Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Monday, December 19, 2011
Laptops in Class: I say "Allow Them"
So, a debate between truth and craven falsehood over at KOSMOS.
With me, as always, taking the side of truth. Should laptops be required / allowed / prohibited in class?
Falsity gets its chance, arguing the "ban laptops! They are da debbil's woikshoppe!" tomorrow.
Excerpt: If you have to pay someone to attend you, that’s prostitution. If you have to force someone to attend you, that’s slavery.
I have never understood why so many professors believe that students must be prostituted or indentured. But that is what the “ban laptops” crowd is arguing: We can’t count on students to learn voluntarily. So we have to bribe them, or we have to force them to leave their laptops home.
Look, profs: If you seriously find that most of your students are daydreaming, facebooking, or cruising porn sites (not that that’s a bad thing…), you might want to try an old and honorable solution. Two words.
Men Think Women Dig Them, Women are Surprised By This
The Misperception of Sexual Interest
Carin Perilloux, Judith Easton & David Buss
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Abstract: The current study (N = 199) utilized a "speed-meeting" methodology to study sexual misperception. This method allowed us to evaluate the magnitude of
men's sexual over-perception bias, whether and how women misperceive sexual interest, and individual differences in susceptibility to misperception. We found strong support for the novel prediction that women underestimate the sexual interest of male interaction partners. Men inclined to pursue a short-term mating strategy and men who rated themselves as attractive were especially likely to over-perceive women's sexual interest. As targets of misperception, women's physical attractiveness predicted the magnitude of men's sexual over-perception bias. We discuss implications of gender differences and individual differences within sex in susceptibility to sexual misperception.
Interesting that the prettier the woman, the more the man thinks she is interested in him. All men think they are good drivers, good dancers, and good...you know.
To be fair, though, this is clearly adaptive. Type 1 and type 2 error problem. If only one out of ten women who smile at you actually thinks she wants you, it makes sense to be embarrassed nine times and have a shot at reproducing once. There is no fitness penalty for embarrassment. But there is a fitness penalty for thinking you are ugly and not trying. The fact that most men are in fact ugly is irrelevant.
Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is always a gentleman.
She's Just Capturing the Regulators
(with apologies to Elvis Costello)
Venn diagrams = good. And here are several describing the overlap companies and the fed gov.
Nod to MAG
We are ALL Humean Beings Now
My favorite philosopher, by a wide margin, is David Hume. (Never mind the epistemology stuff, not sure what he was doing there, forget that).
Very nice article in NYT on Hume, and why he gets disrespected.
In fact, it seems to me that Ron Paul is the modern political version of David Hume. Everyone says that he's right about a lot of things, perhaps wrong about some things, but in any case they certainly can't take him seriously, because.... hard to say why, actually.
As Bertrand Russell put it: "Rousseau was mad but influential; Hume was sane but had no followers."
Same as it ever was
While we either resent or enjoy cheap Chinese imports, most of us think of them as a relatively recent phenomenon.
The Real Reason the State Opposes Charters
In North Carolina, we have many places with overcrowded schools and the need to build more. The cost per student is on the order of $8k or more.
But charter schools can quickly gear up, in places that are overcrowded, and use rental space (as opposed to purchasing land, required by state law). Charters can go without sports facilities (as opposed to having a full set of sports and recreation facilities, as required by state law). Charters can contract out for janitorial services, can do without a full service cafeteria, can go without hallway lockers, and can make do without full service school buses. Regular schools have to have all those things, as required by....well, you know.
So, charters can operate about 1/2 to 2/3 the cost per student of regular schools in NC. And they can be up and running in a year, where it takes five years or more for a new state school.
Why would anyone be against charters?
Because the job of schools is NOT to provide education to children. That's a myth. The job of state schools is to provide JOBS to people who will vote Democrat. It's not clear that charter school faculty will have the correct ideology, since they are hired by the parents who pay the bills, not the bureaucrats who depend on the state for their livelihood.
In New York, the authorities went so far as to send the money BACK, rather than allow flexibility and choice in school provision.
Here is what the state of NY had to say about it:
An audit of the public pre-K system by the city comptroller’s office places the blame for the lack of seats squarely on the city’s Department of Education, saying that in 2010, it got enough money from the state — $29 million — to finance an additional 8,000 seats. When those funds went unspent, they had to be returned to the state. But the department said those funds would have paid for only 2.5 hours of teaching daily, making the programs impractical for working families. What city families need is full-day programs, according to the department, and the state money will not pay for those.
In other words, parents are paying taxes into the system. Since it is unable to provide the educational services it promised when it took the money, at gunpoint, the state could rebate that money, either as vouchers or as part of a charter agreement. Either would solve the overcrowding problem.
But, instead, the state insists that only a full day would serve "working families." This concern for "working families" means that they get....nothing.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Kobe: He's Not Good
With apologies to P. Boettke, who will continue to insist that Kobe is not just the best player in NBA history, but also a fine human being. Pete is wrong about some other things, too, but he is wrongest about Kobe. Kobe is a worthless, worthless man. This is a spoof, but it captures the essence of the man.
This from Boondocks, August 4, 2003:
Quotes of the week
Great article by David Roodman on getting to the bottom of conflicting econometric results.
The process is standard in econometrics and is called Maximum Likelihood. It is analogous to a blind ant searching for the highest point in the Himalayas. The ant starts somewhere. It explores the immediate neighborhood. It determines which nearby point is highest and goes there. And it repeats, maybe millions of times, until it gets stuck at place where all neighboring points are downhill. Then the ant assumes it is at the highest point.
Hat tip to Roving Bandit
Jon Chait on Krugman's impact on the NY Times Editorial page.
The most remarkable attribute Krugman has brought to the Times is rudeness.
Article on the Lakers' travails showing the wit and wisdom of Andrew Bynum.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum isn't fretting the failed trade at all. In fact, he thinks the Lakers are better off with it falling through. "I'm happy we didn't do it," Bynum said. "I don't think you trade two 7-footers for a point guard. Ever."
