Friday, October 30, 2015

Bartleby the Economist!

Our universally acclaimed  Governor has promulgated a budget clawback executive order, which was passed on to us individual OU faculty without any guidance about which parts, if any, apply to us.

What applies is an open question because State appropriations only provide 15-20% of OU's budget, thus limiting what can be clawed back.

The parts that have attracted faculty attention are these bits:

So the question is, do I have to notify the State in writing when I renew my Econometric Society membership?

Or, if another school or organization pays my expenses to come and give a seminar (which I have coming up at least 3 times next semester) do I have to inform the State and get permission from the Governor?

I'm not sure who to blame most, Fallin for the unparseable XO, or the OU administration for just forwarding it to us with no interpretation or guidance.

However, in this matter, as in most other such cases I have encountered along my life's journey, I will practice my usual passive civil disobedience.

Bartleby the Economist!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Re-issue of the century

People, "Torch of the Mystics" is coming out (again) on October 30th. Even in Vinyl for the hipsters (and me).

If you always wondered what the Sun City Girls were about, this is the album to go to. Quite a bit more musical and accessible than say "Midnight Cowboys from  Ipanema" or "330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda".

I guess it goes without saying that this is self-recommending?

I'll throw in that I also consistently enjoy the solo work of SSG member Richard (Rick) Bishop.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Do we have Joanna Newsom to thank for Dirty Projectors?

Well, maybe so!

Here's a quote from Dave Longstreth about how Newsom's debut, "The Milk Eyed Mender" affected him:

“I was in college, living in this weird house off-campus with some friends, and we blasted it a lot in that house," said Longstreth. "The melodies, the stories, the rhymes, the chord progressions: she was speaking our language for sure. I think it was one of the reasons I left school the next semester. I was like, "[what] am I doing here if someone is already out there making music like this, on this level??"

I'm a big fan of both and it's cool to learn about this connection/inspiration.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Throwing You Under the Bus: High Power People Knowingly Harm Others When Offered Small Incentives 

Jessica Swanner & Denise Beike 
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, September/October 2015, Pages 294-302 

Abstract: The potentially exploitative effects of power and incentive were examined. In the study, 250 participants heard a confederate admit or deny a misdeed and were pressured by the experimenter to inform on the confederate, sometimes in exchange for a small reward. The majority of participants knowingly falsely informed on the confederate when put in a position of high power and offered an incentive. Participants truthfully informed on the confederate regardless of power or incentive. Results are interpreted in light of social psychological theories of social power, which suggest that harmful opportunism is a likely but not inevitable effect of empowerment.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Illusion of Competence

This may explain why Duke's Lit Department has a "Political Economy" Program.

Or why I think I am really, really good at Putt-Putt Golf.  That sort of thing.

The Curse of Expertise: When More Knowledge Leads to Miscalibrated Explanatory Insight 

Matthew Fisher & Frank Keil
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Does expertise within a domain of knowledge predict accurate self-assessment of the ability to explain topics in that domain? We find that expertise increases confidence in the ability to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, this confidence is unwarranted; after actually offering full explanations, people are surprised by the limitations in their understanding. For passive expertise (familiar topics), miscalibration is moderated by education; those with more education are accurate in their self-assessments (Experiment 1). But when those with more education consider topics related to their area of concentrated study (college major), they also display an illusion of understanding (Experiment 2). This “curse of expertise” is explained by a failure to recognize the amount of detailed information that had been forgotten (Experiment 3). While expertise can sometimes lead to accurate self-knowledge, it can also create illusions of competence.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oh, She's Mad....

This is amazing.  Even WOMEN think that the default setting for women is "angry."

Is She Angry? (Sexually Desirable) Women “See” Anger on Female Faces 

Jaimie Arona Krems et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Intrasexual conflict may pose unique challenges for women. Whereas men’s aggression tends to be physical and direct, women’s tends to be relational and indirect, particularly when directed toward other women. Moreover, women’s expressions of anger are often suppressed, perhaps particularly when other women are the targets. Thus, women may face difficulty anticipating anger and anger-based aggression from other women. How might women manage this challenge? The functional projection of emotion may facilitate useful behavior; for instance, “seeing” anger on people believed to pose threats to physical safety may help perceivers preempt or avoid physical harm. Given the threats that women face, we predicted that (a) women are biased to “see” anger on neutral female (but not male) faces and that (b) women who are likely targets of intrasexual aggression (i.e., sexually desirable or available women) show an exaggerated bias. We report three studies that support these hypotheses and, more broadly, illustrate the value of a functional approach to social cognition.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What state has the most dangerous toddlers?

