Saturday, 12 May 2018

George Schultz interview

From the Jamie Weinstein Show comes this interview with economist and former Secretary of State George P. Schultz.
Episode 58: George P. Schultz

In the latest episode of The Jamie Weinstein Show, from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the 97-year-old former Secretary of State George Schultz opens up on the prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula, what made President Ronald Reagan a great leader, his career, and much more.

46 copies sold last year.

Today I received a note from my publisher telling me that The Theory of the Firm: An overview of the economic mainstream sold a total of 33 hardback copies and 13 e-book copies in 2017.

Not yet a millionaire, but we are getting there.

Many thanks to the 46 of you out there.

As for the rest of you ...... shame! Shame!!

Friday, 11 May 2018

"A Brief Prehistory of the Theory of the Firm" has been published .......

I think!

I say "I think" because its not like my publisher bothered to tell me the book has been published or anything, but because I just noticed that on their website they are giving May 8, 2018, as the publication date.


So I want you all to start buying!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again,  its a great book, well worth buying for wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, mistresses, mothers-in-law, toy-boys, family, friends, pets, total strangers you meet in the street or any combinations of the above. Its great for Christmas, holiday reading, birthdays, Mother's day, Father's day, any day.

Honestly, I don't really care why you buy it, what's important is that you do buy it, preferably multiple copies, often!

You can buy here, here, here, here and here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

"The Value of Rationally Reconstructing Buchanan's Work" with Richard Wagner

On this episode of the Hayek Program Podcast, Jayme Lemke interviews Richard Wagner on James Buchanan's life and legacy, his experience studying with James Buchanan, and future directions in Virginia political economy.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Cover design for "A brief prehistory of the theory of the firm"


With a bit of luck it will be out in June, the Routledge webpage is now saying 15 May, but it can be pre-ordered from the publisher right now. Also available for pre-order here and here.

Thomas Sowell on his new book "Discrimination and Disparities"

Peter Robinson at Uncommon Knowledge of the Hoover Institution interviews Thomas Sowell about his new book Discrimination and Disparities.
Rich or poor, most people agree that wealth disparities exist. Thomas Sowell discusses the origins and impacts of those wealth disparities in his new book, Discrimination and Disparities in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge.

Sowell explains his issues with the relatively new legal standard of “disparate impact” and how it disregards the American legal principle of “burden of proof.” Sowell and Robinson discuss how economic outcomes vary greatly across individuals and groups and that concepts like “disparate impact” fail to take into account these variations.

They chat about the impact of nuclear families on the IQs of individuals, as studies have not only shown that children raised by two parents tend to have higher levels of intelligence but also that first-born and single children have even higher intelligence levels than those of younger siblings, indicating that the time and attention given by parents to their children greatly impacts the child’s future more than factors like race, environment, or genetics. Sowell talks about his book in which he wrote extensively about National Merit Scholarship finalists who more often than not were the first-born or only child in a family.

Sowell and Robinson go on to discuss historical instances of discrimination and how those instances affected economic and social issues within families, including discrimination created by housing laws in the Bay Area. They discuss unemployment rates, violence, the welfare state in regards to African American communities, and more.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Adam Smith's discovery of trade gravity

From the latest (Vol. 32 No. 2 Spring 2018) issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Retrospectives: Adam Smith's Discovery of Trade Gravity
Bruce Elmslie
The gravity equation is a current workhorse of empirical trade theory. It is generally acknowledged that this theory, which relates the extent of trade between countries to their respective sizes, distances, and relative trade barriers, was first developed by Jan Tinbergen in 1962. Acceptance of the gravity model as part of the discipline's core was limited by its scant theoretical foundation for the first 40 years of its existence. This paper finds that a theory of trade gravity was first developed by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. Moreover, it is shown that Smith's statement of a proportional relation between economic size and distance came about as an application of his general theory of differential capital productivity in different economic sectors, and his elaboration of a theory of the gains from trade originated by David Hume. It is further shown that Smith had an explanation of the size of border affects in trade volumes, and a gravity theory of trade restrictions.
Something else for which Smith was ahead of his time.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Does fractional reserve banking endanger the economy? A debate

On April 16, 2018, two free market economists debated a topic that has long divided libertarians. Fractional reserve banking refers to banks' standard practice of keeping only a portion of their depositors' money on hand and loaning out the rest.

In The Mystery of Banking (1983), the anarcho-capitalist economist Murray Rothbard called fractional reserve banking "a shell game, a Ponzi scheme, a fraud in which fake warehouse receipts are issued and circulate as equivalent to the cash supposedly represented by the receipts." Other libertarian economists, such as Larry White and Steve Horwitz, have argued that the practice is perfectly defensible.

At The Soho Forum, a debate series in New York City that is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, Robert Murphy debated George Selgin over the following resolution: "Fractional Reserve banking poses a threat to the stability of market economies."

Murphy, a research assistant professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, argued for the affirmative. He has a Ph.D. in economics from NYU has addiliations with the Institute for Energy Research, the Mises Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Independent Institute. He has authored hundreds of articles and several books explaining economics to the layperson, including Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action.

Selgin, who opposed the resolution, is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute and professor emeritus of economics at the University of Georgia. His research covers a broad range of topics within the field of monetary economics, including monetary history, macroeconomic theory, and the history of monetary thought. He is the author of The Theory of Free Banking, Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order, Less Than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy, and most recently Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage.

The Soho Forum runs Oxford-style debates, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event. The side that gains more ground is victorious. ​In this case, Selgin won by convincing 14 percent of the audience to switch over to his side.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Lightships and public goods

From the Economics Detective comes this interview with Vincent Geloso in which he discusses his work with Rosolino Candela on lightships and their importance in economics.

The abstract of their paper reads:
What role does government play in the provision of public goods? Economists have used the lighthouse as an empirical example to illustrate the extent to which the private provision of public goods is possible. This inquiry, however, has neglected the private provision of lightships. We investigate the private operation of the world’s first modern lightship, established in 1731 on the banks of the Thames estuary going in and out of London. First, we show that the Nore lightship was able to operate profitably and without government enforcement in the collection of payment for lighting services. Second, we show how private efforts to build lightships were crowded out by Trinity House, the public authority responsible for the maintaining and establishing lighthouses in England and Wales. By including lightships into the broader lighthouse market, we argue that the provision of lighting services exemplifies not a market failure, but a government failure.

Economists who changed the world

In this audio from the BBC History Extra magazine Linda Yueh discusses her new book, The Great Economists, which explores the work and legacy of some of history’s greatest economic thinkers, and reveals some of the lessons they might offer for us today


An interesting podcast, even if I'm not sure I would entirely agree with some of Yueh's discussion and interpretation of the writers she considers. On the other hand Tyler Cowen is quoted as saying, about the book, "The best place to start to learn about the very greatest economists of all time".