robertogreco + tylercowen   46

Considerations On Cost Disease | Slate Star Codex
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I mentioned politics briefly above, but they probably deserve more space here. Libertarian-minded people keep talking about how there’s too much red tape and the economy is being throttled. And less libertarian-minded people keep interpreting it as not caring about the poor, or not understanding that government has an important role in a civilized society, or as a “dog whistle” for racism, or whatever. I don’t know why more people don’t just come out and say “LOOK, REALLY OUR MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COST TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO FOR NO REASON, PLUS THEY SEEM TO BE GOING DOWN IN QUALITY, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY, AND WE’RE MOSTLY JUST DESPERATELY FLAILING AROUND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS HERE.” State that clearly, and a lot of political debates take on a different light.

For example: some people promote free universal college education, remembering a time when it was easy for middle class people to afford college if they wanted it. Other people oppose the policy, remembering a time when people didn’t depend on government handouts. Both are true! My uncle paid for his tuition at a really good college just by working a pretty easy summer job – not so hard when college cost a tenth of what it did now. The modern conflict between opponents and proponents of free college education is over how to distribute our losses. In the old days, we could combine low taxes with widely available education. Now we can’t, and we have to argue about which value to sacrifice.

Or: some people get upset about teachers’ unions, saying they must be sucking the “dynamism” out of education because of increasing costs. Others people fiercely defend them, saying teachers are underpaid and overworked. Once again, in the context of cost disease, both are obviously true. The taxpayers are just trying to protect their right to get education as cheaply as they used to. The teachers are trying to protect their right to make as much money as they used to. The conflict between the taxpayers and the teachers’ unions is about how to distribute losses; somebody is going to have to be worse off than they were a generation ago, so who should it be?

And the same is true to greater or lesser degrees in the various debates over health care, public housing, et cetera.

Imagine if tomorrow, the price of water dectupled. Suddenly people have to choose between drinking and washing dishes. Activists argue that taking a shower is a basic human right, and grumpy talk show hosts point out that in their day, parents taught their children not to waste water. A coalition promotes laws ensuring government-subsidized free water for poor families; a Fox News investigative report shows that some people receiving water on the government dime are taking long luxurious showers. Everyone gets really angry and there’s lots of talk about basic compassion and personal responsibility and whatever but all of this is secondary to why does water costs ten times what it used to?

I think this is the basic intuition behind so many people, even those who genuinely want to help the poor, are afraid of “tax and spend” policies. In the context of cost disease, these look like industries constantly doubling, tripling, or dectupling their price, and the government saying “Okay, fine,” and increasing taxes however much it costs to pay for whatever they’re demanding now.

If we give everyone free college education, that solves a big social problem. It also locks in a price which is ten times too high for no reason. This isn’t fair to the government, which has to pay ten times more than it should. It’s not fair to the poor people, who have to face the stigma of accepting handouts for something they could easily have afforded themselves if it was at its proper price. And it’s not fair to future generations if colleges take this opportunity to increase the cost by twenty times, and then our children have to subsidize that.

I’m not sure how many people currently opposed to paying for free health care, or free college, or whatever, would be happy to pay for health care that cost less, that was less wasteful and more efficient, and whose price we expected to go down rather than up with every passing year. I expect it would be a lot.

And if it isn’t, who cares? The people who want to help the poor have enough political capital to spend eg $500 billion on Medicaid; if that were to go ten times further, then everyone could get the health care they need without any more political action needed. If some government program found a way to give poor people good health insurance for a few hundred dollars a year, college tuition for about a thousand, and housing for only two-thirds what it costs now, that would be the greatest anti-poverty advance in history. That program is called “having things be as efficient as they were a few decades ago”.


In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildrens’ generation would have a 15 hour work week. At the time, it made sense. GDP was rising so quickly that anyone who could draw a line on a graph could tell that our generation would be four or five times richer than his. And the average middle-class person in his generation felt like they were doing pretty well and had most of what they needed. Why wouldn’t they decide to take some time off and settle for a lifestyle merely twice as luxurious as Keynes’ own?

