Monday, November 23, 2009

How Unemployment Taxes and Obama’s Stimulus Are Killing Jobs » The Foundry

As reported by the Heritage Foundation...

"From the AP - 'Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It’s forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims.' " (read the rest at the next link)

How Unemployment Taxes and Obama’s Stimulus Are Killing Jobs » The Foundry

Payback Time - Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government - Series -

Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed. (read more at the next link)

Payback Time - Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government - Series -

And then there is Krugman who argues there is not a problem with deficits (read here for a very incoherent posting from Krugman).

Friday, October 30, 2009

You have to wonder about the wisdom of encouraging people with no savings to borrow more money at a time when there are no jobs.

Definitely the quote of the day!

Here we go again, John Taylor

This is the most outstanding image from John B. Taylor where he offers clear graphical evidence that the Bush stimulus did not work and the Obama stimulus did not work because as learned long ago temporary income changes do not change long term behavior.

This chart is cited in an excellent testimony by Dr. Kevin A. Hassett, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute before the Joint Economic Committee October 29, 2009. His testimony is "The Impact of the Recovery Act on Economic Growth" and is an excellent review of economic thought on how to grow the economy.

The entire Joint Economic Committee session is on video here as are links to all the testimony by each of the presenters.
WHAT: JEC Hearing: The Impact of the Recovery Act on Economic Growth
WHO: Panel I: Dr. J. Steven Landefeld, Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U. S. Department of Commerce
Panel II: Dr. Karen Dynan, Vice President, Co-Director of the Economic Studies Program and Robert S. Kerr Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Dr. Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s
Dr. Kevin A. Hassett, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute
WHEN: 10:00 a.m., Thursday, October 29, 2009
WHERE: 2237 Rayburn House Office Building

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Government purchases a 3.5% growth rate, but it may be a "clunker"

Today the BEA announced the third quarter growth of GDP of 3.5% preliminary.
The details are interesting. In seasonally adjusted chained 2005 dollars (Table 3 of the tables accompanying the official release) the GDP rose from Quarter 2 to Quarter 3 of $112.5B or 0.87% of the Q2 base GDP of $12.9T. That rate over four quarters is the 3.5% reported increase.

So what rose the most between the 2nd and 3rd quarter? I calculated those increases and the top detailed items are "motor vehicles and parts" of 11.82% and "recreational goods and vehicles" of 3.29% and nothing else comes close.

While auto sales are up over 11 percent, overall consumption is up LESS THAN 1 percent and auto sales are still less than reported in 2008. Investment is up 2.8% which is positive compared to the previous quarters, but the investment of the 3rd quarter in 2008 was over $2T and in the 3rd quarter of 2009 is less than $1.5T. That is a 25% drop in one year.

So the good news of a 3.5% growth is driven primarily by auto sales in the first part of the quarter. Since in this quarter the Cash for Clunker program was touted as so successful, one might quickly think that type of stimulus worked. Here is what you need to know. While the Clunker program did spur sales and they apparently show up in the national income accounts, reports that each auto sold cost tax payers $24,000 per vehicle sold. The government offers a direct payment of $4,500 to buy, but the actual effect is $24,000 per car that was sold and influenced by the program.

Understand this, if I was going to buy a car anyway, then knowing I was getting $4,500 would be a great windfall, but would not change my behavior. So the cost of $4,500 paid to me was "wasted." So the true cost is for those buyers that were encouraged to buy the new car (and who would not have done so without the program) is basically all of the costs expended divided by the number of cars sold only because the program was offered. In short, the government can not take credit for all sales, but only the increase. And not all of the increase either, if all the program did was to encourage future sales to occur now. My read of the Edmund' evidence is that in the 4th quarter auto sales will not lead the way in GDP growth and may negatively contribute. so the economy will have to turn around strongly in other sectors not to see a low or negative growth next quarter.

In short, the government did indeed purchase a higher GDP. But can they keep it?

