Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Professor Bernanke teaches the world

A friend in the Federal Reserve sends along the following information:

The Federal Reserve Board announced on Thursday that Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will deliver a series of lectures aimed at college students. Beginning on March 20, he will lead four classes on "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis" as part of a course offered to undergraduates at the George Washington University School of Business. The class will feature a variety of speakers who will discuss central banking. Chairman Bernanke's lectures are scheduled for March 20, 22, 27 and 29 and will begin at 12:45 pm EDT.

To access the lecture series live, use the following link:

More info: http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/lectures/about.htm

Monday, February 27, 2012

Did Fiscal Stimulus Work?

Larry Summers and John Taylor will be debating this topic at Harvard, this Tuesday, from 4 to 5 PM, in Emerson Hall, Room 105.  It should be fun.  (Sadly, I will miss it, as I am now in Seoul, Korea, giving a talk at a conference.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

IQ and Investment Decisions

In today's NY Times, Robert Shiller reports:
Even after taking into account factors like income and education, the authors concluded that people with relatively high I.Q.’s typically diversify their investment portfolios more than those with lower scores and invest more heavily in the stock market. They also tend to favor small-capitalization stocks, which have historically beaten the broader market, as well as companies with high book values relative to their share prices.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Academic Uses of Social Media

This is from a panel discussion held at Harvard last year. (I just recently learned that it was posted online.) I show up around minute 13:00.

Abbott and Costello explain unemployment

Thanks to U Chicago's Allen Sanderson for sending this along:

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good "subject". Terrible "times". It's about 9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that's 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that's 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it's 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that's 9%...

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed.  You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But ... they are out of work!

ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work, can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.


ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work...Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%.  You don't want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means they're two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like an economist.

COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!

Friday, February 24, 2012

More Competition

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dynamic Scoring Redux

The Wall Street Journal's op-ed today on Mitt Romney's tax plan mentions me in passing: "Economists Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard, who are both advising Mr. Romney, have done studies documenting the feedback effects of marginal-rate tax cuts."  In case you are curious, they are referring to this study I coauthored with Matthew Weinzierl (here is the published version).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The Washington Post has an article on a group of economists who work under the banner of "Modern Monetary Theory."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What We Do

Click on image to enlarge.
Thanks to the loyal reader who sent this in.

ERP Released

Alan Krueger et al. release the Economic Report of the President.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reflections on the Economics Job Market

From Noah Smith, a recent survivor.

By the way, Noah mentions that he is a student of Miles Kimball, who was a student of mine.  I suppose that makes Noah my grandstudent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Econ Summer Camp

Grad students with an interest in public finance theory might want to consider this summer program.

The Latest from the Standup Economist

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines for Economists

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Semantics at the Highest Level

Consider these two policies:

A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.

B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance.  The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.

I can understand someone endorsing both A and B, and I can understand someone rejecting both A and B.  But I cannot understand someone rejecting A and embracing B, because they are effectively the same policy.  Ultimately, all insurance costs are passed on to the purchaser, so I cannot see how policy B is different in any way from policy A, other than using slightly different words to describe it.

Yet it seems that the White House yesterday switched from A to B, and that change is being viewed by some as a significant accommodation to those who objected to policy A.  The whole thing leaves me scratching my head.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Econ Summer Camp

Grad students with an interest in the history of economic thought might want to consider this summer program.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Should health insurance be required to cover birth control?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Five Books on Public Finance

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Transitioning from Communism

Do Manufacturers Need Special Treatment?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Good News (both for job seekers and for one person trying to hold onto his job)

Good news today about employment.  The 243,000 increase in jobs is a very solid number.  The graph below shows how the prices at Intrade reacted when the news was released at 8:30 am.  President Obama's probability of being reelected rose by about 2 percentage points.  Click on the graphic to enlarge.