Keynes was sort of right. GDP per capita is 4-5x greater today than in his time. Yet we still work forty hour weeks, and some large-but-inconsistently-reported percent of Americans (76? 55? 47?) still live paycheck to paycheck.

And yes, part of this is because inequality is increasing and most of the gains are going to the rich. But this alone wouldn’t be a disaster; we’d get to Keynes’ utopia a little slower than we might otherwise, but eventually we’d get there. Most gains going to the rich means at least some gains are going to the poor. And at least there’s a lot of mainstream awareness of the problem.

I’m more worried about the part where the cost of basic human needs goes up faster than wages do. Even if you’re making twice as much money, if your health care and education and so on cost ten times as much, you’re going to start falling behind. Right now the standard of living isn’t just stagnant, it’s at risk of declining, and a lot of that is student loans and health insurance costs and so on.

What’s happening? I don’t know and I find it really scary."
scottalexander  economics  education  history  politics  policy  prices  inflation  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  bureaucracy  costdisease  healthcare  spending  us  government  medicine  lifeexpectancy  salaries  teachers  teaching  schools  regulation  tylercowen  poverty  inequality  litigation  litigiousness  labor  housing  rent  homes  subways  transportation  health 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Complacent Class (Episode 1/5) - YouTube
[See also: ]

"Restlessness has long been seen as a signature trait of what it means to be American. We've been willing to cross great distances, take big risks, and adapt to change in way that has produced a dynamic economy. From Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs, innovation has been firmly rooted in American DNA.

What if that's no longer true?

Let’s take a journey back to the 19th century – specifically, the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At that massive event, people got to do things like ride a ferris wheel, go on a moving sidewalk, see a dishwasher, see electric light, or even try modern chewing gum for the very first time. More than a third of the entire U.S. population at that time attended. And remember, this was 1893 when travel was much more difficult and costly.

Fairs that shortly followed Chicago included new inventions and novelties the telephone, x-ray machine, hot dogs, and ice cream cones.

These earlier years of American innovation were filled with rapid improvement in a huge array of industries. Railroads, electricity, telephones, radio, reliable clean water, television, cars, airplanes, vaccines and antibiotics, nuclear power – the list goes on – all came from this era.

After about the 1970s, innovation on this scale slowed down. Computers and communication have been the focus. What we’ve seen more recently has been mostly incremental improvements, with the large exception of smart phones.

This means that we’ve experienced a ton of changes in our virtual world, but surprisingly few in our physical world. For example, travel hasn’t much improved and, in some cases, has even slowed down. The planes we’re primarily using? They were designed half a century ago.

Since the 1960s, our culture has gotten less restless, too. It’s become more bureaucratic. The sixties and seventies ushered in a wave of protests and civil disobedience. But today, people hire protests planners and file for permits. The demands for change are tamer compared to their mid-century counterparts.

This might not sound so bad. We’ve entered a golden age for many of our favorite entertainment options. Americans are generally better off than ever before. But the U.S. economy is less dynamic. We’re stagnating. We’re complacent. What does mean for our economic and cultural future?"

[The New Era of Segregation (Episode 2/5)

Do you live in a “bubble?” There’s a good chance that the answer is, at least in part, a resounding “Yes.”

In our algorithm-driven world, digital servants cater to our individual preferences like never before. This has caused many improvements to our daily lives. For example, instead of gathering the kids together for a frustrating Blockbuster trip to pick out a VHS for family movie night, you can simply scroll through kid-friendly titles on Netflix that have been narrowed down based on your family’s previous viewing history. Not so bad.

But this algorithmic matching isn’t limited to entertainment choices. We’re also getting matched to spouses of a similar education level and earning potential. More productive workers are able to get easily matched to more productive firms. On the individual level, this is all very good. Our digital servants are helping us find better matches and improving our lives.

What about at the macro level? All of this matching can also produce more segregation – but on a much broader level than just racial segregation. People with similar income and education levels, and who do similar types of work, are more likely to cluster into their own little bubbles. This matching has consequences, and they’re not all virtual.

