nhaliday + white-paper + commentary   31

Information Processing: US Needs a National AI Strategy: A Sputnik Moment?
FT podcasts on US-China competition and AI: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/05/ft-podcasts-on-us-china-competition-and.html

A new recommended career path for effective altruists: China specialist: https://80000hours.org/articles/china-careers/
Our rough guess is that it would be useful for there to be at least ten people in the community with good knowledge in this area within the next few years.

By “good knowledge” we mean they’ve spent at least 3 years studying these topics and/or living in China.

We chose ten because that would be enough for several people to cover each of the major areas listed (e.g. 4 within AI, 2 within biorisk, 2 within foreign relations, 1 in another area).

AI Policy and Governance Internship: https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/ai-policy-governance-internship/

https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/deciphering-chinas-ai-dream/
https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Deciphering_Chinas_AI-Dream.pdf
Deciphering China’s AI Dream
The context, components, capabilities, and consequences of
China’s strategy to lead the world in AI

Europe’s AI delusion: https://www.politico.eu/article/opinion-europes-ai-delusion/
Brussels is failing to grasp threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence.
By BRUNO MAÇÃES

When the computer program AlphaGo beat the Chinese professional Go player Ke Jie in a three-part match, it didn’t take long for Beijing to realize the implications.

If algorithms can already surpass the abilities of a master Go player, it can’t be long before they will be similarly supreme in the activity to which the classic board game has always been compared: war.

As I’ve written before, the great conflict of our time is about who can control the next wave of technological development: the widespread application of artificial intelligence in the economic and military spheres.

...

If China’s ambitions sound plausible, that’s because the country’s achievements in deep learning are so impressive already. After Microsoft announced that its speech recognition software surpassed human-level language recognition in October 2016, Andrew Ng, then head of research at Baidu, tweeted: “We had surpassed human-level Chinese recognition in 2015; happy to see Microsoft also get there for English less than a year later.”

...

One obvious advantage China enjoys is access to almost unlimited pools of data. The machine-learning technologies boosting the current wave of AI expansion are as good as the amount of data they can use. That could be the number of people driving cars, photos labeled on the internet or voice samples for translation apps. With 700 or 800 million Chinese internet users and fewer data protection rules, China is as rich in data as the Gulf States are in oil.

How can Europe and the United States compete? They will have to be commensurately better in developing algorithms and computer power. Sadly, Europe is falling behind in these areas as well.

...

Chinese commentators have embraced the idea of a coming singularity: the moment when AI surpasses human ability. At that point a number of interesting things happen. First, future AI development will be conducted by AI itself, creating exponential feedback loops. Second, humans will become useless for waging war. At that point, the human mind will be unable to keep pace with robotized warfare. With advanced image recognition, data analytics, prediction systems, military brain science and unmanned systems, devastating wars might be waged and won in a matter of minutes.

...

The argument in the new strategy is fully defensive. It first considers how AI raises new threats and then goes on to discuss the opportunities. The EU and Chinese strategies follow opposite logics. Already on its second page, the text frets about the legal and ethical problems raised by AI and discusses the “legitimate concerns” the technology generates.

The EU’s strategy is organized around three concerns: the need to boost Europe’s AI capacity, ethical issues and social challenges. Unfortunately, even the first dimension quickly turns out to be about “European values” and the need to place “the human” at the center of AI — forgetting that the first word in AI is not “human” but “artificial.”

https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/983057591298351104
https://archive.is/m3Njh
US military: "LOL, China thinks it's going to be a major player in AI, but we've got all the top AI researchers. You guys will help us develop weapons, right?"

US AI researchers: "No."

US military: "But... maybe just a computer vision app."

US AI researchers: "NO."

https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/4/17196818/ai-boycot-killer-robots-kaist-university-hanwha
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/google-letter-ceo-pentagon-project.html
https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/981685030417326080
https://archive.is/3wbHm
AI-risk was a mistake.
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february 2018 by nhaliday
The Grumpy Economist: Bitcoin and Bubbles
Bitcoin is not a very good money. It is a pure fiat money (no backing), whose value comes from limited supply plus these demands. As such it has the huge price fluctuations we see. It's an electronic version of gold, and the price variation should be a warning to economists who long for a return to  gold. My bet is that stable-value cryptocurrencies, offering one dollar per currency unit and low transactions costs, will prosper in the role of money. At least until there is a big inflation or sovereign debt crisis and a stable-value cryptocurrency not linked to government debt emerges.

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/939242620869660672
https://archive.is/Rrbg6
The Kareken-Wallace Cryptocurrency Price Indeterminacy theorem will someday receive the attention it deserves

https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/cryptocurrency-article.pdf
Cryptocurrencies also raise in a new way questions of exchange rate indeterminacy. As Kareken and Wallace (1981) observed, fiat currencies are all alike: slips of paper not redeemable for anything. Under a regime of floating exchange rates and no capital controls, and assuming some version of interest rate parity holds, there are an infinity of exchange rates between any two fiat currencies that constitute an equilibrium in their model.

The question of exchange rate indeterminacy is both more and less striking between cryptocurrencies than between fiat currencies. It is less striking because there are considerably more differences between cryptocurrencies than there are between paper money. Paper money is all basically the same. Cryptocurrencies sometimes have different characteristics from each other. For example, the algorithm used as the basis for mining makes a difference – it determines how professionalised the mining pools become. Litecoin uses an algorithm that tends to make mining less concentrated. Another difference is the capability of the cryptocurrency’s language for programming transactions. Ethereum is a new currency that boasts a much more robust language than Bitcoin. Zerocash is another currency that offers much stronger anonymity than Bitcoin. To the extent that cryptocurrencies differ from each other more than fiat currencies do, those differences might be able to pin down exchange rates in a model like Kareken and Wallace’s.

On the other hand, exchange rate indeterminacy could be more severe among cryptocurrencies than between fiat currencies because it is easy to simply create an exact copy of an open source cryptocurrency. There are even websites on which you can create and download the software for your own cryptocurrency with a few clicks of a mouse. These currencies are exactly alike except for their names and other identifying information. Furthermore, unlike fiat currencies, they don’t benefit from government acceptance or optimal currency area considerations that can tie a currency to a given territory.

Even identical currencies, however, can differ in terms of the quality of governance. Bitcoin currently has high quality governance institutions. The core developers are competent and conservative, and the mining and user communities are serious about making the currency work. An exact Bitcoin clone is likely to have a difficult time competing with Bitcoin unless it can promise similarly high-quality governance. When a crisis hits, users of identical currencies are going to want to hold the one that is mostly likely to weather the storm. Consequently, between currencies with identical technical characteristics, we think governance creates something close to a winner-take-all market. Network externalities are very strong in payment systems, and the governance question with respect to cryptocurrencies in particular compounds them.

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/939259281039380480
https://archive.is/ldof8
Explaining a price rise via future increases in the asset's value isn't good economics. The invisible hand should be pushing today's price up to the point where it earns normal expected returns. +
I don't doubt the likelihood of a future cryptocurrency being widely used, but that doesn't pin down the price of any one cryptocurrency as the Kareken-Wallace result shows. There may be a big first mover advantage for Bitcoin but ease of replication makes it a fragile dominance.

https://twitter.com/netouyo_/status/939566116229218306
https://archive.is/CtE6Q
I actually can't believe governments are allowing bitcoin to exist (they must be fully on board with going digital at some point)

btc will eventually come in direct competition with national currencies, which will have to raise rates dramatically, or die

http://www.thebigquestions.com/2017/12/08/matters-of-money/
The technology of Bitcoin Cash is very similar to the technology of Bitcoin. It offers the same sorts of anonymity, security, and so forth. There are some reasons to believe that in the future, Bitcoin Cash will be a bit easier to trade than Bitcoin (though that is not true in the present), and there are some other technological differences between them, but I’d be surprised to learn that those differences are accounting for any substantial fraction of the price differential.

The total supplies of Bitcoins and of Bitcoin Cash are currently about equal (because of the way that Bitcoin Cash originated). In each case, the supply will gradually grow to 21 million and then stop.

Question 1: Given the near identical properties of these two currencies, how can one sell for ten times the price of the other? Perhaps the answer involves the word “bubble”, but I’d be more interested in answers that assume (at least for the sake of argument) that the price of Bitcoin fairly reflects its properties as a store of value. Given that assumption, is the price differential entirely driven by the fact that Bitcoin came first? Is there that much of a first-mover advantage in this kind of game?

Question 2: Given the existence of other precious metals (e.g. platinum) what accounts for the dominance of gold as a physical store of value? (I note, for example, that when people buy gold as a store of value, they don’t often hesitate out of fear that gold will be displaced by platinum in the foreseeable future.) Is this entirely driven by the fact that gold happened to come first?

