Saturday, 30 August 2014

Interesting blog bits

A bit of interesting weekend reading:
  1. Steven G. Medema on Neither Misunderstood Nor Ignored: The Early Reception of Coase's Wider Challenge to the Analysis of Externalities
    The ‘Coase theorem’ has long been the idea most commonly associated with Ronald Coase’s analysis in The Problem of Social Cost. Yet, Coase frequently argued late in his career that he has been misunderstood, and that the central message(s) of the article lay elsewhere. Though virtually all of the discussion in decades following the publication of The Problem of Social Cost focused on Coase’s negotiation result, the fact is that Coase’s message was not, at the start, misunderstood. This paper takes up a number of the treatments of The Problem of Social Cost in the years immediately following its publication to demonstrate that Coase’s emphasis on the reciprocal nature of externalities, the importance of transaction costs, the possibility of merger solutions, the costs associated with state action, and the need for a comparative institutional approach were anything but lost on these early commentators. It was only later that the negotiation result became the major fixation of interpreters of Coase’s work.
  2. Timothy Taylor on The Secular Stagnation Controversy
    For economists, the word "secular" isn't about a lack of religious belief. Instead, it's refers to whether a condition is expected to last for a long and indefinite period--and in particular, a period not related to whether the economy is entering or exiting a recession. Thus, the concept of "secular stagnation" is the idea that the U.S. economy is not just suffering through the aftereffects of the Great Recession, but is for some reason entering a longer-term period of stagnant growth.
  3. Tim Worstall on Why Uber might be making a mistake in paying by the hour
    There’s a little technical detail about incentives that suggests that Uber might be making a mistake in their policy of paying minicab drivers by the hour. That mistake being not quite getting the difference between the income effect and the substitution effect as it affects pieceworkers (those two effects together being what gives us the Laffer Curve of course).
  4. Masayuki Morikawa asks Are large headquarters unproductive?
    Headquarters play important strategic roles in modern companies, but downsizing of headquarters is often advocated as a cost-cutting measure. This column presents evidence from Japanese firm-level data that headquarters size is positively associated with firms’ overall productivity. Moreover, the benefits of ICT are greater for companies with relatively large headquarters. Downsizing headquarters to cut costs may thus be harmful for long-term company performance.
  5. Marco Annunziata on African growth looking forward
    Africa has generated a lot of enthusiasm lately. The cynical view of the continent as a hopeless basket case has been replaced by the lofty narrative of Africa Rising. This column argues that Africa’s progress is impressive, and there is more to the story than a commodity boom. But Africa is at a crossroads. The opportunities are huge, but the road ahead is long, and will require persistent and patient effort from policymakers as well as business.
  6. Margaret McMillan asks What is driving the ‘African growth miracle’?
    Some argue that growth across Africa is fundamentally a result of rising commodity prices and that if these prices were to collapse, so too would Africa’s growth rates. This column documents substantial shifts in the occupational structure of most African economies between 2000 and 2010 and thus provides a good reason for cautious optimism about the continent’s economic progress.
  7. John Cochrane on Lazear on Labor
    Modern labor economists see employment and unemployment as a search and matching process with a lot of churn. The popular impression, echoed in most media discussion, is that there is a fixed number of jobs, and people just wait around for more jobs to be "created." That's what it may feel like to an individual, but that's not how the economy works. Lazear's column puts in one very short space some of the better ways to think about unemployment.
  8. Keith Boyfield on Privateers and the sinister threat posed by ‘patent trolls’
    Many in Britain may not be familiar with the term ‘patent privateering’ – but that may all be about to change. British courts are apparently being targeted in a forum-shopping exercise by global monopolists, who are using this technique to reduce competition and innovation in the hi-tech sector.
    Earlier in the week I discussed patent trolls here.

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