Power couples and highly productive workers are concentrating in metropolises like New York City and San Francisco. With many high earners, lots of housing demand, and strict building codes, rents in these types of cities are skyrocketing. People with lower incomes simply can no longer afford the cost of living, so they leave. New people with lower incomes also aren’t coming in, so we end up with a type of self-reinforcing segregation.

If you think back to the 2016 U.S. election, you’ll remember that most political commentators, who tend to reside in trendy large cities, were completely shocked by the rise of Donald Trump. What part did our new segregation play in their inability to understand what was happening in middle America?

In terms of racial segregation, there are worrying trends. The variety and level of racism of we’ve seen in the past may be on the decline, but the data show less residential racial mixing among whites and minorities.

Why does this matter? For a dynamic economy, mixing a wide variety of people in everyday life is crucial for the development of ideas and upward mobility. If matching is preventing mixing, we have to start making intentional changes to improve socio-economic integration and bring dynamism back into the American economy."]
safety  control  life  us  innovation  change  invention  risk  risktaking  stasis  travel  transportation  dynamism  stagnation  economics  crisis  restlessness  tylercowen  fiterbubbles  segregation  protest  communication  disobedience  compliance  civildisobedience  infrastructure  complacency  2017  algorithms  socialmobility  inequality  race  class  filterbubbles  incomeinequality  isolation  cities  urban  urbanism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon
"Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?"

"Yet there once was an age when speculation matched reality. It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The Pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights.

There is more. Feminism. Teenagers. The Green Revolution in agriculture. Decolonisation. Popular music. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable and safe automobiles. High-speed trains. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox and discovered the double-spiral key of life. The Golden Quarter was a unique period of less than a single human generation, a time when innovation appeared to be running on a mix of dragster fuel and dilithium crystals.

Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. The US economist Tyler Cowen, in his essay The Great Stagnation (2011), argues that, in the US at least, a technological plateau has been reached. Sure, our phones are great, but that’s not the same as being able to fly across the Atlantic in eight hours or eliminating smallpox. As the US technologist Peter Thiel once put it: ‘We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters.’

Economists describe this extraordinary period in terms of increases in wealth. After the Second World War came a quarter-century boom; GDP-per-head in the US and Europe rocketed. New industrial powerhouses arose from the ashes of Japan. Germany experienced its Wirtschaftswunder. Even the Communist world got richer. This growth has been attributed to massive postwar government stimulus plus a happy nexus of low fuel prices, population growth and high Cold War military spending.

But alongside this was that extraordinary burst of human ingenuity and societal change. This is commented upon less often, perhaps because it is so obvious, or maybe it is seen as a simple consequence of the economics. We saw the biggest advances in science and technology: if you were a biologist, physicist or materials scientist, there was no better time to be working. But we also saw a shift in social attitudes every bit as profound. In even the most enlightened societies before 1945, attitudes to race, sexuality and women’s rights were what we would now consider antediluvian. By 1971, those old prejudices were on the back foot. Simply put, the world had changed."

"Lack of money, then, is not the reason that innovation has stalled. What we do with our money might be, however. Capitalism was once the great engine of progress. It was capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that built roads and railways, steam engines and telegraphs (another golden era). Capital drove the industrial revolution.

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets. That has consequences. Firstly, there is a lot more for the hyper-rich to spend their money on today than there was in the golden age of philanthropy in the 19th century. The superyachts, fast cars, private jets and other gewgaws of Planet Rich simply did not exist when people such as Andrew Carnegie walked the earth and, though they are no doubt nice to have, these fripperies don’t much advance the frontiers of knowledge. Furthermore, as the French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in Capital (2014), money now begets money more than at any time in recent history. When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation."

"But there is more to it than inequality and the failure of capital.