Question 3: Are Questions 1 and 2 the same question? Are the dominance of Bitcoin in the digital store-of-value market and the dominance of gold in the physical store-of-value market two sides of the same coin, so to speak? Or do they require fundamentally different explanations?

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/944582032780382208
https://archive.is/kqTXg
Champ/Freeman in 2001 explain why the dollar-bitcoin exchange rate is inherently unstable, and why the price of cryptocurrencies is indeterminate:

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/945046058073071617
https://archive.is/Y0OQB
Lay down a marker:
And remember that the modern macro dogma is that monetary systems matter little for prosperity, once bare competence is achieved.
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december 2017 by nhaliday
The Political Typology: Beyond Red vs. Blue | Pew Research Center
The new typology has eight groups: Three are strongly ideological, highly politically engaged and overwhelmingly partisan – two on the right and one on the left. Steadfast Conservatives are staunch critics of government and the social safety net and are very socially conservative. Business Conservatives share Steadfast Conservatives’ preference for limited government, but differ in their support for Wall Street and business, as well as immigration reform. And Business Conservatives are far more moderate on social issues than are Steadfast Conservatives.

At the other end of the spectrum, Solid Liberals express liberal attitudes across almost every realm – government, the economy and business and foreign policy, as well as on race, homosexuality and abortion – and are reliable and loyal Democratic voters.

Taken together, these three groups form the electoral base of the Democratic and Republican Parties, and their influence on American politics is strong. While Solid Liberals, Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives collectively make up only 36% of the American public, they represent 43% of registered voters and fully 57% of the more politically engaged segment of the American public: those who regularly vote and routinely follow government and public affairs.

The other typology groups are less partisan, less predictable and have little in common with each other or the groups at either end of the political spectrum. The one thing they do share is that they are less engaged politically than the groups on the right or left.

Young Outsiders lean Republican but do not have a strong allegiance to the Republican Party; in fact they tend to dislike both political parties. On many issues, from their support for environmental regulation to their liberal views on social issues, they diverge from traditional GOP orthodoxy. Yet in their support for limited government, Young Outsiders are firmly in the Republicans’ camp.

Hard-Pressed Skeptics have been battered by the struggling economy, and their difficult financial circumstances have left them resentful of both government and business. Despite their criticism of government performance, they back more generous government support for the poor and needy. Most Hard-Pressed Skeptics say they voted for Obama in 2012, though fewer than half approve of his job performance today.

The Next Generation Left are young, relatively affluent and very liberal on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. But they have reservations about the cost of social programs. And while most of the Next Generation Left support affirmative action, they decisively reject the idea that racial discrimination is the main reason why many blacks are unable to get ahead.

The Faith and Family Left lean Democratic, based on their confidence in government and support for federal programs to address the nation’s problems. But this very religious, racially and ethnically diverse group is uncomfortable with the pace of societal change, including the acceptance of homosexuality and non-traditional family structures.

And finally, an eighth group, the Bystanders, representing 10% of the public, are on the sidelines of the political process. They are not registered to vote and pay very little attention to politics.

...

The Faith and Family Left is by far the most racially and ethnically diverse group in the typology: In fact, just 41% are white non-Hispanic; 30% are black, 19% are Hispanic and 8% are other or mixed race. The Faith and Family Left also is less affluent and less educated than the other Democratically-oriented groups, and is older as well.

They also have strong religious convictions, which distinguishes them from Solid Liberals and the Next Generation Left. Fully 91% say “it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.” No more than about one-in-ten in the other Democratically-oriented groups agree. And the Faith and Family Left have much more conservative positions on social issues. Just 37% favor same-sex marriage, less than half the share of the other two groups on the left.

The Faith and Family Left support activist government and a strong social safety net, though by less overwhelming margins than Solid Liberals. And while the Faith and Family Left support affirmative action programs, just 31% believe that “racial discrimination is the main reason many black people can’t get ahead these days.” Among the much less racially diverse Solid Liberals, 80% think racial discrimination is the main barrier to black progress.

...

First, Steadfast Conservatives take very conservative views on key social issues like homosexuality and immigration, while Business Conservatives are less conservative – if not actually progressive – on these issues. Nearly three-quarters of Steadfast Conservatives (74%) believe that homosexuality should be discouraged by society. Among Business Conservatives, just 31% think homosexuality should be discouraged; 58% believe it should be accepted.

Business Conservatives have generally positive attitudes toward immigrants and 72% favor a “path to citizenship” for those in the U.S. illegally, if they meet certain conditions. Steadfast Conservatives are more critical of immigrants; 50% support a path to citizenship, the lowest share of any typology group.

Second, just as Steadfast Conservatives are opposed to big government, they also are skeptical of big business. They believe that large corporations have too much power, and nearly half (48%) say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests. By contrast, as their name suggests, Business Conservatives are far more positive about the free market, and overwhelmingly regard business – and Wall Street – positively.

group profiles (including demographics): http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/appendix-1-typology-group-profiles/

2017 redux:
Political Typology Reveals Deep Fissures on the Right and Left: http://www.people-press.org/2017/10/24/political-typology-reveals-deep-fissures-on-the-right-and-left/
Nearly a year after Donald Trump was elected president, the Republican coalition is deeply divided on such major issues as immigration, America’s role in the world and the fundamental fairness of the U.S. economic system.

The Democratic coalition is largely united in staunch opposition to President Trump. Yet, while Trump’s election has triggered a wave of political activism within the party’s sizable liberal bloc, the liberals’ sky-high political energy is not nearly as evident among other segments in the Democratic base. And Democrats also are internally divided over U.S. global involvement, as well as some religious and social issues.

...

Divisions on the right

The political typology finds two distinctly different groups on the right – Core Conservatives and Country First Conservatives, who both overwhelmingly approve of Trump, but disagree on much else – including immigration and whether it benefits the U.S. to be active internationally.

Core Conservatives, who are in many ways the most traditional group of Republicans, have an outsized influence on the GOP coalition; while they make up just 13% of the public – and about a third (31%) of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents – they constitute a much larger share (43%) of politically engaged Republicans.

This financially comfortable, male-dominated group overwhelmingly supports smaller government, lower corporate tax rates and believes in the fairness of the nation’s economic system. And a large majority of Core Conservatives (68%) express a positive view of U.S. involvement in the global economy “because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth.”

Country First Conservatives, a much smaller segment of the GOP base, are older and less educated than other Republican-leaning typology groups. Unlike Core Conservatives, Country First Conservatives are unhappy with the nation’s course, highly critical of immigrants and deeply wary of U.S. global involvement.

Nearly two-thirds of Country First Conservatives (64%) – the highest share of any typology group, right or left – say that “if America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation.”

A third Republican group, Market Skeptic Republicans, sharply diverges from the GOP’s traditional support for business and lower taxes. Only about a third of Market Skeptic Republicans (34%) say banks and other financial institutions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, lowest among Republican-leaning typology groups.

Alone among the groups in the GOP coalition, a majority of Market Skeptic Republicans support raising tax rates on corporations and large businesses. An overwhelming share (94%) say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests, which places the view of Market Skeptic Republicans on this issue much closer to Solid Liberals (99% mostly unfair) than Core Conservatives (21%).

In contrast to Market Skeptic Republicans, New Era Enterprisers are fundamentally optimistic about the state of the nation and its future. They are more likely than any other typology group to say the next generation of Americans will have it better than people today. Younger and somewhat less overwhelmingly white than the other GOP-leaning groups, New Era Enterprisers are strongly pro-business and generally think that immigrants strengthen, rather than burden, the country.

Divisions on the left

...

While there have long been racial, ethnic and income differences within the Democratic coalition, these gaps are especially striking today. Reflecting the changing demographic composition of the Democratic base, for the first time there are two majority-minority Democratic-leaning typology groups, along with two more affluent, mostly white groups.

Solid Liberals are the largest group in the Democratic coalition, and they make up close to half (48%) of politically engaged Democrats and Democratic-leaning … [more]
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership by Jack Mara, Lewis Davis, Stephen Schmidt :: SSRN
We exploit changes in the residential and social environment on campus to identify the economic and academic consequences of fraternity membership at a small Northeastern college. Our estimates suggest that these consequences are large, with fraternity membership lowering student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but raising future income by approximately 36%, for those students whose decision about membership is affected by changes in the environment. These results suggest that fraternity membership causally produces large gains in social capital, which more than outweigh its negative effects on human capital for potential members. Alcohol-related behavior does not explain much of the effects of fraternity membership on either the human capital or social capital effects. These findings suggest that college administrators face significant trade-offs when crafting policies related to Greek life on campus.