UPDATE 10/31/09

White house hits back (and links CEA report and -- WH says see for yourself.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Costs of Health Care Reform in the second ten years

I've been looking in to health care reform costs and one thing does not make sense. We get quoted that the cost of reform is under $900B for the first 10 years (CBO), but what about the next 10 years. Here is the Lewin Group's Sept. 9 , 2009 analysis of costs in Long-Term Cost of the American Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 as Amended by the Energy and Commerce Committee in August 2009. While this is not THE BILL that will emerge the conclusions are what I believe to be instructive. The bill is essentially fully funded (or deficit neutral) from 2010 to 2019, but will add to the deficit $1,009.5T over the second ten years. And that number is with increased taxes on higher income individuals. Click above for the whole report or on the image for the relevant table. (HT Peter G. Peterson Foundation)

Friday, October 09, 2009

John Nist Nudges Behavioral Economics

The theory of games is not my field, but I appreciate many of the revelations of the games. What has always bothered me in a way I could not articulate was many of the accepted conclusions of behavioral economics. Enter John List, professor of economics, University of Chicago in this article by Tim Hartford: "How an inconvenient economist upset the cool crowd"

In the I should have known this category, consider this from the article: "List set up a baseball card trade to mimic the “gift exchange” game, and showed that baseball card traders behave just like laboratory subjects when they know they are in an experiment. But many traders didn’t know they were being watched, and they behaved far more selfishly.

So the universal result of the behavioralists that people are not rational is under attack and oddly that makes me smile.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ignorance -- Our greatest enemy.

Today, September 17, is constitution day and across the country constitution day celebrations are planned. I hope to be at one today watching new citizens being sworn in. One great thing about converts (new citizens) or anyone who has made a conscious decision is they have invested in their new country and have learned much about that which they have joined. In fact it is typical to administer a citizenship quiz where a score of 6 out of 10 gets you a pass. So all of those today taking their oath to the USA will have scored a 60%.

However, in Arizona, students in high school did not do so well. Pass rates on a citizenship test were 4% for public school students, 7% for charter and 14% for private school students. Read the short report from the Goldwater Institute (click on the link at the bottom to see the eye-opening and distressing results).

A sampling: Only 26% know George Washington was the first president, only 58% know the Atlantic Ocean is on the East Coast of the US, only 23% knew the two parts of the congress are the house and senate, only 25% know the first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights. The biggest outrage (or extreme sadness) is that over 70% do not know that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.

Is this typical to Arizona, I fear not. The report cites a National Assessment of Educational Progress study that even 12th graders did not score over a 32% pass rate (and this is for all of the USA).

If you are a teacher -- try the test (in the link) on your students.
  1. What is the supreme law of the land?
  2. What do we call the first ten amendments to the constitution?
  3. What are the two parts of the US Congress?
  4. how many justices on the Supreme Court?
  5. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  6. What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?
  7. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
  8. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
  9. Who was the first President?
  10. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

Answers in the link above.

Q. What does this have to do with economics?

A. Everything.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Teenage Unemployment Highest since records have been kept.

Teens are hardest hit in this particular recession. Here is a graph from Catherine Rampell in her Economix blog post.

Now here is a puzzle. Before 1993 the median length of weeks of the unemployed (time to find a job) roughly equals the unemployment rate. After 1993, the duration in weeks is seemingly larger than the unemployment rate. Why?

Friday, August 28, 2009

WIPTE October 12-13, 2009

"WIPTE 2009 early registration fee of $50.00 is available through September 14th. After September 14th the registration fee is $100.00. ... WIPTE 2009 will be held on October 12-13, 2009 (at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA) ... WIPTE is open to anyone with an interest in instructional technology. A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PC's and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning. " (Read more at the WIPTE page)
Here is a flyer for the wall... WIPTE stands for Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education.

