one of the two big economic oxidizers, currency devaluation or inflation (one is an exchange rate change, the other is increase in money supply, but their effects are identical). Greece can't do either, and so the pressure builds.... Anyway, the parallel is an easy story to tell.
1. US is on path to fundamental change in the size and role of government. It has ALREADY HAPPENED. By 2020, under the best circumstances, 80% of federal budget will be service on debt and entitlement payments. We have built a fiscal straitjacket. Let me emphasize: it's true NOW, already. (This is more or less straight Angus, plagiarized, or as we say when we look at my c.v., "coauthored.")
2. There are two options available to the US that is not available to PIGS: Monetary inflation, and currency devaluation. PIGS are members of EU, and so have no independent monetary policy. Problem is that if US inflates, that is de facto default on debt. Catastrophic for world economy. We could bankrupt ourselves, ending ability to borrow, by inflating. Result would be double digit interest rates for years, with real rates on the order of three percent, in order to service new debt. We can't inflate our way out of all of it. But given that our annual deficits are now 10% of GDP, inflation may start to seem attractive.
3. Alternative: Look at Greece, because that is our future. Explosion in euro-denominated debt, strikes, high unemployment, and government increasingly controlling financial and investment decisions of private firms. We think it can't happen, but we are on the steep part of a slippery slope. US debt/GDP ratio will approach 1. Our bonds have shaky ratings. And our taxes are going to go mostly to finance pensions, bailouts, and deficits. Instead of investing in the young, and the talented, we are going to invest in the old, and the bankrupt. Don't be smug, because not only could the Greek nightmare happen here--unless something changes, it will, within the next decade. Look at it this way: The EU limit for annual deficit as a percent of GDP? 3%, no more. Current level in Greece, so large that people are going nuts? 11% What about the US? Last year 9%, this year and for the next five years: 10%+.
Anyway, I do the interview. We go in order: Donald Trump, John Sununu, Mike Munger (one of these things is not like the other song) Neil is kind enough to let me answer the question, at length, drawing out the parallels between Greece and US deficits, and consequences. I do get to use my one prepared zinger: We used to make cars, and other things people wanted to buy. But right now, the only export keeping the US alive is.... debt! Our number one export is debt. If people stop buying that, we are hammered.
So, Neil asks, "But isn't the fact that Greece is pulling down the Euro actually HELPING the US? I mean, the only choices for currencies are euros or dollars, right?"
Since this had been my original claim, the one the producer had said not to make, I was somewhat stumped. Neil went on to ask about where to put money, where to invest, if my claims were true. The one thing I know for certain is that I am not qualified to give investment advice. So I filibustered, Neil got pissed, interrupted, and repeated his question: "Professor, professor, you didn't understand my question. I said, where should we invest? If you know so much, what is the solution?" That's pretty much where things ended.
I am going to go hide in the bathtub. I hate television.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Some Links: Do the Hoaxie-Pokesie
Some links. No rhyme, no reason, but some links.
1. Dean Smith wants terminal groin. His neighbor, John Edwards, already has one.
2. A remarkably successful hoax, and my attempt to put the hammer down (P. 3). But I have to give the OP credit: it worked beyond all expectations. Well done, lad(dette).
3. "Do employers discriminate by gender? A field experiment in female-dominated
occupations," Alison Booth & Andrew Leigh, Economics Letters, forthcoming. Abstract: We test for gender discrimination by sending fake CVs to apply for entry-level jobs. Female candidates are more likely to receive a callback, with the difference being largest in occupations that are more female-dominated.
From some dude allegedly named Glenn Thrush:
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is retiring, but he's not the retiring type, ridiculing congressional job creation efforts on "The Early Show."
"If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months," Bayh said.
A senior House Democratic aide:
“It is hard to stomach lectures from Sen. Bayh on Jobs. For most Americans, if they were as unproductive in their jobs as Bayh has been in his, they wouldn’t have the luxury of quitting — they would be fired.”
Awesome! Can I get a Kaboom?
It's never too early to say I told you so
So last night was game one of the Caron Butler error, whoops I mean era, for Dallas.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Are we STANDING for this?
