Saturday, October 30, 2010

Goolsbee P'wnd

The other side of the white board: Dr. Goolsbee, call your office.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Joshua Bell, Free and Clear

An interesting story. And the Snopes commentary is also interesting.

For my own part, I know I can tell the difference between a $3 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle of wine, but I have very little chance of distinguishing a $15 bottle of wine from a $70 bottle of wine.

And I usually stop to listen to musicians in the subway, and leave a buck. Perhaps because I can't tell the difference.

(Nod to the LMM)

The Culture that is France

Tyler says: "A Korean man over 75 is more likely to be working than a Frenchman in his early 60s."

Tea Party Article, and Stewart/Colbert Article

My man Sheldon called, and we had a nice talk. And then he wrote it up in the newspaper...

And then my man David called, and we had a nice talk. And then he wrote it up in his newspaper chain, McClatchy.

You want to know anything, just ask. We can have a nice talk!

Incentives in universities

Nick Rowe has a great post on the woes of the central planner in university settings.

You should definitely read the whole thing, but here's my favorite bit:

"It's not enough (in some cases) to put the carrot in front of the donkey. You have to point to the carrot, tell the donkey it is a carrot, and that he can eat it. And work out marginal revenue and marginal cost for the donkey too. And repeat this several times".

One interesting take on university incentives comes from the school where Mrs. Angus and I worked in Mexico City, CIDE.

Everyone started with the same (fairly low) base salary and the requirement to teach one class. There were then extra payments for teaching more classes (subject to demand). There were also payments based on one's overall academic reputation from SNI which came in three levels if you qualified. They also paid piecework on articles. A payment for each working paper and then an additional payment for publication on a scale related to the quality of the journal. Finally there were semi-annual productivity bonuses that could be as large as two months base salary.

I found this to be a great system. We got a ton of work done there.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Dinner with Angus (and the Lovely Ms. Angus)

So Angus put together a first rate supper here at House d'Angus. Afterwards, the sitting / tea drinking / storytelling began.

Angus and I, affected by the decaf tea no doubt, began to bare our innermost souls. Each of us confessed our deepest, most intimate fear, which interestingly happen to be identical.


Ticks we can deal with, broken bones, fire, all fine. But no freakin' leeches, please. Gives us nightmares.

So...Ms. Angus immediately tells a story of a missionary she had heard about, in Africa. A large leech apparently crawled onto him.

And into his eye.

It latched, and managed to get to the back of his eye. "Like it was going to go into his brain," she said.

Angus and I are staring at her. We have bared our manly vulnerabilities, and she is going to go THERE?

Immersed in her story, she continued: "They had to pour hot sauce into his eye. Hot pepper sauce. He was screaming and thrashing around, and they had to tie him down. They kept putting more pepper sauce into his eye, and he was screaming. But they were afraid the leech would go into his brain."

Angus and I are holding onto each other and making little whimpering sounds.

She goes on. "Finally, the leech couldn't stand it, and the pepper sauce was burning it. So it came out." Seeing us staring at her, she said, "What? What did I say? Did I mention it was going to go into his brain?"

I am going to dream me some tremulous dreams, I'm afraid. Ms. Angus won this round.

He came, he saw, he conquered!

Mungo ruled the Sooner nation last night. Thanks to SIAS for sponsoring this event and to everyone who came out. It was informative, provocative and entertaining.

KPC Summit!

So, I am visiting at House d'Angus, and got to see the early morning walk wear of the lovely Ms. Angus (to be fair, it was COLD this morn, so she had every reason to wear gloves). We walked Mr. Tootie, and then Angus and I headed to the office.

O Daily had this article about my talk last night. (I already wrote them about the misspelling in the title!)

Voters may be dumb, but they are smarter than Taegan Goddard

On his Political Wire, Goddard says:

A Bloomberg National Poll finds that by a two-to-one margin, likely voters in the midterm elections think taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won't be recovered.

The facts: The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, has overseen an economy that has grown for the past four quarters and expects to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue Wall Street banks.

Umm, Taegs old pal, the economy HAS shrunk! real GDP peaked in the 4th quarter of 2007 and we have not yet reached that level. Now the economy is not still shrinking, but that's a different story.

While I'm at it, taxes HAVE gone up. Our deficit has exploded and (repeat after me cheese lovers) DEFICITS ARE FUTURE TAXES!

Finally, while banks are paying back TARP money with interest, taxpayers are losing billions on the TARP funds that were used to bail out GM.

I would score this one for the voters!

Does it matter if the Republicans take the House?

Some see a zombie apocalypse. I don't see much really.

First, the "repeal Obamacare" idea is simply nuts. The Repubs won't have anything near a veto proof majority and the Dems in the Senate, even if the Repubs take the Senate, can just act like the current minority party in the Senate is acting.