Frustrated with the Tablet PC market and Best Buy in particular

If you have read this blog or know me then you know that I am a big proponent of Tablet PCs or laptops that have a digital pen input option. Having a pen on the mobile computer makes so much sense for taking notes and presenting, especially in quantitatively demanded disciplines. I use a Tablet PC in each class I teach and in my graduate classes in statistics and econometrics each of my students have Tablet PCs. So yesterday I am at Best Buy looking at the only pen enabled PC they have. The pen is gone and the sales staff have no idea where it is. Nothing in the signage points out that it is any different than any other laptop near it. The sales clerk says in all his years no one has ever asked for a Tablet PC, they just say they want a laptop. I pointed out that they do not carry more than the one (a nice multi-touch HP) and never do anything to market. He argues it is a niche market and there are too many varieties to carry them. I was incredulous as I looked at the wide variety of laptops stretching on for hundreds of feet of counter. Why carry even one and he pulls out the small included multimedia remote control and says this is why. I wanted to scream or at least be unpleasant. I simply left disappointed and disgusted. But it not just BestBuy, none of the big box stores in our area carries the Tablets, no one markets them to students. no one says "you want a pen with your laptop?"

I went home and looked at and found their laptop discovery tool. My choices are price, speed, and other items, but not anything about the input device. Tablet PCs do not exist in Best Buy's thinking. Why?

I can not imagine a better feature for students. I have advised a youth heading off to college that a mobile lightweight tablet would be of great value to him, but he ends up getting the laptop with the largest screen possible and weighing what can only be a desktop computer. I have tried to influence young professors and one gets a desktop. I am frustrated with the marketers, the big box stores, and students and faculty alike that do not see the value of a simple attachment of a pen to their notebook. Where are the Tablets so one can see and touch them? Where is the store that guides people to understand there is an option and to help them see if it is for them?

Now where is my netbook with a pen?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Equality in the classroom: Incentives matter

Students are fixated on grades, I am fixated on learning. This typically drives my students to distraction, but I am one that does not feel that grades and learning are always strongly correllated, but I am sure they are positively correlated. I had an email sent to me by one of my friends that was called this "economics" professor is a genius. I spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find the source and I have heard similar explanations, but this is a good and telling theoretical explanation why incentives matter. So here is the story (and all good theories can be told as stories):

"An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could it be any simpler than that ?" (source unknown)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Did AT&T Kill Google Voice (or was it the FCC years before)

The economic issues in this WSJ article are mind boggling. Why AT&T Killed Google Voice

Health Care -- Overspending is preferable to Rationing.

I have always admired Martin Feldstein as one of the clearest economic thinkers of our time (and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research). I agree with his last paragraph in his WSJ opinion article on Health reform and want to sign on to it. He says "Like virtually every economist I know, I believe the right approach to limiting health spending is by reforming the tax rules. But if that is not going to happen, let's not destroy the high quality of the best of American health care by government rationing and misplaced egalitarianism. " The opinion article is "ObamaCare Is All About Rationing: Overspending is far preferable to artificially limiting the availability of new procedures and technologies."

Dr. Feldstein knows lots of economists so his opening is pretty striking.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Health-Care Reform: Do Animals or People Get Better Care?

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it is free. (HT Greg Mankiw for this article)

AUGUST 8, 2009
"Man vs. Mutt" Theodore Dalrymple on who gets the better treatment in Great Britian, and what this means for U.S. health-care reform. His conclusion: "on the whole it is better to be a dog."

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Wall Street Journal's List of the top 25+ Economics Blogs

Some of my favorites are here in the Wall Street Journal's Top 25 Economics Blogs. Students interested in learning economics should read some of these or other blogs.

I use Google Reader and subscribe to many of them, you can do likewise. For an excellent summary of many blogs and commentators look at the Economics Roundtable. It has on one page what almost all of the economics blogs are publishing.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

What is Seen and What is Not Seen is an essay written by Frederic Bastiat in July 1850. Before you discount this as an old idea remember that (1) Adam Smith laid down the foundations of our economy in 1776 with the Wealth of Nations and (2) good ideas never age and do survive the test of time.

Consider these first three paragraphs from Frederic Bastiat (then go read the rest):

"In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

"There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

"Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil."

(You are going to go read the rest aren't you?)