During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. (Even the 19th-century analytical engine of Charles Babbage was directly funded by the British government.) The early internet came out of the University of California, not Bell or Xerox. Later on, the world wide web arose not from Apple or Microsoft but from CERN, a wholly public institution. In short, the great advances in medicine, materials, aviation and spaceflight were nearly all pump-primed by public investment. But since the 1970s, an assumption has been made that the private sector is the best place to innovate."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs:

"I’m not sure this essay by Michael Hanlon on the lack of technical and scientific progress over the past 40 years adds much to other recent speculations on the same theme: Tyler Cowen’s book The Great Stagnation, talks by Neal Stephenson on our lack of visionary imagination, and so on.

But it’s an indication at least of a growing awareness that, despite the determined efforts of the advertising world to suggest that everything is getting better all the time, our society is stuck in something of a technological rut, especially with regard to travel and, more important, medical care. Flying is a more frustrating experience than it has ever been and is only getting worse; only Google and Elon Musk are even trying to innovate in automobiling; and, as Hanlon points out, a person getting cancer today will receive treatment not fundamentally different than he or she would have received in 1970, and doesn’t stand a much greater chance of beating the disease.

So why aren’t we doing better? Hanlon offers a few fairly vague suggestions, as does Cowen, but this is an inquiry in its early stages. Let me just offer my two cents — precisely two.

Cent number one: Litigiousness. Every technological development in every field, but especially in health care, is hamstrung by the need to perform due diligence, and then beyond-due diligence, and then absurdly-over-the-top diligence, before putting a product on the market lest the developing company be sued by someone unhappy with their results. How many times have you read about some exciting new cancer treatment — and then never hear about it again, as it disappears into the endless Purgatory of tiny clinical trials that dying people beg (usually unsuccessfully) to be allowed to participate in?

Cent number two: Self-soothing by Device. I suspect that few will think that addition to distractive devices could even possibly be related to a cultural lack of ambition, but I genuinely think it’s significant. Truly difficult scientific and technological challenges are almost always surmounted by obsessive people — people who are grabbed by a question that won’t let them go. Such an experience is not comfortable, not pleasant; but it is essential to the perseverance without which no Big Question is ever answered. To judge by the autobiographical accounts of scientific and technological geniuses, there is a real sense in which those Questions force themselves on the people who stand a chance of answering them. But if it is always trivially easy to set the question aside — thanks to a device that you carry with you everywhere you go — can the Question make itself sufficiently present to you that answering is becomes something essential to your well-being? I doubt it." ]
science  technology  progress  michaelhanlon  tylercowen  attention  distraction  litigiousness  law  legal  funding  economics  capitalism  research  society  channge  inequality  innovation  riskaversion  risktaking  risk  medicine  healthcare 
december 2014 by robertogreco
TEDxMidAtlantic - Tyler Cowen - 11/5/09 - YouTube
Transcript here:

See also:

"So what are the problems of relying too heavily on stories? You view your life like "this" instead of the mess that it is or it ought to be. But more specifically, I think of a few major problems when we think too much in terms of narrative. First, narratives tend to be too simple…

Another kind of problem with stories is, you can only fit so many stories into your mind at once or in the course of a day, or even in the course of a lifetime…

A third problem with stories is that outsiders manipulate us using stories, and we all like to think advertising only works on the other guy, but that's not how it is.

So as an alternative, at the margin (again, no burning of Tolstoy), just be a little more messy."
simplicity  complexity  good  evil  counterintuitive  2009  meaningmaking  culture  economics  storytelling  stories  tylercowen  messiness  truth  perspective  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
The Great Ephemeralization | Bottom-up
"Paul Graham & Reihan Salam have been popularizing term “ephemeralization”, originally coined by Bucky Fuller, to describe process whereby special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices. As list above suggests, ephemeralization is affecting a growing fraction of the economy. & w/ technologies like self-driving cars on the horizon, its importance will only grow in the coming decades.

