Saturday, January 10, 2009

This is Interesting

I ran into this via the Green, Inc. blog. Basic idea: which states offer tax breaks for housholds that get renewable energy fixtures for their own use? Find your state and see what's out there.

Economic Humor

At some point it had to be done at the AEA meetings. Maybe better to save economic humor for the recovery, though?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

International Education

I didn't actually know that the proportion of international students at US universities were fewer in proportion to the total enrollment than it is in other developed countries. But why should universities pay intermediaries to recruit more students, as the article suggests? It seems like many students are being turned away from the best schools, and the students already in the schools (especially foreign-born students) are reasonably well-qualified. It seems that if there is a greater number of applications from qualified students the thing to do would be to price things better, especially for out-of-state and international students, with generous subsidies for highly-qualified in-state students who do not benefit from a mountain of trust-fund wealth. Let the international students come, but also let them pay full price for the high level of enrollment demand.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Taxes and Spending

Note to Hardball: In this segment your Republican and Democratic guests are arguing over an economic point that is theoretically moot. Maybe that's the beauty of it. In terms of economic impact of a tax cut (in both the "liberal" Keynesian and "conservative" neoclassical schools of thought) is the same as an increase in transfer payments (consumption subsidies). Similarly, an increase in transfer payments is the same as a tax cut. Spending is only "spending" (in terms of having different multiplier effects) if it involves a direct government purchase of goods and services, which transfers/tax cuts/negative taxes do not. Even better if those goods and services have some theoretical possibility of being "public goods" or generating "externalities" or "network effects" as investments in education, infrastructure, or even the military and health care, might.

Today's Reason the Fence won't work.

If Japan's restrictions on immigration are leading to rising illegal entries, what makes Lou think his border fence will work (hint: Japan is an island nation for the geography-impaired)?

Economists in the Economist

Summary of the Economists list of rising stars in the field (sorry, my name won't be found):

Jesse Shapiro: Some information is bad.
Roland Fryer: Cultural roots of black underachievment.
Esther Duflo: Test projects (with treatments and controls) for empirical studies of development.
Amy Finkelstein: Annuities and private information of life expectancy.
Raj Chetty: Longer unemployment benefits are optimal because people find better job matches.
Ivan Werning: Progressive subsidies for inheritances ("death subsidy," higher for small bequests).
Xavier Gabaix: Explaining "Rank-Size" and "Power Rules."
Marc Melitz
: New-new trade theory on international business networks.

Name these Protectionists

Inferior Good?

Are New England Ski Resorts "inferior goods?"


Governor Bag-o-Tricks

The downstate Illinois nickname for Blago. Thought I'd post a link to the text of the complaint. Most of what they actually might get him for isn't even the alleged "Senate for Sale " scheme. Those of us from Illinois know he was dirty shortly after he took office. Trouble is, when he was elected, then-governor George Ryan (a Republican) was also on trial for corruption. His deeds lead to the illegal licensing of criminals for commercial truck licenses, which ultimately (allegedly) lead to fatal accidents involving those criminals who proved to be inept and irresponsible about their driving.

Here's G-Rod's Complaint and affidavit:

Cyclical Migration

More good news for Lou Dobbs. Not only are fewer illegals coming, more are returning. Hooray for a bad economy?