Lost the STOP GOOGLE! suit. Darn.
And, on a strange technicality. Turns out I did not have "standing" to sue.
In other words, it's my money (or part of it). It's state policy, and I live in the state. But you can't sue.
Note that this is NOT sovereign immunity, saying no one could sue the state. This is just that no one can sue the state. Get it? Neither do I...
(UPDATE: Anonyman shares this wisdom.... Think of standing like this: Your spouse wakes up and comes down stairs for coffee, she looks at you with an icy stare and says that in her dream you asked her to participate in a freaky three-way, and she's ticked at you because of her dream. You can now respond that since you were not a party to the dream, she does not have standing to be mad at you.
I'm sure it will work like a charm.
Oh, yeah. THAT will definitely work...)
Yes the Senate is broken (but not in the way you might think)
We are now awash in pleas to "fix the broken Senate", with particular emphasis on getting rid of the filibuster.
Envy, Altruism, and the International Distribution of Trade Protection
Xiaobo Lü, Kenneth Scheve & Matthew Slaughter
NBER Working Paper, January 2010
Abstract: One important puzzle in international political economy is why lower-earning and less-skilled intensive industries tend to receive relatively high levels of trade protection. This pattern of protection holds even in low-income countries in which less-skilled labor is likely to be the relatively abundant factor of production and therefore would be expected in many standard political-economy frameworks to receive relatively low, not high, levels of protection. We propose and model one possible explanation: that individual aversion to inequality — both envy and altruism — lead to systematic differences in support for trade protection across industries, with sectors employing lower-earning workers more intensively being relatively preferred recipients for trade protection. We conduct original survey experiments in China and the United States and provide strong evidence that individual policy opinions about sector-specific trade protection depend on the earnings of workers in the sector. We also present structural estimates of the influence of envy and altruism on sector-specific trade policy preferences. Our estimates indicate that both envy and altruism influence support for trade protection in the United States and that altruism influences policy opinions in China.
Estimates of the Trade and Welfare Effects of NAFTA
Lorenzo Caliendo & Fernando Parro
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2009
Abstract: In this paper we build into a Ricardian model the role of trade in intermediate inputs, sectoral linkages and differing productivity levels across sectors. The model can be used for both ex-ante and ex-post trade policy evaluation. We also propose a new method to estimate sectoral trade elasticities. Estimation requires only trade and tariff data and does not require the assumption of bilaterally symmetric trade costs. With the model and estimates of sectoral trade elasticities for the year 1993, we evaluate the trade effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We do so by incorporating into the model the change in tariffs from 1993 to 2005 to calculate the implied changes in exports and imports. We compare these calculated changes to their observed counterparts and find that the model matches the observed outcomes well. We find that as a consequence of the tariff reductions, real wages increased in all NAFTA countries. Mexico had the largest gains, while Canada and the United States gained relatively more from trade liberalization with the rest of the world than from trade liberalization within NAFTA over the sample period.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Monday, February 15, 2010
another one bites the dust
Man, people. Democratic politicians are, how shall I put this politely, PUSSWEILLERS!!
The Grand Game!
It's been a while. But the Grand Game is back! It turns out that the folks who run England's criminal justice system would prefer to prosecute homeowners who try to defend themselves. It makes some sense, I have to admit. Homeowners can't run, and the state can hold them hostage because the state controls title and transfer of title.
David Cameron has stoked the row over the prosecution of ‘have a go heroes’ by saying that burglars leave their human rights at the door when they break into a property.... The moment a burglar steps over your threshold and invades your property with all the threat that gives to you, your family and your livelihood, I think they leave their human rights outside,” he said.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has criticised the... proposal, saying that the current law for householders accused of attacking intruders: “works very well”.
Last month, Munir Hussain, a businessman, was freed from prison on appeal after being jailed for using a cricket bat to batter an intruder who had broken into his home and tied his family up, leaving the burglar with brain damage.
Mr Cameron has also spoken up in defence of Mylene Klass, the television presenter and musician, who was told off by police for waving a knife at intruders who broke into her garden, describing the warning as “ridiculous”.