Ephemeralization offers an alternative explanation for the puzzling growth slowdown of the last decade. Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. If what you care about is government revenue, this point might not matter much—it’s hard to tax something if no one’s paying for it. But the real lesson here may not be that the US economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from software industry."
technology  internet  politics  history  economics  gdp  productivity  growth  2011  ephemeralization  buckminsterfuller  paulgraham  tylercowen  reihansalam  books  timothylee  taxation  taxes  govenment  metrics  measurement  via:jeeves  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Economic View - Why Free Parking Comes at a Price -
"In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more.<br />
<br />
PERHAPS most important, if we’re going to wean ourselves away from excess use of fossil fuels, we need to remove current subsidies to energy-unfriendly ways of life. Imposing a cap-and-trade system or a direct carbon tax doesn’t seem politically acceptable right now. But we can start on alternative paths that may take us far.<br />
<br />
Imposing higher fees for parking may make further changes more palatable by helping to promote higher residential density and support for mass transit.<br />
<br />
As Professor Shoup puts it: “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.”"
parking  cities  urban  transport  economics  environment  transportation  density  costs  subsidies  cars  driving  us  tylercowen  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Which areas are taught best?
"This may sound odd, coming from someone with a Ph.d, but I don't feel I have much experience being a student. A lot of the time I didn't pay attention."
tylercowen  learning  education  teaching  pedagogy 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: What is conservatism?
"8. Fiscal conservatism is part and parcel of conservatism per se. A state wrecked by debt is a state due to perish or fall into decay. This is a lesson from history. States must "save up their powder" for true crises and it is a kind of narcissistic arrogation to think that the personal failures of particular individuals -- often those with weak values -- meet this standard. [...] 10. Responsibility is a more important value than either liberty or equality."
conservatism  via:kottke  tylercowen  us  marginalrevolution  politics  policy  philosophy  ideology  definitions 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: What is progressivism?
"Progressive policies offer more scope for individualism and some kinds of freedom. Greater security gives people a greater chance to develop themselves as individuals in important spheres of life, not just money-making and risk protection and winning relative status games."
politics  economics  tylercowen  progressives  progressivism  marginalrevolution  philosophy  policy  ideology  democrats  liberalism 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Autism as Academic Paradigm -
"Autism is often described as a disease or a plague, but when it comes to the American college or university, autism is often a competitive advantage rather than a problem to be solved. One reason American academe is so strong is because it mobilizes the strengths and talents of people on the autistic spectrum so effectively. In spite of some of the harmful rhetoric, the on-the-ground reality is that autistics have been very good for colleges, and colleges have been very good for autistics."
tylercowen  academia  aspergers  autism  psychology  neuroscience  intelligence  education  learning  culture  advantage  neurodiversity 
july 2009 by robertogreco
One Lesson from the Crisis: It’s Time to Create Your Own Economy | Fast Company
"Much of the Web's value is experienced at the personal level and does not show up in productivity numbers…Each day more enjoyment, more social connection, &, indeed, more contemplation are produced on the Web than had been imagined even 10 years ago. But how do we measure those things? That question -- and I don't yet have a full answer -- reflects the state of flux we're in today.…I call it the "human capital dividend." The reallocation of consumer time into the "free sector" on the Web will liberate the efforts of many producers and intermediaries…A second part of the human capital dividend comes from our productivity as Web consumers. Billions of people are rapidly becoming more knowledgeable and better connected to one another. Self-education has never been more fun, and that is because we are in control of that process like never before…it may sound counterintuitive, but the more time you spend staring at your screen, the bigger that human capital dividend will be."
tylercowen  economics  blogging  productivity  twitter  crisis  gtd  collaboration  participatory  socialmedia  self-directedlearning  self-education  autodidacts 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Southland freeway interchanges
"I hold the unusual view that Los Angeles is probably America's most beautiful city."
losangeles  tylercowen  freeways  cities  pasadena 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Why is Asia doing so badly?
"So far it seems that the least leveraged parts of the world -- all things considered -- are South America and sub-Saharan Africa. Brazil, Chile, and Peru are a few of the countries which, in relative terms, are suffering least. If you wish to understand the course of events, keep your eye on those locales."
chile  brasil  economics  tylercowen  greatrepression  asia  crisis  2009  finance  banking  southamerica  africa  perú  brazil 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Was recent productivity growth an illusion?
"Median wages were stagnant, the stock market was down, and health care costs were rising, without necessarily translating into better outcomes. Mandel argues that the current collapse in part stems from the revelation that productivity growth (and no, he doesn't trust the reported numbers) was low all those years. On top of all that perhaps productivity growth in finance was overstated as well."
economics  productivity  growth  tylercowen  michaelmandel  us  2009  crisis  recession  wages  markets  healthcare 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The economic collapse of Japan and the Phoenix Suns
"The Suns have been spending lots in recent years toward the goal of ever-rising prices for season tickets and corporate boxes. Does that strategy sound familiar?" Replace "The Suns" with "many independent schools" and insert "tuition" for "prices for season tickets and corporate boxes" and you have the predicament of many NAIS schools.
tylercowen  economics  money  finance  sports  bailout  management  property  nba  nais  bubbles  tuition  leadership  spending  administration  gamechanging  waste  cv  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: How to travel in the U.S.
A reader asks: "I was wondering whether you have similar advice for traveling in the US? If someone who has never previously visited the US asked you for five places they should visit in the US, what would be your advice? Or perhaps more generally, what should they look for in their destinations? Assume they're driving, and budget isn't an issue, and that it's not a requirement to see the most popular tourist spots. What's the best advice to properly see and experience the US, in all its diversity?" Tyler Cowen responds: "Most of all, drive as much as possible and do not shy away from a few days in the "boring" (yet wondrous) suburbs. After that, here is my list of five: 1. Manhattan 2. Detroit and the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn 3. Memphis and the Mississippi Delta 4. San Francisco 5. Grand Canyon and southern Utah"

