My Conversation with Lex Fridman

2 hours 9 minutes long, Lex is one of the very best interviewers/discussants in the sector.  Here is the video, here is the audio.  Plenty of new topics and avenues, including the political economy of Russia (note this was recorded before the massing of Russian forces on the Ukraine border).  Lex’s tweet described it as […]

India China Canada fact of the day

Kolkata has long been home to India’s largest Chinese community. At its peak, when Calcutta (as it then was) was the capital of imperial India, it was home to 50,000 ethnic Chinese… Yet the Chinese community is wilting, anyway. It now numbers perhaps 2,500. Many more “Calcutta Chinese” live in Markham, a city in Canada, […]

Which are the most striking elements of Monkey Pong?

Watch this if you haven’t already: What comes to your mind is an interesting kind of Rorschach test.  A few options (not necessarily endorsed by me) are: 1. Where did they get that background from? 2. Can I have some of what that monkey is drinking? 3. Wealth concentrations are going to make IRB regulations […]

New York City estimate of the day

In only a year, the market value of office towers in Manhattan, home to the country’s two largest central business districts, has plummeted 25 percent, according to city projections released on Wednesday, contributing to an estimated $1 billion drop-off in property tax revenue. JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motor, Salesforce, Target and more are giving up expensive […]

From Charles Kenny

Friends: I’m writing to tell you about my latest book and ask you to take a look (and share the news). Your World, Better is written for the smart and engaged middle school student.  It looks at how America and the World has changed since the reader’s parents and grandparents were young: what has happened […]

Additional Thursday assorted links

1. Will Greenland let China mine there? 2. How regulators are starting to think about Coinbase.  And interpreting bitcoin as a better chain letter. 3. Neopronouns: “but what does thon think?”  And today’s Ezra Marcus NYT piece on neopronouns is first-rate.  Can I use “Tyler” as my neopronoun?  Can I choose to be pronounless?: “Instead […]

Vaccine passport sentences to ponder

From New York State: Using Excelsior Pass is entirely voluntary, but it requires learning about the state’s system and mastering a few different websites and apps. It took me 20 minutes over Zoom to help an octogenarian set up his pass, though it was certainly simpler than mastering vaccine-appointment websites. And even when we thought […]

What should I ask Elijah Millgram?

Here is his home page, here is his Wikipedia page.  He is one of the best and smartest active philosophers, with recent interests in (among other topics) Mill, Nietzsche, hyperspecialization, and practical reasoning. So what should I ask him?

From the comments, on Covid and our response

It is simply not a tenable policy to oppose pandemic lockdowns on the premise that COVID-19 only negatively affects a certain portion of the population. First, the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately killed the elderly was not something that was readily apparent right out of the box, when the virus was spreading rapidly. Hindsight is 20-20. […]

My Conversation with the excellent Dana Gioia

Here is the audio, transcript, and video.  As I mention in the beginning, Dana is the (only?) CWT guest who can answer all of my questions.  Here is part of the summary: Dana and Tyler discuss his latest book and more, including how he transformed several businesses as a corporate executive, why going to business […]

Some of the Covid-era deregulations will stick

Lawmakers in Texas and at least 19 other states that let bars and restaurants sell to-go cocktails during the pandemic are moving to make those allowances permanent. Many states that made it easier for healthcare providers to work across state lines are considering bills to indefinitely ease interstate licensing rules. Lawmakers in Washington are pushing […]

When will China move against Taiwan?

That is the topic of my latest cheery Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt: It’s not as if all of a sudden one morning the news will be filled with reports of bombs falling on Taipei. China has other options: It might occupy the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, just off the coast of China but […]

Deregulation has never been more imperative

Electric vehicle charging stations can in fact be provided by the private sector, just as gas stations are.  But will state and local governments step out of the way?: There are several regulatory barriers to the deployment of EV charging infrastructure including permitting of charging infrastructure, the lack of a technical standard for charging infrastructure, […]

Has Covid ushered in a new era of U.S. regional decentralization?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and here is the opener: The homogenization of America — through national TV and politics, cheap transportation and big online or nationwide businesses such as Walmart and Amazon — is a longstanding story. Regardless of how true it is, or ever was, a new truth is emerging […]

Wohin economics?

Mammograms and Mortality: How has the Evidence Evolved? Surviving a Mass Shooting Representation is Not Sufficient for Selecting Gender Diversity Back to School: The Effect of School Visits During COVID-19 on COVID-19 Transmission The Public Health Effects of Legalizing Marijuana Those are all new NBER working papers, issued today.  To be clear, I do not […]

How open and face to face will fall semester be?

