Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Question for Bernie

"Senator Sanders. You regularly say that you want the U.S. healthcare system to be more like those in Europe, with their less expensive, more inclusive, government-run systems. Well, in Europe, physicians are paid less than half what physicians are paid in the United States. (See below.) Is a massive cut in physician salaries a part of your vision for the future of the U.S. healthcare system under a Sanders administration? If so, don't you think you should warn the roughly one million U.S. physicians of that fact now? If not, is it realistic to expect the cost savings that you are promising?"

Source of graphic..

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tonight's Debate

According to this website that tracks betting odds, the biggest loser over the past few hours was Mike Bloomberg, whose probability of becoming the next president fell by 3.5 percentage points. The biggest winner was Donald Trump, whose probability of reelection rose by 1.3 percentage points. To quote one regular tweeter: Sad!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

9e is here!

The ninth edition of my favorite textbook has now been published. If you are an instructor planning to teach introductory economics and would like a complimentary copy to examine, please email Cengage's Marketing Coordinator Alexis Cortez.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Plaza Suite

This weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the revival of the Neil Simon play Plaza Suite, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. It is in Boston for a few weeks before heading to New York.

The play, which is really three short plays in one, was terrific. Broderick was very good, as expected, though he stumbled over his lines occasionally (once causing him to ad-lib to recover, to great humorous effect). Parker was absolutely great. She was energetic and consistently funny.

Highly recommended if you are in Boston over the next few weeks or in New York over the next few months.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

The Textbook Market

Justin Fox has a good, balanced article on the market for college textbooks (an interest of mine, for obvious reasons). Below is a noteworthy figure from it.

These aggregate data reflect my own experience: While the market share of my books is as robust as ever, my royalty income is down in both real and nominal terms. (Don't worry. I'll be fine.) Students are increasingly switching to buying less expensive options, such as digital or loose-leaf versions rather than the traditional bound book. For example, for my intermediate macro text, the loose-leaf version can be purchased for about half the price of the hardcover book.

Open-source teaching materials may also explain part of this trend, though I suspect it is not the main force at work here. At least for economics courses, the available open-source options appear not to have much of a market share. I do not expect that to change. As Justin suggests in the article, relying on funding from foundation grants is probably not a sustainable model.

One possible implication of the shrinking pie is that fewer professors should enter the market by writing their own textbooks. I don't know of any data to gauge to what extent this is occurring. In any event, it is not a good time to be entering the market with a new textbook.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Note to Dems: The Economy is Doing Great

As the Democratic candidates get ready for tonight's debate, let me offer some advice: They should refrain from their tendency to disparage the current state of the economy. As the graphs below show, the employment-population ratio for prime-age workers is at its highest level in about 20 years. Real wages for production and nonsupervisory workers (that is, excluding the more highly paid bosses) are at an all-time high. There are plenty of good reasons to remove Donald Trump from office, but a poor economy is not one of them.

Click on graphic to enlarge.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Summer Camp for Economic Theorists

My colleague Eric Maskin would like to call your attention to this summer school, intended for graduate students in economics and neuroscience.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Past and Future of Econ 101

During the recent ASSA meeting, I had the honor of receiving the John R. Commons Award from Omicron Delta Epsilon, the economics honor society. When receiving the award, I gave a lecture titled "The Past and Future of Econ 101." You can now read the lecture by clicking here.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

My First Beach Read of 2020

I like nothing better than sitting on a beach and reading a book. Well, after the ASSA meeting, my wife and I decamped to Maui for a few days of R&R. One of the books I took along was The Rationing by Charles Wheelan. Readers of this blog may be familiar with Wheelan as the author of Naked Economics, an excellent nontechnical introduction to basic economic ideas, as well as several other nonfiction books. The Rationing is Wheelan's first work of fiction, and it is a fun read. It is a smart, fast-paced political thriller, similar to what James Patterson might write. It won't be finding itself on the reading list of any courses on great literature, but if you need to unwind at the beach, consider taking it along.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

I talk with Bill Kristol

Here. It is about an hour.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Whereabouts at ASSA

If blog readers would like to see me at the upcoming ASSA meetings in San Diego, you can find me at the following events:

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 12:30 PM - 2:15 PM (PST)
Omicron Delta Epsilon John R. Commons Award Lecture

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, America's Cup AB
Hosted By: Omicron Delta Epsilon
Chair: Stacey Jones, Seattle University

Panelist: N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Topic: The Past and Future of Econ 101

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (PST)
Is United States Deficit Policy Playing with Fire?