[... follows with discussion of possible swaps & top ten cities. I'm guessing Kottke will point to this/ask on his own blog, comments will get even more interesting.]
us  travel  tylercowen  advice  foreuropeans  nyc  manhattan  detroit  memphis  texas  sanfrancisco  boston  miami  neworleans  chicago  nola 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Department of No
"Of course they want a bailout but this is for me not a priority. Given the new distribution of wealth, arguably we need more culture for lower-income people and less culture for the rich. I don't think the old distribution of wealth is coming back anytime soon."
tylercowen  art  arts  funding  bailout  2009  crisis  money  finance  endowment 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: One ray of light, one bolt of gloom
"We're in a race to see whether politics will become the dominant means of allocating financial wealth in this country. That could be the single biggest domestic issue today, but too few economists are speaking up about it."
economics  politics  policy  2008  tylercowen  us  government  lobbying  finance  wealth 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Frontal Cortex : Credit
"one of the reasons credit cards are such a popular form of debt is that they take advantage of some innate flaws in the brain. When we buy something with cash, the purchase involves an actual loss - our wallet is literally lighter. Credit cards, however, make the transaction abstract, so that we don't really feel the downside of spending money...Perhaps the real goal of the Paulson plan is precisely that: encourage people to use credit cards as a way to jump start retail spending. Because we've got a shiny new Visa card, we'll be less sensitive to the fact that our 401(k) is down 40 percent, the value of our home is down 20 percent and the unemployment rate shows no sign of stabilizing anytime soon. Call me crazy, but ludicrously expensive debt (rates of 25 percent or more aren't uncommon on credit cards) hardly sounds like a sound long-term solution."
psychology  via:adamgreenfield  money  credit  debt  cognition  brain  bailout  economics  tylercowen  crisis  2008  policy 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Claims about Africa
"I am interested in the claim that there is an optimal time in one's life to travel. Many people do not get to travel much until their children leave the house. But when are the cognitive returns to travel the highest? I believe one must first know some theory before travelling -- perhaps even some false theory -- otherwise the travel does not come as a sufficient shock. In other words, the more you read and ponder social reality, the lower is your optimal cognitive age for travel."
travel  glvo  children  age  marginalrevolution  tylercowen  africa  discovery  parenting  experience  perception  bias  objectivity 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Why this recession might last a while [points to:]
This is what bothers me about many economists – they want to be considered experts, but they never really commit to anything. And then they completely change their tune and conveniently forget their previous predictions and assessments. Where were they (not including a few like Thornberg) when home prices were increasing over 20% a year and people were using these fictitious price gains as income? Tyler Cowen is more of an entertainer than anything else. And he is a great entertainer, but don't count on his opinions to be accurate more than half of the time. With that said, I do believe this recession will last a while and I think his metaphor here about untangling wires is a good one. I would just add that you should be even more careful about who you ask to undo the tangle and definitely avoid choosing those that allowed the wires to be tangled in the first place.
tylercowen  economics  recession  savings 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Chile impressions
It's interesting to read Tyler Cowen's impressions, but I think some of the commenters have a much better grasp of the problems Chile is facing and the lack of progress for the majority of Chileans during the over-hyped Chicago Boys years. Their programs are too often used as examples for other parts of the world without giving them a thorough evaluation.
tylercowen  chile  economics  change  politics  latinamerica  religion  food  santiago 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: My favorite things Chile