I am pleased to see Cornell mandating vaccination for all of its students.  Of course other colleges and universities can do the same.  Even if they do not take that step, it still seems it will be “safe enough” to hold most classes in-person in the Fall, if not sooner. And yet. Here is I […]

Facts about Nigerian-Americans

Second-generation black Americans have been inadequately studied in prior quantitative research. The authors seek to ameliorate this research gap by using the Current Population Survey to investigate education and wages among second-generation black Americans with a focus on Nigerian Americans. The latter group has been identified in some qualitative studies as having particularly notable socioeconomic […]

Solve for the equilibrium

In their efforts to rein in illicit massage businesses across the country, police sometimes rely on sting operations in which undercover officers engage in sex acts with spa workers, according to law enforcement experts and police records reviewed by The Post. While such tactics are generally permitted by law… Here is more from Douglas Macmillan […]

Claims about Earned Income Tax Credit

The EITC increases the labor supply of mothers, which leads to increases in payroll and sales taxes paid. The EITC decreases dependence on government transfer spending. Evaluated over a one-year period, the net EITC cost is only 17 percent of the $70 billion annual budgetary cost. Evaluated over a longer-time horizon, the net EITC cost […]

The new Michela Wrong book

It is called Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, and so far it is very good.  Here is one bit: As a Rwandan psychologist once told me: “To show emotional reserve is considered a sign of high standing.  You do not just pour out your heart […]

$1000 submission fee to the AER?

I saw that circulating as an April Fool’s joke, but is it such a crazy idea?  Here would be a few effects: 1. Submissions would decline, thus liberating some time for editors and referees.  This is valuable in its own right, and furthermore remaining decisions might be made with greater care.  And presumably the remaining […]

Why don’t more people go to college?

This new piece in American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics seems to be channeling some parts of Bryan Caplan’s argument: Despite increases in the college earnings premium to persistently high levels, investment in college education remains low. We can understand this apparent puzzle by considering the risk of attending college and, in particular, the possibility of failing […]

Further estimates on the cost of climate change and global warming

Sea level rise will cause spatial shifts in economic activity over the next 200 years. Using a spatially disaggregated, dynamic model of the world economy, this paper estimates the consequences of probabilistic projections of local sea level changes. Under an intermediate scenario of greenhouse gas emissions, permanent flooding is projected to reduce global real GDP […]

New issue of Econ Journal Watch

In Memoriam (.pdf) In Memoriam (.pdf) Will you live longer if you move to a place where people live longer? Commenting on an American Economic Review article, Robert Kaestner examines the causality behind an association between Medicare enrollees’ longevity and their post-Katrina migration from New Orleans to various destinations. Tatyana Deryugina and David Molitor reply to Kaestner. Does machine learning improve corporate fraud detection? Commenting […]

In praise of Alex Tabarrok

Here’s a question I’ve been mulling in recent months: Is Alex Tabarrok right? Are people dying because our coronavirus response is far too conservative? I don’t mean conservative in the politicized, left-right sense. Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University and a blogger at Marginal Revolution, is a libertarian, and I am very much not. […]

Arguments for Africa

Despite the past centuries’ economic setbacks and challenges, are there reasons for optimism about Africa’s economic prospects? We provide a conceptual framework and empirical evidence that show how the nature of African society has led to three sets of unrecognized “latent assets.” First, success in African society is talent driven and Africa has experienced high […]

Mistrust of the CBO is unfortunately a growing bipartisan avocation

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt: Recently the CBO issued a working paper considering what would happen if U.S. government expenditures were to consume an additional 5% to 10% of GDP. The results are pretty grim: By 2030, because of higher taxes and higher borrowing, the level of […]

Godzilla vs. Kong (no real spoilers)

In Florida, even when Godzilla attacks, the schools stay open.  It seems the intransitivity of sovereignty is underrated.  There is a case for UBI for very large creatures.  If your country depopulates too much, they no longer feature your cities being destroyed.  The best and most interesting Godzilla movies focus on the Japanese bureaucracy, not […]

*Island On Fire*

A good book, recent winner of the National Book Award for non-fiction, the author is Tom Zoellner and the subtitle is The Revolt that Ended Slavery in the British Empire.  Here is one excerpt about Jamaica, the central theater for the book: Among the staple crop civilizations of the nineteenth century, Jamaica was noteworthy for […]

Personal bankruptcies have declined during the pandemic

The number of people seeking bankruptcy fell sharply during the pandemic as government aid propped up income and staved off housing and student-loan obligations. Bankruptcy filings by consumers under chapter 7 were down 22% last year compared with 2019, while individual filings under chapter 13 fell 46%, according to Epiq data. After holding above 50,000 […]

What should I ask Pierpaolo Barbieri?

