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Cross-country Comparisons

Price Dispersion and Income

By Scott Sumner | Feb 21, 2024

When I was growing up, gasoline generally sold for about 33 cents a gallon. Some stations charged 32 cents, while others charged 34 cents, but there was relatively little variation (over time or geographically.) When I moved to Orange County, I was surprised by the degree of price dispersion.  It’s not unusual to see gasoline .. MORE

Business Economics

The Value of Econ 101, example #10,191

By Kevin Corcoran | Feb 21, 2024

Some people insist “Econ 101” is too simplistic to be valuable for real-world decision making. While Econ 101 is, of course, less than all-encompassing, I would still say that the world suffers from far too little application of basic economics than too much. As is often the case, a ready example was recently provided by .. MORE

Central Planning

Maybe Clarke and Rice Are Both Right

By David Henderson | Feb 21, 2024

Going through my hard drive, I found an article I wrote in 2004 dealing with an important controversy after 9/11. The controversy pitted Condeleezza Rice against Richard Clarke. Rice headed the National Security Council under George W. Bush. Clarke was one of her employees and he specialized in counterterrorism. This link gives you more background .. MORE

Foreign Policy

I Win a Bet that I Had Forgotten

By David Henderson | Feb 20, 2024

Chris Koresko contacted me out of the blue to tell me that I had won a bet against him. I appreciate his integrity–and his memory. He reminded me that we had made the following bet: I [Chris Koresko] will pay you the sum of $25 on or around October 26, 2021 if no nuclear attack .. MORE

Adam Smith

Food for Nothing, and Your Chickpeas for Free

By Michael Munger | Feb 20, 2024

There is a photo of a restaurant whiteboard that has bumped around the interwebs for years. I first saw a version in April 2016, posted on Twitter by Scott Lincicome. Robert Tracinski  offered some comments at the time, but the sentiment has now become a meme. I have reproduced a version of the message here, .. MORE

Free Markets

A Czar to “Level the Price Playing Field”?

By Pierre Lemieux | Feb 20, 2024

If a reminder should be tattooed on the arms of all politicians and bureaucrats, it would be the reflection of the Russian official who, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, asked British economist Paul Seabright (quoted in Philip Coggan, More [The Economist, 2020], p. 357): Who is in charge of the supply of bread .. MORE

Behavioral Economics

Does it Matter Whether Addiction is a Disease?

By Scott Sumner | Feb 19, 2024

I say the answer should be no.  It should make no difference whether we call addiction a disease or a bad lifestyle.  (I say “should” because it might matter for insurance purposes.)  But it does matter whether addiction is something that can be controlled, or is something that is beyond human control.  Most experts I .. MORE

Economic Philosophy

Wisdom From My Wife

By Kevin Corcoran | Feb 19, 2024

Recently, I posted a defense of the value of widespread consumer choice against the dismissal of some socialists. While talking to my wife about that post, she brought up a couple of good points I thought were worth unpacking as well.  On the issue of “you don’t need 18 different choices for shoes,” she pointed .. MORE

Economic Methods

My Weekly Reading and Viewing for February 18, 2024

By David Henderson | Feb 18, 2024

Alexei Navalny’s Death Is a Timely Reminder of How Much Russia Sucks By Eric Boehm, Reason, February 16, 2024 Excerpt: If there is the thinnest bit of a silver lining to be found in the untimely demise of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who reportedly died this week in prison, perhaps it is this: .. MORE

Politics and Economics

What Should We Do About Ukraine? I Have No Idea

By Art Carden | Feb 18, 2024

“Let’s be honest. Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president of the United States.” I uttered those fateful words on election day 2016 and then proceeded to lose a few hundred dollars at, where I had bet on a Clinton victory. The experience made me appreciate Yogi Berra’s maxim that “it’s hard .. MORE


A Rare Success Story

By Scott Sumner | Feb 17, 2024

Despite recent attempts to reduce barriers to building in California, the housing sector remains hamstrung by excessive regulation.  Ben Christopher writing at Cal Matters says there’s one bright spot in this otherwise dreary picture: But unlike the vast majority of affordable developments that have been proposed in California in recent memory, no taxpayer dollars are .. MORE

