Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What Moderates Believe

I much appreciated today's column by David Brooks, though he seems to be describing center-right moderates more than center-left moderates (or is that my own bias showing up?).

David also taught me a new word: syncretistic.  It refers to combining different forms of belief.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Macro Musings

You can hear me interviewed by David Beckworth here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Why Health Policy is Hard

Click here to read my column in Sunday's NY Times.

Does this make my Hamilton tickets a deductible business expense?

Economic Lessons from the Musical Hamilton, by Matthew C. Rousu and Courtney A. Conrad, discusses how the great musical can be used to teach economic principles in the classroom.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

CEA Chairs on Steel Tariffs

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Report from the NFF

It is now that time of year when I am enjoying the Nantucket Film Festival. My wife and I today saw The Big Sick. Despite the not very enticing title, we loved it. The film is based on the real-life romance of the two screen writers, emphasizing the difficulty of bridging cross-cultural expectations. It is more heartfelt than a standard rom-com, more comedic than a drama, more earnest than standard Hollywood fare. Most definitely recommended, especially for a date night.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hamilton Tickets Redux

James Stewart takes a look at theater tickets on Broadway, a topic I discussed last year.  I love his ending:
Dynamic pricing and super-premium prices may be relatively new, but the scarcity of tickets for hit shows has a long tradition. Mr. Schumacher cited “My Fair Lady,” the “Hamilton” of the 1955-56 Broadway season. As Broadway lore has it, a man in the audience turned to his neighbor, an older woman, and asked why the fifth-row center seat next to her was empty. 
“My husband died,” she replied. 
“Didn’t anyone else want to come?” he asked. 
“No,” she answered. “They’re all at the funeral.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Advice for Young Economists

Monday, June 05, 2017

Economists for Hassett

Saturday, June 03, 2017

On Taxes and Deficits

Click here to read my column in Sunday's New York Times.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A New Mankiw Publication

This one I am particularly proud of, though I cannot claim to fully understand it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why people prefer unequal societies

A friend points out that this paper is related to some themes I have written about.  The abstract (emphasis added):
There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public, and many insist that equality is an important social goal. However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Adverse Selection in Practice

This article about genetic testing presents a great example of adverse selection:
Pat Reilly had good reason to worry about Alzheimer’s disease: Her mother had it, and she saw firsthand the havoc it could wreak on a family, much of it financial. 
So Ms. Reilly, 77, a retired social worker in Ann Arbor, Mich., applied for a long-term care insurance policy. Wary of enrolling people at risk for dementia, the insurance company tested her memory three times before issuing the policy. 
But Ms. Reilly knew something the insurer did not: She has inherited the ApoE4 gene, which increases the lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s. “I decided I’d best get long-term care insurance,” she said.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Best to Tax Business

Click here to read my column in Sunday's NY Times.

Friday, April 14, 2017

How Not to Promote Education

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Proposed Regulation

The story about United dragging a passenger off an overbooked plane highlights how crazy the current system is.  I would not go so far as to say that airlines should never overbook, but it seems that when they overbook, they should fully bear the consequences. They should be required to keep raising the offered compensation until they get volunteers to give up their seats. If $800 does not work, then try $1600 or $8000.  I am sure volunteers will appear as the price rises.

This alternative system would have three benefits:
  1. Those who can delay their travel at least cost will be the first to give up their seats so the allocation of available seats will be efficient. 
  2. Those who are delayed will be compensated so won't feel harmed.
  3. The airlines will face better incentives when deciding how much to overbook. 

Is something wrong with macro?

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Rich Aren't Getting Richer

This  paper by Fatih Guvenen and Greg Kaplan is worth a read by anyone interested in inequality trends.  An important excerpt:
Since 2000, different measures of top income inequality have exhibited very different trends. Top income shares based on measures of total income show a continued rise, whereas top income shares based on wage and salary income show no increase in inequality post-2000. The most important difference between these two measures of income is the income that accrues to S-corporations.... 
But interpreting trends in the S-corporation component is extremely difficult. Feenberg and Poterba (1993), Gordon and Slemrod (2002), and Cooper et al. (2016) warn that much of the recent increase in S-corporation income is income that previously accrued to C-corporations. Such income is not “new” income earned by top earners but is simply income that was previously labeled as corporate income rather than household income.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

My Conversation with Bill Kristol

Here.  It is a bit over an hour.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Myth of Stagnant Income

This paper by Bruce Sacerdote is worth noting:
Despite the large increase in U.S. income inequality, consumption for families at the 25th and 50th percentiles of income has grown steadily over the time period 1960-2015. The number of cars per household with below median income has doubled since 1980 and the number of bedrooms per household has grown 10 percent despite decreases in household size. The finding of zero growth in American real wages since the 1970s is driven in part by the choice of the CPI-U as the price deflator; small biases in any price deflator compound over long periods of time. Using a different deflator such as the Personal Consumption Expenditures index (PCE) yields modest growth in real wages and in median household incomes throughout the time period. Accounting for the Hamilton (1998) and Costa (2001) estimates of CPI bias yields estimated wage growth of 1 percent per year during 1975-2015. Meaningful growth in consumption for below median income families has occurred even in a prolonged period of increasing income inequality, increasing consumption inequality and a decreasing share of national income accruing to labor.