- III. Methodology has details
- it's an instrumental variable method paper

Table 5: Fraternity Membership and Grades

Do High School Sports Build or Reveal Character?: http://ftp.iza.org/dp11110.pdf
We examine the extent to which participation in high school athletics has beneficial effects on future education, labor market, and health outcomes. Due to the absence of plausible instruments in observational data, we use recently developed methods that relate selection on observables with selection on unobservables to estimate bounds on the causal effect of athletics participation. We analyze these effects in the US separately for men and women using three different nationally representative longitudinal data sets that each link high school athletics participation with later-life outcomes. We do not find consistent evidence of individual benefits reported in many previous studies – once we have accounted for selection, high school athletes are no more likely to attend college, earn higher wages, or participate in the labor force. However, we do find that men (but not women) who participated in high school athletics are more likely to exercise regularly as adults. Nevertheless, athletes are no less likely to be obese.

Online Social Network Effects in Labor Markets: Evidence From Facebook's Entry into College Campuses: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3381938
My estimates imply that access to Facebook for 4 years of college causes a 2.7 percentile increase in a cohort's average earnings, relative to the earnings of other individuals born in the same year.

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/05/might-facebook-boost-wages.html
What Clockwork_Prior said. I was a college freshman when facebook first made its appearance and so I know that facebook's entry/exit cannot be treated as a quasi-random with respect to earnings. Facebook began at harvard, then expanded to other ivy league schools + places like stanford/MIT/CMU, before expanding into a larger set of universities.

Presuming the author is using a differences-in-differences research design, the estimates would be biased as they would essentially be calculating averaging earnings difference between Elite schools and non elite schools. If the sample is just restricted to the period where schools were simply elite, the problem still exist because facebook originated at Harvard and this becomes a comparison of Harvard earnings v.s. other schools.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
IMMIGRATION DRIVES U.S. POPULATION GROWTH
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Political Conservatives’ Affinity for Obedience to Authority Is Loyal, Not BlindPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin - Jeremy A. Frimer, Danielle Gaucher, Nicola K. Schaefer, 2014
Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions: http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/
Americans’ Attitudes About the News Media Deeply Divided Along Partisan Lines: http://www.journalism.org/2017/05/10/americans-attitudes-about-the-news-media-deeply-divided-along-partisan-lines/

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/925509885848059904
https://archive.is/Q2x1T
I'm going through this survey... it just keeps getting better famalam

from the Cato study here: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:75ca38a74b99

https://twitter.com/AngloRemnant/status/884984883512307712
https://archive.is/bEj6i
Near perfect symmetry between Rep/Dem positive opinion on Church/College, because, well..
Yes, it's amazing how well each of these hostile tribes recognize each other's religious institutions.
.. income & education are Inversely related to positive view of universities among right-leaning folks.
wew, means there's so much room to grow among the proles
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017
Section 3.2, p. 39 has polarization data
A new way to chart ideological leanings in news media: https://www.axios.com/a-new-way-to-chart-ideological-leanings-in-news-media-2475716743.html
(using Twitter follows)
Exploring the Ideological Nature of Journalists’ Social Networks on Twitter and Associations with News Story Content: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8CcT_0LwJ8QVnJMR1QzcGNuTkk/view
Visualizing Political Polarization on Twitter: http://www.theoutgroup.org/
Dear Mainstream Media: Why so liberal?: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/01/27/dear-mainstream-media-why-so-liberal/
Political Leanings of US Journalists vs. the Public in 2002

Topline Results: 2017 Texas Media & Society Survey: https://moody.utexas.edu/sites/default/files/TMASS_2017Topline_final.pdf
https://twitter.com/gelliottmorris/status/915295562123108352
https://archive.is/sE5cg
Some interesting results from a poll about media & polarization that I presented today for @AStraussInst <THREAD>
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now.) - Reason.com
https://www.dropbox.com/s/al533ecu82w29y1/BusinessCycleFallout.pdf
https://twitter.com/MarkKoyama/status/881893997706399744
This is like a reversal of the industrious revolution studied in my JEBO paper: new consumption technologies are money cheap but time pricey
http://www.nber.org/papers/w23552
https://www.1843magazine.com/features/escape-to-another-world
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13723996
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/07/what-are-young-men-doing.html
https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/08/americas-lost-boys

http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/work-becomes-optional/
participation has changed along an understudied margin of labor supply. I find that “in-and-outs”—men who temporarily leave the labor force—represent a growing fraction of prime age men across multiple data sources and are responsible for roughly one third of the decline in the participation rate since 1977. In-and-outs take short, infrequent breaks out of the labor force in between jobs, but they are otherwise continuously attached to the labor force. Leading explanations for the growing share of permanent labor force dropouts, such as disability, do not apply to in-and-outs. Instead, reduced-form evidence and a structural model of household labor supply both indicate that the rise of in-and-outs reflects a shift in labor supply, largely due to the increasing earnings of men’s partners and the growth of men living with their parents.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen. My thoughts:

1. When we think of labor force participation declining, we think of, say, John Smith, deciding to never work again. What this paper is saying is that the statistics reflect something different. One month Smith takes a break, then next month he gets a job and Tom Jones takes a break.

2. I think we have always had a large number of workers who are not fully employed year round. That is, there have always been a lot of workers who take breaks between jobs. This is common in construction work, for example.

3. I don’t know if this matters for the phenomenon at hand, but we used to have inventory recessions. In those cases, workers would be out of a job for a while, but they would still be in the labor force, because they were waiting to be recalled by the firm that had laid them off.

4. It seems to me that this is an important paper. Re-read the last sentence in the quoted excerpt.

Job outlook growing worse for young American men: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/01/02/job-outlook-growing-worse-young-american-men-opinion/996922001/
As one might imagine, the absence of a job, quality education, or spouse has not bred otherwise productive citizens. Multiple studies have found that young men have replaced what would otherwise be working hours with leisure time at a near 1-1 ratio. Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, found that young men spent a startling 75 percent of this leisure time playing video games, with many spending more than 30 hours a week gaming and over 5 million Americans spending more than 45 hours per week.

Higher suicide rates, violent crime, and drug addiction among young men have followed. Suicide rates in the United States are at a 30-year high, with men more than three and a half times more likely to take their own lives than women. Around the United States, violent crimes, homicide in particular, has increased in two-thirds of American cities, with overwhelming young male perpetrators driving the increase. A 2015 Brookings Institute study estimated that nearly half of working-age American men who are out of the labor force are using painkillers, daily.

These problems have been “invisible” for too long.

As video games get better, young men work less and play more: http://review.chicagobooth.edu/economics/2017/article/video-games-get-better-young-men-work-less-and-play-more

Why Are Prime-Age Men Vanishing from the Labor Force?: https://www.kansascityfed.org/~/media/files/publicat/econrev/econrevarchive/2018/1q18tuzemen.pdf

Prime-Age Men May Never Return to U.S. Workforce, Fed Paper Says: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-23/prime-age-men-may-never-return-to-u-s-workforce-fed-paper-says
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: History repeats
Brad Delong, in his course on economic history, lists the following among the reasons for the decline of the British empire and its loss of industrial superiority to Germany and the US.

British deficiencies:
* low infrastructure investment
* poor educational system
* lags behind in primary education
* teaches its elite not science and engineering, but how to write Latin verse

Sound familiar? What is the ratio of Harvard students who have studied Shakespeare, Milton or (shudder) Derrida to the number who have thought deeply about the scientific method, or know what a photon is? Which knowledge is going to pay off for America in the long haul?

Most photon experts are imported from abroad these days. We're running a search in our department for a condensed matter experimentalist (working on things ranging from nanoscale magnets to biomembranes). The last three candidates we've interviewed are originally from (1) the former Soviet Union (postdoc at Cornell), (2) India (postdoc at Berkeley) and (3) China (postdoc at Caltech).

Of course, these Harvard kids may be making a smart decision - why fight it out in an efficiently globalized meritocracy (i.e. science), when there are more lucrative career paths available? Nevertheless, I think we would be better off if our future leaders had at least some passing familiarity with the science and technology that will shape our future.

The future of US scientific leadership: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2005/07/future-of-us-scientific-leadership.html
Does Globalization of the Scientific/Engineering Workforce Threaten US Economic Leadership?: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11457
Note Freeman's Proposition 2: Despite perennial concerns over shortages of scientific and engineering specialists, the job market in most S&E specialties is too weak to attract increasing numbers of US students. Nevertheless, US S&E pay rates are still high enough to attract talented foreigners. This competition further reduces the attractiveness of S&E careers to US students.

