Friday, November 30, 2012

On the radio - Tuesday at 9:00 AM

Just as a heads up ... I'll be on the radio at 9:00 Tuesday, December 4th.  I'll be a guest of the "On the Mark" program.

You can listen 1070 AM if you're in the area or over the internet at this link.

Discussion of Sandel's book and great quotes by McCloskey

Several links:

1. Discussion of Michael Sandel's new book.  I've read most of his book "Justice", but not this one.  Given the reviews and time constraints, I highly doubt I'll add it to my reading queue.  You absolutely should read Deirdre McCloskey's review.  (Really, you should read anything McCloskey writes.)

Here are two of my favorite quotes from McCloskey's review:

"Because they do, most of them accept for example that going down and joining the union made workers better off, by giving them better bargaining power against the bosses, even though the historical evidence is crushing that unionization did not make workers better off (rising productivity did)."

"The poor have benefited the most from capitalism. The sheer, first-act, unanalyzed equality that Sandel advocates would have killed the modern world and kept us in the appalling poverty of the human condition down to 1800. In fact in some countries it did, such as India after 1947, under Gandhi-plus-London-School-of-Economics egalitarianism, the "License Raj" and "the Hindu rate of growth," as the Indians themselves bitterly described their communitarian economy. When I talk to friends who think like Sandel I worry that their dispositions will kill, quite unintentionally, the only chance for the world's poor to achieve the scope for a full human life."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recent published research ....

Link here.  This was a fun project ...


Hypotheses explaining outcomes from internet poker were tested by using structural equations modeling: Personal characteristics and traits were proposed to influence motivation, leading to gaming behavior and then to outcomes. One hundred ninety-four participants from an internet poker forum completed online assessment. Three separate outcomes were supported: social-emotional gains, monetary winnings/losses, and negative experiences. One third of the participants reported some negative outcomes and 12% said these were significant; two thirds indicated no negative outcomes. Problems were most linked to the trait of Neuroticism, younger age, and more hours played, but unrelated to amounts won or lost. Gaming for social-emotional benefits mediated fewer negative outcomes. Financial gain motivation was a key mediator for gaming behavior. Findings were consistent with research showing negative emotionality and youth to be associated with poor gambling outcomes. The model suggests concrete actions that can be taken to minimize problem gaming while maximizing healthier involvement with online poker.

Warren Buffett Links

Warren Buffett is in the news again.  I used to hold him in high regard, but not anymore.  He's a master at avoiding taxes while advocating for higher taxes on the wealthy.  Further, he doesn't seem to advocate closing the loopholes he exploits.

Here is Buffett discussing his thoughts on new taxes.

Here is the Weekly Standard exposing his hypocrisy.

Greg Mankiw discusses.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Good op-ed on Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board ...

By Jay Ostrich of the Commonwealth Foundation.

Article is here.  This is an interesting read, but the biggest beneficiary of disbanding the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board would be consumers, who would pay less for alcohol if there is competition.  This extra money these consumers save would mean there is additional spending in other areas as well, benefiting even those who don't drink any alcohol.

Laws Restricting Consenting Adults ...

The laws restricting consenting adults from making transactions with each other, otherwise known as price gouging laws, have been in the news recently (and on this blog) with the gas prices in New Jersey.  Some recent stories.

Link to summary of state laws.

Gas lines in New Jersey down as prices are up?  This should not be shocking information for anybody who takes introductory economics courses.  Link here.

A debate on price gouging laws.  The person arguing for them gets an intellectual beat-down.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you have a great day!  Our family is in California, enjoying the holiday.

Some links:

Earlier this week, we visited a place that has mastered the art of capitalism:  Link here.

Economic news about Black Friday.

Some despicable union activity on Thanksgiving at LAX.

Hopefully this isn't a symbol of things to come.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Update on Economic Impact Review

My new website, Economic Impact Review, is going well.  It now has many reviews of Marcellus Shale studies along with a few reviews of National Parks/State Parks posted.  We have started reviewing several more studies that should be posted in the next few weeks.

