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Showing posts from 2018

The Economics Detective asks: Why No Industrial Revolution in Ancient Greece?

The Economics Detective is a fun podcast series looking into economic subjects in detail. This makes it very informative!

One fascinating edition of the podcast looks at the question of why Ancient Greece circa 500 to 300 BCE did not transition to 1% plus annual economic growth rates. They even talk about McCloskey's ideas thesis! The position of the interviewee, George Trimidas, is that lack of resources (mainly coal) for steel-smelting explains the failure of the initial Greek efflorescence to transition into 1% plus annual economic growth. He does also acknowledge the absence of a sympathetic attitude toward the bourgeoisie, citing the risk of being subject to the illiberal Athenian practice of 'ostracism'. [1]


Douglas Irwin reviews 'Kicking Away the Ladder' by Ha-Joon Chang

I recently found  a review of Ha-Joon Chang's book Kicking Away the Ladder on one of my fave websites,

In the review the author (Douglas Irwin) finds Chang's argument that barriers to free trade are required for a country to develop unconvincing. Chang fails to persuade Irwin because he does not engage with the existing economic history literature on the very subject (economic policy and its effects on development) that he is discussing.

Prevalence-induced concept change in humans: a reality check.

On the website of the Guardian an article was posted that makes sense. [1]

Author Oliver Burkeman brings up a fascinating experiment in which people were presented with a range of dots in various colors along a spectrum including unambiguous blue dots and asked to identify which dots were blue and which were not. [2]

The researchers found that subjects ascribed blueness gradually more and more widely as more and more of the near-pure blue dots were removed in successive iterations of the experiment. Effectively the subjects were moving the goalposts of what constituted blueness in their own heads.

Burkeman points out that on an objective scale pretty much everything is getting better for pretty much everybody these days, making the case that the perception to the contrary is a result of the goalpost-moving described above, referred to in the research as "prevalence-induced concept change".

[1] 'Are things getting worse - or does it just feel that way?' by Oliver Bur…

Comments on Bryan Caplan's interview with Dave Rubin...

Dave Rubin has a show on Youtube wherein he interviews various characters of a liberal/libertarian bent. In one of those interviews he chatted with Bryan Caplan on anarcho-capitalism and its corollaries.

Cool interview, huh? Below is an argument over a comment made by Caplan with regard to arbitration. [1]


SpiderDemon 11 months ago Arbitration gets problems solved in a few days? Bullshit, try months or years, and with more money than most people have to pay for it. This guy is a fraud.  This is how it works, get a loan from a bank to build a house, construction company builds your house not to code so the city won't let you live in it, bank forecloses on your house when you stop paying.  That's "anarcho capitalism" in the US. It's where the gov has set up a system where corporations are given the right to fuck people over and get away with it because arbitration and lawsuits costs tens of thousands of dollars that no one has.
So I was reading a piece on The Outline about identity politics when the author, Sean McElwee, brought up a survey he had penned and collated to establish how positions on economic and racial issues align;
Could Democrats win over racially conservative whites with economic populism? It’s unlikely, because people who oppose racial justice also tend to oppose liberal economic policies.  To test this, I created scales of economic and racial liberalism, using two questions that have been on the American National Election Studies surveys since 1972. One question asks respondents to place themselves on a one-to-seven point scale on government aid to black Americans, the other on a one-to-seven scale on guaranteeing jobs and income for all Americans. In 1972, only 54 percent of white Americans who took the racially liberal position (supporting aid to black Americans) also took the economically liberal position (guaranteeing jobs and income).  By 2016, 74 percent did. And in 1972, 77 perce…

Some cool posts on r/badeconomics

The subreddit called Badeconomics is a great place to go if, like me, you are trying to nudge your way towards being serviceably knowledgeable about economics. So I decided to share a few links to posts that recently pleased me...

Badecon posts re often so-called R1s in which an article, book, video or other piece is savaged for its economic illiteracy. The links that kick off each paragraph below are R1s added in the last two months.

Socialism is astonishing... Apparently economic growth over the past two centuries has not also led to growth in leisure time... despite clear data showing that it has.

Most Americans don't understand basic economics and r/Socialism thinks that's great... This R1 is attacking this post wherein some silly sausages get all confused over the significance of the opinions expressed in the survey, and over the consequences of actually implementing those policies.

Economists... a piece critical of economics using the matter of causes of the financial cris…