Foreign Peer Effects and STEM Major Choice: http://ftp.iza.org/dp10743.pdf
Results indicate that a 1 standard deviation increase in foreign peers reduces the likelihood native-born students graduate with STEM majors by 3 percentage points – equivalent to 3.7 native students displaced for 9 additional foreign students in an average course. STEM displacement is offset by an increased likelihood of choosing Social Science majors. However, the earnings prospects of displaced students are minimally affected as they appear to be choosing Social Science majors with equally high earning power. We demonstrate that comparative advantage and linguistic dissonance may operate as underlying mechanisms.

fall of Rome: https://twitter.com/wrathofgnon/status/886075755364360192
But if the gradualness of this process misled the Romans there were other and equally potent reasons for their blindness. Most potent of all was the fact that they mistook entirely the very nature of civilization itself. All of them were making the same mistake. People who thought that Rome could swallow barbarism and absorb it into her life without diluting her own civilization; the people who ran about busily saying that the barbarians were not such bad fellows after all, finding good points in their regime with which to castigate the Romans and crying that except ye become as little barbarians ye shall not attain salvation; the people who did not observe in 476 that one half of the Respublica Romanorum had ceased to exist and nourished themselves on the fiction that the barbarian kings were exercising a power delegated from the Emperor. _All these people were deluded by the same error, the belief that Rome (the civilization of their age) was not a mere historical fact with a beginning and an end, but a condition of nature like the air they breathed and the earth they tread Ave Roma immortalis, most magnificent most disastrous of creeds!_

The fact is that the Romans were blinded to what was happening to them by the very perfection of the material culture which they had created. All around them was solidity and comfort, a material existence which was the very antithesis of barbarism. How could they foresee the day when the Norman chronicler would marvel over the broken hypocausts of Caerleon? How could they imagine that anything so solid might conceivably disappear? _Their roads grew better as their statesmanship grew worse and central heating triumphed as civilization fell._

But still more responsible for their unawareness was the educational system in which they were reared. Ausonius and Sidonius and their friends were highly educated men and Gaul was famous for its schools and universities. The education which these gave consisted in the study of grammar and rhetoric, which was necessary alike for the civil service and for polite society; and it would be difficult to imagine an education more entirely out of touch with contemporary life, or less suited to inculcate the qualities which might have enabled men to deal with it. The fatal study of rhetoric, its links with reality long since severed, concentrated the whole attention of men of intellect on form rather than on matter. _The things they learned in their schools had no relation to the things that were going on in the world outside and bred in them the fatal illusion that tomorrow would be as yesterday that everything was the same, whereas everything was different._
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june 2017 by nhaliday
What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America - Social Capital Project - United States Senator Mike Lee
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Identifying the Determinants of Attitudes towards Immigrants: A Structural Cross-Country Analysis
not much of a difference by gender (seems female->more supportive in northern countries, less supportive in southern countries), biggest thing is urbanity+educational attainment

https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/899850410935975940
https://archive.is/nUJp2
Vote share for WEuro populist parties higher in regions: rural, ⇈foreigners, ⇈unemployment, AND ⇈education except in cities (surprising)
the urban educated hate the nationalist parties but the nonurban educated are prone to support them. Not all educated are alike

The success of radical right-wing parties in Western European regions – new challenging findings: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14782804.2016.1198691

Can Television Reduce Xenophobia? The Case of East Germany: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2932276
To examine this question, we exploit the fact that individuals in some areas of East Germany – due to their geographic location – could not receive West German television until 1989. We conjecture that individuals who received West German television were exposed more frequently to foreigners and thus have developed less xenophobia than people who were not exposed to those programs. Our results show that regions that could receive West German television were less likely to vote for right-wing parties during the national elections from 1998 to 2013. Only recently, the same regions were also more likely to vote for left-wing parties. Moreover, while counties that hosted more foreigners in 1989 were also more likely to vote for right-wing parties in most elections, we find counties that recently hosted more foreign visitors showed less xenophobia, which is in line with intergroup contact theory.

With an Open Mind: Openness to Experience Moderates the Effect of Interethnic Encounters on Support for Immigration: https://academic.oup.com/esr/article-abstract/33/5/721/4102111/With-an-Open-Mind-Openness-to-Experience-Moderates

Refugees Unwelcome? Changes in the Public Acceptance of Immigrants and Refugees in Germany in the Course of Europe’s ‘Immigration Crisis’: https://academic.oup.com/esr/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/esr/jcx071/4557564/Refugees-Unwelcome-Changes-in-the-Public
Derived from discussions making up the German immigration discourse during this time, we expect reduced acceptance especially of those immigrants who were explicitly connected to the salient events, like Muslims and the offenders of NYE. Most strikingly, we find that refugees were generally highly accepted and even more so in the second wave, whereas the acceptance of immigrants from Arab or African countries further decreased. Moreover, _female respondents’ initial preference for male immigrants_ disappeared. Contrary to our expectations, we find no changes in the acceptance of Muslims.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Secular decline in testosterone levels - Rogue Health and Fitness
A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men: http://sci-hub.tw/10.1210/jc.2006-1375
Secular trends in sex hormones and fractures in men and women: http://www.eje-online.org/content/166/5/887.full.pdf
https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/984543033285898246
https://archive.is/dcruu
Small n and older sample, but interesting that while testosterone decreases have been large for men they’ve been even larger (in % terms) for women; wonder if this contributes to declining pregnancy and sexual frequency, rising depression.

https://www.labcorp.com/assets/11476
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/sperm-killers-and-rising-male-infertility/
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/25/sperm-counts-among-western-men-have-halved-in-last-40-years-study
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/most-men-in-the-us-and-europe-could-be-infertile-by-2060
Strangelove: https://youtu.be/N1KvgtEnABY?t=67

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sperm-count-dropping-in-western-world/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14855796
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14857588
People offering human-centric explanations like cell phones: Note also that the sperm quality of dogs has decreased 30% since 1988.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/august-3-2019-science-of-awe-blue-whales-and-sonar-chromosomes-and-sleep-and-more-1.5047142/man-and-man-s-best-friend-have-both-been-experiencing-declines-in-sperm-quality-1.5047150
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20636757

mendelian rand.:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28448539
1 SD genetically instrumented increase in BMI was associated with a 0.25 SD decrease in serum testosterone
https://twitter.com/SilverVVulpes/status/857902555489341441

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility: study: https://nypost.com/2018/01/08/ibuprofen-linked-to-male-infertility-study/
http://www.pnas.org/content/115/4/E715.full

Tucker Carlson: "Men Seem To Be Becoming Less Male": https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/08/tucker_carlson_men_seem_to_be_becoming_less_male.html
Carlson interviewed Dr. Jordan Peterson who blamed the "insidious" movement being driven by the "radical left" that teaches there a problem of "toxic masculinity." He said ideological policies focus on "de-emphasizing masculinity may be part of the problem."

...

Those are the numbers. They paint a very clear picture: American men are failing, in body, mind and spirit. This is a crisis. Yet our leaders pretend it’s not happening. They tell us the opposite is true: Women are victims, men are oppressors. To question that assumption is to risk punishment. Even as women far outpace men in higher education, virtually every college campus supports a women’s studies department, whose core goal is to attack male power. Our politicians and business leaders internalize and amplify that message. Men are privileged. Women are oppressed. Hire and promote and reward accordingly.

https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:bd7b0a50d741
But it also hints at an almost opposite take: average testosterone levels have been falling for decades, so at this point these businessmen would be the only “normal” (by 1950s standards) men out there, and everyone else would be unprecedently risk-averse and boring.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Less intelligent people want to exclude racists from the public square – Gene Expression
Millennials with college degrees don’t favor censorship: http://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/05/03/millennials-with-college-degrees-dont-favor-censorship/
Free Expression on Campus: A Survey of U.S. College Students and U.S. Adults: https://www.knightfoundation.org/media/uploads/publication_pdfs/FreeSpeech_campus.pdf
some scary attitudes toward "hate speech" and anonymous speech
http://www.unz.com/akarlin/future-for-aclu-children/
Ironic joking and SJW meltdowns over photos of White children aside, the politically correct peeps at ACLU (who apologized for their social justice faux pas soon afterwards) were actually far more to the point than they could have possibly imagined.

