Friday, February 28, 2020

Will the Economy Re-elect Trump?

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Novel for the Times

For obvious reasons, I have have been thinking about a novel I read a couple years ago, called Station Eleven, about the world in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic. Highly recommended.

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.