Friday, May 17, 2013

Experiment Of The Day

What happens if you wring a wet wash cloth in space?  Not what I expected.

Nod to WH

The Problem With the IRS

The problem is not really the IRS.  The problem is enormous power and discretion in the hands of ANYONE.  There is no bigger inequality than that between ruler and ruled.

What In the World? "Political Foundations"?

What is "political," exactly? It is NOT true that African-American parents don't care about their children's education. So the "political" problem must be that politicians do not validate that desire? Am I missing something?
The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap 

Michael Hartney & Patrick Flavin
American Politics Research, forthcoming

 Abstract: More than 50 years after Brown v. Board, African American students continue to trail their White peers on a variety of important educational indicators. In this article, we investigate the political foundations of the racial “achievement gap” in American education. Using variation in high school graduation rates across the states, we first assess whether state policymakers are attentive to the educational needs of struggling African American students. We find evidence that state policymaking attention to teacher quality — an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students — is highly responsive to low graduation rates among White students, but bears no relationship to low graduation rates among African American students. We then probe a possible mechanism behind this unequal responsiveness by examining the factors that motivate White public opinion about education reform and find racial influences there as well. Taken together, we uncover evidence that the persisting achievement gap between White and African American students has distinctively political foundations.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

People: I just found Mungowitz' favorite radio program

My favorite, favorite Liberian radio show is on: What for Lunch. First caller is a woman names Mercy who is having Palm Butter for lunch.

Jon Stewart Makes Some Observations

Headline Meme: Retires the Trophy

Man dies after having sex with hornet's nest.

8 words of perfection.  There's really nothing more to say.

With much gratitude and love for Tommy the Tenured Brit, who notes that, after reading this, his own little fetishes seem quite normal.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Turning Japanese

This is cross-posted from Cherokee Gothic:

In a widely praised speech, Christina Romer referred to the "regime change" at the Central Bank of Japan as, "one of the most exciting developments in monetary policymaking since the 1930s." She compares recent Japanese policy favorably to recent Fed policy, saying that based on the lesson of 1933, a regime change that raises inflation expectations is needed to break out of the zero-bound / liquidity trap.

Could a Japanese style regime change happen in the USA? Should it? It's important to note (as Romer does),  that the change in Japan was political and electoral.

Shinzo Abe ran on a platform of getting Japan growing and getting out of deflation. He threatened the Bank of Japan. The Head of the Bank ultimately resigned and Abe got his guy, Kuroda, in there with an aggressively expansionary policy brief.

 So the answer to could this happen in the USA I think is no.

 Can you imagine the reaction if a Presidential candidate threatened the Fed Chair (phone call for Rick Perry)? Can you imagine the reaction if Presidential pressure forced Bernanke to resign? Can you imagine the Senate confirmation hearings on Paul Krugman's candidacy for Fed Chair? Can you imagine what the FOMC meetings and votes would be like when Richard Fisher and Charles Plosser butted heads with Chairman Krugman?

 We don't have a parliamentary system of government, we do have a now quite strong norm of no overt, heavy handed political pressure on the Fed, and the Fed chair is not a monetary policy dictator. In principle, the Chair has one vote on a 12 person voting committee.

 Now the question of should this happen in the USA is trickier.

 On the affirmative side, we still have a big output gap, an unacceptably high unemployment rate, too few people in the labor force, and some theoretical evidence that the "expectations channel" could work.

 On the negative side, there isn't much empirical evidence that such a regime change actually will work. The jury hasn't even been selected yet in the Japanese case, so we have one case, the US in 1933, which is not uncontroversial. I mean, the US economy was in terrible shape well after 1933. Unemployment in 1938 was 19% (yes I know about the "mistake of 1937"and all but the point is that the monetary regime change was not decisive in sustainably fixing the US economy).

 Roosevelt took us off gold. That was bold. What would be a comparable present day analog? What if we adopted the Venezuelan Strong Bolivar as our currency. That might work!

Banning Competition

Hayek had this right, and people forget how often the point is illustrated by those we call "conservatives":

There is some justification at least in the taunt that many of the pretending defenders of “free enterprise” are in fact defenders of privileges and advocates of government activity in their favor rather than opponents of all privileges. In principle the industrial protectionism and government-supported cartels and agricultural policies of the conservative groups are not different from the proposals for a more far-reaching direction of economic life sponsored by the socialists. - F.A. Hayek, page 107 , Individualism and Economic Order 

A beautiful example, just beautiful:  good ol' North Carolina may outlaw car companies that try to sell cars directly to customers.  The whole "support your local (car) dealer" thing is interesting.  But this takes it to a whole new level.  Russ and I talked about some of these issues a while back.

Nod to Marc B, who is going to lose his lefty label if he's not careful.
UPDATE:  Marc B., demonstrating he has gone round the bend, sends this photo:

Dr. Evil exists.  In the heart of every Democrat and Republican ever elected anywhere to any legislature.  It just makes so much sense, doesn't it?  Charging all those low prices for high quality stuff?  It's MEAN, that's what it is.  And it must be stopped, before it costs us more jobs.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I had never heard of these substances.  Now I want some.

What's the WORST thing that can happen with a pressure cooker?

Dioxygen diflouride: foof!

The sand next time.

Looks like rain

Was it flooding in Chicago last night?

Hey D-Wade: Thurston Howell the III called. He wants his blazer back!

Labor Force

See what I did with that title.  To have babies, women go into "labor."  You're welcome.

Opting Out among Women with Elite Education 

Joni Hersch 
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, March 2013 

 Abstract: Whether highly educated women are exiting the labor force to care for their children has generated a great deal of media attention, even though academic studies find little evidence of opting out. This paper shows that female graduates of elite institutions have lower labor market involvement than their counterparts from less selective institutions. Although elite graduates are more likely to earn advanced degrees, marry at later ages, and have higher expected earnings, there is little difference in labor market activity by college selectivity among women without children and women who are not married. But the presence of children is associated with far lower labor market activity among married elite graduates. Most women eventually marry and have children, and the net effect is that labor market activity is on average lower among elite graduates than among those from less selective institutions. The largest gap in labor market activity between graduates of elite institutions and less selective institutions is among MBAs, with married mothers who are graduates of elite institutions 30 percentage points less likely to be employed full-time than graduates of less selective institutions.

Why Do So Few Women Work in New York (and So Many in Minneapolis)? Labor Supply of Married Women across U.S. Cities 

 Dan Black, Natalia Kolesnikova & Lowell Taylor 
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming 

Abstract: This paper documents a little-noticed feature of U.S. labor markets — very large variation in the labor supply of married women across cities. We focus on cross-city differences in commuting times as a potential explanation for this variation. We start with a model in which commuting times introduce non-convexities into the budget set. Empirical evidence is consistent with the model’s predictions: Labor force participation rates of married women are negatively correlated with the metropolitan area commuting time. Also, metropolitan areas with larger increases in average commuting time in 1980-2000 had slower growth in the labor force participation of married women. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Headline Meme

Headline that pretty much says it all:

Naked women cause traffic jam in Charlotte.

I bet so.  Nod to the LMM.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Food trucks in Manhattan...

2.  Imports work for America!  (I'm a little skeptical of these "job creation" studies, even if I agree with the direction they take).

3.  Buzz Aldrin:  Mars in 20.

4.  This obit reminds me of Alexandra Cooper's mother (who is very much not dead).  But these descriptions are along the same lines...

5.  "Reject" people who disagree with you?  Really?  Not persuade them, or talk to them?  Reject, without even considering their arguments?

LOTS more after the jump...