Opinion polls have shown that in the US, Whites tend to have the greatest respect for freedom of speech.

asians quite low across the board

YouGov | Half of Democrats support a ban on hate speech: https://today.yougov.com/news/2015/05/20/hate-speech/
Americans narrowly support (41%) rather than oppose (37%) criminalizing hate speech

http://www.integrationsfonds.at/publikationen/forschungsberichte/forschungsbericht-muslimische-gruppen-in-oesterreich/
A majority of Austrian Muslims believe making fun of Islam shouldn't be allowed. Somalis, Chechens, Afghans & Syrians feel most strongly (9)

Most Liberals And Smart People Want Racists To Be Allowed To Speak: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/08/25/189066/
But whenever I look at the General Social Survey I see no great change in support for free speech in terms of the patterns. Perhaps something has changed in the year 2017, but I think what we are seeing are vocal and motivated minorities who are drowning out liberal (in the classical sense) majorities.
https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/08/25/the-less-intelligent-and-uneducated-really-dont-tolerate-unpopular-views/

Freedom Of Thought As A Perpetual Revolution: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/09/13/freedom-of-thought-as-a-perpetual-revolution/
I mentioned offhand on Twitter today that I am skeptical of the tendency to brand the classically liberal emphasis on freedom of thought and speech as “centrist.” The implicit idea is that those on the Right and Left for whom liberalism is conditional, and a means at best, are radical and outside the mainstream.

This misleads us in relation to the fact that classical liberalism is the aberration both historically and culturally. Liberty of thought and speech have existed for time immemorial, but they were the luxury goods of the elite salons. Frederick the Great of Prussia had no use for religion personally, and famously patronized heretical philosophers, but he did not disturb the conservative social order of the polity which he inherited. For the masses, the discourse was delimited and regulated to maintain order and reinforce social norms.

The attempt to position the liberal stance as a centrist one is clearly historically and culturally contingent. It reflects the ascendancy of a particular strand of Anglo-American elite culture worldwide. But it is not universal. In the Islamic world and South Asia free expression of skepticism of religious ideas in public are subject to limits explicitly to maintain public order. The Islamic punishments for apostasy have less to do with the sin of individual disbelief and more to do with disruption to public norms and sedition against the state. Similarly, both China and Russia tap deeply into cultural preferences for state and elite paternalism in regards to public freedom of thought.

A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-chilling-study-shows-how-hostile-college-students-are-toward-free-speech/2017/09/18/cbb1a234-9ca8-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/22/college-free-speech-violence-survey-junk-science

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2017/09/its-so-pc-its-killing-me.html
Americans chafe under PC oppressiveness. True across all demographics. Alt right can't emphasize free speech enough

A Run on Liberalism?: https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/09/20/a-run-on-liberalism/
- Jason Willick

It’s also about taking a long view of our own self-interests—that is, recognizing that if we agree not to suppress the other tribe, then the other tribe just might agree, as a general rule, to not suppress us. If adhered to, it can be positive sum transaction—the free exchange of ideas ultimately makes life richer and more prosperous for everyone. Liberalism is a bargain between elites to set up institutions that allow this positive-sum process to take place despite all the forces working against it.

https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/10/02/americans-support-free-speech-college-campusmost-t/
In fact, Americans prioritize exposing students to all types of speech on campuses, even if that speech is biased or offensive, to providing a positive learning environment for all students at the risk of barring some types of speech. Sometimes this type of question generates a politicized response, depending on the speech that respondents think may be restricted. The most recent and most publicized college incidents involve conservative speakers who have been shouted down or have had speeches on campuses canceled. On this question Democrats and Republicans may be on different sides, but liberals and conservatives agree.

http://reason.com/blog/2017/10/04/black-lives-matter-students-shut-down-th

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/12/poll-most-california-democrats-want-to-restrict-free-speech-from-white-nationalists/
Poll: Most California Democrats want to restrict free speech from white nationalists

40% non-Hispanic White, 51% Latino, 58% Af-American, 59% Asian-American

America's Many Divides Over Free Speech: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/a-sneak-peek-at-new-survey-data-on-free-speech/542028/
A new survey explores Americans’ views on hate speech, political correctness, Nazi-punching, job terminations for offensive speech, and much more.
- CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/925458956239110145
https://archive.is/ZeY18
Well this explains a lot

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/925504773222293505
https://archive.is/oSjru
Democrats..... lmao 😁

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/925507818802810880
https://archive.is/vSdrZ
> CATO releases its own report showing that blacks & Latinos have the least attachment to libertarian ideas
> they will change nothing

The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America: https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/state-free-speech-tolerance-america

Free speech and the Coalition of the Fringes: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2017/11/free-speech-and-coalition-of-fringes.html

Epigonian aesthetics: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2017/11/epigonian-aesthetics.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/us/college-students-free-speech.html

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/973340678104199168
https://archive.is/PMp5S
European-style hate speech laws, and a SCOTUS favorable to them, will increasingly be a key goal of the left
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The lopsided age distribution of partisan politics, visualized - The Washington Post
controlling for demographics: http://www.pleeps.org/2016/06/23/the-mystery-of-millennial-politics/
https://twitter.com/epkaufm/status/903376370759196672
White millennials in US relatively similar to older whites in both partisanship & conservatism, shows Deborah Schildkraut at #APSA2017
https://twitter.com/wccubbison/status/903699883332427777
https://archive.is/WHpvc
Incredibly important paper from #APSA2017 by @debbiejsr & Satia Marotta on racial views of white millennials
cf: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:8bdede501f24
https://twitter.com/SeanMcElwee/status/905104283036774400
People mistakenly believe that younger people have always been more liberal. In reality, the current age divide is larger than ever.

The future belongs to the Left: http://www.edwest.co.uk/spectator-blogs/the-future-belongs-to-the-left/
Labour is now the party of the middle class: http://www.edwest.co.uk/spectator-blogs/labour-is-now-the-party-of-the-middle-class/

The Zero-Sum Society: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/the-zero-sum-society/
Record house prices are stopping couples having 160,000 children because they cannot afford bigger homes or are stuck in rental flats: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4699862/House-prices-stopping-couples-having-160-000-children.html
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56eddde762cd9413e151ac92/t/5968e14e86e6c08c90fda56c/1500045650060/Housing+and+fertility.pdf
Conservatism has no future unless it tackles housing: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/conservatism-no-future-unless-tackles-housing/
https://twitter.com/Birdyword/status/915676030110715904
https://archive.is/ezoDy
Wealth is unevenly distributed generally, but much less so in property than financial wealth - far bigger constituency for protecting it (Bristol Uni 2015)
This is why the 'house prices should fall' line is a dead end. Ex-pensions it's most of all the wealth majority of people have.

US at min wage: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/06/rent-is-affordable-to-low-wage-workers-in-exactly-12-us-counties/529782/

How Britain voted at the 2017 general election: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/06/13/how-britain-voted-2017-general-election/
In electoral terms, age seems to be the new dividing line in British politics. The starkest way to show this is to note that, amongst first time voters (those aged 18 and 19), Labour was forty seven percentage points ahead. Amongst those aged over 70, the Conservatives had a lead of fifty percentage points.
https://twitter.com/Peston/status/902990464697208835
This has got to embarrass most sensible Tory MPs
(poll numbers for specific issues)
https://twitter.com/tomhfh/status/917376537867051009
https://archive.is/IHhSz
John Curtice giving us @DUConservatives a slightly painful talk 😬
...
John Curtice is explaining that Labour’s economic policies did almost nothing to galvanise the young. It was their social liberalism.
Older voters more likely to care about rent control or redistribution than young.
Tuition fees are a misdiagnosis.
It’s SOCIAL LIBERALISM.
“In many ways the cues and mood music are more important than the policy.”
“The prominence of social issues have never been as big a dimension as they played in 2017.
Neither had the disparity in age.”
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Political Polarization in the American Public | Pew Research Center
- next few decades are gonna be a slugfest
- also, looks like Ds shifted left, then Rs as well, Ds refused to meet in middle, then both shifted in opposite directions (Ds moreso)

Party Differences in Support for Government Spending, 1973-2014: https://sci-hub.tw/http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1532673X17719718

The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider: http://www.people-press.org/2017/10/05/the-partisan-divide-on-political-values-grows-even-wider/
Sharp shifts among Democrats on aid to needy, race, immigration

sharp uptick in 2010 maybe related to: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:5ddfca30723d

https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/915959944087826432
https://archive.is/zNZm2
The Great a-Woke-ening of the 2010s has been a powerful force for Democrats.

cf: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:8c26cb2a515b

Democrats' delusions of pragmatism: http://theweek.com/articles/729980/democrats-delusions-pragmatism
Democrats like to tell themselves a comforting story.

Democrats are pragmatists, if they do say so themselves, deeply rooted in the reality-based community, beholden to facts, toiling valiantly and soberly to make the country a better, fairer place. Republicans, meanwhile, are ideologues monomaniacally fixated on cutting government spending and taxes for the wealthy, regardless of the consequences, and moving inexorably further and further to the extreme right.

However, if a recent Pew poll is to be believed, this story is nothing but a self-justifying myth. Yes, many Republicans are ideological, and the party has indeed been moving to the right in recent years. But the truth is that Democrats have simultaneously been moving to the left — and doing so with greater unity and, on some issues, more rapidly than Republicans have been moving right.

...