Consider the heralded Cash for Clunkers passed this year to be effective to November, but ran out of money in just the first week. So the House has approved an additional 2 billion dollars bring the total to $3 billion dollars. What is seen? The consumers are diverted towards buying a new car and the dealers benefit from new car sales and the car industry receives an influx of cash that certainly helps them. What is unseen? The price of new cars are typically discounted in periods of slow sales and this props up the price. The trade in clunker is destroyed (see economist mom) and is denied to the used car market. And more, but first:

In the transaction to the above new car sales, there are three parties. (1) the consumer who buys the new car, (2) the seller of the new car, and (3) everyone else in the economy who is the "forgotten man." (The forgotten man is (3) above as first explained by William Graham Sumner also from the 1800s who wrote a lecture against progressives in defense of classical liberalism and as cited on pages 12 and 13 of Amity Shlaes The Forgotten Man.) We could list the government here, but I want to take up that later.

Before pursuing this consider two things that all economists teach in their classes: (1) incentives matter and (2) opportunity costs of things foregone are critical for understanding human behavior. The incentive here is I can pick up a hefty government sponsored rebate if I trade my clunker so I am more likely to buy a new car than other things because of the rebate. The opportunity cost if I do that is my money spent can not be used elsewhere harming for example new computer sales (as an example of spending foregone) or my retirement (if saving foregone).

So what is the unseen from the cash for clunkers. Here are some ideas.
(1) the consumer will:
  • reduce sales in other markets and industries harming sellers of items other than new cars.
  • reduce their savings for some item in the future or their "retirement."
  • not be purchasing a used car
  • be going into credit that may not have been the best idea for them in the absence of the government rebate.

(2) the auto sellers will:

  • not be selling used cars due to lower demand
  • will see a reduction of the supply of used cars since they have to be destroyed.
  • reduced demand and reduced supply of used cars may result in upward pressure on used car prices, but will definitely reduce revenue from sales of used cars.
  • if you are a used car seller without new cars to sell you just got killed.

(3) the "forgotten man" includes:

  • sellers of items that do not get purchased because consumers have bought new cars and if new car buyers take on more credit than they would have without the cash for clunkers then the effect on other markets may be not only large, but lasting for years
  • banks who do not get interest on the savings of consumers
  • children of new car buyers who get less gifts (if I buy a new car, there is less for my kid when he wants something.)
  • all of us who pay taxes used for this purpose and do not benefit directly from this transactions.
  • and a list of individuals who are demanders and suppliers in the society that do not receive and who may never even recognize that they have been harmed.

What about the role of government? Government can not enter a market without creating distortions. In this case, they distort by increasing the demand for new cars (arguably a good thing) and the markets have adjusted faster and more quickly than the "government" expected since they have run out of money in the first week and have no money for the next 2 months of the planned time period. But let's not forget that the same action that so many are lauding has also distorted other markets not immediately seen. Sometimes the harm not seen is worse than the good that is seen.

Bastiat suggests that we can learn from experience or from foresight. The former is easy, but brutal and rude, the latter turns out to be more gentle. Can we not learn to think through the economic problems and balance the seen with the unseen?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Crain's Cleveland Business: Social media extend search for prospective students

Crain's Cleveland Business: Social media extend search for prospective students
Northeast Ohio's colleges and universities are moving some of their recruiting efforts online, using social media web sites to promote their schools to prospective students.
Shared via AddThis

Taxes: How high is too high?

The latest post from shows the top one percent of income earners pay over 40% of all income taxes. The bottom 90% of income earners (yes 90% of all americans) pay only about 28% of all taxes with the bottom 50% paying less than 3% of all taxes. So we should be taking the rich even more? Notice that if "rich" is the top 1% that there are only 1.4 million of them to support a population of 300 million.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The New PC (hint: It's Public Choice)

Amity Shlaes, the author of the NYT bestseller The Forgotten Man: A History of the Great Depression, writes in Forbes, The New PC. Not political correctness or a personal computer, but Public Choice Theory that "says that the laws of economics aren't suspended at the door to City Hall." It is a great read.

(HT Don Boudreaux)

I have written about George Mason University before in a post about being a masonomist (George Mason-economist). That post highlighted podcasts with Milton Friedman worth listening to. I strongly recommend the podcasts at (Here is a 2007 post of mine on EconTalk.)

Cash for Clunkers or just a Clunker?