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Kobe's Wife Has More Rings Than He Does, But Enough is Enough
Friday, December 16, 2011
Mancur Olson Lives!
Maybe it's because it's raining hard, and I have to give an exam.
On a Friday night. 7 - 10 pm.
To 80 students. It's an essay exam. It's 1/2 mile away, and I have to carry all the stuff over there, and carry it back, in the rain. Then two days of grading.
Maybe that's why I'm a little incredulous at this story.
Professor requires students to bring snacks to class, or he refuses to teach.
But then I saw this little gem:
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Parrott defended his teaching methods. He said he could understand why some students would be frustrated about the missed class time, but that people should view his requirement as a valid pedagogical choice.
A graduate of Cal State's Chico campus, Parrott said that when he was an undergraduate, courses had 12 to 20 students, and those in a class formed close ties among themselves and with the professor. "Those days are long gone," Parrott said. The course in question is supposed to have a maximum of 42 students, although this year he has 52 in the section that skipped snack last week. That makes it hard for students to connect. So does the nature of Sacramento State's student body. "It's a commuter rat race. Students drive in and go home and never connect with their fellow students," he said.
Enter the snack requirement: Parrott said that he's teaching students to work together to set a schedule, to work in teams to get something done, and to check up on one another, since everyone depends on whoever has the duty of bringing snacks on a given week. Typically, no individual should be involved in preparing the snack more than twice a semester, he said.
As the class gets larger, seems like it would be easier to take turns on the snacks, yes? But of course, as Olson showed, it actually gets HARDER to solve the collective action problem, even though the group has more resources than it did before.
Now, out into the rain....
Not the Onion: Lucy In the Sky, With Vulvas
Not sure this is real. A little far-fetched.
But, school kids have been told they can't make hand gestures when they sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, little star."
Given that the British Sign Language gesture for female genitalia is a diamond or triangle shape, it is believed that the gesture was accompanying the line 'like a diamond in the sky', which is known to have caused confusion in the past.
in this video, the "offensive" hand sign at about 1:18.
Um...how has it caused confusion, exactly? Did the deaf children think that someone was claiming there was an upside down vulva in the sky? I mean, sure, that would be scary, but I can't imagine that is what they thought.
(Nod to the Blonde)
Labels: Not the Onion
Disclosure is Not as Good as You Think
From Our Man Koopa, in the Field
Koopa writes from India. Koopa is from Noo Joisey, you understand. But grandma still lives in India, and Koopa is visiting. He had five marriage proposals (some of those were from women, I believe) in his first day on the subcontinent. He writes:
1.2 billion people. Women are everywhere. Hook up law of numbers was born here, except for the cultural desire not to display affection or sex in public. They STILL don't even kiss in the movies. Which is funny - I saw an Indian movie where the actor and actress were acting proper, not kissing, very chaste.
Then a commercial came on for chocolate condoms. I laughed myself silly. The commercial was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. The condoms come in a cookie box (no foil packets).
What a place. I should point out that Koopa is an American citizen, has a Duke law degree, and even I have to admit he's pretty cute.
Labels: We get letters
Grand Game: U Mass Amherst PERI Edition
I hesitate to put this up, surely it is a satire or hoax. But I think these folks are serious.
They are going to take all that "excess" liquidity, and make the world better.
Starting with the financial collapse and Great Recession of 2008-09, the U.S. economy has been experiencing the most severe and protracted employment crisis since the 1930s Depression. As the employment crisis has proceeded, U.S. commercial banks and large nonfinancial corporations have been building up huge hoards of cash and other liquid assets. This study examines the impact on job creation of mobilizing these excess liquid assets into productive investments within the U.S. economy over the next three years.
(Nod to @milesoftrials )
Thursday, December 15, 2011
President to Sign Indefinite Detention Bill
He is going to sign the thing.
He is not capable of telling the truth, because he literally cannot tell true statements from falsehoods. His speeches are just applause lines strung together.
I give you... George Hussein Busbama!
UPDATE: My friend Stefan D has this quip, on FB--"Well it's not like the detention is forever...it's just indefinite. I would think the detainees would enjoy the guessing..."Will I get out tomorrow?" Every day is like Christmas Eve."
Initial Jobless claims fall!
Gilligan! Hold the Mayo!
Two grad school colleagues made good.
Tom Gilligan at UTexas
John Mayo at Georgetown
I'd try to make myself feel better by saying I knew them, but they'd both deny it. Because Angus and I...we've got stories.
(nod to Chateau. He's got stories about Angus and me)
Links: Video Games
1. Is Skyrim an economic disaster?
2. Bearded dragon playing ant video game
. May not be real, but pretty funny.
3. Worst game of all time: Big Rigs--Open Road Racing. Although the packaging of Big Rigs states that the main objective of the game is to race their Big Rig to safety in order to deliver illegal cargo being carried by the vessel, while avoiding the local police force, in actuality, there are no police in the game, and no such objectives are presented within the game itself. Much of the game instead centers on the player racing their truck against fellow drivers to the finish line; however, the player's computer-controlled opponent vehicles have no AI and never move from the starting position. In addition, due to a lack of collision detection, there are no obstacles to negotiate within the game, and the laws of physics can be violated frequently.
(Nod to SdM, Anonyman, the Ward Boss, and the Blonde)
Labels: computer games
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Peace on earth, goodwill to men!
Labels: feliz navidad mo$%#$#%ers
Mike Tyson Does Herman Cain Spoof
Why do the Dutch hate Christmas?
Look at the Netherlands; twice as rich but almost twice as stingy as Poland. Stingier than the GERMANS (who are almost twice as stingy as the French)! Big ups to the Irish!
Castrating Lambs Can Make You Sick
So, this news story says "castrating lambs with teeth can kill you."
That doesn't make any sense to me. I thought ALL lambs had teeth.
Oh...wait. You mean.... EWWWWWWW!
