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Blog Profile / Marginal Revolution

Filed Under:Academics / Political Science
Posts on Regator:6352
Posts / Week:36.6
Archived Since:July 6, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Spatial competition among oligopolistic Jewish rebbes

Heilman, the expert in Hasidic succession, told me that one reason so many dynastic fights emerged in the past decade is that the grand rabbis are living longer, sometimes too long to have the vigor to conclusively determine whom their successors will be or so long that their increasingly entrenched institutional court refuses to cede […]

Assorted links

1. Chess piece survival rates. 2. How much do driverless cars depend on extensive and periodically revised mapping? 3. The French economy in eight charts. 4. How musical taste correlates with SAT scores. 5. Feeding McNuggets to food critics. 6. Robots vs. Ebola?

A Real Life Milgram Experiment

This amazing video, introduced by Philip Zimbardo, discusses a real world Milgram “experiment” in which people obeyed an authority figure to an astounding degree, even when the authority figure was just on the telephone. The video comes from the Heroic Imagination Project which hopes to use the results of social psychology to help people to take […]

Where’s my flying hoverboard? (Back to the Future)

From The Daily Beast: Greg and Jill Henderson, founders of Hendo, have developed a real hoverboard. Yes, the flying skateboard that millions of moviegoers have wished were real since Back to the Future Part II premiered back in 1989 may become the must-have Christmas gift for 2015. Using “hover engines” that create frictionless magnetic fields, the […]

China fact of the day

In 2002 Chinese investors spent just $2.7bn on acquisitions and greenfield projects abroad but by 2013 the total had increased 40-fold to $108bn. From Jamil Anderlini at the FT, there is more here.

Where is the external social value for marginal book reading?

Let’s assume books — at the margin of course — bring some external social value, perhaps by stimulating ideas production or by improving the quality of voting and citizenship.  If that were the case, at which margin should we look for this external benefit?  I can think of a few possibilities: 1. More books should be […]

Venezuela estimate of the day

Venezuela loses $728MM for each 1$ the oil price drops. Assuming oil @ $104 in 2014 and $96 in 2015 Vzla’s $ deficit in 2015 will be $27.8bn That is from Moisés Naim on Twitter.  Here is more on the same topic.

Evidence from opera on the efficacy of copyright

Michela Giorcelli and Petra Moser have a new paper, the abstract is this: This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy – as a result of Napoleon’s military campaign – to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation in the quantity and quality of creative output, we have […]

Assorted links

1. How much of financial fluctuations is behavioral? (pdf) 2. Moral licensing and portfolio effects. 3. Silly markets in everything. 4. Does feeling young and acting young make you young again? (speculative) 5. The English are now grumpy over their own rights in the UK.

Wedding ring and ceremony expenditures predict shorter marriage duration

There is a new paper from Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon: In this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration […]

What I’ve been reading

1. Doris Kearns, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  This Pulitzer-Prize winning book is compulsively readable and is most valuable on how the Roosevelt and Taft administrations fit together in American history.  I wish it had more detail on economic issues. 2. Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How […]

From the comments, on secular stagnation

B.B. writes: In “National Income and the Price Level,” Martin Bailey discussed the issues of the liquidity trap and secular stagnation. He observed that at a zero real interest rate, it would be profitable to level the Rocky Mountains and fill in the Gulf of Mexico. The land created would have a rate of return […]

India fact of the day

$74 million: That’s the amount India spent on its Mars program. Modi described it best when he said the Sandra Bullock-starrer Gravity cost more to make than India’s Mars mission. NASA’s Maven mission, admittedly more complex, cost $671 million in comparison. Show More Summary

Alan Taylor on mortgage lending as predicting financial crises

He has a new paper (pdf) on this topic, with Jorda and Schularick, based on data from seventeen advanced economies since 1870.  In an email he summarizes the main results as follows: 1. Mortgage lending was 1/3 of bank balance sheets about 100 years ago, but in the postwar era mortgage lending has now risen to 2/3, […]

Assorted links

1. Ireland’s suburban ghost towns. 2. The man who smuggles Trader Joe’s into Canada.  By the way, I much prefer Whole Foods, I hardly like any of the items at Trader Joe’s, although they have good smoked trout. 3. The culture that is San Francisco, bros vs. kids. 4. James Hamilton on lower oil prices. […]

Discover Cosmic Rays with your SmartPhone

This is one of the stories that I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t a hoax but it does check out. Here’s the background: [R]esearchers from the University of California have drafted a paper in which they describe testing whether a smartphone camera can detect high energy photons and particles of the sort produced by cosmic […]

Adam Posen on Japan

Similarly, the returns on tackling the underutilisation of human capital in Japan dwarf the impact of everything else, including the problem of a declining workforce. If Japan were to get more of its university-educated women into the workforce, the demographic problem would go away for 20 years. If Abe accomplished this, the fatalistic whining about […]

When will the first two-hour marathon be run?

I found this piece by Alex Hutchinson very interesting, here is one excerpt on the issue of incentives: One reason marathoners are running faster is that road racing is more lucrative. When the Sheikh of Dubai put up $1 million in prize money plus a $1 million world-record bonus in 2008, the Dubai Marathon instantly […]

Jean Tirole and Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motiviation

One of my favorite Tirole papers is Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation (written with Roland Benabou). The key idea in this paper is that an agent’s payoff from a task depends on a characteristic that the agent doesn’t know. The principal, the designer of an incentive scheme, knows something about this characteristic and designs the reward […]

Tirole and Platform Markets

Jean Tirole (working with Rochet) is a pioneer in one of the most important new areas in the economy and economics, the study of platform markets. Platform markets or two-sided markets are markets where a firm brings together two or more sides both of whom benefit by the existence of the platform and both of […]

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