In a previous post I cited Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, as a brilliant read. This book is a must for all who want to learn economics. The lesson is given in pages 15 through 22. The essence of the lesson is shown by the broken window fallacy. In that fallacy, some mistake the job creation for the glazier as growth and not as the destruction of the opportunities that now can not be done. For example, if someone had not broken the window, the glazier could have been putting in a window for someone else resulting in a net growth of 1 window. Replacement of the destroyed window results in a net growth of zero.

So I read with interest an AP story tonight titled Government to Suspend Cash for Clunkers. The reason is they might run out of the 1 billion dollars in rebates. What they should see is the cash for clunkers is a case of the broken window fallacy. In order to get your $3,500 or $4,500 rebate you have to bring in an old car and buy a new car. So far so good, the government is incentivizing you to buy newer fuel efficient cars, I get it. But instead of the clunker moving into the used car market as it would in a private market transaction, the government is requiring dealers to destroy the trade in automobile. The government is breaking one car to get you to buy another. While there may be some benefit for growth here, it is far less than it might have been.

Once again, the government interfers in a market and everyone focuses on what is seen (people buying new cars) and not what is unseen. When the used car market is deprived of supply, the prices of used cars goes up and the sales of used cars goes down. So the same policy that seems to enhance consumer spending and create growth has this indirect component that causes the desired effects to have far less appeal.

With economic freedom comes liberty and in this care both are harmed. Cash for Clunkers is a clunker.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 -- I might be ready to try it again.

Having used Dragon and other speech-to-type software in the past, this post by Xavier at MIDStories caught my interest and impressed me. You have to watch this video if you have ever used speech-to-type software. I will have to give Dragon Naturally Speaking another try at

Since I use a Tablet PC, I did a search and found a few interesting reviews, most on earlier versions. Here are a few:

From, (today and pretty funny), and

Mobile Internet Devices or MIDs

Xavier Lanier from (my favorite mobile site) announces a new site called and ... well read about it here and see the video about watching baseball. Where was that when I was a kid trying to tune in a distant analog broadcast? If you convince them how you will use it, you might win a MID too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Akron, not doing so badly (relatively speaking)

Sometimes one needs to put things in perspective. Akron's high unemployment isn't so terribly out of line with Ohio and not all that much more than the national level. What this means is the unemployment is likely mosly cyclical and not structural. Another great graph from FRED.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Brilliant Read

In a previous post I highlighted the cool technology for reading online. That started a summer of reading economic basics. In this day of troubled economic times and the political decisions that necessarily follows, I have been trying to retreat from the discourse from time to time to reaffirm the basics. I think one of the best explanations of what is going on today was written in 1946 and last updated in 1979, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt.

At the risk of you not buying and devouring this book, here is the lesson in one sentence courtesy of the author. 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 groups (p. 17). He goes on to say on the same page that (n)ine-tenths of the economic fallacies that are working such dreadful harm in the world today... stem from one of two central fallacies, or both: that of looking only at the immediate consequences of an act or proposal, and that of looking at the consequences only for a particular group of the neglect of other groups (p. 17).

I have always had this maxim of Fredrich Bastiat in my mind, but in reading Hazlitt I see how easy it is for me to be swayed by conventional wisdom. While I would never fall into the broken window fallacy (when I recognize it), it is the art of recognizing it that is the art of economics. While I can easily apply the broken window fallacy to war, why did I so easily accept that bombed out factories in Germany and Japan allowed them to grow faster since they could rebuild with the latest and greatest technology and leap frog the west in their growth. The truth is it was their economic policies, not the bombed out factories that led to the growth, but see how easy it is to attribute actual growth to the wrong cause when we see what is seen and not what is unseen.

Read this book and you will be pondering current events with renewed enthusiasm.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Apple to avoid netbook, try tablet in 2010, says analyst

I have pointed out Axiotron's Apple-like modbook which modifies a Apple macbook to accept a digital pen before in this blog. Then i promptly forgot about the 'Apple
side of the Tablet / digital ink world, although one of my students used for almost a year a macbook with wacom tablet on the side. Yesterday Computerworld reports:

Apple will wait until next year to enter the netbook market, and then will unveil not a knock-off, but a tablet-like device priced between $500 and $700, a Wall Street analyst said today. Gene Munster, a senior analyst for Piper Jaffray, ticked off significant amounts of admittedly circumstantial evidence to back up his thinking on Apple's move into the lower-priced market.