Marriott Marquis San Diego, Marriott Grand Ballroom 3
Hosted By: American Economic Association
Chair: Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University

Public Debt, Low Interest Rates, and Rare Events
Richard Evans, University of Chicago

A Skeptic’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory
N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University

How, Why and When Deficits and Debt Are Dangerous
Michael Boskin, Stanford University

Simulating the Blanchard-Summers Conjecture in a Multi-Period Life-Cycle Model
Jasmina Hasanhodzic, Babson College

Leveraging Posterity's Prosperity?
Johannes Brumm, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University
Felix Kubler, University of Zurich

Alan Auerbach, University of California-Berkeley
Seth Benzell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (PST)
Using Social Media and Blogging in Economic Education

Marriott Marquis San Diego, Marriott Grand Ballroom 11
Chair: Darshak Patel, University of Kentucky

Brandon Sheridan, Elon University
Jessica B. Hoel, Colorado College
N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Scott Cunningham, Baylor University
Martha L. Olney, University of California-Berkeley
Claudia Sahm, Federal Reserve Board

Cengage Booth
Because the 9th edition of my principles text has just been published, you can also find me at the Cengage booth at the book exhibition from 3 to 4 pm on Friday and 9 to 10 am on Saturday.

Monday, December 16, 2019

My Take on MMT

Readers may be interested in my most recent essay, A Skeptic's Guide to Modern Monetary Theory.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Furman Reviews Banerjee & Duflo

Here. His bottom line: Great book but...
when it came to the biggest contemporary hot button issues they left all nuance and care behind to present selective evidence for an overly simplistic narrative that would be comforting to typical progressive reader without challenging any of their preconceptions.

Friday, December 06, 2019

The Case for Capitalism

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How to Increase Taxes on the Rich (If You Must)

Last month I participated in a PIIE conference on inequality. Here is the written version of my remarks.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Why I am now an independent

Click here to read my column in this Sunday's NY Times.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Warren's Medicare for All

Saturday, November 02, 2019

NPR on The Pigou Club

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Which Harvard students are least comfortable expressing their opinions?

Harvard recently released the results of a survey on "Inclusion and Belonging." One question asked students whether they agreed with the statement "I feel comfortable expressing my opinions to others at Harvard."

Overall, 68 percent of students agreed. Moreover, the statement received majority agreement for most subgroups--men and women; white, black, Hispanic, and Asian; straight and gay; U.S. citizen and foreign; Christian, Jewish, and Muslim; and so on.

The only subgroup for which the statement did not generate majority agreement was those students who self-identified as conservative. Only 44 percent of conservative students agreed, compared with 61 percent of moderates and 73 percent of liberals.

Monday, October 28, 2019

I am no longer a Republican

I just came back from city hall, where I switched my voter registration from Republican to unenrolled (aka independent). Two reasons:

First, the Republican Party has largely become the Party of Trump. Too many Republicans in Congress are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump's misdeeds (just as too many Democrats were for Clinton during his impeachment). I have no interest in associating myself with that behavior. Maybe someday, the party will return to having honorable leaders like Bush, McCain, and Romney. Until then, count me out.

Second, in Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in either primary. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, where it has to choose either a center-left candidate (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang) or a far-left populist (Warren, Sanders) as their nominee for president. I intend to help them choose the former. The latter propose to move the country too far in the direction of heavy-handed state control. And in doing so, they tempt those in the center and center-right to hold their noses and vote for Trump's reelection.