"José Donoso's The Obscene Bird of Night, while hardly read in the U.S., seems to me one of the most gripping novels of the 20th of the least read first-rate novels I know...not easy going, however..."
josédonoso  chile  literature  tylercowen  fiction  film  travel  lists  pabloneruda  robertobolaño 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: David R. Henderson asks
"3. A good blog should be subversive and help you see the faults in the author's own positions. Ask whether the blogs you are reading in fact provide that service. Self-subversion ought also, in the long run, to benefit liberty and other important values."
blogging  opinion  criticalthinking  tylercowen  economics  libertarianism  politics  policy 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Should the driving rules favor cars or bikers?
Tyler Cowen is way off base here, but there are some commenters who share good insights. See also links to Megan McArdle (2), Will Wilkinson, and Arnold Kling.
bikes  economics  incentives  traffic  cars  driving  transportation  tylercowen 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: How can a stuffed shark be worth $12 million?
"It was a bargain, I say. Here is my review of Don Thompson's excellent The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art. Here is one excerpt from my review:"
art  markets  economics  tylercowen 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Has "The Long Tail" been refuted?
"Overall I cannot call this one for Elberse. If you take a genre as given, the web looks less revolutionary but part of the long tail is the creation of new genres. We have blogs now, for instance, and we didn't fifteen years ago, even though blog reade
longtail  economics  business  web  internet  chrisanderson  tylercowen 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The secrets of *Lost*, revealed
"The Buddhist interpretation isn't new, but no one quite seems to have said "This is it." Toss in time travel, and a bunch of women who look like underwear models, and you can explain most of the apparent anomalies in the plot."
lost  tv  tylercowen  buddhism  television 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Richard Florida and The Creative Class Exchange: Mexico City - Capital of the 21st Century?
"A new book (via Tyler Cowen). Here's a related website. What Manhattan was to the 20th century, the author argues, Mexico City will be to the 21st. It's a strong statement, but I believe he has a point."
mexico  richardflorida  books  tylercowen  future  mexicodf  urban  urbanism  latinamerica  culture  cities  df  mexicocity 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Seth’s blog » Blog Archive » Why Entertainment Weekly Rules the World
"Too many readers are too concerned about affiliating themselves with prestigious magazines, rather than learning something. EW takes us to new places because the magazine covers only what is new, or newly reissued. Other cultural contributions (dare I ca
tylercowen  art  culture  magazines 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: From the comments: "America the Beautiful"? "Here is a compendium of my anti-American attitudes:"
"7. The American culture of individual freedom is closely linked to the prevalence of mental illness and gun-based violence in this country. We can't seem to get only the brighter side of non-conformity." see also rest of list and comments
tylercowen  economics  culture  us  marginalrevolution  europe  immigration  crime  politics 
april 2008 by robertogreco
A VC: The Declining Power Of The Firm
"like government's pursuit of Microsoft in 90s, it will not...bring change to marketplace...will be rise of new way, like open source movement fundamentally changed software marketplace, that will bring change that is badly needed to financial markets."
business  umairhaque  change  economics  innovation  internet  microsoft  online  strategy  technology  trends  gamechanging  regulation  finance  via:preoccupations  banking  tylercowen  information  reform  recession  history  competition  control  crisis 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Beyond the Banking Crisis: A Strategy Crisis - Harvard Business Online's Umair Haque [see also:]
