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Sep 9, 2016

Marginal Revolution

No new posts were found on this blog today. Showing the 10 most recent.

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Sentences to ponder
Aug 5, 2014

“…while we don’t expect deflation, we do think inflation will remain in negative territory in the coming months.”

That one is about Spain, from Victor Echevarra at BNP Paribas.


Political booms, financial crises
Aug 5, 2014

There is a new paper by Helios Herrera, Guillermo Ordoez, and Christoph Trebesch and it has a striking result:

We show that political booms, measured by the rise in governments’ popularity, predict financial crises above and beyond other better-known early warning indicators, such as credit booms. This predictive power, however, only holds in emerging economies. We show that governments in emerging economies are more concerned about their reputation and tend to ride the short-term popularity benefits of weak credit booms rather than implementing politically costly corrective policies that would help prevent potential crises. We provide evidence of the relevance of this reputation mechanism.

The NBER version is here, there are ungated versions here.


Ebola and the FDA
Aug 5, 2014

The Telegraphreports:

The twoAmericandoctors who have caught Ebola have been treated with a new “secret serum” which could potentially save their lives.

…A source close to the Atlanta hospital, where Dr Brantly is being treated, told CNN: “Within an hour of receiving the medication, Brantly’s condition was nearly reversed. His breathing improved; the rash over his trunk faded away.”

One of his doctorsreportedly described the events as “miraculous.”

…Dr Writebol was also administrated with the drug, which was transported to Liberia in a special sub-zero container. She showed a less remarkable recovery, but is hoped to travel to the US on Tuesday to continue her treatment.


China punishment of the day (Biblical)
Aug 5, 2014

Drivers caught using high beams inappropriately will now be offered on-the-spot training about the dangers of such practices, according to a posting on the Shenzhen Traffic Polices verified account with Weibo.

Specifically, headlight-happy drivers will be forced to stare straight ahead into the glaring headlights of a police van for a period of several minutes.

You still dare to use your headlights carelessly? the Traffic Police posting asks. If so, then starting from now well make you stare at our high beams for five minutes.

There is also a 300 yuan ($49) fine.


Assorted links
Aug 5, 2014

1. Maps of cultural centers, a new research tool, fun too.

2. “Now, the passing of the last of the imperial Ottoman Turks has led to a battle over the rent-controlled apartment of an Afghan princess on the Upper East Side.”

3. “Scientists reconstruct speech through soundproof glass by watching a bag of potato chips.


The age of the meta-bribe (the punishment that is Germany)
Aug 6, 2014

Bernie Ecclestone, is to make a $100m (60m) payment to end his trial on bribery charges, a district court in Munich has confirmed.

Ecclestone, 83, went on trial in Munich in April over allegations that he bribed a former German banker as part of the sale of a major stake in the motorsport business eight years ago.

German law provides for some criminal cases to be settled with smaller punishments, such as fines, though the size of the payment in Ecclestone’s case has led some to question a system that effectively favours wealthy defendants.

The Munich court said in a statement that $99m would be paid to the German treasury and a further $1m to a German children’s hospice charity. The money will be paid within a week, after which time the trial will officially be abandoned.

The full story is here, not quite China punishment of the day.


Stratfor on the Chinese anti-corruption campaign
Aug 6, 2014

That campaign is one of the more notable events going on in a busy and event-rich world, o it feels remiss not to cover it at all. Here is John Minnich:

The anti-corruption campaign is one of those steps. It serves many overlapping functions: to clear out potential opponents, ideological or otherwise; to consolidate executive power and reduce bureaucratic red tape so as to ease the implementation of reform; to remind the Chinese people that the Communist Party has their best interests at heart; and to make it easier to make tough decisions.

Underlying and encompassing these, we see the specter of something else. The consensus-based model of politics that Deng built in order to regularize decision-making and bolster political stability during times of high growth and that effectively guided China throughout the post-Deng era is breaking down. It can no longer hold in the face of China’s transformation and the crises this will bring.


How do moles smell underwater?
Aug 6, 2014
Blowing Bubbles

I was pleased to see the mention of the star-nosed mole in Nick Richardsons review of Ned Beaumans latest novel (LRB, 17 July). Richardson informs us that this marvellous creature can smell underwater. True, but not thanks to the nose that gives it its name. The 22 fleshy appendages that protrude from the moles face are not an olfactory organ at all, but a skin surface containing more than 100,000 sensory neurons its the most acute touch organ of any mammal on the planet and about six times more sensitive than the human hand. In order to smell underwater a phenomenon long thought impossible in mammals the mole exhales air bubbles over objects then reinhales them, allowing odorant molecules in the bubbles to pass over the olfactory receptors.

Sarah Murray Esher

The link is here, pointer from Hugo Lindgren.


Will you lose your job to a robot?
Aug 6, 2014

The Upshot surveys some optimistic and pessimistic views. I thought it would be useful to restate my views in a single, simple blog post, here is the enumeration:

1. The law of comparative advantage has not been repealed. Machines take away some jobs and create others, while producing more output overall.

2. That said, some particular kinds of machines increase the relative return to skilled labor.


Assorted links
Aug 6, 2014

1. Will Uruguay reverse marijuana legalization? Cracking down on seed libraries.

2. Is private household formation finally starting to pick up?



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