• Economics

    The Economic Education of David Mamet

    In an article that will no doubt annoy orthodox leftists who cannot stand when a member of the creative class defects from their camp, Mamet describes how he came to break with ‘brain dead liberalism.’ “Aha,” you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest […]

    / Mar 12, 2008 at 4:16 PM
  • Economics

    Beyond The Chocolate War

    We decided to write about the Chocolate Wars yesterday because it nicely illustrated a recurrent economic dynamic—the way companies attempt to use government regulation to gain competitive advantage. Alexandra Wolfe’s article in Portfolio touched on an important aspect of this dynamic when she described the efforts of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, a trade group dominated […]

    / Oct 25, 2007 at 2:08 PM
  • Economics

    Broken Windows, Burning Homes
    As It Turns Out, Business Writers and Economists Still Need A Lesson In Economics

    “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all group.”–Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson. You know what would be totally amazing? If the destruction […]

    / Oct 25, 2007 at 9:07 AM
  • Economics

    Exchange Maximizing Conventions And Cruising The Men’s Room

    If a guy in the stall next to you was attempting to solicit you for sex, would you recognize the signals? The odds are that unless you are involved in anonymous same-sex cruising, you wouldn’t. And that’s one of the advantages of such signals—they are mostly unrecognizable, and therefore likely to go unnoticed, by outsiders. […]

    / Sep 13, 2007 at 3:38 PM
  • Economics, Subprime Mortgages

    Our Society Is Shockingly Indulgent of Poor People
    The ‘Special Brazeness’ Of The Impoverished

    If the Economist’s “Free Exchange” blog didn’t exist, Michael Lewis would have to invent it. And, in a sense, he did. In this morning’s Bloomberg column, Lewis—tongue planted firmly in cheek—explains that the main lesson from the subprime fallout is that “finance is one thing you should never engage in with the poor.” “Our society […]

    / Sep 5, 2007 at 11:38 AM
  • Banks, Economics, Fed, Hedge Funds, Inflation, James Cramer

    You Shall Not Press Upon Wall Street This Inflation-Hawk Crown Of Thorns

    When it comes to making strange bedfellows, modern finance makes politics look like an old-fashioned match-maker. The most famous words on the current financial turmoil came not in the form of a political speech from a major presidential candidate, but from Jim Cramer, a former hedge fund manager turned popular CNBC stockpicker and market prognosticator. […]

    / Aug 28, 2007 at 2:33 PM
  • Economics

    Downward Mobility
    And The Rise of The Affluent Society

    For much of history, the rich really were different. They had more descendants, for one thing. And they tended to prize thrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work over more fun things like being spendthrift, impulsive, violent and leisure loving. And their children were downwardly mobile, poorer than they were. Those differences may explain why the […]

    / Aug 7, 2007 at 3:52 PM
  • Economics, video

    People Are Stupid and Other Principles Of Macro-Economics

    The “stand-up economist” translates Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s introductory economics textbook “The Principles of Economics” into more useful, shorter and funnier restatements. (And, yes, we do realize that the words useful, shorter and funnier are more or less synonymous.) There’s a full transcript and explanation here. [Hat tip goes to the Big Picture for […]

    / Mar 1, 2007 at 1:31 PM
  • Economics

    Is Capitalism Genetic?

    Economist Greg Clark more or less argues that there is a genetic basis for capitalism, the industrial revolution and that this basis more or less explains why the industrial revolution took off in England rather than, say, in France, Italy or Germany. Of course “capitalism” itself probably isn’t genetic but many of the traits that […]

    / Feb 14, 2007 at 1:04 PM
  • Economics, Hotness Metrics, women

    Hotness Metrics: Emily Oster Reader Poll

    We asked and you answered. Commenters were evenly divided between finding Bright Young Thing Emily Oster Cute and Not Cute nor Hot. But with additional ballots for “could get hot,” “IB Analyst hot” and “country club hot” we’re almost ready to declare Emily Oster officially “Fetching.” But why not take this to a broader vote? […]

    / Jan 11, 2007 at 4:34 PM
  • Economics, women

    Foxy Economists Making Field Less Dull

    We’re pretty sure that Emily Oster is more than just a set of nice eyes and a pretty smile. But we can’t get over how every time we hear about her someone mentions that she’s a hottie. Yesterday’s New York Times story follows the typical pattern: mention her youth, her marital status (she married the […]

    / Jan 11, 2007 at 11:12 AM
  • Economics

    Procrastination Is Rational

    It’s twelve hours before your presentation to the credit committee. The work isn’t done yet. The model isn’t working. The team is starting to look burned out. You’re looking back over the week and remembering those hours you killed chatting with friends on the phone, shopping for Christmas presents, reading websites and looking for a […]

    / Dec 6, 2006 at 11:38 AM
  • Economics

    Economists As Celebrities: Stop The Insanity

    The LA Times is running a piece on economists as celebrities (hat tip Barry). Well, they’re not quite celebrities yet. More like blogebrities. But we’ve got to stop this before it goes any further. You people realize that if we make economists into celebrities, soon we’ll be watching videos of Lindsay Lohan making out Larry […]

    / Nov 29, 2006 at 3:29 PM
  • Economics

    There’s No Such Thing As A “True Price” And Its A Good Thing Too

    Every now and then its good to come across a reminder that some people do not understand the way markets work. Today we came across this little beauty from Mike Kinsley, who thinks he’s proved that the stock market is irrational because, well, let’s let Mike explain: So, free-market capitalism has decreed three different values […]