Nod to the Blonde. Next time she calls Bob Lee her "little lamb" I'll know what she is actually thinking.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Financial Incentives and Student Achievement
Roland Fryer, Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2011, Pages 1755-1798
Abstract: This article describes a series of school-based field experiments in over 200 urban schools across three cities designed to better understand the impact of financial incentives on student achievement. In Dallas, students were paid to read books. In New York, students were rewarded for performance on interim assessments. In Chicago, students were paid for classroom grades. I estimate that the impact of financial incentives on student achievement is statistically 0, in each city. Due to a lack of power, however, I cannot rule out the possibility of effect sizes that would have positive returns on investment. The only statistically significant effect is on English-speaking students in Dallas. The article concludes with a speculative discussion of what might account for intercity differences in estimated treatment effects.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
Hiding the Sausage....
The story of how the for-profit colleges survived the threat of a major federal crackdown offers a case study in Washington power brokering. Rattled by the administration’s tough talk, the colleges spent more than $16 million on an all-star list of prominent figures, particularly Democrats with close ties to the White House, to plot strategy, mend their battered image and plead their case...The battle got so testy that Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who has led Congressional hearings into the colleges, got into a heated exchange with Mr. Stein, the Education Corporation investor. The senator said that during a hallway conversation after lunch in the Senate dining room, Mr. Stein promised to 'make life rough for me' if Mr. Harkin kept up his attacks. 'I took it as a threat — it was one of the most blatant comments ever made to me in my years in the Senate,' Mr. Harkin said. [NYT]
It appears that it was easy to find Democrats who would sell out the poor people they care so much about, as long as the Democratic elite gets paid. They must be so proud to have Michael Miliken on their side...
Lists of Note: Smells Like Teen Spirit
Random Observations on the EU crisis
Even if Draghi could wave a designer wand and make the Greek & Italian sovereign debt mountains go away, the Greek and Italian economies would remain horribly uncompetitive even vs. France, let alone Germany.
My Guy Bill English Explains the Crisis of Liberalism, In a Nutshell
A Silver Lining in Europe; And the political lesson for America. Kaminski, Matthew. Wall Street Journal (Online) [New York, N.Y] 09 Dec 2011
European Union leaders are gathered in Brussels for yet another emergency summit, this time to consider a Franco-German plan for fiscal union. After each previous try to stop the bleeding in the past 18 months, markets saw through the palliative and drove up debt costs.
Yet the fog of crisis obscures what's already changed in Europe. A new social-political bargain has started to form. Though not advertised loudly, the solutions on offer, from Ireland to Italy, all scale back the reach and size of the state. This mental and political shift predates the Greek meltdown. The three Ds-- spiraling debt, unsustainable demographics and looming depression--just hastened the reckoning....
Step back to see a bigger picture. The European model isn't pinched by Greece but rather by two related phenomena. In a world of global competition and free trade, EU countries have failed to keep up. Taxes and regulations needed to cover generous unemployment benefits and pensions have sapped their growth and scared capital away, in turn impairing their ability to meet these costs without huge debts. As Princeton historian Harold James notes, "The redistribution game becomes a lot harder to play in an open economy."
Globalization's other byproduct, immigration, changed the look of Europe. Social safety nets were built in postwar boom years when countries were younger and more homogenous. Relatively few people drew on unemployment benefits or other help, and those who did were the familiar neighbors of those who picked up the tab and considered it their obligation. Political scientists call this "social trust." New arrivals from North Africa and Turkey changed that and put economic strains on the welfare system...
There's a lesson here for America. President Obama insists that the U.S. isn't in similar straits, and he has a point for now. Yet our public debt surpassed the euro zone's in 2008, and now touches 100% of GDP.
In a paper presented at a Witherspoon Institute conference this week, German finance ministry official Ludger Schuknecht, who previously headed fiscal policy surveillance at the ECB, notes that the U.S. increase in its size of government over the past decade was on par with those of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and the U.K. All the others have tried to rein it in, he writes, but the U.S. "stands out as the country that seems to be quite oblivious to the need for adjustment over the near future." Americans can't say the Germans didn't warn them...
But the terms of debate have to shift here, as they did in Europe's success stories. American reformers, in the words of Harvard political scientist Bill English, need "to make the moral argument that you should spend federal monies to pay for poor children's meals and not fluff union pension schemes."
Insolvency may be a symptom of many Western democracies, but democracy isn't the problem. Voters, who aren't stupid, are as likely to reward as to punish leaders who take the necessary hard steps.
I had not thought of Angela Merkel as a "fluffer" before, but of course that's right.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Grand Game: San Francisco Edition
A truly remarkable cavalcade of idiots, ideologues, and squishy thinkers. A parade of sports and horribles. Hard to believe they are serious, but then lefties are always serious. Wrong, but serious.
I won't spoil it for you. But don't miss the consequence where the company can't even bid on government contracts because now their costs are too high. Presumably we will soon have a set aside to assure that the halt and the lame of SF get their "fair chance" at being the high bidder yet still winning the contract.
(And nod to Anonyman)
Podcastrians: Profits, the Verger and other Stories
My main man Russ Roberts and I vigorously podcastrate the idea of profit, illustrating it with three pedagogically useful stories.
At least, *I* think they are useful stories.
The (Minsky) Empire Strikes Back!
Hyman Minsky is like the monster in a horror movie. You think it is gone... but no. It keeps coming back, over and over...
When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles, and Crises
Òscar Jordà, Moritz HP. Schularick, and Alan M. Taylor
NBER Working Paper No. 17621
JEL No. C14,C52,E51,F32,F42,N10,N20
ABSTRACT This paper studies the role of leverage in the business cycle. Based on a study of nearly 200 recession episodes in 14 advanced countries between 1870 and 2008, we document a new stylized fact of the modern business cycle: more credit-intensive booms tend to be followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. We find a close relationship between the rate of credit growth relative to GDP in the expansion phase and the severity of the subsequent recession. We use local projection methods to study how leverage impacts the behavior of key macroeconomic variables such as investment, lending, interest rates, and inflation. The effects of leverage are particularly pronounced in recessions that coincide with financial crises, but are also distinctly present in normal cycles. The stylized facts we uncover lend support to the idea that financial factors play an important role in the modern business cycle.
