Friday, September 08, 2017

How to Get People to Get Along

Click here to read my column in Sunday's New York Times.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A Reading List

Every few years, I teach (in addition to ec 10) a freshman seminar for about a dozen students. The seminar is essentially a book group for students who are taking introductory economics concurrently or who have advanced placement credit in economics.  Here is a list of this year's books:
  1. The Worldly Philosophers, by Robert Heilbroner 
  2. On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill
  3. Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman
  4. Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, by Arthur Okun
  5. The Economics of Inequality, by Thomas Piketty
  6. Fair Play, by Steven Landsburg
  7. Finance and the Good Society, by Robert Shiller
  8. Scarcity, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir
  9. The Moral Economy, by Samuel Bowles
  10. The Myth of the Rational Voter, by Bryan Caplan

Sunday, September 03, 2017

What I did last night

Lady Gaga performed at Fenway Park yesterday (and the day before). Apparently, she is the first woman ever to headline an event at Fenway. It was a great concert.

Good people watching before the concert started. Ran into a few former ec 10 students.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

News from Amazon

To users of my favorite textbooks: Thank you! 
Have a great semester.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What Moderates Believe

I much appreciated today's column by David Brooks, though he seems to be describing center-right moderates more than center-left moderates (or is that my own bias showing up?).

David also taught me a new word: syncretistic.  It refers to combining different forms of belief.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Macro Musings

You can hear me interviewed by David Beckworth here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Why Health Policy is Hard

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

Does this make my Hamilton tickets a deductible business expense?

Economic Lessons from the Musical Hamilton, by Matthew C. Rousu and Courtney A. Conrad, discusses how the great musical can be used to teach economic principles in the classroom.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

CEA Chairs on Steel Tariffs

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Report from the NFF

It is now that time of year when I am enjoying the Nantucket Film Festival. My wife and I today saw The Big Sick. Despite the not very enticing title, we loved it. The film is based on the real-life romance of the two screen writers, emphasizing the difficulty of bridging cross-cultural expectations. It is more heartfelt than a standard rom-com, more comedic than a drama, more earnest than standard Hollywood fare. Most definitely recommended, especially for a date night.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hamilton Tickets Redux

James Stewart takes a look at theater tickets on Broadway, a topic I discussed last year.  I love his ending:
Dynamic pricing and super-premium prices may be relatively new, but the scarcity of tickets for hit shows has a long tradition. Mr. Schumacher cited “My Fair Lady,” the “Hamilton” of the 1955-56 Broadway season. As Broadway lore has it, a man in the audience turned to his neighbor, an older woman, and asked why the fifth-row center seat next to her was empty. 
“My husband died,” she replied. 
“Didn’t anyone else want to come?” he asked. 
“No,” she answered. “They’re all at the funeral.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Advice for Young Economists

Monday, June 05, 2017

Economists for Hassett

Saturday, June 03, 2017

On Taxes and Deficits

Click here to read my column in Sunday's New York Times.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A New Mankiw Publication

This one I am particularly proud of, though I cannot claim to fully understand it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why people prefer unequal societies

A friend points out that this paper is related to some themes I have written about.  The abstract (emphasis added):
There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public, and many insist that equality is an important social goal. However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Adverse Selection in Practice

This article about genetic testing presents a great example of adverse selection:
Pat Reilly had good reason to worry about Alzheimer’s disease: Her mother had it, and she saw firsthand the havoc it could wreak on a family, much of it financial. 
So Ms. Reilly, 77, a retired social worker in Ann Arbor, Mich., applied for a long-term care insurance policy. Wary of enrolling people at risk for dementia, the insurance company tested her memory three times before issuing the policy. 
But Ms. Reilly knew something the insurer did not: She has inherited the ApoE4 gene, which increases the lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s. “I decided I’d best get long-term care insurance,” she said.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Best to Tax Business

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

How Not to Promote Education

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Proposed Regulation

The story about United dragging a passenger off an overbooked plane highlights how crazy the current system is.  I would not go so far as to say that airlines should never overbook, but it seems that when they overbook, they should fully bear the consequences. They should be required to keep raising the offered compensation until they get volunteers to give up their seats. If $800 does not work, then try $1600 or $8000.  I am sure volunteers will appear as the price rises.

This alternative system would have three benefits:
  1. Those who can delay their travel at least cost will be the first to give up their seats so the allocation of available seats will be efficient. 
  2. Those who are delayed will be compensated so won't feel harmed.
  3. The airlines will face better incentives when deciding how much to overbook.