    / Nov 21, 2006 at 11:13 AM
  • Economics, Milton Friedman, Obits

    Milton Friedman Is Dead

    From the Wall Street Journal: Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the last century, died today. He was 94. Mr. Friedman’s death was also announced at a conference of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington by the institute’s vice president of academic affairs, James A. Dorn. The audience of […]

    / Nov 16, 2006 at 12:35 PM
  • Corporate Governance, Economics, studies, women

    Study Shows Having Girl Women Directors Enhances Girliness Corporate Governance

    We’ve been to enough board meetings that look like those Miller Lite “Man Law” commercials to know that having more women on corporate boards is probably a good idea. But we’re a bit skeptical about this recent study sponsored by TIAA-CREF which claims to demonstrate that having three or more women on the board “enhances […]

    / Nov 9, 2006 at 3:29 PM
  • Banks, Economics, Microfinance, Nobel Prize

    More Gratuitous Grameen Bashing

    When we linked to some mild criticism of Nobel Peace Prizer Muhammed Yunus and his Grameen Bank of Bangladesh—and then expanded on these thoughts on an episode of WallStrip—the fans of microcredit went a bit berserk. So, of course, we’re coming back for more. Today’s critique comes from Jeff Tucker of the Mises Institute. Now […]

    / Nov 9, 2006 at 3:04 PM
  • Economics, politics

    At Least In America, We Know Who To Bribe (Hint: It’s the Democrats)

    One of the frustrating things about doing business in a region in turmoil is that it’s hard to know who to bribe. When gangsters or dictators run the place, you bribe them. When “democrats” are in charge it’s a little more difficult to know which palms need an application of grease, according to a “reulctant […]

    / Nov 6, 2006 at 4:01 PM
  • Companies, Economics, Family Firms

    Keeping It In The Family

    We’re sort of obsessed with family firms. They’re intriguing because their persistence and success seem to go against the grain of so much contemporary thinking. Unlike in times past, people now are kind of uncomfortable with the idea that who you are and what you’re capable of depends on who you are related to. Sure, […]

    / Nov 2, 2006 at 3:01 PM
  • Economics, Nobel Prize, video

    What Chemists Think of Economists

    Steve Sailer points us toward an entertaining interview between Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and chemistry Nobel guy Peter Agre. Colbert: “You said ‘anyone who grew up on a farm knows that evolution exists’. Ok, are you saying a monkey can milk a cow?” Agre: “Well, if I can milk a cow I suspect a monkey […]

    / Oct 24, 2006 at 10:07 AM
  • China, Economics, Morgan Stanley

    What Good Is A Chief Economist?

    We’ve never been entirely clear about why financial institutions employ people with the title “chief economist.” It’s not as if the analysts looking at individual stocks or market segments are really influenced by these people. We’ve heard that its mostly “for marketing” purposes—the idea would be that if the bank could show it had some […]

    / Oct 23, 2006 at 11:32 AM
  • Amaranth, Economic Indicators, Economics, traders

    The Definition of A Genius Trader

    Gary North, in the middle of a long column warning that the inverted yield curve is telling us a recession is on the way, touches on the Amaranth meltdown and the illusions of trading geniuses. There is a temptation that faces investors who happen to buy into a market just before a major rise. They […]

    / Oct 5, 2006 at 12:49 PM
  • Economics, Nobel Prize

    There’s No Such Thing As A Nobel Prize In Economics, And It’s a Good Thing Too

    What’s more, there never has been a Nobel laureate in economics. There’s an international economics prize instituted by the Bank of Sweden starting in 1968 and awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. But it’s not an official “Nobel Prize” as the Nobel Prize committee’s website makes perfectly clear. The official name is the […]

    / Oct 3, 2006 at 12:32 PM
  • Economics

    H-P Goes To Washington

    We’ll be posting a lot on the Hewlett-Packard hearings today, keeping you updated on the action. We’re expecting it to get pretty hot. Some predictions: Probably a half dozen or so witnesses will take the fifth amendment. Patricia Dunn will avoid responsibility. Larry Sonsini will get all lawyerly. Mark Hurd will, well, actually we’re not […]

    / Sep 28, 2006 at 11:27 AM
  • Economics

    The Economics of Star Trek

    After a few drinks on a hazy late summer afternoon, we enjoy popular culture philosophizing as much as anyone. Why did the unpopulated world of Philip Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” become the crowded world of “Bladerunner?” What does Donny Darko say about the War on Terror? The trick with these conversations is […]

    / Sep 5, 2006 at 1:13 PM
  • Economics

    How Many Types of Flair Are You Wearing?

    One of the things we learned from Tim Carney’s book, The Big Ripoff, is that business is not consistently a free market lobby. We think of them as entrepreneurs favoring GOP free-market politics but this is a myth. In truth, everyone favors whatever politics makes them the most money. As Gary North points out in […]

    / Sep 1, 2006 at 11:08 AM
  • Economics, Malcolm Gladwell

    Gladwell versus Galt, Round Two

    Uhm. Wow. It seems that Malcolm Gladwell really, really didn’t like the response to his latest New Yorker article from Jane Galt (who, in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll now take the time to admit having met socially on more than one occasion; and further, we’ll admit we found her rather fetching each time—although […]

    / Aug 29, 2006 at 5:01 PM
  • Economics

    Taller People Earn More Because They Are Smarter

    For as long as we can remember, the fact that taller people tend to earn more than shorter has been used as an example of an irrational, discriminatory preference. It doesn’t matter what the subject of conversation—employee pay, selection of CEOs, elections of presidents. It was always assumed that height couldn’t be related to traits […]

    / Aug 28, 2006 at 4:42 PM

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