Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Nice Application of the Coase Theorem

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

25 Brightest Young Economists

Here is a list.  By the way, six are at Harvard, more than any other school.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

News from Amazon

In the Business & Money category:

And in all books:

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What To Make of Corporate Tax Inversions

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaching Conference

I will be speaking at the annual conference of the National Economics Teaching Association, which this year is being held on Thursday, November 6th and Friday, November 7th, 2014 in San Diego, CA.  If you want to consider attending, click here for more information.
You can potentially win a free trip to the conference, as well as some cash, by entering this contest.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Eric Posner and Glen Weyl on Piketty

In The New Republic.  A tidbit:
Only very extreme scenarios, where every wealthy individual does all of the following at the same time can lead to the sort of explosive inequality dynamics Piketty fears:
  1. Marries someone at least as wealthy or bequeaths all wealth to one child.
  2. Consumes very little.
  3. Avoids paying most taxes.
  4. Contributes little to charity or politics.
  5. Invests optimally while avoiding Bernie Madoff and his ilk.
And it is hard to imagine why anyone would care about the existence of such an inbred, self-denying, and politically-removed class, if it could ever exist.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Wisdom from Thomas Sowell

Larry Kotlikoff's comment on Paul Krugman's debating style in my previous post reminded me of an email I received earlier this summer:

Hi Professor Mankiw,
I'm an entering graduate student at [withheld] and a long-time reader (reading your blog when I was in high school introduced me to and got me interested in economics). I was reading Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions and stumbled upon a passage that immediately reminded me of you, and your debates with Professor Krugman. I think it accurately describes a lot of disputes I've seen among intellectuals.
If you're familiar with the basic premise of the book, you can skip this paragraph. If you aren't (or need a refresher) Sowell creates a spectrum of political visions. At one end, there is the unconstrained vision, which sees a more malleable human nature in which the reason of experts has great efficacy in solving society's problems. At the other end, there is the constrained vision, which sees man's reason as inherently limited to narrow fields, with the best social progress coming through less deliberate and more evolutionary means. Sowell would see you as closer to the perfectly constrained vision, and Professor Krugman as closer to the perfectly unconstrained vision.
Here is the passage that reminded me of your debates with him. I think you'll see what I mean:
Sincerity is so central to the unconstrained vision that it is not readily conceded to adversaries, who are often depicted as apologists, if not venal. It is not uncommon in this tradition to find references to their adversaries' "real" reasons, which must be "unmasked." Even where sincerity is conceded to adversaries, it is often accompanied by references to those adversaries' "blindness," "prejudice," or narrow inability to transcend the status quo. Within the unconstrained vision, sincerity is a great concession to make, while those with the constrained vision can more readily make that concession, since it means so much less to them. Nor need adversaries be depicted as stupid by those with the constrained vision, for they conceive of the social process as so complex that it is easy, even for wise and moral individuals, to be mistaken -- and dangerously so. They 'may do the worst of things without being the worst of man,' according to Burke. (pg 59-60)
You may have already​ seen this and had similar thoughts, but if you hadn't, I thought you would find it interesting.
[name withheld]

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Plea for Civility

From Larry Kotlikoff. A noble effort that is likely to be in vain.