This would be welcomed indeed by all. It might be the first time I try an Apple.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I am Reading: Inclined to Liberty through

While searching for something else I found this book through Scribd looks like a great site and the account is free. Apparently, I can read what others have written and uploaded to and anyone can upload their work there as well.

The book is Inclined to Liberty: The Futile Attempt to Suppress the Human Spirit by Louis A. Carabini. Having only read a few chapters I recommend it. My last post in March was titled Capitalism is Dying partly because of the threats to liberty that seem to be so accepted now and partly because all around me I hear the anti-capitalist rhetoric. This book is designed to help all of us to counter the anti-capitalist rhetoric. Again I recomment you read it.

You have options. You might order one from or you might try out I am embeding the book from them below. I hope it works in the format of this blog, but if not you can click through and go directly to to find it. I have not tried to save the book in a way I can use my pen for markup, but the full screen format is great for reading on my Tablet PC.

I love finding more ways to find books on economics and technology. Try

Important: clearly states on it's website that it is for works that the uploaders own. A quick search on google shows that there are publishers fighting them as well as publishers that favor them. This book is loaded by the publisher (as best I can tell) and it then is honest to use it in this way. It appears a terrific social website and a great use of Web2.0 technology. Their big contribution is their iPaper technology.

"What really sets Scribd apart is its iPaper
software, which makes online publishing dead simple." -- CNN Money

Inclined to Liberty: The Futile Attempt to Suppress the Human Spirit

Inclined to Liberty: The Futile Attempt to Suppress the Human Spirit Ludwig von Mises Institute We are surrounded every day by anti-capitalist clich├ęs. We encounter them in casual conversation constantly among family, friends, and casual talks at the store or church, to say nothing of the media.Famed investor and businessman Louis Carabini, the founder of Monex, has been hearing this all his life. He wrote this book to answer the critics of the free market in a way that they could understand and accept. His overriding theme is that all attacks on capitalism are an attack on liberty and the human spirit. His argument is that these attacks are futile. They backfire and don’t work to achieve socially desirable ends.There are two ideological tendencies: to be inclined toward liberty (letting others live their lives in any peaceful way) or to be inclined toward mastery (permitting others to live only as another sees fit).The topics he deals with include all of the most familiar: income inequality, CEO pay, the need to redistribute wealth, the need for government to create jobs, the limits to growth, the need to tax some particular industry, the need to end inheritance, the problem of materialism and capitalism, the need for more money, the lure of democratic decision making, the problem of luxury, and many other such issues.Carabini has a patience about his prose. He explains the economics. He explains the ethics. He explains the politics. And he always returns to the central theme of the human spirit. Every attack on capitalism masks the desire to rule others through force. It is a great theme in the history of classical liberal writing but Carabini brings it up to date for our times.If you are vexed by anti-capitalists’ attacks all around you, this book provides vast amounts of intellectual ammunition to deal with it. It is also an excellent book to give someone who just can’t seem to understand the merit of economic liberty.112 pages, paperback, 2008.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Capitalism is dying

Rick Waggoner is sacrficed for getting involved with government money. Regardless of how this all turns out the board and CEO at Ford are heroes for refusing government money. I intend to buy Ford.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


From Tyler Cohen at Marginal Revolution -- creative math or how to own undervalued assets at only 3% of the value. What?

Dueling Nobels -- My Money is on Gary Becker

A few years ago, Bill Becker from Indiana Univ. gave a presidential address to the Midwest Economics Association challenging us to teach the controversies and to teach from the work of the Nobel Economic Laureates. His point as I remember it and not necessarily as he intended it was from the controversies come new truths. It is so hard to find the signal in all of the noise.

Paul Krugman, a nobel prize winner, has led from the interventionist side favoring stimulus on top of stimulus. Apparently, Krugman does not feel like markets can or should correct, nor are massive growth in government and deficit moving in the wrong direction. Barro has commented rather negatively as has many others. Nevertheless, the political economic world is currently moving in concert with Krugman's musing with future consequences uncertain.