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, dismissed Mr Cameron’s suggestion that burglars should forfeit their human rights as a “wonderful sound bite”.
He told the BBC’s Politics Show: “What sort of country is he trying to create?
"Of course it will receive short-term public applause from those who want to get tough on burglars, as we do in our Government, but where's the practical common sense policy thinking?"
Here's my practical common sense policy thinking: If you break into my house, and then threaten and tie up my family, then I am not obliged to be careful in how I react. If I have a bat, or a 2-iron, and I do NOT hit you in the head, as hard as I can, I may get tied up, too. We aren't talking about some guy who got lost. THE INTRUDER TIED THEM UP. Time for Mr. Cricket Bat. Sure, I can't enslave the intruder, or capture him and torture him. But I am not trained to calibrate how hard I hit with the bat.
Anyway, KPC readers, please pick out the most asinine elements of the story, the beyond stupid quotes, and let us know, in comments!
(UPDATE: My bad. Nod to my man Craig Newmark.....Furthermore, a commenter on N's Door clarifies that the cricket bat beating took place outside. An interesting question, I guess. Clearly I can beat the guy if he is threatening me. If he runs, maybe not. And once he is outside.... I see the point. Always useful to have a few facts, what?)
And while I'm on the topic...
Sorry for so many basketball posts. I guess I have Thunder fever. Here's one more.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Steve Nash is 7 kinds of awesome.
And here I will list four reasons why.
I rest my case!
Rodney Schools an Econ Prof
What product are you making? "It doesn't matter." Actually, it probably DOES matter.
I had forgotten this scene from the movie "Back to School."
I DO remember the scene where he asks the female English prof if she'll tutor him, so that she can help him "straighten out my Longfellow."
A Valentine Quiz
A short (one question) Valentine's quiz on level of marital understanding for men. Your wife comes downstairs in the morning, pours the tea (which, thank God, you made for her), and stares over the cup at you with a look of pure hate.
Your internal warning bells go off. Still, it will be worse if you don't ask. "Good morning dear, is everything okay?"
Still staring through slitted eyes, she spits out the words, "I had a dream. You were 'The Bachelor,' and you wanted to be with me AND another woman, two of us."
So, do you:
A. Say, "Dear, that could never happen! I'm not a bachelor; they wouldn't let me on the show. Otherwise, though, that sounds good! Maybe we can call someone?"
B. Raise your eyebrows, nod your head slowly, and stare out the window, in deep contemplation.
C. Say, "C'mon, it was only a dream. You know you are the only one for me!"
D. Pretend to have a gran mal seizure and flop on the floor in a coma, doing your best to swallow your tongue.
Now, it is obvious that A is the wrong choice. But now I have direct empirical evidence that B is also a pretty bad choice. In fact, choosing B causes lots of small-fist-sized bruises to appear on your upper arm. So, if this happens to you, go with C and hold D in reserve in case it doesn't work.
Mavs fail chemistry 101
The Dallas Mavericks have acquired Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson from the Wizards.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Microchips: Signs of the Beast
The Eschaton, The Micro-chip. Quite an article, about the Virginia Legislature.
My favorite part: Delegate Mark Cole says, "I just think you should have the right to control your own body."
Finally, somebody talking sense. Of COURSE that's right. Um, that means that you are pro-choice on reproductive rights, right Mark? 'Cause then you would be a Libertarian hero. THEN, I would agree with you, if you are just consistent about this "people control their own bodies" thing. Oh....not so much.
(Nod to Anonyman, whose body belongs to his wife)
BN Makes People Mad
Brendan Nyhan makes people really, REALLY mad.
Because he is not really on anybody's team, and pomposity makes him mad. He reads things carefully, and remembers what you said last week. Also, he values consistency, logic, and empirical evidence. For example, here.
Any boy with a microphone can tell you what he loves the most
Alan, We Hardly Liked Ye
Wow, what a scum-bucket. Dr. Greenspan...really?
