Thursday, February 28, 2013

Link to brief radio appearance

I called into the "On the Mark" radio program on Wednesday morning to discuss the sequester.

The link is here.  

I am on the air starting at about the 6:30 minute mark and stay on until the 15:30 minute mark.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My upcoming presentations

I am busy with travel over the next three months.  Here is my tentative list of presentations:

"The impact of product information and trials on demand for smokeless tobacco and cigarettes: Evidence from experimental auctions."  March 8th.  Arizona State University.  

"How can experimental economics help public health researchers? Evidence from auctions of food products and cigarettes."  March 18th.  Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY.

"Some Guidelines for Determining the Economic Impact of National Parks, State Parks, and Other Recreation Areas." April 4th.  International Atlantic Economic Society Meetings, Vienna, Austria.

"The impact of product information and trials on demand for smokeless tobacco and cigarettes: Evidence from experimental auctions."  April 5th.  International Atlantic Economic Society Meetings, Vienna, Austria.

"Do Practice Rounds Bias Experimental Auction Results?" April 8th.  Technical University of Munich.  Freising, Germany.

"Do Monetary Incentives Matter in Classroom Experiments: Effects on Game Performance and Exam Scores."  Exact date not yet known (but between May 29-31).  AEA Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education.  Chicago, IL.

It's going to be a busy but fun three months!  I don't think I've ever had this many presentations in such a short time-period.  (When you count the Horn lecture, it's 7 presentations in just over 3 months.)  

Links on the sequester

First ... George Will is calling Obama the "Hysteric in Chief".  I think he makes good arguments.  The sequester cuts are so modest that the payroll tax increases workers experienced in January had a bigger impact on family budgets than the sequester cut will have on the government budget.

Here is Tyler Cowen explaining trying to defend Republicans.

The news coverage of this is not very objective.  Most stories only focus on those who dislike the sequester, not on the potential benefits.

And ... a bonus non-sequester link.  Here is a great video on ideological tolerance by Juan Williams.  (From John Lott's blog.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fun Links

Here are a few links to stories I found especially noteworthy over the past several days:

1. Here is one writer's list of the most embarrassing moments in Democratic party history.  In my opinion,  FDR's horrendous economic policies should be near the top.  Republicans certainly have their warts as well, but I like this list as it gives ammunition for when a Democrat starts talking about how Republicans are "always are screwed up and backward thinking".

2. Liquor legislation - now announced in PA house

3. I am paying a lot of attention to the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto.  It seems obvious to me (and apparently, the Supreme Court as well) that Bowman violated the law.  This relates to the property rights for a seed.  Here are a couple articles about this lawsuit.
3a. From Freakonomics.  
3b. From Jayson Lusk.

Write up in SU student newspaper on my John C. Horn lecture

Link here

"Rousu studied his topic alongside senior Melissa Hughes and sophomore Zachary Zoller to whom Rousu attributed much of his success on this study to.

A large portion of the lecture involved economic impact studies in regards to park and recreation areas involved with Marcellus Shale, showing different studies and how they differentiate."

Also, because the demand of economist-in-action pictures is almost as high as for athletes ... 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fun Links

Some interesting links:

Colorado may pass gun control, so tells females to fight off rapists by "Vomiting or urinating"

More unintended consequences from Obamacare.  Edit ... Second story here.

Why don't you tell us how you really feel about French workers, Mr. Tire CEO.

Visual time line of right-to-work.  

Short-run vs. long-run effects of minimum wages.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A sentence worth reading!

Link here to Forbes story.

"Oddly enough, and basically as a by-product of the rise in shale gas and the effects of the recession, the United States led the world in greenhouse gas emission reductions over the past five years, eliminating about 350 million tons of CO2."

Great Thomas Sowell Videos

Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite economists.  I think I have learned more from him since earning my doctorate than from any other economist.

Here are a few videos of Sowell ... all are a bit dated, but the educational value isn't diminished.  

First, Sowell faces the common argument that census statistics on wages imply discrimination:

Here, he discusses issues with a welfare administrator:

Equality versus freedom (with Milton Friedman as well ...):

Saturday, February 16, 2013

You want a minimum wage increase? More proof economics education is still needed

OK, yesterday I posted in praise of Obama.  Now, let's get back to normal.  

Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9.00 in his State of the Union speech.  This is a bad idea.

The unemployment rate among 16-19 year olds in 2012 was 24%.  The minimum wage should be lowered or eliminated to help out our country, not raised.  