As I get ready for the secone day here at the Midwest Economics Association meetings in Cleveland, I hear on the TV "Nobel Economist says do nothing" ... It turns out this is Gary Becker, 1992 Nobel Prize Winner, and a personal hero.

Mary Anastiasa O'Grady writes in that Now is no Time to Give Up on Markets: "What can we do that would be beneficial? [One thing] is lower corporate taxes and businesses taxes and maybe taxes in general. Particularly, you want to lower the tax on capital so you raise the after-tax return to investing and get more investing going on."

"Gary Becker ... is in New York to speak to a special meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society on the global meltdown. He has agreed to sit down to chat with me (O'Grady) on the subject of his lecture. Slumped in a soft chair in a noisy hotel coffee lounge, the 78-year-old University of Chicago professor is relaxed and remarkably humble for a guy who has achieved so much."

I was brought up on Becker. as a Ph. D. student at Ohio State. I could not read enough of his work. I am thrilled to see the words slumped and humble in that opening to O'Grady's interview, because it impresses me with the genuinuness of this remarkable man. A humble economist that speaks the truth of his convictions instead of the pompousness so comoon from those on the political stage.

Dont give up on Markets

Capitalism is under attack in our country and more important with that attack is the attack on our freedom and liberty. Becker reminds us to hold to our believes and to not fall into the just-do-something mentality. Growing government and restricting markets is not the way to create wealth and growth.

Thanks Professor Becker...

I also signed the Free Trade petition

Sign it here.

(HT Tyler Cohen at Marginal Revolution)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Redfly Mobile Companion

I am about to make the time-to-upgrade-my-smart-phone plunge. As I review some websites i find the Redfly Mobile Companion which seems amazing...
"REDFLY is a smartphone terminal with a large screen and full keyboard with no OS, no CPU, and no storage that lets you use your smartphone like a laptop. REDFLY links to your smartphone via a USB cable or wireless Bluetooth connection.Easily do email, read attachments, view web sites, and use applications that reside on your smartphone with 8 hours of battery life."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Second Life Anyone?
(Thanks for the tip Jim)

Coming soon! Bluebeam PDF Revu version 7.0

My favorite most essential piece of software for my Tablet PC is being upgraded. They have 20 new features, but haven't said what they are. Knowing this company, it will be worth it. read here.

However as I posted earlier, you can get Bluebeam Revu for $30, but now it appears that has risen to $75. I hate to see that kind of increase (and yes those are educational prices).

To quote Bluebeam on the benefits of Revu:

Students can:

  • Easily take notes on PDFs during class with laptops or tablet PCs
  • Convert papers and assignments to PDF for added security before emailing them to professors
  • Read, highlight and add notes to course materials in PDF
Educators can:
  • Convert lecture notes and handouts to PDF and upload on class web pages or email to students
  • Receive assignments in PDF and add markups electronically
  • Convert lecture slides to PDF and markup during class
  • Copy and paste text and images from PDFs when creating lecture slides
I do strongly recomment this product. I can't work without it.

Luskin's getting discouraged.

via Chronicle of the Conspiracy by Donald L. Luskin on 3/6/09

Over the last couple years I loved to ridicule all the scaremongers who always said this, that or the other thing is "the worst since the Great Depression." I stand by my ridicule, for the most part -- those prophets of doom were mostly broken clocks who look right now just by sheer luck. But there's no question now that things have gotten quite bad in the economy and the markets.

So let me do the preachers of Armageddon one better. Today's stock market isn't just the "worst since the Great Depression," like they're so fond of saying. No, it's even worse than the Great Depression.

Take a look at the chart, below. It shows the daily progress of the S&P 500 in terms of percentage change from the very top. The brown line is the change from the recent all-time highs on October 9, 2007. The blue line is the change from the all-time highs just before the Great Depression, September 6, 1929.

click on the image to see it full size

As of yesterday's close (Thursday, March 5), the S&P 500 has lost 56.4% from its all-time highs 513 days ago. At the same point in the bear market associated with the Great Depression, that is at the 513 day mark, the S&P 500 had only lost -- only! -- 49%.

