- Lynne Kiesling on Interpreting Google's purchase of Nest
Were you surprised to hear of Google’s acquisition of Nest? Probably not; nor was I. Google has long been interested in energy monitoring technologies and the effect that access to energy information can have on individual consumption decisions.
- Joshua Gans asks How will Google adjust Nest?
The rationale for the acquisition of Nest seems to be similar to YouTube. Google will provide capabilities and investments that will allow Nest to scale.
- Jason Sorens with More on Rodrik & Globalization
The LSE’s EUROPP blog has published my critique of Dani Rodrik’s The Globalization Paradox.
- John List and Omar Al-Ubaydli on The generalisability of experimental results in economics
Lab and field experiments help us understand human behaviour as they increase our confidence in causal effects in regard to different economic problems. This column highlights the relevance of experimental data and discusses the value of lab in comparison to field experiments. While lab experiments are the only applicable way-to-go in a number of situations, they tend to inflate scrutiny. This could artificially modify behaviour, and would potentially threaten the causal interpretation of the estimates. The debate about lab versus field experiments is far from settled. However, what economists do agree about is that to obtain convincing causal effects relating to human behaviour, a joint consideration of a number of methods would be superior to using any single one in isolation.
- Richard Posner on Bureaucracy and Efficiency
The term “bureaucracy” refers to administration by a multi-tiered hierarchy of trained, nonpolitical professionals guided by written rules (thus minimizing discretion). Historically it referred to governmental administration, but nowadays the term is applied to the administration, in the characteristic bureaucratic form, of any institution.
- Gary Becker on Competition and the Efficiency of Bureaucracies
Whether an organization is “efficient” cannot be defined in any absolute sense, but only relative to feasible alternatives. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that a large bureaucratic organization is efficient if it manages to thrive in a competitive sector; that is, a sector with easy entry of organizations with different decision-making structures. For if potential entrants were more efficient than the bureaucratic organizations, they would enter the sector and out-compete the bureaucracies.
- Tomohiko Inui, Ryoji Matsuoka and Makiko Nakamuro ask More time spent on television and video games, less time spent on studying?
Parents worry that their children waste too many hours playing video games or watching TV that would be better spent studying. Whereas past research has focused on teenagers, this column presents evidence on the causal effects of study and leisure hours for children of elementary school age, when key lifetime habits are being developed. Video entertainment is found to be a less significant determinant of time spent studying than parental involvement (such as supervision).
- Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson on Democracy's pains
Disillusionment with political leaders is spreading across the globe. In the United States, the approval ratings of the President and the Congress are at all-time lows, and probably for good reason. There is general dissatisfaction with the ruling class across much of Europe, particularly in the South. But this is much broader than a Western world phenomenon.
- Joakim Ruist on The fiscal consequences of unrestricted immigration from Romania and Bulgaria
The lifting of transitional access restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian workers is a hotly debated topic in the EU with big implications for public finances in destination countries. This column presents analysis of immigrants in Sweden, which never imposed access restrictions when these two countries joined the EU. Romanian and Bulgarian migrants to Sweden under this unrestricted regime make a sizeable positive contribution to Swedish public finances. Contributions can be expected to be even larger in the UK and Ireland.
- Jennifer L. Castle and David F. Hendry on The real wage–productivity nexus
During the Great Recession, UK real wages have fallen rather than the usual unemployment reaction. Nevertheless, this column argues that a structural break in the wage inflation/unemployment trade-off has not occurred. There has been a constant relationship between real wages and productivity since 1860. The key to the constancy is to the joint modelling of dynamics, location shifts, relevant variables and non-linearities.