If you are in Missouri (good lord, why?) and you see a toddler....


There are more shootings by toddlers in Mizzou than any other state in the Union!

Here's the map to prove it.

I am so impressed with Arkansas. Zero! Must have mandatory safety lessons there before giving carry permits to the toddler crowd.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lord, Forgive the Economists, For They Know Not What They Do

A remarkable disruption in the force.  How anyone could understand the complex rules of threat, deterrence, and protection as "profit-maximizing" per se is beyond me.  But it does illustrate how bizarrely intellectually impoverished economics is as a field.

Fighting as a profit maximizing strategy in the National Hockey League: More evidence 

Duane Rockerbie 
Applied Economics, forthcoming 

Abstract: This article estimates the effect of fighting in hockey games on attendance in the National Hockey League (NHL) over the 1997–1998 through 2009–2010 seasons. After estimating a system of equations developed from a model of a profit-maximizing club owner, it was found that fighting had a small negative effect on attendance implying that encouraging fighting on the ice is not a profit-maximizing strategy. The results are quite robust when incorporating capacity constraints on attendance and exogenous ticket pricing. Other factors that determine club performance and market size were found to significantly affect attendance. The empirical results also suggest that NHL club owners are maximizing profit.

Look, folks, hockey fights, like stylized fights in the animal kingdom, prevent actual violence and injury.  Having specialized goons makes the game cleaner.  And, in equilibrium, there is less violence.  Selecting on instances of violence and then drawing inferences is not just a misunderstanding of hockey, but a show of ignorance of basic game theory.  If you have a reputation for effective violence, you won't have to fight.  And you won't get that stick handle poke-check to your star forward's chest, breaking his rib.  Gretzky pretty much never got touched.  'Cause if he did, there would be a fight.  Gretzky wouldn't fight, and not because he was a pussweiler.  Gretzky didn't fight because he was too valuable, TO BOTH TEAMS.  Nobody wanted Gretzky hurt, and someone who hurt Gretzky was gonna get an ass-whuppin'.  Knowing that, the "no violence" equilibrium could be supported.

For a Canadian (and Duane Rockerbie is clearly a Canadian, eh?) to make this mistake is even more inexcusable.

For those seeking enlightenment, the answer (as always) is one of my appearances on EconTalk.  This one, in fact.  This recent book does a nice job of discussing when violence is "virtuous."  And, like any literate people, they know enough to reference EconTalk as THE authoritative source. Or, something like that.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, October 12, 2015


People, the Nobel Prize in Econ went to Angus!!!!!! OMG OMG. Take THAT, Munogwitz!

What's that you say? It's not OUR Angus?

But look at this quote:

“You’ve got a line that no one knows where to put it, PPPs that change, and underlying data that is bad,” he said. “It is sort of a statistical problem from hell.”

Are you sure it's not our Angus?

Seriously, big congratulations to Angus Deaton on a well deserved award.

Also big congrats to the Swedes for giving the thing to a single recipient two years in a row. That Fama, Shiller, & Hansen deal a couple of years ago was a hot mess.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Markets in Everything

How many ships would a shipping ship ship,
If a shipping ship could ship ships?

This shipping shipping ship seems to ship all the shipping ships!  Though, it's really a barge.  How many shipping ships would a shipping ship barge ship if a shipping ship barge could ship ships, then.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hit Me! Hit Me! Hit Me With Your Selfie Stick!

Bad selfies.  They happen.  Not everyone wants to immortalize one in a tattoo, but that happens, also.

I have to admit, selfie-ing rarely occurs to me. (There was this, with "ties to both schools," but you see how that turned out).  I usually take a photo of a scene.  My big head is not an asset (though I admit there are people, including the LMM, who sometimes question whether I actually KNOW my head from my asset).

There is apparently a backlash against selfies.  But then I don't go to places like Disney World any more, or even to Disney World itself.  So I'm not a soldier in that fight. Some soldiers are taking selfies, though perhaps in a different fight.

Still, out of respect for frequent reader Shirley, a remembrance (with thanks to WH for the find):

Oh, and if you find the title obscure...  I was curious if this is a trope: Yes, yes it is.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

...And The Pursuit of Happiness

A two-fer!