In other words, to be no worse than the catastrophe that happened to stocks in the Great Depression, the S&P 500 today would have to rally 17%.

read the rest

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Christina Romer Speaks Out on the Fiscal Stimulus

Thenks to Greg Mankiw you can see her remarks here.

Somewhere Milton Freidman is Smilling

From Greg Mankiw: According to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, 59% of voters still agree with Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address statement that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The job market for economists turns dismal

The job market for economists turns...dismal

Here is a good article by Justin Lahart:

The dismal economy has claimed yet another victim: jobs for the economists who study it.

Columbia University's economics department, for example, isn't making any new hires this year. That's in stark contrast to last year, when Columbia poached eight economics professors from other schools, and hired one economist out of graduate school. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Amherst College and the University of Minnesota all have suspended their searches for economics professors. And Harvard University has gotten permission to hire just one person -- only after "many rounds of negotiation," according to Harvard economist Lawrence Katz, who is handling recruiting this year. Typically, Harvard hires two or three economics professors out of graduate school.

Posted by Tyler Cowen on February 11, 2009 at 08:44 AM in Permalink

Thursday, February 05, 2009

In Barro's Words ...

Robert Barro Speaks out on the Current Stimulus

A couple of questions / answers ... click above to read the entire thing.

Do you read Paul Krugman's blog?

Just when he writes nasty individual comments that people forward... He just says whatever is convenient for his political argument. He doesn't behave like an economist. And the guy has never done any work in Keynesian macroeconomics, which I actually did. He has never even done any work on that. His work is in trade stuff. He did excellent work, but it has nothing to do with what he's writing about.

Are there any conditions under which you might think spending could have a positive effect on output or is it always going to be the case that as a relative matter that tax cuts are going to be better?

Tax cuts are bound to be better. I think the best evidence for expanding GDP comes from the temporary military spending that usually accompanies wars -- wars that don't destroy a lot of stuff, at least in the US experience. Even there I don't think it's one for one, so if you don't value the war itself it's not a good idea. You know, attacking Iran is a shovel-ready project. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

One Laptop per Child initiative -- The OLPC XO-2

I wanted to link this for the picture itself. If we get here, this is very cool. From Warner Crocker: "...The folks behind the One Laptop Per Child initiative are saying that they are going to open source their hardware design for version 2. You’ll remember the design we’ve seen with the dual screen approach. " (read more)
While this design is occurring, in India the government hopes to unveil an incredible cheap computer for the masses and to address the digital divide. India plans cheap laptop option.
Then there is me still lusting for an Amazon Kindle. One thing is for sure. The future of mobile devices goes way beyond the tablet PC and other current devices. However, what I don't see is a digital ink option on these. That is regrettable.

DyKnow 2009 User Conference

DyKnow User Conference
July 22-24, 2009
Virginia Tech

"Conference session times are approximately 60 minutes in duration, with 40 minutes for the presentation and 20 minutes for Q&A. The content should be of interest to classroom teachers or campus technology professionals."

WIPTE 2009

4th Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education
October 12-13, 2009

Proposals accepted now through June 15.

"WIPTE is open to anyone with an interest in instructional technology. A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PC's and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning. This conference is intended to leverage this shared passion and to identify best practices in the educational use of pen-based computing so that all educators may benefit from this next generation of technology. Each WIPTE paper presentation includes an assessment component as an important part of the presentation. The WIPTE program also includes keynote talks, poster presentations, vendor booths, panels, and special sessions."

Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference

Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
April 21-22, 2009
Changing the Learning Landscape
Purdue West Lafayette campus.

A great conference on what is happening in the classroom using technology. "The theme for this annual educational technology conference is “Changing the Learning Landscape.” The conference keynote speaker, Sarah Robbins of, is a researcher, writer, and speaker, who studies and reports on Second Life, virtual worlds, and Web 2.0 and other emerging technologies." Go, attend, enjoy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Greg Mankiw on The First 100 Days

The First 100 Days
President Obama and his economic team faces some big decisions as he begins his first full week in office, with Greg Mankiw, White House Council of Economic Advisers and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI

Monday, January 19, 2009