In addition to posting reviews of economic impact studies on Marcellus Shale, National Parks, and State Parks, we have posted other economic impact studies that we haven’t (yet) reviewed on these topics.  Hopefully, however, by having them posted we provide easy access to these EI studies for researchers, journalists, etc. 

Economic Impact of Colleges/Universities
We recently updated the site with a page that has links to economic impact studies on colleges and universities.  (Link here.)  When I have conducted economic impact studies on universities, I found it tedious to find publicly available studies, so hopefully this page is useful for those conducting an economic impact study on a college and university.  We are starting with colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with other states coming soon.  

There are no immediate plans to review economic impact studies conducted for colleges/universities.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A happy election result from California

I was pleased to see California voters defeated a measure to require labeling of GM foods.  I had more of a personal interest in this vote, as much of my research in my first decade of scholarly work (2001-2011) was spent constructing experiments on GM products, implementing them, analyzing the results, and writing them up the results for journals.  (I have many publications on preferences for GM foods, how information affects preferences, and more ... links to my CV containing my list of publications is here.)

I could write about what happened and why GMOs and why I wanted this bill to be defeated, but it's better to simply provide links.  First, a few stories from Jayson Lusk's blog.

A few of Lusk's stories before the vote:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

And a story reporting on vote is here.

Here's's lesson on GMOs:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Discussion on future of Republican party on poker site

I still read a forum at a poker site from time-to-time,  It's a small community by forum standards, but there are many really smart people there from different backgrounds.  There is an interesting post on the future of the Republican party there, and I responded with some thoughts, which I'll share here.  For the full discussion, see this link.

On the question of: "Is the Republican Party Dead"
* Given Obama didn't have much to run on this election, it's pretty reasonable to ask what chances Republicans will have in the future. What happens if the unemployment rate is 5.9% or lower in 2016? (Which I think is completely reasonable.) Unless Republicans can broaden their appeal with Hispanics, it will be tough to win presidential elections in the future. 

* That being said, if Hurricane Sandy doesn't hit - who knows about this one. After the hurricane, Obama could be seen as a president. He didn't have to answer questions about Libya or the economy for the final 10 days of the election. The average of polls shifted by two points towards Obama in the last 10 days. 

On the post-election diagnosis:
* Whenever one side wins by 1 or 2 points, pundits talk about the losing side having total failures in their strategy while the winning side was brilliant. We have all played enough poker to know that sometimes you just get cold-decked, right? This happens both ways - I remember hearing how the Democratic party was dead after the election in 2004. 

On a comment that Republicans have a problem in having to veer to the right to win the nomination:
* I think Nside's point on Republicans having to veer to the right is also (potentially more?) true for Democrats having to veer to the left. Obama is very liberal. So was John Kerry. Moderate Democrats seem to be a rare breed anymore, and they certainly don't get presidential nominations. Sometimes they even get beat in senatorial primaries for being moderates (like the Democrat VP nominee in 2000).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Quote for Election Day

"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a "dismal science".  But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance."

By Murray N. Rothbard.  Taken from Peter Boettke's "Living Economics".  

Friday, November 2, 2012

This really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Discussing the lines for gasoline ...

After reading the John Stossel article yesterday, and hearing of the long gas lines in a radio news update this morning, I decided to call into our local radio talk show ...

Here I talk with the hosts of "On The Mark" at the beginning of the show about how laws against price gouging hurt the public.  I start at about minute four and am on for about ten minutes.  I have no idea what happened (who called in) after I was on ... 

Note - I just saw that prices for gas have gone up in NY.  The article does mention that price gouging is illegal, however.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One way to reduce the pain of the hurricane ...

Allow price fluctuations!  Great story here by Stossel.

The key point:

"Today, some car owners wait in line just to top off their tanks. If gas stations could raise prices, many of those drivers would wait, and drive less.  Drivers who really need gas would be able to get it.    At the same time, entrepreneurs would rush gasoline to gas stations that have the highest prices.   The lines would quickly vanish, and prices would come back down."