(Nod to A-Denz, who knows things)
Labels: macro is harder than that
Musical gifts: Box Sets and Reissues
Monday's Child is Full of Links
Egging on weight loss
Chinese ghost cities: too much housing, in the wrong place, but they can't stop building
Technology makes humans incompetent. "Error chains" seem impossible. Of course, they are rare, and by focusing on "what happened?" after a crash we are selecting on an unlikely event. Still...really? THAT'S what happened? Wow.
Steve Jobs statue in Hungary. Not because he "gave back" (because he pretty much didn't). But because he made cool stuff people wanted to buy.
Nod to Anonyman and Susan
Jon Stewart:: Twice as Nice
On indefinite detention...
of American citizens...
captured and charged in the US.
I give you--Mr. Stewart: “When the war on terror ends, and terror surrenders, and is no longer available as a human emotion, you’ll be free to go.”
Let's hear it, bedwetters: Your guy Obama can't be better than GW Bush if he is NO DIFFERENT from GW Bush. This is truly an epic fail. Obama has zero principles, and zero policy interests. This is popular, and so he is for it. Screw the Constitution.
For the record, this legislation clearly violates the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments. Combine that with the "enhanced interrogation" techniques likely to be used on prisoners while they are being detained, indefinitely, without trial, without hearing the evidence against them, without even a full hearing before a civil court, and you have a violation of the 8th Amendment also.
Oh, and there's this, from Article III, Section 3 of the main Constitution, without any stinkin' amendments to worry about:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Testimony. Two witnesses. Not indefinite detention without charges. Jeez.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Chain Kidney Transplants are Not Truly Voluntary
Not the Onion: Grand Game Self Service!
Grand Game Time! Smart people do it in the comment section...
Brazilian woman wins legal "right" to surf porn and masturbate at work.
Excerpt: Ana Catarian Bezerra, 36, suffers from severe anxiety and hypersexuality - something that makes her "compulsion orgasmic," reports Gather.com.
A single mother of three children, Bezerra works as an accountant - a seemingly buttoned-up profession for such a buttoned-down condition, reports Guanabee.com.
In the past, Bezerra would need to masturbate as much as 47 times a day. Her physician, Carlos Howert, has prescribed her a "cocktail" of tranquilizers to help curb her condition. Now she only has to masturbate around 18 times a day, according to Guanabee. One word? Yikes.
Bezerra had to take her employer to court last April, where she won. Now, she will get 15 minute breaks every 2 hours where she can surf porn and get her release, AOL reports.
Don't get too excited though - remember that this is in Brazil, and here in the U.S. there are no court-mandated masturbation breaks available.
This would have been excellent news for Anonyman. He was laid off for three months a while back. Turns out that in Brazil his activities during this time would have counted as "employment," and he could have gotten paid for it. Now THAT is progress!
Angus' 2011 Best Music Guide
Here's my version of the best albums of the year.
2. Twerps: Twerps
7. Air Waves: Dungeon Dots
8. Dom: Sun-Bronzed Greek Gods
It's been a tremendous year for box sets and re-issues too. I'll post about that very soon.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Now THAT's A Superstore
An exercise in imperfect capital markets. A classic article.
In a system with perfect capital markets, you would be able to borrow against a highly certain future return. A slight discount for risk, perhaps, but if we are talking about a term of a week or so that should be no problem.
Well, this lady decided that she could not borrow against the future earnings to be gained from selling the meth she was going to make. She had a cash flow problem, lack of $$ to buy the meth makin's.
But this woman was an American. From Oklahoma. No barriers like imperfect capital markets were going to hold HER back.
(Gotta like how the news reporter starts out by saying she is speechless, and then jabbers for several minutes).
Point is that our lady went to Wal-Mart, stole the stuff she needed to make the meth, and started cooking it up right there in the store. Yes, she did. Really. You can read about it.
Clearly an example of market failure. P-Kroog will likely want an investigation, a commission, and a new federal agency to ensure that the poor have better access to capital markets. To be fair, the bed-wetters may have a point: THIS loan likely would have been paid back, unlike the crap loans Barney Frank and Mel Watt forced the banking system to make on housing.
Don't forget about the denominator
Perhaps encouraged by the recent drop in unemployment from 9 to 8.6, President O opined that the rate could drop to 8% by November 2012.
Mars needs women!
ooops, make that "Norway needs butter"!!
The soaring popularity of a fat-rich fad diet has depleted stocks of butter in Norway creating a looming Christmas culinary crisis.
Norwegians have eaten up the country’s entire stockpile of butter, partly as the result of a “low-carb” diet sweeping the Nordic nation which emphasizes a higher intake of fats.
“Sales all of a sudden just soared, 20 per cent in October then 30 per cent in November,” said Lars Galtung, the head of communications at TINE, the country’s biggest farmer-owned cooperative.
A wet summer which reduced the quality of animal feed and cut milk output by 25 million litres had already limited supplies and the shortage has led some pundits to suggest the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter offer some of its plentiful fuel supply in exchange for butter.
Butter is now selling on Norway’s top auction website, with a 250-gram piece starting at around $13, roughly four times its normal price.
Top dairy producer Denmark lies just across a narrow sea channel, but its stores of creamy butter will be kept out of the country by the high import duties of Norway, the only Nordic nation that does not belong to the European Union.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Individualists Trust People, Collectivists Trust the State
Culture, Cooperation, and the General Welfare
Nick Berigan & Kyle Irwin, Social Psychology Quarterly, December 2011, Pages 341-360
Abstract: Solutions to social dilemmas require cooperation. Given that there are
commonly multiple avenues for cooperation, sometimes social dilemmas require coordination of strategies in addition to sufficient cooperation to be successful. This study examines one social dilemma where such coordination is necessary: supporting the general welfare. Using World Values Survey data from 33 nations, we compare active membership in charitable organizations versus attitudes toward government welfare programs as examples of two different types of cooperation. We argue that culture influences the form of cooperation a group adopts via the amount of trust it generates. Specifically, individualist cultures promote relatively high levels of trust, which produce first-order cooperation (here, involvement in
charitable organizations). Collectivist cultures generate relatively low trust levels, facilitating second-order cooperation (here, greater support for government welfare programs). Findings support our arguments and thus suggest that culture, mediated by trust, shapes individuals’ perceptions about creating and sustaining public goods.