Cross-country Comparisons

Argentina’s MOST Important Price: Interest Rates

By Leonidas Zelmanovitz | Feb 17, 2024

In my previous post, I wrote about one of the two most important prices in the Argentine (or any) economy- exchange rates. That brings us to the other of the two most essential prices in the economy, the one that is THE most important price, the time price of money, the interest rate. Interest rates .. MORE

Income Distribution

Economic Inequality: Popular Misconceptions and Important Facts

By David Henderson | Feb 16, 2024

This is a link to a talk I gave last month in Carmel, California. The talk is titled “Economic Inequality: Popular Misconceptions and Important Facts.” The hosts were the owners of a house that used to be owned by actress Joan Fontaine. The sponsor was the California Arts & Sciences Institute. My talk begins at .. MORE

Adam Smith

Should Libertarians Reject Moral Degeneracy?

By Kevin Corcoran | Feb 16, 2024

Here’s a question for you – should libertarians reject moral degeneracy?  (For now, let’s just table the object-level discussion about what specifically constitutes degeneracy, and focus on the meta-level discussion instead. Bob may think homosexuality constitutes moral degeneracy and should be rejected, but alcohol use is fine, while Bill may think alcohol use is morally .. MORE


For Those “Ready to Serve,” There’s McDonald’s

By Pierre Lemieux | Feb 16, 2024

“I am ready to serve,” said Kamala Harris. Shouldn’t we be surprised to hear politicians begging to serve? There are places for that. One can get a job at McDonald’s. If one is more of an altruist, one can serve as a nurse or in a private charity. (See “Kamala Harris Says She Is Ready .. MORE

Cross-country Comparisons

Toilets and AI

By Scott Sumner | Feb 15, 2024

No city epitomizes the strengths and weaknesses of the US economy more than San Francisco.  The strengths are obvious; it’s a leader in the most important industry of the 21st century—artificial intelligence.  But the weaknesses are just as obvious.  Here’s Reason magazine: In October 2022, San Francisco raised eyebrows when the city budgeted $1.7 million for a .. MORE

Labor Market

Reducing Income Inequality by Making People Worse Off

By David Henderson | Feb 15, 2024

  Yesterday, I gave talks to two classes at the Naval Postgraduate School. Both are classes taught by my good friend Ryan Sullivan. The talks were both titled “How Economists Helped End the Draft.” This has become an annual event in his class and one I look forward to. As I always do, I drew .. MORE


Exchange Rates and the Purchasing Power of Pesos

By Leonidas Zelmanovitz | Feb 15, 2024

In my previous post, I described what I consider to be the two most important prices in the Argentine- or any!-economy. Having indulged in such extended preliminaries, let us address  what is going on in Argentina nowadays. Soon after the inauguration of Javier Milei as the new president of Argentina, his government devalued the official .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Political Noncognitivism

By Kevin Corcoran | Feb 14, 2024

Co-blogger David Henderson recently posted about how political partisanship makes people more disposed to ignore or deny basic facts in a way that sports partisanship does not. I agree completely with what he says. In fact, I would say what he describes shows how many – perhaps most – people talk about politics in a .. MORE

Media Watch

The Logic of Apocryphal Quotes

By Pierre Lemieux | Feb 14, 2024

A document I saw on the web last week illustrates a thousand others like it. It pretends to celebrate the life and thought of Thomas Jefferson, and ends the litanies with several quotes from him. Except for one of these I knew and some that could be genuine, the rest were suspicious. I tested two, .. MORE

Cross-country Comparisons

The Two Most Important Prices in the Argentine Economy

By Leonidas Zelmanovitz | Feb 13, 2024

One of the wonders of human society is how the individuals of our species found a way to coordinate our actions to collaborate without anyone being in command. Sure, there are governments, but they earn their legitimacy to the extent that they protect individuals’ lives, limbs, and possessions from violence and fraud- not from telling .. MORE