Friday, 27 May 2011

Interesting blog bits

  1. N. Stephan Kinsella on How Intellectual Property Hampers the Free Market
    Advocates of free-market capitalism commonly believe in the legitimacy of intellectual property (IP) because IP rights are thought to be important to a system of private property. But are they?
  2. Don Boudreaux says Beware of Celebrating Decreases in the Current-Account Deficit
    Keynesians – or, more generally, economists obsessed with aggregate demand – are fond of exports because foreigners’ expenditures on exports are demand for ‘our’ country’s goods and services. Aggregate-demand-obsessed economists also dislike imports because ‘our’ consumers’ expenditures on imports is demand, not for output produced at home but, rather, for output produced abroad. Unless that ‘demand’ returns to the home economy in the form of foreigners’ demand for ‘our’ exports, then aggregate-demand-obsessed economists are unhappy because the sum of C+I+G+[Xports-Mports] goes down. But .....
  3. Nico Voigtländer and Hans-Joachim Voth on The geography of hate: How anti-Semitism in interwar Germany was influenced by the medieval mass murder of Jews
    Is violence a cultural trait passed from one generation to the next? This column examines an extreme case – anti-Semitism in Germany. It shows that towns that murdered their Jews during the Black Death (1348-1350) were also much more likely to commit violence or engage in anti-Semitic acts in interwar Germany, nearly 600 years later. This suggests racial hatred can persist over centuries.
  4. Kevin K. Tsui on More oil, less democracy: Evidence from worldwide crude oil discoveries
    It has been widely argued that natural-resource wealth is a curse that leads to corrupt politicians, closed and illiberal societies, and defunct economies. This column presents new evidence on the political impacts of oil wealth. It argues that the effects depend on geology and history, shedding light on the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
  5. Nicola Lacetera, Devin Pope and Justin Sydnor on Limited attention costs: Sometimes driving a mile costs $200
    People like to take shortcuts and this affects how we make decisions. Looking at auctions of more than 22 million used cars in the US, this column finds that buyers will often only pay attention to the first few digits of mileage. So if you have driven your car 30,000 miles, you might have to sell it for $200 less than if you had driven in 29,999 miles.
  6. Gary Becker on Subsidies to Oil and Other Energy Sources
    President Obama and members of Congress are calling for a sharp reduction in the substantial direct subsidies to American oil companies. Many countries also give an indirect subsidy to oil producers and refiners by subsidizing the purchase of gasoline. In Saudi Arabia, for example, subsidies have reduced the price of a liter of gasoline (1 gallon equals about 3 ¾ liters) to 12 cents, which had made gasoline there cheaper than bottled water. The largest subsidies to gasoline are usually found in oil producing countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran (although the Iranian government greatly reduced gasoline subsidies in 2010), Russia, Venezuela, Indonesia, and the UAE. Yet, the economic case for either direct or indirect subsidies to the production and refining of oil is quite weak.
  7. Justin Wolfers on Google's New Correlation Mining Tool: It Works!
    You may have heard of Google Trends. It’s a cool tool which will show you the ups-and-downs of the public’s interest in a particular topic—at least as revealed in how often we search for it.
  8. David Friedman on Learning from Evidence: Not
    This morning I listened to a commencement address by a former judge. It struck me as an interesting example of the failure to modify beliefs on the basis of evidence.
  9. Mark Perry notes that Global Sticks Moves from China to Thunder Bay
    Why has Global Sticks, a manufacturer of wooden ice cream sticks, moving from Dalian, China to Thunder Bay, Ontario? It’s the kind of low margin manufacturing that is never supposed to come back after it leaves North America for cheaper labour abroad.

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