What's new in Pew's poll are the changes in public opinion over time across a range of issues. Not only are Democrats and Republicans further apart than ever (or at least since tracking began, in 1994) on such issues as government regulation of business, benefits to the poor, the fairness of corporate profits, the role of racism in American society, immigration, and environmental regulations, but in most cases the growing gap is more a result of a shift in public opinion among Democrats than it is a product of changes among Republicans.

In some cases (on race and immigration) the biggest shift has come in the past few years, which points to a rebound effect in reaction to Donald Trump's campaign and his presidency. But on most of the issues, the gap has been widening for a much longer time, pointing to a broader trend toward the ideological left among Democrats.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
There’s good eating on one of those | West Hunter
Recently, Y.-H. Percival Zhang and colleagues demonstrated a method of converting cellulose into starch and glucose. Zhang thinks that it can be scaled up into an effective industrial process, one that could produce a thousand calories of starch for less than a dollar from cellulosic waste. This would be a good thing. It’s not just that are 7 billion people – the problem is that we have hardly any food reserves (about 74 days at last report).

Prepare for Nuclear Winter: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/09/prepare-for-nuclear-winter.html
If a 1km asteroid were to hit the Earth, the dust it kicked up would block most sunlight over most of the world for 3 to 10 years. There’s only a one in a million chance of that happening per year, however. Whew. However, there’s a ten times bigger chance that a super volcano, such as the one hiding under Yellowstone, might explode, for a similar result. And I’d put the chance of a full scale nuclear war at ten to one hundred times larger than that: one in ten thousand to one thousand per year. Over a century, that becomes a one to ten percent chance. Not whew; grimace instead.

There is a substantial chance that a full scale nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, with a similar effect: sunlight is blocked for 3-10 years or more. Yes, there are good criticisms of the more extreme forecasts, but there’s still a big chance the sun gets blocked in a full scale nuclear war, and there’s even a substantial chance of the same result in a mere regional war, where only 100 nukes explode (the world now has 15,000 nukes).

...

Yeah, probably a few people live on, and so humanity doesn’t go extinct. But the only realistic chance most of us have of surviving in this scenario is to use our vast industrial and scientific abilities to make food. We actually know of many plausible ways to make more than enough food to feed everyone for ten years, even with no sunlight. And even if big chunks of the world economy are in shambles. But for that to work, we must preserve enough social order to make use of at least the core of key social institutions.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/09/mre-futures-to-not-starve.html

Nuclear War Survival Skills: http://oism.org/nwss/nwss.pdf
Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition

Nuclear winter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

Yellowstone supervolcano may blow sooner than thought — and could wipe out life on the planet: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/10/12/yellowstone-supervolcano-may-blow-sooner-than-thought-could-wipe-out-life-planet/757337001/
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/10/12/yellowstone-supervolcano-could-blow-faster-than-thought-destroy-all-mankind.html
http://fortune.com/2017/10/12/yellowstone-park-supervolcano/
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/supervolcano-blast-would-blanket-us-ash
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics | Pew Research Center
Map of Protestant Denominations in the US: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2012/10/where-the-protestants-roam-map-of-protestant-denominations-in-the-us/

https://www.vividmaps.com/2018/01/faithland.html
Religious adherents as a percentage of all residents by county, 2010. Data is taken from the Association of Religious Data Archives. (ARDA). The Association of Religion Data Archives is a free source of online information related to American religion.
https://twitter.com/DouthatNYT/status/959116931633745920
https://archive.is/IY7r9
A fascinating map, but in part what it shows is that there are really three "Faithlands," each somewhat distinct.
There is a Bible Belt Faithland in the Deep South that's heavily Baptist/evangelical, a High Plains Faithland that's heavily Lutheran and Catholic, and then of course there's Deseret.
Also there are two very different Secularlands: One in the Rust Belt/Appalachia, the other in liberal whitopias on the coasts (with the coastal urban agglomerations more religious bc of immigration/minorities).
If I were running a missionary religious order or similar evangelical group I'd sending priests or church-planters into Ohio and Michigan, the eastern Pacific Northwest, upper New England.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Who Serves in the U.S. Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers | The Heritage Foundation
6 facts about the U.S. military's changing demographics: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/13/6-facts-about-the-u-s-military-and-its-changing-demographics/
Profile of U.S. veterans is changing dramatically as their ranks decline: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/11/profile-of-u-s-veterans-is-changing-dramatically-as-their-ranks-decline/

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/958706726097866752
https://archive.is/Q1m3a
Income representation of US military enlisted recruits, 2006-2007, by census tract median household income
Enlisted Recruits Are More Likely to Come from Middle- and Upper-Class Neighborhoods

Why don't more people serve? The US is launching a commission to find out: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/01/12/why-dont-more-people-serve-the-us-is-launching-a-commission-to-find-out/

The “warrior caste” of military families that fight America’s wars.: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/08/the_warrior_caste_of_military_families_that_fight_america_s_wars.html
article is usual diversity cant (increasingly mind-blowing/unhinged), but Razib's take is interesting:
https://twitter.com/razibkhan/status/892840333247217665
https://twitter.com/razibkhan/status/892841982808080384
every few years article about how officer corps of amer. military is starting to become endogamous. they serve us. but history can teach us
unless human nature changed, when there is a "them" vs. "us" when it comes to guns, eventually ppl with guns stop serving start taking

clarification: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/08/02/when-the-ancestors-were-cyclops/#comment-3354
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february 2017 by nhaliday
What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration? | Chatham House
- majority of population wants complete moratorium
- 48% of college graduates as well
- 44% for 18-29
- UK and Spain the only ones <50% overall
- no Scandinavian countries surveyed

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/07/11/europeans-fear-wave-of-refugees-will-mean-more-terrorism-fewer-jobs/
Relatively few Europeans believe diversity has a positive impact on their countries. At 36%, Sweden registers the highest percentage that believes an increasingly diverse society makes their country a better place to live. In many countries, the prevailing view is that diversity makes no difference in the quality of life.

https://global.handelsblatt.com/politics/looking-to-germany-to-protect-the-world-order-779939
fundamental incompatibility >50% in Germany, etc.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/publications/research/2017-06-20-future-europe-attitudes-raines-goodwin-cutts-final.pdf
ridiculously out-of-touch
https://necpluribusimpar.net/publicelite-divide-immigration/
It’s as if people in the elite were mostly protected from the bad consequences of immigration, but not from its benefits, while the opposite were true for most people in the public… (A study showed a similar phenomenon in the US, although there is less opposition to immigration overall here, which is not saying much given how much opposition there is to immigration in Europe.) What is really striking is that, on every single point raised in that poll, people in the public are right and people in the elite are wrong. At least, they are if we’re talking about the immigration of poor, unskilled and non-Western people, but this is what people have in mind when they complain about immigration. In fact, not only is the public right, but it’s obviously right.

Of course, the sophisticates don’t know that, because they haven’t actually read the literature which they claim shows the public is mistaken about immigration. So they ascribe the hostility to immigration among the public, which is off the charts, to bigotry and ignorance. As soon as I have more time, which probably won’t be until a few months from now, I plan to publish a series of very detailed posts in which I discuss the literature on the effects of immigration in the West. In the meantime, if you are convinced that the elite is right and that immigration is great for Europe, you should ask yourself why, if members of the elite are right, they have to lie all the time about this. For instance, you should ask yourself why, if immigration really doesn’t make crime worse, the French government under Jospin gave instructions to the police not to release any names when communicating to the press or why journalists systematically replace non-French names by French names when they write on crime. Similarly, you could ask yourself why both the authorities and the media covered up the sexual assaults perpetrated by migrants in Cologne and many other cities throughout Europe in 2016, before the truth finally came out. If these were isolated incidents, you couldn’t conclude much from them, but the cover-up is systematic. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think what I’m saying is true, I don’t have to lie about it.

https://twitter.com/phl43/status/889570666327965704
https://necpluribusimpar.net/quick-look-immigration-crime-germany/
Of course, this is not surprising in the least, what is surprising is that so many people were stupid enough as to think it wasn’t going to happen. But the most amazing thing is that you can be certain that, despite this fiasco, the sophisticates will continue to treat anyone who voice skepticism about the benefits of mass immigration in Europe as a bigoted cretin. To be convinced of your intellectual and moral superiority when you are making claims that are manifestly absurd is perhaps the worst kind of stupidity.

lawlz from NYT: https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/884829474445029376

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/07/the-public-vs-the-politicians/

ick source but whatever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SE6x_I7yYE
'I would do it again’ Defiant Merkel has no regrets about opening Germany’s borders: http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/846397/german-election-2017-angela-merkel-migrants-germany-borders

https://www.ft.com/content/23e02b76-7074-11e7-93ff-99f383b09ff9
A recent poll by the University of Mainz, cited in the study, found that 55 per cent of those asked felt “systematically lied to by the media”. Some 26 per cent agreed with the statement that “the media and politicians work hand in hand to manipulate public opinion”.