I would be interested in Mr. Overwater's reaction. Am I misinterpreting this? Do I have the causation backwards?
Japanese Light Trucks: Not What You Think...
Japanese light trucks? You mean like a Nissan 4 cylinder? Not for those wacky, wacky sons of Nippon.
Nod to Jackie Blue. No, you cannot "borrow" $125k to trick up your 1997 Subaru Forester with a "Scary Clown!" theme. It wouldn't be the same, anyway.
Truly Bad Economics
Do they do it for the money?
Utpal Bhattacharya & Cassandra Marshall. Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming
Abstract: Using a sample of all top management who were indicted for illegal insider
trading in the United States for trades during the period 1989–2002, we explore the economic rationality of this white-collar crime. If this crime is an economically rational activity in the sense of Becker (1968), where a crime is committed if its expected benefits exceed its expected costs, “poorer” top management should be doing the most illegal insider trading. This is because the “poor” have less to lose (present value of foregone future compensation if caught is lower for them.) We find in the data, however, that indictments are concentrated in the “richer” strata after we control for firm size, industry, firm growth opportunities, executive age, the opportunity to commit illegal insider trading, and the possibility that regulators target the “richer” strata. We thus rule out the economic motive for this white-collar crime, and leave open the possibility of other
Wow. I wouldn't accept this as a paper from a sophomore undergrad. The authors assume that everyone has IDENTICAL preferences toward income/leisure trade-off, and identical preferences on risk.
Let me propose an alternative. White collar workers in these firms are heterogeneous. They have differing risk preferences, and differing valuations of leisure. Therefore, the people in the "richer" strata will be those who value money most. Further, since we only observe those who are EMPLOYED, we are selecting on those who took the very highest risks throughout their career, as a matter of preference, not of strategy. (So, if 100 people took big risks, and five won, those five are likely to constitute the "richest" strata. The other 95 are unemployed, but we don't see them).
Is it a surprise, really, that the people who value money most and who are the biggest risk-takers would be the ones who dabble in insider trading schemes? Or is it a surprise that the people who are satisfied with their income and avoid risk do NOT engage in these schemes?
This paper would make sense only if all preferences are identical and if assignment to wealth strata were random. Since assignment to wealth strata is endogenous, and correlated sharply with the characteristics that make insider trading likely, I say: "back to school!"
(Nod to Kevin Lewis, who never really leaves school)
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Billy Beane, John Paulson & the January effect
A Story of Love, Deception, and Chronic Diarrhea
Blame the Audience
"Cinema trends ebb and flow, but one facet of Hollywood moviemaking proving remarkably consistent is gender inequality, according to a study...by USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. In a survey of the top 100-grossing movies of 2009 — including 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' and 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' — researchers found that 32.8% of the 4,342 speaking characters were female and 67.2% were male, a percentage identical to that of the top-grossing movies of 2008...Behind the camera, the gender inequality is just as dramatic: only 3.6% of the directors and 13.5% of the writers on the top-grossing films of 2009 were female, according to the study." [LA Times]
What exactly is the phenomenon being decried here?
There are quite a few movies made with, about, and concerning women. The "problem" (if it is a problem) is that fewer people go to see those movies.
Since movie audiences are diverse, but skewed a bit toward teen-age and early 20s men, this means that 19 year old guys are less likely to want to see "Terms of Endearment" than "Transformers." If movie theaters made MORE ToEs and fewer Transformers movies, then the difference would not shrink, though revenue would go down.
My challenge: If there are profitable movies that are NOT being made because of gender bias, start your own movie company, ladies. You'll make a fortune! (I really liked "Bend it Like Beckham", btw. I would rather see that than Transformers 12, or even 1. So I'll watch your movies, ladies.)
The problem is that this claim is based on a shaky premise: the movie industry is not greedy or craven enough to make the movies that audiences really, really want. (Here is a really terrible discussion of the "science" of movie-going prediction).
Just go rent "Thelma and Louise" again, and rail against the patriarchy. And wait for the day when the general public is FORCED to like what you think they should like. Then we will have paradise.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Air Traffic Control: SNAFU
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
America's Next Tarp Model
What I just love about Jon Stewart is that he perfectly projects the non-partisan, "They did WHAT?" amazement that so many of us feel about the government's economics programs. ANYTHING could be said at this point, and we would believe it. We might break a pencil, but we'd believe it.
UPDATE: As much as Jon is having here, it is useful to point out that the actual amount, by any reasonable accounting standards, was far less. And one can't really say it was "secret," as much fun as that is to say. The painfully earnest (but scrupulously correct) Jay Hamilton explains why these two things are true.
Pups and Downs
Bet this makes you cry.
Certainly made me cry.
Beagles released from lab, first time they have ever stepped out of their cage, walked on grass, seen the sun.
(Update: Commenter makes a good point. So let's elaborate. I could put up a video about how beautiful deer are, or how noble pigs are. But I would still quite happily kill them and eat their lip-smacking delicious flesh. This video is sweet because it shows some very gentle little dogs getting out of cages where they have lived. But we should credit the research being done, of which these dogs are a critical part. You can't let the dogs run around, because they would be exposed to all sorts of outside influences, contagions, and substances that would render the treatment vs control inference invalid. It might be possible to hold the dogs in slightly better conditions, but that would be a LOT more expensive, at a time when it is not clear we are going to fund research AT ALL. So let's all say "awww..." at the sweet beagles. But let's thank the researchers for their valuable work. These dogs were not "rescued." They were retired, after useful service, just as if they were police dogs or sniffer dogs.)