Culture Shapes Whether the Pursuit of Happiness Predicts Higher or Lower Well-Being 

Brett Ford et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract: Pursuing happiness can paradoxically impair well-being. Here, the authors propose the potential downsides to pursuing happiness may be specific to individualistic cultures. In collectivistic (vs. individualistic) cultures, pursuing happiness may be more successful because happiness is viewed — and thus pursued — in relatively socially engaged ways. In 4 geographical regions that vary in level of collectivism (United States, Germany, Russia, East Asia), we assessed participants’ well-being, motivation to pursue happiness, and to what extent they pursued happiness in socially engaged ways. Motivation to pursue happiness predicted lower well-being in the United States, did not predict well-being in Germany, and predicted higher well-being in Russia and in East Asia. These cultural differences in the link between motivation to pursue happiness and well-being were explained by cultural differences in the socially engaged pursuit of happiness. These findings suggest that culture shapes whether the pursuit of happiness is linked with better or worse well-being, perhaps via how people pursue happiness.


Narcissism and United States’ Culture: The View From Home and Around the World 

 Joshua Miller et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract: The issue of Americans’ levels of narcissism is subject to lively debate. The focus of the present research is on the perception of national character (PNC) of Americans as a group. In Study 1, American adults (N = 100) rated Americans as significantly more narcissistic than they perceived themselves and acquaintances. In Study 2, this finding was replicated with American college students (N = 322). PNC ratings of personality traits and externalizing behaviors revealed that Americans were perceived as disagreeable and antisocial as well. In Study 3, we examined the broader characteristics associated with PNC ratings (N = 183). Americans rated the typical American as average on a variety of characteristics (e.g., wealth, education, health, likability) and PNC ratings of narcissism were largely unrelated to these ratings. In Study 4 (N = 1202) Americans rated PNCs for different prespecified groups of Americans; as expected, PNC ratings of narcissism differed by gender, age, and occupational status such that American males, younger Americans, and Americans working in high-visibility and status occupations were seen as more narcissistic. In Study 5 (N = 733), citizens of 4 other world regions (Basque Country, China, England, Turkey) rated members of their own region as more narcissistic than they perceived themselves, but the effect sizes were smaller than those found in the case of Americans’ perceptions of Americans. Additionally, members of these other regions rated Americans as more narcissistic than members of their own region. Finally, in Study 6, participants from around the world (N = 377) rated Americans as more narcissistic, extraverted, and antagonistic than members of their own countries. We discuss the role that America’s position as a global economic and military power, paired with a culture that creates and reifies celebrity figures, may play in leading to perceptions of Americans as considerably narcissistic.
Nod to Kevin Lewis

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

"One of things just doesn't belong here, and now it's time to play our game!"

Usually I see the Washington Center for Equitable Growth in the usual convoluted cross-chain of Brad DeLong links and sub-links and can't make hide nor hair of what may or may not be going on.

But this morning Brad tweeted a straight up link to an article there by Nick Bunker that made me sit up and take notice.

It is called "What does and does not boost Economic Growth"

Good topic. Kudos.

Unfortunately, the post considers 3 policies. (1) Investment, (2) paid family leave, (3) Ideas.

We are told "under Solow’s framework, adding more capital and labor will only temporarily boost growth, and the pace of growth in the long run will eventually go back to where it was before. What needs to be increased, then, is productivity."


But for many countries increasing capital and labor has provided increased growth for decades. The east asian "miracle" was not a primarily a productivity miracle but rather an accumulation miracle.

How is this possible? Well the speed of convergence to a new equilibrium growth path is slow so the temporary boost can last a long time. Also, if you keep increasing capital, the path keeps shifting up! See China.

Then, incredibly, the article segues into,  "policies like the one proposed by Equitable Growth’s Heather Boushey that help workers balance work and family responsibilities are important to boost overall economic growth."

Heather's article is about paid family leave. Yes, paying people not to work will raise economic growth. Who knew?

No models to cite, no evidence given, no idea that there might be a cost-benefit analysis to consider, just toss it out there like it's obvious and move on.

Finally, we are told that Romer's endogenous growth model puts ideas at the center of long run growth. Totally true. But in Romer's model, the level of ideas affect the rate of growth, because there are non-diminishing returns. This has been pretty comprehensively beaten down, mostly by Charles Jones.

Note that if we allow for non-diminishing returns to capital (the AK model) investment increases can permanently raise growth.

I would be so bold as to venture that over a 20 year horizon a boost in investment would do much more for growth than instituting paid family leave.  I guess maybe that's one reason why I'm not writing for the Washington Center of Equitable Growth.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Arrgh, I've been name-shamed by Marc F. Bellemare!!!

Over at the interestingly named Marc F., there is a pro-IV post.

A very good point is actually raised, namely that in some very cool cases you can get random assignment of the instrument. Here I totally agree that you are on solid ground.