While borrowers can refinance fixed-rate mortgages, Greenspan said homeowners were paying as much as 0.5 to 1.2 percentage points for that right and the protection against a potential rate rise, which could increase annual after-tax payments by several thousand dollars.
He said a Fed study suggested many homeowners could have saved tens of thousands of dollars in the last decade if they had ARMs. Those savings would not have been realized, however, had interest rates shot up.
You could extend this logic, of course. You can make millions of dollars, ex post, if you buy the correct lottery ticket, with the winning number. But "buy lottery tickets" is hardly sound investment advice, though of course that is exactly what people did, on a huge scale. Further, trying to get people to buy ARMs, and then jacking up rates by 425 basis points... why? I have no problem with the higher rates, but knock it off with the investment advice, Dr. G!
My pal Hal Snarr, at NC A&T, wrote this piece. I don't agree with all of it, but the "financial molotov cocktail" part seems right.
Hal's points about Glass-Steagal.... well, two cheers for Glass-Steagal. I agree that "too big to fail" is "too big," but only because the buttinski-trons at Treasury and the Fed insist on giving out taxpayer money.
Here is a picture of the house of a friend in Montana:
All right, no. That is the house of Anonyman, in the DC suburbs. Yikes. More snow comin'. Have fun, Anonyman! Shovel, Anonyman, shovel. Ouch, Anonyman, ouch, don't hit ME with the shovel.... I didn't make it snow.
Friday, February 12, 2010
The End, Perhaps, of Hitler Parodies
A parody of Hitler's reaction to Hitler parodies.
(Nod to Angry Alex)
Protecting the Honor of Wall Street
Remember when Gary Hart challenged reporters to follow him, and then was amazed when they did, catching him in "Monkey Business"?
Well, saying that the honor of Wall Street has been besmirched is a little silly, also. Those boys pretty much smirched themselves. "John Thomas Financial"? Really? And "lesbian strippers"? Why was that the priority?
I'm not saying that having the morality police from Washington will make things better, or that having Eliot "Yo, Mo Ho" Spitzer is an improvement. But if you have no honor, you can't very well protect your honor. Just keep quiet. Quite a story, quite a shiny, terrifying bald pate.
(Nod to Anonyman, who is NOT that bald, and who likes his strippers straight)
Death Star Bug Zapper
We have two book winners...drawn from a capacious Mungowitz-sized hat!
Please send me your addresses! And congratulations....
Video on Libertarian Positions
The funniest headline I've seen this year
Is this the best they can do?
Over at Econobrowser, the usually excellent Menzie Chinn has posted a couple of graphs that he says are "particularly relevant in thinking about the US fiscal situation". I think they are too, but in the exact opposite way that they are being presented.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
At a certain point in a marriage, the woman exhausts her sympathy for the man's injuries.
I was in Michigan and Ohio, for four days. In freakin' blizzards. Ice everywhere. Never a problem.
Got home, went to the Y to work out, got home after dark. Walking up driveway.
Big smooth icy patch, meltwater that had refrozen. Never saw it. Left leg goes shooting out straight in front of me, right folded beside me. Landed with right heel touching my waist, beside me. Dislocated my kneecap.
It popped right back in, but muscles in right leg cramped up like rock, and sprained kneecap hurt like hell. Felt like I couldn't breath. Certainly couldn't move. Laid there in the ice, for what seemed like an hour, but probably wasn't more than ten minutes. Long enough to get soaked from body temp melting the ice. Watched planes go by, and tried to breathe.
Pulled myself over to truck, to try to get in and blow horn, so LMM could come out and shoot me and put me out of misery. Couldn't reach *^$&%ing horn, and slipped on ice again.
Crawled off ice, and limped into house. LMM looks at me, and says, "Take that wet dirty stuff off!"
I tell her I hurt my knee. She comes over: "Do you need to go to the doctor?"
I say no, has happened before, just a sprain.
LMM, turning back to dishwasher: "Well, at least you iced it."
Kevin Morrison, Duke Student
What could possibly go wrong with this plan?
