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My Weekly Reading for July 21, 2024

By David Henderson | Jul 21, 2024

Is Driving in California Subsidized? by Marc Joffe, Cato at Liberty, July 16, 2024. Excerpt: To determine whether the government is still subsidizing California drivers today, Krit Chanwong and I reviewed a variety of local, state, and federal disclosures for the 2022–2023 fiscal year. We used actual figures when available but were sometimes obliged to .. MORE

Economic and Political Philosophy

A Culture of Individual Dignity

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 21, 2024

Whether the accusations of sexual harassment and racism levied against the World Economic Forum (WEF) are true or false, they teach some lessons. It is worth reading the investigation report of the Wall Street Journal (Shalini Ramachandran and Khadeeja Safdar, “Behind Davos, Claims of a Toxic Workplace,” WSJ, June 29, 2024) and its follow-up (“World .. MORE

Cost-benefit Analysis

NOTHING is “Adequately Funded”

By Art Carden | Jul 20, 2024

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: nothing will ever be “adequately funded.” In pretty much any circumstance, someone somewhere will have at least some idea of what else they could do with an extra dollar or two. The fact that they have to forsake something because they have limited resources means .. MORE

Adam Smith

Progressive Jonathan Lipow Defends Economics

By David Henderson | Jul 19, 2024

This is the second of my series of posts on Jonathan Lipow’s 2023 book, Pubic Policy for Progressives. In “Economics without Apology,” a subsection of Chapter 1, Jonathan addresses his concern about progressives rejecting economics, writing: Now, lamentably, many progressives regard economics with great suspicion.  Indeed, instinctual hostility towards economics is a textbook example of .. MORE


Tom Holden on Monetary Policy

By Scott Sumner | Jul 19, 2024

In recent years, I’ve become depressed by the state of research in macroeconomics. I find many new research papers to be almost unreadable. Perhaps this reflects the fact that my own work is increasingly outside the mainstream. Thus I was very pleasantly surprised to see a new paper by Tom Holden that embraces many of .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

The Right to Build

By Christopher Freiman | Jul 19, 2024

In a recent interview with Tyler Cowen, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stated his opposition to housing deregulation: One person’s freedom is another person’s unfreedom. That means that what I can do . . . I talk about freedom as what somebody could do, his opportunity set, his choices that he could make. And when one person .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Jonathan Lipow Is a Fair-Minded Progressive

By David Henderson | Jul 18, 2024

  At its core, the Woke are building a movement that subverts the Left and renders it impotent in the face of its very real theocratic and fascist enemies.  It sets male against female, straight and cis-gendered against queer, Black against white, and the working class against the intelligentsia.  It debases science with various offshoots .. MORE

Political Economy

Contrarian Ideas on the Administrative or Whimsical State

By Pierre Lemieux | Jul 18, 2024

There are credible theories, bolstered by the public choice analysis of bureaucracy, that the administrative state is economically inefficient and politically dangerous—“politically dangerous” meaning a risk of growing or feeding Leviathan. (For an overview, see Gordon Tullock, Bureaucracy, Liberty Fund, Inc., 2004]; and Dennis C. Mueller, Perspectives on Public Choice [Cambridge University Press, 1997].) At .. MORE

Austrian Economics

Deontic Facts, Agents, and Hayek

By Kevin Corcoran | Jul 18, 2024

If you read the supplemental material to which I link with the diligence I expect and require, dear reader (tongue is firmly in cheek here!), you will have read this paper I referenced that examines proposed symmetry breakers between the modal ontological argument for the existence of god and the reverse modal ontological argument against .. MORE


How to Think About Supply Shocks

By Scott Sumner | Jul 17, 2024

In a previous post, I argued that more than 100% of the inflation since late 2019 has been demand side. There were some adverse supply shocks around 2021-22 that led to significant inflation, but there have also been major positive supply shocks (notably immigration) that have tended to depress inflation. In net terms, the cumulative .. MORE

International Trade

Trade Has No Losers

By Donald Boudreaux | Jul 17, 2024

International trade, it is commonly said, has winners and losers. Consumers in the U.S. gain when they buy wine imported from France while winemakers in California lose. C’est la vie, counsel economists. Nothing should be done about this situation. The reason is that it’s also commonly said – at least among those of us in .. MORE

Economic Education

Why I am Skeptical of Market Failure Corrections

By Jon Murphy | Jul 17, 2024

In just about any economics textbook, one will find a discussion of market failure.  The conversation will usually go something like this: markets are great, but sometimes they fail.  If transaction costs are low, then no government remedy is needed.  But if transaction costs are high, then the government can (and should) step in to .. MORE

Moral Reasoning

What Would Change My Mind?

By Kevin Corcoran | Jul 16, 2024

Here, I call on EconLog readers to try to change my mind!  Let me start this out with a proverbial throat-clearing on what we all know are the well-worn difficulties of changing someone’s mind. Doing so is often very difficult, and people are reluctant to change their mind. And we’re all biased to believe we .. MORE

Information Goods, Intellectual Property

A Contradiction in Hayek’s Famous 1945 Article

By David Henderson | Jul 16, 2024

  In his “Quotation of the Day” yesterday, one of my favorite parts of CafeHayek, Don Boudreaux quotes from one of my favorite articles by Hayek, his “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” published in the American Economic Review in 1945. (Parenthetical note: Wouldn’t it be great if the AER started publishing articles with words .. MORE


China’s Real Problem is Nominal

By Scott Sumner | Jul 15, 2024

There have been numerous news reports suggesting that China’s economy is in the doldrums. Strong exports have allowed China to maintain a solid overall growth rate, but that growth engine may not be sustainable, especially given the likelihood of increasingly protectionist headwinds. Domestic sectors such as housing and retail sales have been fairly weak. Here .. MORE

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

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