I can actually argue further against my former self and point out that Fuzzy RD models ARE IV models.

Whoever writes at Marc F. also appears to somewhat agree with me saying that,

Don’t get me wrong: If you are going to use an observational IV, you do need to think very carefully about how and why it meets the exclusion restriction. And if it does meet it, you need to pray that it will be a relevant IV. But there are clear cases where IV works, and that is especially the case in a setting where you randomly assign the IV, or in quasi experimental settings where people are assigned to some treatment at random (e.g., Angrist’s famous Vietnam draft lottery setting).

Again, I agree these are clear cases. But they are a tiny minority of the cases where IV is used.

Look at a typical dynamic panel paper. it uses a test for no second order autocorrelation, generally accepting if the P level is worse than 0.10,  so all variables lagged twice or more can be instruments. Then a second test, Sargan or affiliated, of OVERidentification again accepting the null with a P worse that say 0.10, and then claim to have validated their identification strategy.

Two consecutive filters with little to no power to fail to reject a false null, a test that doesn't test what you are claiming, and voila, SCIENCE.

In other news, Me and Mungowitz are looking into legally changing our blog's name to Marc F.

Wish us luck!

Cutting the pay, or cutting the cheese?

Were these folks the victim of blatant gasism?  Or were they let go because they had trouble cutting the pay?

It's a Jersey thing.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The "Spillover Effects" of Having to Pee: You Lie Better?

Seriously.  They actually say "spillover effects."  Me gusta.

The inhibitory spillover effect: Controlling the bladder makes better liars 

Elise Fenn et al.
Consciousness and Cognition, December 2015, Pages 112–122

Abstract: The Inhibitory-Spillover-Effect (ISE) on a deception task was investigated. The ISE occurs when performance in one self-control task facilitates performance in another (simultaneously conducted) self-control task. Deceiving requires increased access to inhibitory control. We hypothesized that inducing liars to control urination urgency (physical inhibition) would facilitate control during deceptive interviews (cognitive inhibition). Participants drank small (low-control) or large (high-control) amounts of water. Next, they lied or told the truth to an interviewer. Third-party observers assessed the presence of behavioral cues and made true/lie judgments. In the high-control, but not the low-control condition, liars displayed significantly fewer behavioral cues to deception, more behavioral cues signaling truth, and provided longer and more complex accounts than truth-tellers. Accuracy detecting liars in the high-control condition was significantly impaired; observers revealed bias toward perceiving liars as truth-tellers. The ISE can operate in complex behaviors. Acts of deception can be facilitated by covert manipulations of self-control.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Friday, October 02, 2015

A Taste of Headline Heaven

My love of an excellent, self-contained headline is well-documented.  One advantage of this is that sharp-eyed KPC readers send in examples.

This one...oh, man, this one is excellent:

"Watch woman yell 'bear don’t eat my kayak' as bear eats kayak"

It's all there:  pathos, drama, action.  Lovely.

Thanks to Rob Hallford, who offered this analysis:  "My favorite part is when she screams that the kayak "doesn't even taste good." Like a) she's tried it and b) knows what tastes good to bears. In fact, seasoned with her tears, I bet it tasted pretty damn good. "

Keep 'em coming, folks. 

Update:  Loyal reader DD notes that the Gawker headline is also well done:  "Bear Politely Ignores Woman Yelling at Him to Stop Eating Kayak."

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Last meals

Oh Oklahoma. you just can't do anything right.

Take the case of this dude Richard Glossip, on death row for murder for hire.

He's already had two last minute stays of execution, this time because the state did not get the correct third drug for its 3 drug lethal injection cocktail.

No matter what you think of the case or of capital punishment, can you imagine being set to be executed twice already and getting last day reprieves and knowing that it will happen again in 37 days?

Jeebus help us all for what happens in our penal system.

Here, by the way, is the menu for Glossip's second last meal:

On Tuesday evening, Glossip received a second last meal: a medium double-bacon, double-cheese pizza from Pizza Hut; two orders of fish and chips from Long John Silver's; and a Baconater and strawberry malt from Wendy's.

I wonder what he'll ask for on his 3rd one. I wonder how many last meals this poor bastard will have.

By the way, here's my last meal request if it ever comes down to it:

Wagyu beef skirt steak(medium rare), mexican-style corn on the cob, risotto, charred brussels sprouts, key lime pie.

I'd like the pie to come from The Tea House in Santa Fe, the steak, risotto and brussels sprouts from Red Prime in OKC and the corn from Passion Latin Fusion in Albequerque.