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.welt.de%2Fpolitik%2Fdeutschland%2Farticle167673517%2F7-von-10-Deutschen-wollen-Mittelmeerfluechtlinge-zurueckschicken.html&edit-text=&act=url
7 out of 10 Germans want to send Mediterranean refugees back
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.welt.de%2Fpolitik%2Fdeutschland%2Farticle168016985%2FGrosse-Mehrheit-findet-Muslime-in-Deutschland-schlecht-integriert.html&edit-text=&act=url
Despite this strong connection, a large majority of the Germans sees the Muslim immigrants here as badly integrated. 65.6 percent of the Germans would generally call Muslim immigrants in Germany as rather poor or very badly integrated. This was the result of the WELT-Trend, a representative survey which was exclusively made by the opinion research institute Civey.

Tribes of Europe: https://tribes.chathamhouse.org/the-tribes

Australia and Muslim ban: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/half-of-all-australians-want-to-ban-muslim-immigration-poll-20160920-grkufa.html
Report: Voters Say Country Is Full, Support Partial Muslim Immigration Ban: http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/10/26/report-voters-say-country-full-support-muslim-immigration-ban/
New Zealand's Refugee Policy is Closer to Trump's 'Muslim Ban' Than You Might Think: https://www.vice.com/en_nz/article/aej3aj/is-new-zealands-refugee-policy-closer-to-trumps-muslim-ban-than-you-think
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february 2017 by nhaliday
A Rejection of 'Broken Windows Policing' Over Race Actually Hurts Minority Neighborhoods | Manhattan Institute
https://twitter.com/BookOfTamara/status/778838226983268352
https://archive.is/ETLXf
Late-night slightly controversial criminal justice thread:

Proactive policing and crime control: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0227-x
Evidence that curtailing proactive policing can reduce major crime: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0211-5

Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/dbasse/claj/proactive-policing/index.htm
This report from the Committee on Law and Justice finds evidence that a number of proactive policing practices are successful in reducing crime and disorder, at least in the short term, and that most of these strategies do not harm communities’ attitudes towards police.

Is Racial Profiling a Legitimate Strategy in the Fight against Violent Crime?: https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s11406-018-9945-1?author_access_token=nDM1xCesybebx7yUX2BxZ_e4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY6py69jTlOiEGDIgqW0Vv2HrAor6wlMLH695I2ykTiKUxf1RBnu1u_6gjXU-6vgh2gIy6CX2npHD9GR350T20x_TbCcq4MmJUPrxAqsJSe1QA%3D%3D
- Neven Sesardić

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/08/u-s-cities-underpoliced.html
Chalfin and McCrary acknowledge the endogeneity problem but they suggest that a more important reason why ordinary regression gives you poor results is that the number of police is poorly measured. Suppose the number of police jumps up and down in the data even when the true number stays constant. Fake variation obviously can’t influence real crime so when your regression “sees” a lot of (fake) variation in police which is not associated with variation in crime it’s naturally going to conclude that the effect of police on crime is small, i.e. attenuation bias.

By comparing two different measures of the number of police, Chalfin and McCrary show that a surprising amount of the ups and downs in the number of police is measurement error. Using their two measures, however, Chalfin and McCrary produce a third measure which is better than either alone. Using this cleaned-up estimate, they find that ordinary regression (with controls) gives you estimates of the effect of police on crime which are plausible and similar to those found using other techniques like natural experiments. Chalfin and McCrary’s estimates, however, are more precise since they use much more of the variation in the data.

Using these new estimates of the effect of police and crime along with estimates of the social cost of crime they conclude (as I have argued before) that U.S. cities are substantially under-policed.

Crime Imprisons and Kills: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/01/crime-imprisons-kills.html
…The everyday lived experience of urban poverty has also been transformed. Analyzing rates of violent victimization over time, I found that the poorest Americans today are victimized at about the same rate as the richest Americans were at the start of the 1990s. That means that a poor, unemployed city resident walking the streets of an average city today has about the same chance of being robbed, beaten up, stabbed or shot as a well-off urbanite in 1993. Living in poverty used to mean living with the constant threat of violence. In most of the country, that is no longer true.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/09/what-was-gary-beckers-biggest-mistake.html
http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf
Do parole abolition and Truth-in-Sentencing deter violent crimes in Virginia?: http://link.springer.com.sci-hub.tw/article/10.1007/s00181-017-1332-4

Death penalty: https://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2011/09/death-penalty.html
And so I revise: the death penalty is wrong, and it also likely has little measurable deterrent effect. There may still be a deterrent effect; we just can't show one given available data.

The effects of DNA databases on the deterrence and detection of offenders: http://jenniferdoleac.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DNA_Denmark.pdf
We exploit a large expansion of Denmark’s DNA database in 2005 to measure the effect of DNA registration on criminal behavior. Using a regression discontinuity strategy, we find that DNA registration reduces recidivism by 43%. Using rich data on the timing of subsequent charges to separate the deterrence and detection effects of DNA databases, we also find that DNA registration increases the probability that repeat offenders get caught, by 4%. We estimate an elasticity of criminal behavior with respect to the probability of detection to be -1.7. We also find suggestive evidence that DNA profiling changes non-criminal behavior: offenders added to the DNA database are more likely to get married, remain in a stable relationship, and live with their children.

Short- and long-term effects of imprisonment on future felony convictions and prison admissions: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/09/26/1701544114.short
https://twitter.com/bswud/status/917354893907779585
Prison isn't criminogenic—offenders have higher rates of re-incarceration because of technical parole violations
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Democracy does not cause growth | Brookings Institution
64-page paper
Democracy & Growth: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4909
The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained.

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated∗: http://perseus.iies.su.se/~tpers/papers/cifar_paper_may16_07.pdf
In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of −2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.

Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis: http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.cc/science/article/pii/S0048733317300975
The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Benevolent Autocrats: https://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/benevolent-autocrats-easterly-draft.pdf
A large literature attributes this to the higher variance of growth rates under autocracy than under democracy. The literature offers alternative explanations for this stylized fact: (1) leaders don’t matter under democracy, but good and bad leaders under autocracy cause high and low growth, (2) leaders don’t matter under autocracy either, but good and bad autocratic systems cause greater extremes of high and low growth, or (3) democracy does better than autocracy at reducing variance from shocks from outside the political system. This paper details further the stylized facts to test these distinctions. Inconsistent with (1), the variance of growth within the terms of leaders swamps the variance across leaders, and more so under autocracy than under democracy. Country effects under autocracy are also overwhelmed by within-country variance, inconsistent with (2). Explanation (3) fits the stylized facts the best of the three alternatives.

Political Institutions, Size of Government and Redistribution: An empirical investigation: http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/pdf/WP/WP89.pdf
Results show that the stronger democratic institutions are, the lower is government size and the higher the redistributional capacity of the state. Political competition exercises the strongest and most robust effect on the two variables.

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/899466295170801664
https://archive.is/sPFII
Fits the high-variance theory of autocracies:
More miracles, more disasters. And there's a lot of demand for miracles.

Measuring the ups and downs of governance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/09/22/measuring-the-ups-and-downs-of-governance/
Figure 2: Voice and Accountability and Government Effectiveness, 2016
https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/917444456386666497
https://archive.is/EBQlD
Georgia, Japan, Rwanda, and Serbia ↑ Gov Effectiveness; Indonesia, Tunisia, Liberia, Serbia, and Nigeria ↑ Voice and Accountability.

The logic of hereditary rule: theory and evidence: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69615/
Hereditary leadership has been an important feature of the political landscape throughout history. This paper argues that hereditary leadership is like a relational contract which improves policy incentives. We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. In addition, we find that hereditary leadership is more likely to come to an end when the growth performance under the incumbent leader is poor.

I noted this when the paper was a working paper, but non-hereditary polities with strong contraints have higher growth rates.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants - Hainmueller - 2014 - American Journal of Political Science - Wiley Online Library
https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/862076519077879808
https://archive.is/worD7
Polls re "increasing"/"decreasing" levels aren't reliable, because normies have no idea how much we currently have. https://cis.org/Camarota/Survey-Highlights-Popularity-Immigration-Enforcement

https://www.numbersusa.com/news/voters-swing-states-support-raise-act
https://www.numbersusa.com/news/pew-us-has-more-immigrants-any-other-country
The report also noted that almost half of Americans (49%) say that immigration in the U.S. should be decreased while only 15% said it should be increased.

also:
- 13.4% foreign-born
- of those, 25% illegal, 44% naturalized, 25% permanent resident
- 1/2 not proficient in English

It's the immigration, stupid: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2015/11/its-immigration-stupid.html
Polling on immigration often appears to be all over the place. Wording is crucial. When the choices are "deport everyone" and "secure the border and then offer a path to citizenship", the Cathedral can manufacture headlines to try and create an illusion of amnesty as a political winner. When the questions are more objectively designed, it becomes clear that restrictionism is the populist position.

