24 Aug 2009


All Posts, Free Travel Advice No Comments

You know, it would really make my life easier if all of you readers would get your brother to start reading. Then I could quit my day job and blog full time. As it is, I keep accumulating interesting tidbits until the width of each tab on Firefox bumps up against the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and I am forced to issue another “Potpurri”…

* David Gordon saw my debate with Jeff Madrick, and sent along his review of Madrick’s The Case for Big Government. Quick! Guess whether David liked the book.

* Robert Wenzel (who saw it on Mankiw’s blog) emailed me this pretty funny description of publishing a negative Comment. People often ask me if I miss academia. Skim the link and guess my answer. BTW, I had formed some opinions about the type of guy who would write such a thing. I figured he had to be tenured, probably very well published, and also a bit odd on a personal level. Here’s his homepage; you tell me.

* Yuri Maltsev actually lived under socialized medicine. No thanks.

* Scott Sumner proudly linked to this puzzle on opportunity cost, and explained that he (Scott) knew the “right” answer. But Scott, the answer is, cost is subjective and you can’t make interpersonal utility comparisons. It doesn’t make any freaking sense to ask how much something cost (in the opportunity cost sense) for Mary versus John. True cost isn’t even realized, as Buchanan showed. Somehow I don’t think that’s what our Benthamite friend Scott had in mind. (Fortunately he is in China and so can’t impose costs on me.) (And yes I know that you can’t “impose costs” on somebody else.)

* Does Arnold Kling know he’s an Austrian macroeconomist? Search your feelings, Arnold. You know it to be true. Join me, and together we will rule Jackson Hole.

* Not sure where to put your money? Stocks? Real estate? Gold coins? Postage stamps? I know, federally guaranteed green bonds! Woo hoo!

* Here’s a great example of how you can prove anything you want in economics/finance, in order to make your boss happy. Incidentally, when I get suspicious of the BLS’ inflation numbers, it’s not that I’m imagining the analyst grunts doctoring numbers. No, I think they know what the “official story” is, and they (perhaps subconsciously) make decisions on how to adjust for hedonic changes, how many years back to look when calibrating the seasonal adjustment, blah blah blah, so that the answer is what their bosses want. You don’t have to be pure evil to behave that way at work, and things (especially in economics/finance models) are so arbitrary that it doesn’t even feel like lying. You don’t view yourself as falsifying data, you rather view yourself as the hero who comes up with the best way to illustrate the story the team is working on. If you are shocked and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, then good for you. But I think anybody who has worked in an office knows what I mean.

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