The mighty House of Saud has no love for Valentine's day. The holiday is banned in the magic kingdom and:
The religious police launched Thursday a nationwide crackdown on stores selling items that are red or in any other way allude to the banned celebrations of Valentine's Day, a Saudi official said.
Members of the feared religious police were inspecting shops for, heart-shaped products or gifts wrapped in red, and ordering storeowners to get rid of them, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Red-colored or heart-shaped items are legal at other times of the year, but as Feb. 14 nears they become contraband in 3rd Century.. The kingdom bans celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the
Wow, so the Wahhabi dudes think that the date of Valentines day is a surprise to their citizens? That they wouldn't just buy their evil red items the week before?
Even the AP can call BS on this:
Each year, the religious police mobilize ahead of Feb. 14 and descend on gift and flower shops, confiscating all red items, including flowers.
Many Saudis, who still want to mark the popular Valentine's, do their shopping weeks before the holiday.
See this is why you have to put rational expectations in your model. Otherwise you get these silly "fool people systematically" results that defy common sense. As bad as people think macro is with RE, trust me it was way worse before RE.
PS: Maybe what's really going on is that the Wasabi-Wahhabis just don't want to pay for their Valentine swag, so they "ban and confiscate" on the eve of the holiday.
Small pieces of good news
1. The Federal government is closed for the 4th straight day!
One more day until the FAAAAAABULOUS prize is given away.
Duke University Press has donated not one, but TWO copies of Debating Moral Education.
This is the book that garnered mention in the column by David Brooks, in the Times, about the essay by my good friend Michael Gillespie.
You might get one of these copies, but ONLY IF YOU SEND AN EMAIL by tomorrow morning.
The drawing will be held at noon tomorrow, EST. The winners will be announced, and the free books will be sent out. Don't miss your chance!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Instructions from Your Gubmint
The Bishop reminds me in an email that Robert Heinlein, in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," actually describes our friend's ID experience pretty well:
“Do this. Don’t do that. Stay back in line. Where’s tax receipt. Fill out form. Let’s see license. Submit six copies. Exit only. No left turn. No right turn. Queue up and pay fine. Take back and get stamped. Drop dead—but first get permit."
Carolina v. Duke day!
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
As goes Carolina, so goes Costa Rica?
As loyal KPC readers know, our man Mungowitz was the Libertarian candidate in the most recent NC governor's race. While he clearly succeeded in his goals of (1) getting his message out, (2) getting the LP automatically on the next election's ballot, and (3) getting investigated by the election commission, alas, he did not win.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Technical Efficiency in Basketball
Estimating Production Efficiency in Men’s NCAA College Basketball: A Bayesian Approach
Michael Rimler, Seongho Song & David Yi
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming
Abstract: Using Bayesian analysis with Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimation, we generate estimates of technical efficiency for each game played by an Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball team during the 2005-2006 season. The flexibility of MCMC, and its ability to provide an objective measure for assessing model fit, makes it preferable to maximum likelihood (ML) estimation of stochastic production frontiers. Within the context of men’s basketball, this article addresses the question of whether technical efficiency necessarily leads to success relative to one’s competitors. Results indicate that (a) technical efficiency does not vary significantly, either across or within teams, implying that teams in the A-10 play at very close and high levels of efficiency and (b) technical efficiency does not
correlate strongly with productivity, suggesting that the fundamental quality of one’s resources are more important than an efficient use of those resources. In addition, parameter estimates suggest that a single turnover or offensive rebound could mean the difference between winning and losing.
(UPDATE: Title was wrong, so I fixed it.)
When did Nigerian scammers take over the Home Depot?
So, Mrs. Angus and me eat lunch in our offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This usually requires using a microwave, and in our department, nothing is a better illustration of the tragedy of the commons than the department microwave. Sticky, filthy, smelly, AND a line of grad students waiting to use it!
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Unfortunately, we do not have arrangement with the vendor to exchange the entire product.
For assistance regarding the item 100489210 - 1.0 Cu. Ft. Countertop
Microwave Oven from your order number W100474273, please refer owner's manual and contact the manufacturer.
