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Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Highlights of My Weekly Reading for July 14, 2024

By David Henderson | Jul 14, 2024

First, Happy Bastille Day. Now to some highlights. Reliable Sources: How Wikipedia Admin David Gerard Launders His Grudges Into the Public Record Tracing Woodgrains, July 10, 2024. Excerpt: Unsurprisingly, Gerard’s slash-and-burn, no-questions-asked policy has led to more than a few conflicts on Wikipedia. Editors who object to his indiscriminate removals have raised the issue multiple .. MORE

Media Watch

Can We Meaningfully Speak of Bubble Gum “Inflation”?

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 14, 2024

The Wall Street Journal’s report on the reduced increase of the Consumer Price Index is confused. Or so would think an economist who understands the difference between changes in relative prices and a change in the general price level, of all prices together. (See “Milder Inflation Opens Door Wider to September Rate Cut,” July 11, .. MORE

Money and Inflation

Alan Reynolds on “Shelter Prices” and Inflation

By David Henderson | Jul 13, 2024

Alan Reynolds writes: Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has been zero for two months. Over the past 12 months, prices of food at home are up 1.1 percent, and energy prices are up 1 percent. Yet headlines keep focusing on the 12-month averages of 3 percent for the total CPI and 3.3 percent for “core .. MORE

Business Cycles

Trendy Tables

By Giorgio Castiglia | Jul 13, 2024

A report in the New Yorker (and discussed in an NPR Marketplace segment) discusses restaurant table reservations, showing how third-party sellers are earning money by reserving tables at trending restaurants and reselling them to eager diners. These “hustlers” and “mercenaries” as they have been named (and self-named) might be seen, even by themselves, as jacking .. MORE

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing

Dreams and Nightmares

By Scott Sumner | Jul 13, 2024

Imagine if you were born overseas but grew up in America. After graduating from college, you start looking for a job. There’s just one problem; you do not have legal residency. As a result, the US government sends you back to your home country, a place you might not even remember. To many people, this .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Activism and Institutional Gresham’s Law

By Kevin Corcoran | Jul 12, 2024

I recently posted about two broad lenses one could use to analyze political activism. One form is what I called “activism as production,” which occurs when activists are motivated by a desire to help produce some form of public good – better environmental health, an improved justice system, and so on. The other form is .. MORE

Economics and Culture

Nepotism and Global Politics

By Scott Sumner | Jul 11, 2024

I imagine that most readers don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about the practice of nepotism. In this post, I won’t try to convince you that nepotism is good or bad, rather I’ll try to show that nepotism provides a useful entry point to thinking about contemporary trends in the politics of many .. MORE

Economics of Education

The Problem of Collective Action: An Illustration in Education

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 11, 2024

As formalized by Mancur Olson in his seminal 1971 book The Logic of Collective Action, smaller social groups are easier to organize than larger ones. Consequently and other things equal, a small group will be more effective at lobbying governments, even if the total benefits of its members are smaller than what all the members .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Experiential Heterogeneity

By Kevin Corcoran | Jul 10, 2024

There’s a thought I’ve had rolling around in my head for a while that a recent post by Scott Sumner helped bring into focus. He argued there can sometimes be a failure to understand and appreciate how people might think in fundamentally different ways from you, and how this can lead to political polarization. As .. MORE

Economic Growth

Elevator Blues

By Scott Sumner | Jul 9, 2024

I often hear people on the right suggest that the New York Times is a lousy newspaper. This is not true, as they are confusing quality and bias. The NYT is an excellent newspaper that is marred by an unfortunate bias toward left wing views. Someone once joked that they were not a libertarian because .. MORE

Business Economics

The Return of Wasteful Competition

By James Broughel | Jul 9, 2024

It is a common misconception that competitive markets yield efficient outcomes. While competition can spur increased effort, that effort need not be directed toward anything productive. More competition has a dark side as well—the tendency to produce unnecessary duplication of efforts and waste. That competition can be problematic rather than efficient is an idea today .. MORE

International Trade

A Win-Win-Win-Win on EV Policy

By David Henderson | Jul 8, 2024

  On June 6, 2024, the Wall Street Journal published my short op/ed online (but not in print) and titled it, “How Electric Vehicles Can Make Everyone Happy.” It wasn’t an ideal title. My article was how a few major changes in EV policy could make almost everyone happier than they are likely to be .. MORE

Economic Growth

Stingy Boomers?

By Scott Sumner | Jul 7, 2024

A recent article in The Economist made some rather ambiguous claims about baby boomers like me: Now that the generation is moving into retirement, what are they going to do with their money? The question matters for more than just suppliers of cruises and golf clubs. Boomers have deep pockets, so their spending choices will .. MORE

Labor Market

My Weekly Reading for July 7, 2024

By David Henderson | Jul 7, 2024

Gorsuch Apes NIMBY Government Lies in Supreme Court’s Grants Pass Decision by Christian Britschgi, Reason, July 2, 2024. Excerpt: Phoenix’s amicus brief in the Grants Pass case was co-written by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns—a taxpayer-funded lobbying group that spent most of this past year fighting efforts in the Arizona Legislature to liberalize local zoning .. MORE

Institutional Economics

What Does It Mean to Govern?

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 6, 2024

When a politician declares that he is “ready to govern,” what does he mean by “govern”? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the verb “to govern” came from a French word and first appeared in English in the 14th century. In its intransitive form, it meant “to direct or control the actions and affairs .. MORE

Energy, Environment, Resources

Negative Sum Thinking in Mission Viejo

By Scott Sumner | Jul 5, 2024

A recent article in the OC Register provides a good example of why some decisions should be made at the state level: Mission Viejo councilmembers axed plans for a new Department of Motor Vehicles location in the Kaleidoscope shopping mall over traffic and safety concerns. The DMV — which would have been the first for .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Tariffs, Deficits, and Debt

By Jon Murphy | Jul 5, 2024

Scott Sumner recently had a post discussing a potential relationship between trade deficits and government debt.  To sum up, since debt must come from savings, if domestic savings are too low relative to domestic investment, then foreign savings must come in and make up the difference; the United States imports foreign savings.  When the government .. MORE

Money and Inflation

Jeopardy’s Defective Understanding of Inflation

By David Henderson | Jul 5, 2024

Should we call this reverse monetarism? An “answer” in the July 1 episode of Jeopardy was the following: In the 1940s, this country’s Magyar Nemzeti Bank printed the million billion pengo note to fight inflation. The contestants were expected to say, and one did, “What is Hungary?” The problem, of course, is that you don’t .. MORE

Cross-country Comparisons

Mythology and the Reality of Democracy: An Illustration

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 4, 2024

The second round of the French election, to be held on July 7, carries some interesting lessons about democracy. In each circumscription where no candidate obtained more than 50% of the votes in the first round, those who got more than 12.5% are allowed to run in the second round. A political party or coalition .. MORE

Economic History

The Politics of Protectionism: The British General Election of 1847

By John Phelan | Jul 4, 2024

The historian AJP Taylor wrote that the 1923 general election was “the only election in British history, fought solely and specifically on Protection.” The general election of 1847 is one of the few contenders.   The Reform Act of 1832 gave the vote to elements of the growing urban middle class. The Tory Party fought the .. MORE

Cross-country Comparisons

The “cost of living” is Highly Subjective

By Scott Sumner | Jul 3, 2024

[Note to readers: This post is not about inflation. The rate of inflation is a little bit subjective, but much less subjective than the cost of living.] In my previous post, I discussed Singapore. Today’s FT has an article on Singapore, which contains this interesting fact: The city, one of Asia’s main financial centres, has .. MORE

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