Big Corporations in Overdrive: Regulation NEVER Helps Consumers
Proof # 456,987,321 that regulation never helps consumers.
Because it is actually not SUPPOSED to help consumers. It is supposed to help corporations.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- In June 2010 the Nashville Metropolitan City Council passed legislation raising the city's minimum fee for limo and sedan rentals, bumping it from $25 to $45. Drivers were prohibited by law from charging less. Other new regulations forbid limo companies from using leased vehicles, require cars to be dispatched only from the place of business, compel companies to wait 15 minutes before picking up a client, and ban parking in front of hotels and bars to wait for customers. More laws that take effect in January 2012 would also require companies to replace all sedans and SUVs over seven-years-old, and all limos 10-years-old and older. Vehicles older than five years cannot enter into service.
Passed under the guise of consumer protection, the net effect is to give large, existing car companies (also known as livery services) a huge advantage over smaller companies, and to effectively prevent any new companies from entering the market. Prior to the new laws, Tennesseans could purchase transportation from downtown Nashville to the airport in a limo or sedan for the same price as an average taxi ride. Nashville residents and visitors will now pay almost double for the same service.
Nashville folks in need of an affordable ride, and drivers looking to earn an independent living in a sagging economy, join a long line of people caught on the wrong end of a nationwide effort by big car services to squeeze extra profit by regulating competitors out of business. It's a case of regulations actually costing jobs and driving up costs, just as Republicans charge they always do. But this time, the regulations are being pushed by the GOP's so-called "job creators," the new name given to big business.
Two interesting things:
1. HuffPo admits "it's a case of regulations actually costing jobs and driving up costs..." Note the scare quotes implicitly surrounding "actually." Regulations really DO always cost jobs and drive up costs. There is no "actually" needed in that sentence. But HuffPo can't help itself; as a corporation herself (proving corporations are NOT human), Arriana may need her a slice of that good ol' regulation herself sometime. So there is that ridiculous, sarcastic "actually." Goofballs. (UPDATE: Radley B says the author is his intern. So perhaps I'm overreacting to the "actually." Mea culpa.)
2. On the other hand, the idea that "this time" the Republicans are on the wrong side of the issue is as naive as the "actually" was cynical. Of course the Republicans are on the wrong side of the issue. They are REPUBLICANS! Hypocrites.
Both of the state sponsored parties shake down corporations for campaign funds and support. Since the corporations aren't going to pay that, someone has to pick up the tab. Bend over, consumers! We are here to regulate you right up the gazotch.
Here's a fun game: Keith O and Arriana H talking about regulation. The object of the game...how long can you go before poking sharp sticks in both ears? I made it about 45 seconds. Perhaps YOU can do better.
(Nod to Joel R., who knows I'm right)
Fish in a (pork) barrel
Wow. the newly christened Miami Marlins have signed Heath Bell (3 years, $27 million), Jose Reyes (6 years, $106 million) and have supposedly offered Albert Pujols a 10 year, $200 million deal.
But you say, the Marlins never drew any fans in their old park and had a tiny payroll. How are they doing it?
Well they got the City of Miami to put up around $500 million for building their new park (about 80% of the total cost).
In a way, you could say they are paying these contracts with house (or should I say taxpayer) money and have around $150 million or so still left.
Hey, I heard Manny Ramirez was un-retiring....
PS: apparently even the clueless Feds at the SEC who couldn't lay a glove on Bernie Madoff for almost 20 years, think there is something fishy (yes!!!!) about the Marlins deal with Miami and are investigating.
Labels: el beisbol
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Hyperbolic discounting in the NBA economy
One reason the owners have the edge on the players in the NBA labor dispute is time horizon. I argued earlier that the owners can more easily take the long view.
Another way to say that is that the owners have lower discount rates.
But the problem is even worse than I thought. In an effort to minimize salary losses from the missed games, the players have agreed/insisted to cram 66 games into the rest of the time remaining (I think they are maybe adding a week to the schedule). This will cause teams to have to play 3 days in a row, and some teams to play 5 games in 6 days! This will cause bad ball, and most likely, injuries.
That is a HIGH discount rate the players are exhibiting.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have basketball back in the OKC! I'm just saying that the players' attempt to hold out for future earnings was even more doomed than I had thought.
Every picture tells a story
Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, middle and working-class Americans have been victimized by a boom-and-bust monetary policy. In addition, most Americans have suffered a steadily eroding purchasing power because of the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies
I'll give him the boom and bust part (though I'm not sure why it only applies to "middle & working-class folks), but I have to call bull*&^* on the steadily eroding purchasing power part.
Here's Ron's go to graph:
Looks, pretty bad, right? The "purchasing power of the dollar" has been grotesquely eroded by inflation (the graph is an inverted graph of the price level). But what Dr. Paul fails to inform us is that we all have a HELLOVA LOT MORE dollars than we used to.
Here is the graph Dr. Paul apparently is unaware of or at least hopes that you are unaware of:
Labels: macro is harder than that
I'm Too Sexy To Donate Kidneys, Too Sexy to ....
Wow. As it if isn't hard enough to find organ donors...new rules: you can't have had more than two sexual partners in the past year. (Anonyman, you should be okay, even though you are ambidextrous. Left and right hands don't count as two!). Excerpt:
“With the new guidelines, every college student in America will be high risk,” said Dr. Harry Dorn-Arias, a transplant surgeon at the University of Virginia. “Right now, it's probably a prostitute or a guy with a needle in his arm. Next time, it will be just a young guy."
Under the new policy proposed this fall by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deceased and living donors who were not monogamous in the previous 12 months would be considered at increased risk of transmitting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C -- even if they had no other risk factors
CDC officials say the proposed guidelines are aimed at making the organ supply safer and preventing accidental transmission of life-threatening infections. The policies wouldn’t absolutely ban anyone from donating, especially in an exceptional or life-saving situation, but they would call for more scrutiny and testing.