Second, it's true that "progressive" legislation will be harder to pass. But it seems that it was already next to impossible to pass anyway. Cap & Trade is already dead, card check already dead, more stimulus, already dead. I don't see any big change here.

Third, it's true that there will be more support for DADT and the wars and our brutal immigration policy, but again, the current administration was already vigorously prosecuting these and other horrible policies.

Finally, I do think there will be a change in the mix of tools used to achieve deficit reduction, with (and I admit this may be more of a hope than a reality) more emphasis on spending cuts and less on tax increases. In any event, I think a Republican House makes deficit reduction at least a little bit more likely.

PS: Am I the only one who'd like to see Christine O'Donnell in the Senate? Just for the Caligula's horse kind of vibe it would have?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tonight's the Night

Bruce Berry and Mungowitz were/are both working men, and while Bruce is gone, you can see Mungo tonight at 7:00 at OU (181 Hester Hall)!

Be sure to introduce yourself to he or I as a KPC reader!

Here's the ad one more time, just because it's so cool:

Observations from the Thunder's opening night

Derrick Rose really likes to shoot the basketball (31 shots in 31 minutes).

Thabo Sefolosha is a ferocious defender.

The Thunder really miss Nick Collison. He's their "glue" guy, especially on interior defense.

"DJ Boom" is not actually a DJ at all!

Thunder still are not good at halftime entertainment.

Wayne Coyne is extremely skinny.

I am ready for the Daequan Cook era to be over.

Kyle Korver's new teammates don't seem to like him very much.

Thunder won the game by finally playing some good D in the last half of the fourth quarter, which featured some spectacular dunks by Durant and Westbrook. Right now though, they don't look like a better team than last year.

Do (ex) leaders matter? Another data point

There is a decent sized literature in economics, finance and political science that attempts to gauge the impact of politicians by what happens in markets in reaction to their unexpected deaths.

Well, Nestor "el penguino" Kirchner, the once and perhaps future president of Argentina died suddenly yesterday. However, the Argentine stock market was closed for the national census (I am not making this up), so any test of market reactions to his death won't be totally clean.

Bloomberg reports that Argentine stocks trading in the US "surged the most since 2008". Hard to say exactly what that means though. They also report that Argentine sovereign risk fell by half a percentage point.

Nestor, who Boz nominates as one of the greatest of all the Argentine presidents, was married to the current president and was planning to run again in next year's presidential election.
Some people will mourn, others reflect on his legacy, but somewhere, someone is getting ready to run an event study!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Washaway Beach

This may be a hoax, I admit.

But it's a story about Washaway Beach, in Washington state.

In which a guy being interviewed says, quoting now:

“When you buy a place at Washaway Beach, you hope it’s there forever...”

(Nod to Angry Alex)

So You Want to Be a Political Scientist?

So You Want to Be a Political Scientist?


nod to @kohenari

Surviving Halloween

Our friends at Popehat have produced a list of 25 tips to help you stay alive in "a world teeming with serial killers, aliens that aren’t interested in bringing peace to mankind, backwoods cannibals, and corpses that hunger for the flesh of the living".

My favorite is #19.

...and when I die, I'll be Sooner dead!

My university's fight song has some very strange words.

As did Jeffrey Landregan on the occasion of his execution by the State of Arizona:

"Well, I'd like to say thank you to my family for being here, and all of my friends. Boomer Sooner."

By way of context, Jeffrey got into trouble in AZ after escaping from prison in OK.

The scariest phrase I read this morning

"We know how monetary policy works"

--James Bullard, President, St. Louis Fed

Things that make my life more difficult than it could be

Dems at Defcon 1

Interesting article (read the update, too!).

The gist is that most early voters are registered Dems, which I have heard also, and thought strange. BUT.... Dem Party internal polls show that these early voting "Dems" are overwhelmingly voting Republican, in some cases nearly straight ticket Republican.

Hence, DemCon 1.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

El Mercurio article

My interview with Carolina, my coffee buddy from Santiago.

On the election in the U.S....

On the leftiness of Obama redux

To summarize where we are, I've come to realize that a lot of Obama's foreign and social policies are both (a) wrong and (b) conservative.

Since then I've been dealing with a lot of "epistemic closure" from the left as they argue that there is no evidence at all of Obama being left or liberal. I presented a lighthearted list, the first 6 of which I think are genuine evidence.

In an attempt to bring some at least semi-objective data to bear on the issue, I propose that his voting record as a Senator is relevant for judging his ideological bent (i.e. his inner leftiness).

Here is some information on that record:

The National Journal magazine, in its annual vote rating, said Obama moved left last year to the "most liberal senator" rating "after ranking as the 16th and 10th most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate."

Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal activist group, and the American Conservative Union, the conservative activist group, also rate Congress members on their votes. Their findings describe Obama as one of, but not the most liberal U.S. senator.

The ADA gave Obama a 75 percent liberal score in 2007, 95 percent in 2006 and 100 percent in 2005. Other Democratic senators received 100 percent during those years. David Card, ADA communications director, said Obama's score was lower last year because he missed certain votes.

Obama has a lifetime ADA average of 90 percent. Other senators - such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and others - have higher lifetime ADA ratings. Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, was ranked as the most liberal senator by the National Journal in 2003.

"He is one of the most liberal senators," Card said, referring to Obama.

The ACU, which customarily places conservative Republicans on the top of its list and liberal Democrats at the bottom, has given Obama a lifetime ranking of just 7.67, according to the figures on the group's Web site.

It says Obama scored 8 percent in 2005, 8 percent in 2006 and 7 percent in 2007. Other Democratic senators in the ACU rankings have had lower yearly and lifetime scores, the site shows.

"He's one of the most liberal," said Larry Hart, the ACU director of government relations.

What do econ bloggers think about government and the economy

Every quarter the Kaufman foundation polls a group of "leading economics bloggers" (which means, not Angus!) on a bunch of questions.

The one I found most interesting was "Is the federal government too involved in the U.S. economy?"

63% said yes! This is on page 5 of the report linked above.

Page 11 of the report reveals that only 9% of the respondents are registered Republicans.

***update*** the above sentence should say only 9% identified themselves as registered Republicans!

The whole report is (still) well worth reading.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Small Business Myth

Veronique dR does a nice of abusing a silly myth.

Small businesses do create the most jobs. And destroy. It's like saying I have lost 600 pounds in the last year; true. But I have gained 860 pounds, and I still weigh 260. You need to worry about the NET change.

And government policies not only do not help small business produce more jobs, but those policies actually hurt. Veronique does a nice job of making it understandable.

Fisk, Fisk, Fisk

P-Kroog is well beyond self-caricature. He has become the Michael Jackson of economists. You want to look away, but you. just. can't.

Nod to Angry Alex

Political Quiz

A version of "Jay-walking" on the U of Colorado campus.

Many fine moments.

But my favorite is when they ask one kid, "How many judges on the US Supreme Court?"

Silence. Then a hint: "It's an odd number!"

Kid responds: "Oh, eighteen." We are so screwed.

(Nod to Anonyman, who visited Chez Mungowitz with the lovely Ms. Anon this past weekend. Very nice time)

Top 10 signs Obama is a lefty

In an earlier post, I became aware that our president, at least on foreign policy and many social issues actually is acting in quite a conservative manner. Unfortunately, he is also totally wrong on these issues just as the previous "conservative" administration was.

So I started to wonder exactly why I had the perception that Obama was "pretty far left".

Hence this Top 10 signs Obama is a lefty list:

10. His incessant pandering to unions

9. His child-like love for high speed rail

8. His pushing for subsidies for solar, wind, & ethanol (i.e. uneconomic boondoggles).

7. His refusal to understand that electric cars actually burn coal in many parts of the country!

6. His firm belief that a small group of experts can competently run the economy

5. The amazing growth in the Federal budget under his watch

4. His habit of flip-flopping like a boated marlin

3. His inability to consider issues of moral hazard or unintended consequences in policymaking

2. His belief that anyone who disagrees with him is stupid or evil or both

1. His overall superior, moralistic, and condescending attitude

Macro and the non-economist

After playing tennis with a non-economist friend yesterday, he asked me how can macro have two completely different schools of thought which seem to differ even on the basics. I told him that, at the op-ed level, macro had a lot of ideology and politics in it and there were more than two schools of thought!

He then asked how it could be the case that when people look at the same data, they don't arrive at the anything near the same conclusion. He said that it was irritating and frustrating to see constant disagreement by economists over macro issues

I told him two things.

First, there isn't really that much data! Since world war two we are working on what, our 10th business cycle?

Second, macro is largely a non-experimental science thus causation was a b*&#ch to figure out and counterfactuals were in short supply.

I also told him that op-ed level macro wasn't generally serious academic macro (though some of it is).

And he asked me what serious academic macro had done vis a vis predicting the meltdown.

I told him, "very little".

I then told him macro forecasters are like weatherpeople, the worse we do and the worse things get, the more they are in demand. I don't think he was too impressed.

I don't fault modern macro for not predicting the financial meltdown; to me thats a borderline silly complaint.

I do think though that op-ed level macro is often not doing the profession any favors in its quest to be viewed as a science.

All We Are Saying.... give "No Prez" a chance!