If this type of minimum wage had been in place when I was young, I doubt I get my first job at age 14 at a fast food restaurant.  The skills I learned from my first job at minimum wage helped me in my subsequent jobs that earned me more money.  Today's teenagers don't have the opportunities I had because of the $7.25 minimum wage (or higher in some states). At $9.00, it will be much worse.  

I hope Obama fails miserably at this attempt to harm our country.  On this issue, however, many Americans are sadly foolish and support a minimum wage.  So it probably will pass, the unemployment rate for youth will remain high, and the same people who support these increases will write articles trying to figure out why the teenage unemployment rate is so high.  (While mostly ignoring minimum wage increases as a factor.)

I could write more, but instead will link to others so you can get a diverse set of views.

1. Read about the minimum wage's use as a tool for racists.  (WSJ version here, but it is gated)

2. If you think the minimum wage is a good idea, why not go to $90/hour?

3. Mankiw blogs.

4. Krugman criticizes those who oppose Obama's proposal.  He doesn't really argue the policy here, he just seems to argue that anybody who disagrees with him must be evil. Where have I seen this before?  

5. Hamermesh thinks "will kill off a few jobs that would otherwise have been created" but that we should go ahead with it anyway to avoid politicians bickering.  I couldn't disagree more.  First, if you think a policy is bad, I don't think giving in is right.  I want to see my representative fighting for what's right.  Second, politicians usually cause more harm than good when creating new laws, so I'd rather have them argue over this law than give in and have more free time.  (Even if it is increased.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Some praise for Obama

As readers of this blog will know, I'm don't think too highly of most of the policies and proposals on the economy that come from the Obama administration.  But ...

Obama favors getting rid of the penny.  I'm generally happy when Obama isn't actively screwing things up.  But supporting a policy that is actually helpful?  That deserves some praise!  Pennies are too expensive and not worth the hassle.  Here's a video from a year ago that presents the case well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fun Links

1. Sowell's latest article.  I enjoy Sowell's "random thoughts".  My favorite quote from this:

I can't get excited by the question of whether Senator Robert Menendez had sex with a prostitute in Central America. It is her word against his -- and when it comes to a prostitute's word against a politician's word, that is too close to call.

2. Poll results: PA citizens wants to end the state's liquor monopoly.

3.  The rise of the welfare state (from Mankiw).  Link to story here.  All you need is the graph, however.

4.  Don't like the grade you receive?  You could work hard to improve it, or instead just sue for $1.3 million.

Link to my radio appearance ...

Link here.  This was one of my favorite interviews.  I was on with Than, Ben, and Mark and we took several phone calls and emails.  We had a great time.  

Topics discussed: why Libertarian/Republican policies are better for all Americans, including minorities; why minimum wages are bad for our country; and more.

I join in at the twenty-five minute mark.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great TV story on ending prevailing wage

Link here.

The union leader has a pretty silly response when he is handed the two price estimates.  It's the same firms both times, so his argument about product quality doesn't really hold.

That being said, I don't know if there is a good response at that point.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Occupy SU People Don't Like Me

I didn't know I was important enough to be vilified by the Occupiers.  

Some responses to their post on facebook:  

From a former student of mine (who actually disagrees with quite a few of my political views):

Dr. Rousu's analysis of the situation is spot on. Perhaps actually taking an economics course may shed some light on the situation for you....

The two articles aren't really contradicting each other. Herzenberger comments on the possible social externalities, whereas Rousu writes about the insanely obvious economic benefits. In regards to Herzenberger's article, it's not the government's responsibility to regulate individual alcohol intake.

From a former faculty colleague/boss:

Matt - who I hired when he came to SU - is spot on. Yes, privatizing liquor sales will eliminate some state jobs. But if jobs alone were the criterion, we'd use hoes rather than tractors, since so many people would have jobs hoeing to replace the tractor driver. We'd have no self-service gas stations (ala NJ and Oregon) because thousands of folks would then have jobs pumping gas. Etc. Yes, market economies take time to sort out supply and demand issues such as the labor force and what job skills are needed. But please don't blame a natural tendency toward efficiency with heartless job destruction!

People far more important than me have had to deal with the occupiers, however, so I guess I should be honored that they think I'm worth attacking.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

My newest publication available today

Demand Reduction from Plain and Pictorial Cigarette Warning Labels: Evidence from Experimental Auctions

By Matthew C. Rousu and James F. Thrasher

Published in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.  Volume 35, Issue 1.  Pages 171-184.

you can access it here ...

