August 2014

Has the ‘gun bubble’ popped?

Has the ‘gun bubble’ popped? David M. Levitt at Bloomberg thinks so, and I think with good reason (see chart below). Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson are the only two publicly traded U.S. gunmakers. Their sales have plummeted (down 13.4 percent and 23 percent, respectively) and stock values each cut by more than one-third. […]

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Truth on inflation, and some questions

Peter Klein speaks my mind on CPI. Namely, CPI doesn’t immediately reflect the malinvestment facilitated by artificial credit expansion because it measures inflation for “ordinary” consumer goods. It does not readily capture asset price inflation in things like equities, commodities, and agricultural land.   My question now, however: Is it feasible to differentiate artificially-induced asset price inflation […]

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Some police force data

Some interesting facts about police in America. From the FBI (via Governing.com): Washington, D.C. is the most policed city in America. It employs 61.2 officers for every 10,000 residents (excluding nonresident commuters, who exceed the city’s nighttime population). Los Angeles employs 25.9 officers for every 10,000 residents (excluding non-resident commuters).  Youngstown, OH–a top-ten most dangerous city […]

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Why “incentive talk” rubs me the wrong way

I had my first graduate microeconomics class today. One thing the professor posited as a “guidepost” for economic thinking is that incentives matter. As an example, he used welfare. If the state guarantees a certain level of income in an effort to reduce poverty, some people will respond by quitting their job and free-riding off state welfare programs. […]

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Why writers (like me) procrastinate

An offbeat post, I’m aware. But I’m a writer, so I try to read about writing as often as I read about economics or finance. Here’s Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle on why writers are the worst procrastinators. If she isn’t right in general, she’s definitely right about me. Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers […]

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Economics as “Catallactics”

In considering why the allocation paradigm emerged as the dominant framework of orthodox economics, James Buchanan identified the use of the word “economics” as part of the problem. According to Buchanan, focusing on economizing behavior leads economists to think in terms of maximization and allocation instead of in terms of coordination and exchange. In place […]

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Student loan debt is hardly a “crisis”

Here’s an interesting study from the Brookings Institution. It shows that the mean payment-to-income ratio on student loan debt repayments is lower than it was in 1989, which does damage to the claim that student loan debt is the reason why young people are seemingly absent from the home and stock markets. Hard to argue with […]

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QOTD: Ronald Coase

Contemplation of an optimal system may provide techniques of analysis that would otherwise have been missed and, in certain special cases, it may go far to providing a solution. But in general its influence has been pernicious. It has directed economists’ attention away from the main question, which is how alternative arrangements will actually work […]

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Heading home for a new beginning

I don’t often write about my personal life on this blog, but I’ll probably look back on today as one of the more consequential days of my life. I figure that makes it worth mentioning here. As of 4:30 p.m. today, I’m no longer on staff at my job of the past 14 months. I […]

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