Labels: health care
The 1% Have Needs, Too!
What? We gots ta eat, too. You think this mortgage is cheap?
A Seattle woman who is receiving welfare assistance from Washington state also happens to live in a waterfront house on Lake Washington worth more than a million dollars.
Federal agents raided the home this weekend but have not released the woman or her husband's name because they have not officially been charged with a crime.
However, federal documents obtained by KING 5 News show the couple currently receives more than $1,200 a month in public housing vouchers, plus state and government disability checks and food stamps. They have been receiving the benefits since 2003.
The 2,500 square-foot home, which includes gardens and a boat dock, is valued at $1.2 million. And even though the couple has been receiving the benefits for nearly 10 years, records show that they accurately listed the address of their current home when applying for the state and federal benefits.
A federal official told KING 5 that the couple likely took advantage of a loophole, which allows low-income individuals to receive financial assistance to help them pay their rent and move away from housing projects. However, the law does not require officials to verify what type of home the benefits recipient is living in.
(Nod to Aaron L)
Property-is-Theft Movement All Sad: They Took Our Property!
Can't seem to get off the "stete=force" meme, sorry.
But it turns out that the "Property is Theft!" folks had a nice little set up, with books and some land. The state came and destroyed it all. Not long after having passed a "feel good" resolution supporting the movement.
Ah, frail principles, thy name is government.
The irony of having the "Property is Theft" folks be mad at the government for failing to protect their property, which they had stolen in the first place... priceless.
Monday, December 05, 2011
When The State Leaks, We All Get Force on Our Faces
Again, the state = violent force.
Not "the state uses force to keep us all safe." The state is force. Sure there is force that is not the state, but there is no part of the state that is not force.
Statists have a conception that a "monopoly on the legitimate use of force" (THEIR definition of the state! Even they admit state=force) means that state will expand to fill the entire "force" part of the Venn diagram.
Problem is, the state leaks; force gets spilled everywhere. Force metastasizes outside of the original limits of force and displaces perfectly effective voluntary action. There is essentially no check on this expansion, unless voters choose voluntarism over coercion.
Which is why this HuffPo piece is so disturbing. The use of force, of sickening excessive force, is expanding rapidly. But you people all keep voting for it, and then saying, "Oh, we didn't mean THAT much force! Oh, no, no, no." And then you vote for it again.
Let's make this simple.
The state is force.
If you vote to expand the state, you are expanding force.
If you want less force, you have to want less state.
It's just physics.
Bridge to Euro
Some years ago a small rural town in Italy twinned with a similar town in Greece.
The Mayor of the Greek town visited the Italian town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Italian mayor he wondered how he could afford such a house. The Italian said; "You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to build a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end this house could be built".
The following year the Italian visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek Mayor's house, gold taps, marble floors, it was marvelous. When he asked how this could be afforded the Greek said; "You see that bridge over there?"
The Italian replied; "What bridge? There's no bridge." That's how it happens, folks.
Thanks to John-O for sending this!
All Politics is Local
From my NC State colleague Steven Green:
Laurel Elder & Steven Greene, American Politics Research, forthcoming
Abstract: This project employs 2008 National Election Study (NES) data to explore whether parents are different than nonparents in terms of their political attitudes and candidate evaluations. We find that parenthood does have political consequences although often not in ways suggested by conventional wisdom. Rather than finding parents to be a conservative group, our results support the idea that raising children has liberalizing effects on the attitudes of women. Fatherhood shapes attitudes less than motherhood, but these fewer effects are in a conservative direction. We argue that the distinctive politics of mothers and fathers reflects the impact of parenting as a gendered socialization experience combined with the contrasting parenthood themes articulated by the Republican and Democratic parties. Finally, despite media coverage suggesting Sarah Palin’s “Hockey Mom” image would attract parents, especially mothers, to her candidacy and the Republican ticket we find no support for this idea.
LeBron on the EU
Contra the NY Times, Vector Autoregressions are NOT magic
In an interesting human interest story on the newest Econ laureates, the NY Times tosses this into the mix:
Rice Student Breaks Window
A student at Rice, participating in the old Rice tradition of running around "wearing" a little shaving cream, broke a window with his butt. Now he owes $15,000.
If you want to donate to help the kid's butt, or just want some background (sorry), by all means go here.
(Nod to Tommy the Promoted Brit)
Labels: college life
Man, I Hate Republicans
So, check this out:
How is it that a Republican House that claims to be pro-jobs can't pass a regulatory reform so modest that even President Obama's jobs council endorses it? Part of the answer is that the accounting cartel fighting reform has one of its own in the Republican ranks. A GOP presidential candidate also can't be bothered to show up for a critical vote.
In September we told you about Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher's plan to relieve small public companies from Sarbanes-Oxley's most burdensome and duplicative accounting rules. "Useless" might be a better description for these rules, after MF Global became the latest company in the Sarbox era to hide catastrophic transactions outside its balance sheet—exactly what the law was supposed to prevent.
On Tuesday night, the House Financial Services Committee had to yank the Fincher reforms from a scheduled Wednesday vote. With all committee Democrats expected to vote against reducing paperwork, the Republicans would need almost all hands to send the measure to the House floor.
But House sources say Michele Bachmann wouldn't return from the campaign trail to vote. Meanwhile, California Republican John Campbell has been leading an effort to water down or kill the Fincher reforms. Mr. Campbell is an accountant carrying water for his former industry colleagues. New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce, who styles himself an opponent of federal regulation, is also blocking reform.
Sarbox was supposed to punish accountants, but like much regulation in practice it guarantees a lucrative business to a cartel dominated by four big firms. The mandate for an external audit on top of the traditional financial audits has helped accounting fees rise as fast as the bureaucratic burden.
That editorial was not from the WaPo or the HuffPo. That's the Wall Street Journal. Could the idiot Republican possibly be any more worthless? Every chance they get they vote for anti-competitive regulation increases and bailouts for their campaign contributors. They vote against millions for widows and orphans, but support billions in tax money for corporations. Man, I hate Republicans.