Over the summer, Reuters approached the issue in the most straightforward manner I've ever come across. In terms of fleshing out public sentiment, the approach is bar none. Respondents were asked about what should be done with illegal immigrants in the US. Only two committal answers--"deport most or all of them" and "allow most or all of them to stay"--along with a third "unsure" cop-out option, were offered as responses.

World Publics Welcome Global Trade — But Not Immigration: http://www.pewglobal.org/2007/10/04/world-publics-welcome-global-trade-but-not-immigration/
In both affluent countries in the West and in the developing world, people are concerned about immigration. Large majorities in nearly every country surveyed express the view that there should be greater restriction of immigration and tighter control of their country’s borders.
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july 2016 by nhaliday
Too much of a good thing | The Economist
None of these accounts, though, explain the most troubling aspect of America’s profit problem: its persistence. Business theory holds that firms can at best enjoy only temporary periods of “competitive advantage” during which they can rake in cash. After that new companies, inspired by these rich pickings, will pile in to compete away those fat margins, bringing prices down and increasing both employment and investment. It’s the mechanism behind Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

In America that hand seems oddly idle. An American firm that was very profitable in 2003 (one with post-tax returns on capital of 15-25%, excluding goodwill) had an 83% chance of still being very profitable in 2013; the same was true for firms with returns of over 25%, according to McKinsey, a consulting firm. In the previous decade the odds were about 50%. The obvious conclusion is that the American economy is too cosy for incumbents.

Corporations Are Raking In Record Profits, But Workers Aren’t Seeing Much of It: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/07/corporations-are-raking-in-record-profits-but-workers-arent-seeing-much-of-it/
Even Goldman Sachs thinks monopolies are pillaging American consumers: http://theweek.com/articles/633101/even-goldman-sachs-thinks-monopolies-are-pillaging-american-consumers
Schumpeter: The University of Chicago worries about a lack of competition: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21720657-its-economists-used-champion-big-firms-mood-has-shifted-university-chicago
Some radicals argue that the government is now so rotten that America is condemned to perpetual oligarchy and inequality. Political support for more competition is worryingly hard to find. Donald Trump has a cabinet of tycoons and likes to be chummy with bosses. The Republicans have become the party of incumbent firms, not of free markets or consumers. Too many Democrats, meanwhile, don’t trust markets and want the state to smother them in red tape, which hurts new entrants.

The Rise of Market Power and the Decline of Labor’s Share: https://promarket.org/rise-market-power-decline-labors-share/
A new paper by Jan De Loecker (of KU Leuven and Princeton University) and Jan Eeckhout (of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics UPF and University College London) echoes these results, arguing that the decline of both the labor and capital shares, as well as the decline in low-skilled wages and other economic trends, have been aided by a significant increase in markups and market power.

...

Measuring markups, De Loecker explained in a conversation with ProMarket, is notoriously difficult due to the scarcity of data. In attempting to track markups across a wide set of firms and industries, De Loecker and Eeckhout diverged from the standard way in which Industrial Organization economists look at markups, the so-called “demand approach,” which requires a lot of data on consumer demand (prices, quantities, characteristics of products) and models of how firms compete. The standard approach, explains De Loecker, works when it is tailor-made for particular markets, but is “not feasible” when studying markups across many markets and over a long period of time.

To do that, De Loecker and Eeckhout use another approach, the “production approach,” which relies on standard, publicly-available balance sheet data and an assumption that firms will try to minimize costs, and does not require other assumptions regarding demand and market competition.

...

Markups, De Loecker and Eeckhout note, do not necessarily imply market power—but profits do. The enormous increase in profits over the past 35 years, they argue, is consistent with an increase in market power. “In perfect competition, your costs and total sales are identical, because there’s no difference between price and marginal costs. The extent to which these two numbers—the sales-to-wage bill and total-costs-to-wage bill—start differing is going to be immediately indicative of the market power,” says De Loecker.

Markup increases, De Loecker and Eeckhout find, became more pronounced following the 2000 and 2008 recessions. Curiously, they find that economy-wide it is mainly smaller firms that have the higher markups, which according to De Loecker is indicative of widely different characteristics between various industries. Within narrowly defined industries, however, the standard prediction holds: firms with larger market shares have higher markups as well. “Most of the action happens within industries, where we see the big guys getting bigger and their markups increase,” De Loecker explains.

http://www.janeeckhout.com/wp-content/uploads/RMP.pdf

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/08/marching-markups.html
The authors are correct that this can easily account for the apparent US productivity slowdown. Holding real productivity constant, if firms move up their demand curves to sell less at a higher prices, then total output, and measured GDP, get smaller. Their numerical estimates suggest that, correcting for this effect, there has been no decline in US productivity growth since 1965. That’s a pretty big deal.

Accepting the main result that markups have been marching upward, the obvious question to ask is: why? But first, let’s review some clues from the paper. First, while industries with smaller firms tend to have higher markups, within each small industry, bigger firms have larger markups, and firms with higher markups pay higher dividends.

There has been little change in output elasticity, i.e., the rate at which variable costs change with the quantity of units produced. (So this isn’t about new scale economies.) There has also been little change in the bottom half of the distribution of markups; the big change has been a big stretching in the upper half. Markups have increased more in larger industries, and the main change has been within industries, rather than a changing mix of industries in the economy. The fractions of income going to labor and to tangible capital have fallen, and firms respond less than they once did to wage changes. Firm accounting profits as a fraction of total income have risen four fold since 1980.

...

If, like me, you buy the standard “free entry” argument for zero expected economic profits of early entrants, then the only remaining possible explanation is an increase in fixed costs relative to variable costs. Now as the paper notes, the fall in tangible capital spending and the rise in accounting profits suggests that this isn’t so much about short-term tangible fixed costs, like the cost to buy machines. But that still leaves a lot of other possible fixed costs, including real estate, innovation, advertising, firm culture, brand loyalty and prestige, regulatory compliance, and context specific training. These all require long term investments, and most of them aren’t tracked well by standard accounting systems.

I can’t tell well which of these fixed costs have risen more, though hopefully folks will collect enough data on these to see which ones correlate strongest with the industries and firms where markups have most risen. But I will invoke a simple hypothesis that I’ve discussed many times, which predicts a general rise of fixed costs: increasing wealth leading to stronger tastes for product variety. Simple models of product differentiation say that as customers care more about getting products nearer to their ideal point, more products are created and fixed costs become a larger fraction of total costs.

Note that increasing product variety is consistent with increasing concentration in a smaller number of firms, if each firm offers many more products and services than before.

https://niskanencenter.org/blog/markups-market-power/
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/08/robin-hansons-take-rising-margins-debate.html

https://growthecon.com/blog/Markups/

Variable costs approach zero: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/variable-costs-approach-zero/
4. My guess is that, if anything, the two-Jan’s paper understates the trend toward high markups. That is because my guess is that most corporate data allocates more labor to variable cost than really belongs there. Garett Jones pointed out that these days most workers do not produce widgets. Instead, they produce organizational capital. Garett Jones workers are part of overhead, not variable cost.

Intangible investment and monopoly profits: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/09/intangible-investment-monopoly-profits.html
I’ve been reading the forthcoming Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy, by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, which is one of this year’s most important and stimulating economic reads (I can’t say it is Freakonomics-style fun, but it is well-written relative to the nature of its subject matter.)

The book offers many valuable theoretical points and also observations about data. And note that intangible capital used to be below 30 percent of the S&P 500 in the 70s, now it is about 84 percent. That’s a big increase, and yet the topic just isn’t discussed that much (I cover it a bit in The Complacent Class, as a possible source of increase in business risk-aversion).

...

Now, I’ve put that all into my language and framing, rather than theirs. In any case, I suspect that many of the recent puzzles about mark-ups and monopoly power are in some way tied to the nature of intangible capital, and the rising value of intangible capital.

The one-sentence summary of my takeaway might be: Cross-business technology externalities help explain the mark-up, market power, and profitability puzzles.

Why has investment been weak?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/12/why-has-investment-been-weak.html
We analyze private fixed investment in the U.S. over the past 30 years. We show that investment is weak relative to measures of profitability and valuation — particularly Tobin’s Q, and that this weakness starts in the early 2000’s. There are two … [more]
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march 2016 by nhaliday

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