A representative would be happy to assist you.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Your friends at The Home Depot.
Lou Dobbs Goes Down, and Why
My friend and ex-student Josh Koster, of Chong and Koster in DC, talks about their plan. The piece was published in "Campaigns and Elections' POLITICS" Magazine.
With Lou Dobbs as the fall guy. Hee HEE! ANYTHING that drips mud on "Hate-monger" Lou is worth doing. But this was very cool. The ad....
Now, I should note that Josh and I hardly agree on everything. But on the "rationalize immigration policy" idea, I am definitely there with him. And it is so much easier to watch CNN for a few minutes now, without Lou Dobbs.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Corruption: Munger Investigated!
I feel SO SPECIAL. My campaign for governor is being investigated by a special inquiry of the State Board of Elections. I have FINALLY arrived as a real politician.
Governor "I am Easley the most corrupt governor in NC history" has decided to offer a defense to the charge that he routinely accepted illegal, unreported free private air travel as if it were a perq of office. And having the Highway Patrol "lose" the records of sending troopers to accompany Easley on these secret trips.
Here is an interesting video on the lead-up, and the charges against Ruffin Poole, head thug in charge for the Easley admin.
My main man, Don Carrington, was the one who broke, and has followed, the "Air Easley" story.
So, Easley's defense? Three Republican goob candidates did it, too! (My mom: "If someone else accepts illegal air travel, you would do it, too?" Or something like that).
Anyway, the state board of elections sent me a letter, on real letterhead, with a signature from an actual person, demanding all my campaign travel records! I am suspected of having received illegal contributions of air travel, on private jets!
I'm already planning for my perp walk video. What goes better with steel handcuffs, the grey pinstripe, or the dark charcoal, suit?
Except... that I don't have friends who have private jets. Not all of my friends have private cars. Every bit of travel for the campaign was in my OWN car, and I paid for my own gas.
Still, it is flattering to think that a Libertarian candidate might be the target of bribes from corporations. Implausible, since my platform was to END the payoffs and corporate welfare that those blood-sucking, rent-seeking leeches depend on. But flattering nonetheless.
Ezra Klein Asks For Something He Already Has!
Ezra Klein has his silk prancing pony boxers in a slip knot over the following:
"No single vote by any single senator could possibly illustrate everything that is wrong with Washington today," writes Fred Hiatt. "No single vote could embody the full cynicism and cowardice of our political elite at its worst, or explain by itself why problems do not get solved." But, as he says, Mitch McConnell's vote against the Conrad-Gregg deficit commission came pretty close.
McConnell wasn't some closet supporter of the proposal. He was a constant advocate. Here he is last May, for instance: "As I have said many times before, the best way to address the crisis is the Conrad-Gregg proposal." But when it came up for a vote last week, McConnell filibustered it. Asked for an explanation, McConnell offered some nonsense about how people serious about getting the debt under control should have opposed the stimulus. Yawn. If he's not going to try to offer a coherent explanation, I'm not going to bother with a detailed rebuttal.
The issue here isn't whether McConnell is a disingenuous opportunist. That goes without saying. What I'd like to see, however, is for people to begin predicting this sort of behavior rather than being surprised by it. ATSRTWT
Golly, Ezra! If only there were....something....call it "Public Choice" theory. There could even be a journal to study this sort of thing. If only there were a university, perhaps one in the DC metro area, that taught Public Choice theory. Let's make one up, and call it "George Mason." If only there were think tanks.... call them "Mercatus" and "Cato"... that publish dozens of articles and monographs every year taking EXACTLY the perspective that Mr. Klein appears to believe he has originated.
Public Choice: Predicting self interest since 1964.
(Nod to Tony V., who is not surprised)
Labels: public service announcements
Best Birth Control: Obstinance Training?