"orthodox strategy [hiding information and making things less liquid] doesn't stop at finance. Strategy as shadow-making, moral hazard, and market subversion is rife across the economic landscape...hardwired into stale, tired DNA [of industrial-era firm]"
via:preoccupations  banking  business  economics  finance  tylercowen  information  internet  change  reform  regulation  technology  strategy  recession  gamechanging  history  competition  control  crisis  trends  umairhaque 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: My favorite things Utah - "I love Utah. I love its baked goods, its Mexican food...
"... its sense of building a new world in the wilderness. I love that it has a uniquely American religion and I find Salt Lake City to be one of America's most impressive achievements. I regard southern Utah as quite possibly the most beautiful part of US
tylercowen  utah  us  religion 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Talking Travel with economist and traveler Tyler Cowen - Gadling
"My main tip is simply: "Go, go go!" Go. People have a status quo bias when they make decisions and they don't take enough chances"
tylercowen  travel  economics  risk  experience 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Do we undervalue routine?
"High total value equals low marginal value and perhaps poor memories. Low total value equals high marginal value and better memories."
routine  parenting  time  memory  experience  value  life  happiness  tylercowen  economics 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Can Larry Summers talk me into the stimulus package?
"We pass too many policies just to show politicians are "doing something," just because it is election year, voters think government should solve every problem, and politicians know that voters don't understand any real economics."
us  economics  policy  politics  elections  housingbubble  bubble  2008  tylercowen 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: John Edwards and the virtues and limits of democracy
"democracy is very blunt instrument....especially in US...isn't smart, finely honed, closely geared toward truth or "progressive" values...bad at fine-tuning details of economic policy...solution is not be less democratic, but appreciate democracy for wha
democracy  politics  economics  tylercowen  us  negotiation  organization  social  progressivism  values  policy 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The New Invisible Competitors
"Human beings evolved in small groups & hunter-gatherer societies...all competition was face­to­ arena, with faceless/anonymous competitors, those driven mostly by adrenalin will not fare well."
competition  cooperation  culture  economics  education  employment  essays  globalization  invisibility  jobs  policy  tylercowen  trade  work 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Mark Bittman on the economics of meat
"The conflict between environmental goals and animal welfare goals is one of the most significant underreported stories in this area."
food  economics  environment  animalwelfare  markbittman  marginalrevolution  tylercowen 
january 2008 by robertogreco
What Does Iraq Cost? Even More Than You Think.
"Set aside question of what could have accomplished at home with energy and resources devoted to Iraq & concentrate just on national security. Here, hidden cost of the war, above all, is that US has lost much of its ability to halt nuclear proliferation."
economics  war  us  iraq  korea  nuclear  military  security  politics  policy  strategy  trust  geopolitics  energy  cost  tylercowen 
november 2007 by robertogreco
An Economist's Palate, Applied to Dining Around D.C. -
"There are, however, a number of unusual and useful strategies, especially for ethnic restaurants, to help you find the places with great quality and value and figure out what to order once you're there."
food  restaurants  tylercowen  economics  books 
august 2007 by robertogreco
'Discover Your Inner Economist' by Tyler Cowen-- New York Magazine Book Review
"What is most pleasurable about Marginal Revolution, though, is the heavy dose of cultural opinion and advice dispensed by Cowen. He is a world-class polymath who whips through graphic novels and 816-page bricks like Africa: A Biography of the Continent,
books  economics  culture  travel  time  scarcity  tylercowen  reading  howto  management  control  polymaths 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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