Abstract: We report the results of experimental auctions with U.S. smokers, assessing the percentage of U.S. smokers whose demand for cigarettes decreases when bidding on packs with text and pictorial warnings, relative to packs with text-only warnings. We find that pictorial labels and pictorial labels accompanied by plain packaging are more effective at reducing demand for cigarettes than only a front text warning label. We also find that pictorial labels were most effective at encouraging younger smokers to reduce their demand for cigarettes, and plain packaging was most effective at reducing demand among less educated smokers.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Privatizing Liquor

Pennsylvania's liquor stores are government run.  It, along with Utah, are the only two states in the US with this type of control.

Further, in most grocery stores, you cannot buy beer.  Governor Corbett proposed ending this setup recently.  Link here to article.

From an economics point of view, this is clearly a move in the right direction.  (See my oped)  I find it funny, however, that news outlets ask the existing stores about how they will feel about increased competition.  Of course they'll dislike extra competition.  Is this really news?

Edit - the video doesn't always show completely here.  Follow to WNEP to see the video more-easily

My oped on PLCB privatization

Here's a link to my oped on PLCB privatization.  It ran in today's Harrisburg Patriot News.

It begins:

"Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to end the state’s liquor “monopoly” is a good thing. One of the basic principles of microeconomics is that for most products, government interference in markets creates inefficiency. 

If the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s monopoly on alcohol sales is broken, Pennsylvanians should enjoy lower prices without having to cross state lines. Therefore, this plan should be good for society."

For more, follow the link.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm presenting a public lecture at Susquehanna

From the (forthcoming?) press release:

Manipulating Public Opinion with Economic Impact Studies:  Marcellus Shale, Parks and Recreation Areas – Feb. 20

Matthew Rousu, associate professor of economics, will discuss potential pitfalls of economic impact studies when presenting the annual John C. Horn Lecture on Feb. 20 at 4:15 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium.    The presentation will explore how economic impact studies can be both a valuable and a misused tool.  “This is particularly relevant for Pennsylvanians, as there have been a number of recently released economic impact studies about drilling for Marcellus Shale,” Rousu said.

Rousu is the 2012 recipient of the John C. Horn Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes outstanding faculty scholarship and service. The award was established in 1979 by the university's Board of Trustees to honor the late John C. Horn, who served as its chair from 1962 to 1978. Rousu was presented the award, which is determined by open nominations by the faculty, during Commencement last May. “There are many great researchers here at Susquehanna University, so to be recognized with the Horn lectureship award is a tremendous honor,” he said.

Rousu’s research methodology expertise is experimental auctions, which he uses to study issues in agricultural economics, environmental economics and public health. His research has been published in numerous journals, book chapters and technical reports. He has been recognized with awards from professional organizations, serves as a regular contributor at professional conferences and has received significant external funding to support his work.

Rousu has researched Marcellus Shale, as well as other issues related to economic impact studies, for the past year. Six months ago, he launched the website to review economic impact studies and to reduce confusion and bias among the studies of the state’s Marcellus Shale reserves.

Rousu earned his doctorate from Iowa State University and joined the Susquehanna University faculty in 2004. He also serves as a member of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Students, as well as faculty and staff, are encouraged to attend.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Starvation is better than Inflation?

Argentina puts in a price freeze on food.

From what I understand, the president of Argentina is a socialist/communist, so she probably doesn't understand basic economics.  Ignorance should not be an excuse for starving people, however.

Limiting the price firms can earn will mean fewer foods are going to be sold.  With firms not able to earn as much, they'll stop stocking products.  This is one of the more-disastrous proposals one could imagine, as food shortages will occur.  The exact same result happens with rent control - the quality and quantity of available housing decreases.  Given this is the entire country and food is at stake - this is far worse.

Tomorrow and Thursday my principles of microeconomics class will be learning about price ceilings.  This will be a timely (and sad) topic for us to discuss.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A couple articles on gas drilling in US

From Spiegel Online: Here is a great overview of the worldwide impact of increased energy production from the USA.

Here is a great article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (one of the two papers from my childhood home) on the impact of gas drilling on North Dakota.  WalMart offering $17/hour?  Wow.

We're also still posting reviews of fracking economic impact studies on

Friday, February 1, 2013

Some recent stories I've found interesting

From Freakonomics ... The US approach to online poker is violating WTO rules, so Antigua and Barbuda may soon be able to sell pirated US movies (legally).  As a former online poker player, I would hope this pushes the US towards online gambling legalization.  Our government is so messed up that I am not confident.

From Mankiw's blog.  I think this is the economics equivalent of a "cat-fight".  Entertaining, but you feel wrong watching.

From The Smoking Gun ... This lady says she isn't going to leave any tip on her receipt and the waitress publishes her receipt.  Reminds me of this great scene in Reservoir Dogs ... (warning - adult language):