Study finds focus on abstinence in sex-ed classes can delay sexual activity
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010; 4:35 PM
"Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can persuade a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for U.S. efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases...The study released Monday involved 662 African American students from four public middle schools in a city in the Northeastern United States. It was conducted between 2001 and 2004. Students were randomly assigned to go through one of the following: an eight-hour curriculum that encouraged them to delay having sex; an eight-hour program focused on teaching safe sex; an eight- or 12-hour program that did both; or an eight-hour program focused on teaching them other ways to be healthy, such as eating well and exercising...Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared with about 52 percent who were taught only safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who learned about other ways to be healthy did. The abstinence program had no negative effects on condom use, which has been a major criticism of the abstinence approach." [WaPo]
Journal reference for article cited in WaPo....
(Nod to Kevin L)
(Update: Yes, the title is intentional)
Binge drinking can hurt grade performance, study says.
Next up: over-eating can cause weight gain....
(Nod to Angry Alex)
(UPDATE: On the "that's why they play the game!" front, it has been pointed out that in fact the relation is NOT obvious, if one actually READS THE ARTICLE. So, does that mean I can overeat!?)
Easy to Explain
There's nothing confusing about this outrage. The job of "health inspectors," and in fact the job of all government regulation, is to protect the politically and economically powerful. In this case, restaurants that use expensive prepared foods made in factories from low-nutrition sources need protection from the little people who might actually use fresh, nutritious food. We can't have THAT, right? Excerpt:
One mom prepares hundreds of pounds of frozen fruit. The Chicago Department of Public Health says she doesn't have the correct license to make it into candy and sell it. Can she still give it to her son? Not in Chicago.
In a sad struggle that unfolded in a West Town kitchen Thursday night, Department of Health inspectors seized, slashed open and poured bleach over thousands of dollars of local peaches, pears, raspberry and plum purees owned by pastry chef Flora Lazar. She'd purchased the fruit from Green City Market farmers last summer and had planned to use it to make local fruit gelees for her business, Flora Confections.
More than $1,000 of food owned by the Sunday Dinner Club caterers was also destroyed by health department inspectors.
Inspectors cited no health problems with any of the food. They even encouraged Lazar's son to eat the confiscated granola bars from Sunday Dinner Club. They only said the food was prepared by chefs who didn't have the proper business licenses to prepare and sell it. But apparently in Chicago, you also need a license to give fruit to your child.
Even after Lazar had given the cooler to her son, health department inspector Greg Nelson refused to let him keep it. Instead the inspector called the Chicago Police Department to take it away from him. When I asked the inspectors why her son couldn't take the frozen bags of fruit, Nelson said "no comment." He gave the same reply when I asked if it posed any health risk.
These regulations have nothing, NOTHING, to do with protecting consumers. They are designed to protect campaign-contributing producers, and preserve the economic hegemony of corporations. There's no mystery here, except the mystery of why people think health inspectors are here to help them. ATSRTWT (Nod to MJE)
Cuisine: A Problem?
Interesting controversy. If the idea of "soul food" has any meaning, then it can't be inappropriate for Black History month.
On the other hand, it is such a stereotype, I can see why people might be upset. Anyway, a kerfuffle. Make sure and watch the short video by the cook who chose the menu that day.
Some interesting background, on a MLK day menu, and history.
"Elon James White, on the timely, "Look, I really like watermelon. But don't offer me any" question..." (I like the part where Elon admits he is afraid of Melissa Harris Lacewell, a friend of mine, and a fine Duke PhD). (And, I had to watch the whole TWIB video twice. It is extremely funny. You'll see.)
As for the issue: It's complicated.
(Nod to Angry Alex)
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Scott Brown Commercial
One of Brown's commercials from the Mass Senate race.
The LMM was disappointed. She was hoping to see Scott Brown in a Speedo, I think.
The cool thing is that the craven Mass Dems hadn't changed the law, none of this would have happened, probably. Cool. (Remember this post? Wonder how the 9:15 pm Anon commenter feels about the outcome?)
60 % Female
Waffley Wedded Wife
Poor Girl, couldn't stop laughing.
A lot of women say, about men they like, "He makes me laugh." This marriage might work. He certainly makes her laugh.
Labels: people and places
Joe Stiglitz, Robert Reich and Paul Krugman are all beating the drums for a second stimulus, more spending, and no current fiscal re-trenchment.