(If you are thinking of offering a "yeah, but Dems are bad, too!" defense....just shut up. The Dems are honest. They say they are going to take money from people who earned it and use it to buy votes. Despicable, but honest. The Republicans are LIARS on top of being thieves.)
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Fun Talk with Rick Martinez
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Heh. WRK strikes back
Basic Logic Fail
Okay, let's review.
This guy, Dr. D.M. Berwick, was appointed to head the US gov't office of Medicaid/Medicare.
He had a history of saying that we needed a health care system more like the Brit system, run by the government, and with rationing decisions made by bureaucrats. (Note: At KPC we understand health care has to be rationed. I just don't want it done by some person who got fired at the DMV).
Now, he says 30% of the US health care expenditures on Medicare/aid are pure waste, and doctors all know it.
He continues (I quote the NYTimes reporter's set-up)
If his estimate is right, Medicare and Medicaid could save $150 billion to $250 billion a year by eliminating waste, which he defines as “activities that don’t have any value.”
Dr. Berwick sounded like a professor of political science or a visitor from a foreign country when he recounted his efforts to fathom Washington’s ways.
“Government is more complex than I had realized,” he said in an understatement. “Government decisions result from the interactions of many internal stakeholders — different agencies and parts of government that, in many cases, have their own world views.”
Um.... so, I have a question. This guy was a big fan of government-run health care. He took a government job, and now he thinks 30% of the money we spend is wasted. He thinks government is "more complex" than he realized, and...well, the article continues:
Before coming here, Dr. Berwick was president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass., that trains medical professionals. “I was used to moving very, very fast,” he said. “We could decide on Monday to start a program and have it in existence on Wednesday.”
As a federal official, Dr. Berwick was sometimes impatient with colleagues in the government and with the health care industry.
So, in this gentleman's OWN EXPERIENCE, private nonprofits are relatively fast and much more efficient and government sucks. Medicare/aid in particular is a disaster, as he knows from trying to fix it.
His solution: Let's expand Medicare until it's the entire health care system! He continues to love Obama-care like it's a religious pilgrimage.
Asked why Americans were still deeply divided over the new health care law, signed 20 months ago, Dr. Berwick said: “It’s a complex, complicated law. To explain it takes a while. To understand it takes an investment that I’m not sure the man or woman in the street wants to make or ought to make.”
But, Dr. Berwick said, just as Americans supported manned missions to the moon without knowing the details of rocket science, they ought to support the new law because of its ultimate destination.
A religious belief is one that you cling to in spite of all empirical evidence to the contrary. This guy saw, with his own expert eyes, the gigantic waste of time and money that is government-run, government-provided health care. He gave specifics, showed that he is actually a smart and honest guy.
And then reverts to his religious belief: worship the state, and the state will do the right thing. These little glitches....just aberrations. Eventually, he says:
“We are a nation headed for justice, for fairness and justice in access to care,” Dr. Berwick said. “We are a nation headed for much more healing and much safer care. There is a moon shot here. But somehow we have not put together that story in a way that’s compelling.”
No, doctor, there is a big difference between going to moon, and going to justice. When you get to the moon, you can come back. When you get to "justice," which you appear to be believe to be the absence of any private enterprise, you turn into Cuba. There is no coming back from that.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
I don't Fault the Police....TSA Edition
So, the girl could not get on the plane, because her purse had a little plastic gun glued onto it. TSA said it was a "replica gun," which is illegal. The girl missed her plane, because of the hassle. (May I point out that the "girl" is unmarried, pregnant, and arrived at the security checkpoint less than 30 minutes before her flight left...?)
Everybody, as usual, is all mad at the police. They should use their discretion better! Surely this was a mistake!
Had a talked with La Skarbek yesterday at a reception, on just this question. It is WRONG to criticize the police. If you want a police state, with a bunch of intrusive laws, this is what you get. It is not an abuse of power, it is just the fact of power. Saying "that's not what we meant!" after the fact is idiotic. If you don't want to go to Chicago, don't get on that train.
Here is what the law says (the relevant parts, anyway):
Items prohibited from aircraft cabins:
The following items will not be allowed through the security checkpoint. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive. In addition to items specifically listed here other items that may be deemed to present a potential threat may also be prohibited.
Toy transformer robots (this toy forms a toy gun)
That thing, on her purse: that is a three dimensional gun. It is not a design. It is a glued on plastic piece. Is the TSA stupid for preventing it?
No, the law is stupid for outlawing it. I believe that TSA actually promulgated this regulation, but I could not easily find the underlying statute.
Here is an actual video, used at Glacier International Airport in Montana. Imagine if you had to work all day in security, and heard this several hundred times. You would be WISHING you had a gun so you could kill yourself.
I like when the guy cuddles the metal detector.
There is no great stagnation!
So proud to be an American. Appalling links from around the nation.
1. San Fernando turns....your stomach.
2. Cook County prosecutors pursue case of man without FOID permit who had a gun. Even though he could not possibly have had an FOID permit.
3. Wrap rage: We need regulation of holiday packaging, because "Today's packages force consumers to fight tooth and nail to get them open."
4. Maxine Waters is going to make you miss Barney Frank. Really.
5. Robert Reich: The grease is gone, baby.
On the other hand, there is still some hope. Chris Coyne responds to OWS, in a brief and effective way.
And Mark Perry explains why Chinese "currency manipulators" are actually our friends.
Friday, December 02, 2011
4 happy women Cain't be wrong
Not the Onion?
Try to guess....
1. Kidnapper claims kidnapped couple agreed to hide him from police. When police later shot him, he sues for breach of contract.
2. Guelph professor accidentally named Italy's junior agriculture minister
3. Financial professional seeks "holiday girlfriend."
People, I have no real dog in the fight about taxing incomes over $1,000,000 at a higher rate. In fact, if I could keep my current marginal tax rate, I'd say hack away at those 1% cads.