Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sentence of the Day

"genetic differences explained roughly 33% of the variations in individual savings rates."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What matters more--the productivity slowdown or the inequality increase?

The Economic Report of the President was released today.  A friend draws my attention to Table 1-3 on page 34, which presents several historical counterfactuals.  It finds:

1. If productivity growth had not slowed after 1973, the median household would have \$30,000 of additional income today.

2. If income inequality had not increased after 1973, the median household would have \$9,000 of additional income today.

So, which is the bigger problem? (Of course, neither has an easy solution.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nobel Prize for Sale

I don't know the story behind this, but apparently a Kuznets heir is selling his Nobel Prize.

Update 2/24: With less than 2 days to go, no one has offered the minimum bid of \$150,000.

Update 2/26: Someone offers the minimum bid.

Update 2/27: It goes for \$390,848.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Good News

The Crimson reports on the good judgment of Harvard students:

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Defending Pete Carroll

Justin Wolfers says that, by the logic of game theory, the losing Superbowl coach does not deserve all the opprobrium he has been getting.  I have been thinking the same thing.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

If you are an undergraduate, this conference may be of interest.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Competition and Cooperation

A nice essay by Tim Taylor, very appropriate for introductory students.

The Rise of the Inequality Debate

Professor Lars Syll thinks I made of fool of myself in a previous post when I wondered why we have only recently started discussing income inequality so extensively, even though the increase in inequality occurred mainly between 1980 and 2000.  He writes, "Wonder on which planet Greg has been living the last twenty years."

Of course, we economists have been discussing the topic for a long time. Indeed, I had a whole chapter on income inequality in the first edition of my favorite textbook, which came out about 20 years ago.  But the public has been discussing the topic widely only recently.

To document this fact for Professor Syll, I used the NY Times's very cool chronicle website to generate the chart below. As you can see, the percentage of NYT articles that uses the word "inequality" has increased more than ten-fold in the past few years.  So has the percentage that uses the phrase "income inequality."

By the way, the earlier blip in the use of "inequality" was in 1866, the year of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  The inequality being discussed then was political, not economic.  The wide discussion of "income inequality" is unprecedented and very recent.