Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some Links

Is religion happiness insurance? (VOX) Does Dr. Frey's self-plagiarized work railing against self-plagiarism discredit him?
A counter-cyclical asset?(WSJ)
...recent data show diaper sales are slowing and sales of diaper-rash ointment are rising.
Does Republican tax profligacy in the short run signal support for higher taxes in the long run (or worse - that they care more about their own electability than about the public)? The conservative Tyler Cowen says yes.
candidates are more worried about having to publicly endorse tax increases than they are about the tax increases themselves. If that’s true, it is all the more reason to watch out for our pocketbooks; it means that the candidates are protecting themselves rather than the taxpayers
Cowen dislikes the Keynesian IS-LM model; DeLong does. Big surprise. My two cents: It's easy to toss peanuts and point out flaws in economic models because every model has flaws - flaws that are well-known even  to the people who come up with them. They have flaws precisely because they are models: they are abstractions from the real world. Like George E. P. Box said, "All models are false, but some are useful."

Democracy and Performance

Does regime type affect development or does development affect regime type? I'm more in the latter camp. Democratizations that preceded the development of economic institutions and economic development in Eastern Europe since 1990 have been fragile.

Taxing Financial Transactions

Throughout the financial regulation debate, I've always thought that there is a better way to reduce the scope for high-frequency trades in exacerbating a crash than by regulating the frequency (or volume) of trades themselves. If you want to reduce something in the least discriminatory and most transparent way possible, a tax is the way to go. A sufficiently small tax on financial transactions should limit the extent to HFTs magnify crashes while imposing the least amount of distortion in the market in general. Some better discussion here and here.
I feel similarly about campaign finance reform.

Genomes and Medicine

Patients can pay $200 to get a portion of their genome sequenced to identify certain behaviors, aptitudes, and susceptibilities. Better things coming down the line:
Today, it costs just $16,000; in a few years, it will cost less than $1,000–a 100,000-factor decrease in costs in less than two decades!
The FDA and Personalized Medicine

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some links on rationality, choice, and institutions

Economics in the next ten years? (Economic Principals) Some highlights that I found interesting:
Sometimes more choice makes people freak out and thus less choice is sometimes better. What is the Right Amount of Choice? (Gruber)
Understanding institutions and culture will be increasingly important. (Acemoglu and Alesina; more here by Barro and McCleary)
Sometimes people and institutions make bad choices even when they're fully informed and are trying to make good choices. Why? (Cutler)
An interesting book on conflict, I'm thinking of adding to my wish list. (Garfinkel and Skaperdas)
Relatedly, an interesting piece on conflict and class. (Economix)