unpaid thoughts on the dismal science

Saturday, June 29, 2002  
Happy 201st birthday to Frederic Bastiat! Many of his writings are online at the Library of Economics & Liberty. Go read them. Now.
9:54 AM

Friday, June 28, 2002  
"Flavors of Fraud" is the title of Paul Krugman's column today.
9:16 PM

MF doesn't turn 90 until July 31st, but Gary S. Becker is already saying "Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman". Go to "Free to Choose" to wish him a happy birthday yourself.

Spotted via Catallaxy Files.
9:12 PM

Thursday, June 27, 2002  
Steven E. Landsburg's latest column "The Great Banana Revolution" is up over at Slate.com.
7:36 PM

Wednesday, June 26, 2002  
Missed this from last week: "Microsoft, Chicken Delight and Antitrust Policy" is a piece by Virginia Postrel on transaction cost economics.
8:57 PM

"Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?" is an NBER working paper form 1995. I haven't read any of it, but this line from the abstract sticks out at me: "there is virtually no evidence on the empirical magnitudes of many of the key parameters needed to guide policy in these areas". No evidence?! Well, thank goodness our fine politicians have never needed evidence to make decisions on crucial matters! Who knows what kind of mess we'd be in today if politicians waited for evidence prior to regulating our most vital institutions?

Spotted via Catallaxy Files.
8:32 PM

"One Nation, Overseas" is the story of the Philippines' biggest export(?): its people:
Having discovered its prowess as an outsourcer of labor, the Philippines is now pursuing the opportunity with fervor. Whereas the US has spent decades bemoaning the export of its jobs (to Mexico, to China), the Philippine government revels in the export of its people. Using technology to stay involved in family life back home, Filipino global commuters constitute one of the biggest sources of stability for the economy of a country perennially known as the Sick Man of Asia. Remittances, the money they electronically send back to their families, account for 8.2 percent of the nation's gross national product, stabilizing its peso, improving foreign currency reserves, shoring up consumption, and making more than a dent in the unemployment rate (now 11.1 percent). Last year, overseas Filipino workers sent home $6.2 billion. Indians sent home twice the amount - with 13 times the general population.
Found via Semi-Daily Journal.
8:20 PM

According to Brian Doherty:
Someone selling a stock in huge quantities because they know something will happen soon that will lower the stockís value helps spread the knowledge that the price ought to be dropping. Such actions help insure that stock prices do reflect a more accurate assessment of all the relevant facts. Thatís good in the long run for everyone in the stock market.
That's why Mr. Doherty says "Free Samuel Waksal" and that "insider trading" should not be a crime.
11:46 AM

"Death Sentences" is Thomas Sowell's take on the recent Supreme Court decision on the death penalty. Sample:
Behind much of the opposition to the death penalty is the widespread assumption that executions do not deter murderers. This notion became liberal dogma long ago, based on an unbelievably crude study which measured capital punishment by words in the statute books, rather than by actual executions. A later and more sophisticated statistical study, by Isaac Ehrlich of the University of Chicago, found several murders deterred per execution.

The whole liberal establishment in academia came down on Professor Ehrlich's study, applying standards that they never applied to the previous study which told them what they wanted to hear.

11:43 AM

Walter Williams discusses "The Role of Profits" in his latest column.
11:40 AM

Alexander Tabarrok discusses "Two Bright Ideas to Reduce Drug Prices": patent buyouts and FDA reform.

Found via Freedom News.
11:37 AM

Tuesday, June 25, 2002  
Nicholas D. Kristof turns in a surprisingly good column in "Let Them Sweat". Ol' Nick starts off good:
When the G-8 leaders meet this week, cowering in a Canadian mountain resort beyond the reach of organized anarchists, here's a way for them to bolster terror-infested third world countries like Pakistan.

They should start an international campaign to promote imports from sweatshops, perhaps with bold labels depicting an unrecognizable flag and the words "Proudly Made in a Third World Sweatshop!"
And it just gets better and better after that. Kristof rightly recognizes that people in third world countries are stuck with a set of crummy choices and that anti-globalization loonies on the left just make it worse by trying to take away the best of those choices: working in a factory.
8:01 PM

The Pacific Research Institute has the winning entry in the San Francisco Independent Scholars 2002 Economics Essay Contest, "Why War is Not Good For the Economy" on its website.
12:19 PM

Thomas Sowell answers a reader's "Tough Questions" in today's column. The reader, a self-described "moderate libertarian" questions Sowell's support for certain policies discriminating against Arab-Americans. Presumably, the reader is referring to the column, "Homeland security". Sowell explains his support:
I take it as axiomatic that the right to survive trumps every other right, since none of your rights means anything if you do not survive. I also take it as axiomatic that process costs are not always negligible, and are particularly likely to be very high in a war for survival.
Sowell also says "Regardless of what principles we believe in, we can only make our choices among alternatives actually available".
11:58 AM

Krugman spends his whole column today on his favorite topic, Bush-bashing. In "The Reality Thing", we learn how, unlike every other president, Bush seizes on problems solely to advance his pet programs.

Update: Here's a great example of how Krugman is able to blame all bad things on the administration: He says "Amtrak has been pushed to the edge of shutdown, because it couldn't get the administration's attention." It's not clear this is a bad thing. Why should Amtrak be saved? It's just another example of corporate welfare that in other cases Krugman would be condemning, but if he can claim that its failure is due to Dubya, then he has no problem implying that it should be saved. The sad news is, as reported Monday, that the administration WILL step in to save Amtrak with yet another bail out.
7:21 AM

Sunday, June 23, 2002  
"Hoping That the Flaws in the American Economy Throw a Lot of People Out of Work" is Brad DeLong's fine critique of a terrible article by William Greider in The Nation, "Bad for business". One only needs to read Greider's Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, to see that he is capable of good output, but contrast that with the more recent, and flawed to the point of worthlessness, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. As Paul Krugman points out in his review of the latter, "the main lesson one really learns from [this book] is how easy it is for an intelligent, earnest man to trip over his own intellectual shoelaces".
10:43 AM