I will be doing a Conversation with him, here is the opening part of his Wikipedia page: Pierpaolo Barbieri (Buenos Aires, May 17, 1987) is an economic historian, researcher, Executive Director at Greenmantle[and founder of Ualá, an Argentina-based personal financial management mobile app. He is the author of the book Hitler’s Shadow Empire: The Nazis […]

The mortality of scholars

After recovering from a severe mortality crisis in the seventeenth century, life expectancy among scholars started to increase as early as in the eighteenth century, well before the Industrial Revolution. Our finding that members of scientific academies—an elite group among scholars—were the first to experience mortality improvements suggests that 300 years ago, individuals with higher […]

How might depopulation reverse itself?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, drawing upon an earlier discussion by Robin Hanson.  The problem is this: if families find that having three or four kids just isn’t that fun, and women wish to focus more on their careers, which forces might be capable of reversing that trend?: One possibility is […]

Research funding sentences to ponder

What happens in the 4 mo between when an NIH grant is submitted and when it is sent to reviewers? This makes applications stale before review. COVID grants being reviewed now were submitted before any phase 3 vaccine results — an eternity ago. Can this lag be shortened? — Craig Wilen (@WilenLab) March 28, 2021 […]

Adam Ozimek asks about inflation, for his bartender

A question for econtwitter from my bartender. If the US government via deficit spending engages in economic development in other countries, does that increase inflation here? I would approach this question as follows.  Assume the government is running a foreign aid program that mostly makes purchases and investments abroad with non-U.S. suppliers, furthermore assume floating […]

The influence of hidden researcher decisions in applied microeconomics

Another one from the Department of Uh-Oh: Researchers make hundreds of decisions about data collection, preparation, and analysis in their research. We use a many‐analysts approach to measure the extent and impact of these decisions. Two published causal empirical results are replicated by seven replicators each. We find large differences in data preparation and analysis […]

Supply chain sentences to ponder

Khanna says these intricacies mean that brash political talk about reshoring operations is naive. “Even the supply chain has a supply chain,” he says. A dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, for example, requires 280 components from multiple countries, according to the company. The idea of moving from what Okonjo-Iweala calls “just in time to just […]

Maine markets in everything those new service sector jobs

In Maine it is legal to use and possess marijuana (within limits), but illegal to sell it or give it away.  And so how might a transfer be consummated?: Cannabis Delivery Services are illegal in Maine.  Gifting Cannabis is illegal in Maine.  Don’t worry though! It is still legal for an Adult age 21/+ to […]

Charter city finally in Honduras?

Próspera is the first project to gain approval from Honduras to start a privately governed charter city, under a national program started in 2013. It has its own constitution of sorts and a 3,500-page legal code with frameworks for political representation and the resolution of legal disputes, as well as minimum wage (higher than Honduras’s) and income taxes (lower in most […]

Are Americans getting worse?

Maybe so: Morbidity and mortality have been increasing among middle-aged and young-old Americans since the turn of the century. We investigate whether these unfavorable trends extend to younger cohorts and their underlying physiological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms. Applying generalized linear mixed effects models to 62,833 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1988-2016) […]

Focus on the supply side

The biggest question in the U.S. right now is how rapidly vaccinations will proceed. Yet only 8.5% of the new appropriations — under the most generous calculations — are directed toward vaccine supply and anti-Covid-19 efforts. The biggest question for the world is whether the wealthier nations will put up the estimated $25 billion needed […]

Conversations with Tyler Clubhouse session

This coming Monday, 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. Pacific, here is the link.  With myself, Jeff Holmes, Marc Andreessen, Hollis Robbins, and illustrious others, discussing the podcast and everything else too. Please do join us, and if you have done a CWT as a guest we would love to call you up to the mike […]

Testing Todd

Emmanuel Todd, that is.  Here is a recent paper from Jerg Gutmann and Stefan Voigt: Many years ago, Emmanuel Todd came up with a classification of family types and argued that the historically prevalent family types in a society have important consequences for its economic, political, and social development. Here, we evaluate Todd’s most important […]

The nature of fame

In the early 1930s, so the story goes, Albert Einstein was in Hollywood, entertaining a visit by a friend, the comedian Charlie Chaplin.  They were enjoying some tarts baked by Elsa Einstein and idly chatting when Einstein’s son turned to Chaplin.  “You are popular,” he said, “because you are understood by the masses.  On the […]

Socioeconomic roots of academic faculty

Using a survey of 7218 professors in PhD-granting departments in the United States across eight disciplines in STEM, social sciences, and the humanities, we find that the estimated median childhood household income among faculty is 23.7% higher than the general public, and faculty are 25 times more likely to have a parent with a PhD. […]