Friday, November 30, 2007

Cote d'Ivoire-conomics

Some working papers on the country;

Cote d'Ivoire : from success to failure a story of growth, specialization, and the terms of trade;
Summary: Real GDP per capita and capital stock in Cote d'Ivoire grew strongly from 1960 to 1979, but have declined ever since, for twenty-five years. As a result, the country has traveled a full circle from economic success to failure in little more than a generation. What are the long-term factors behind this dismal growth story? Are the Ivorian development problems mostly of recent origin? Or there are more fundamental, economic factors that explain its long term performance? Four principal conclusions are as follows: First, Cote d'Ivoire's long-term growth performance is not fully explained by temporary factors (e.g., CFA overvaluation or recent conflict). Longer term factors such as capital accumulation, productivity, and terms of trade are key to understanding the country's performance as is the policy of specialization in a single commodity--cocoa. Second, the long-term decline in per capita output started well before the currency overvaluation, and at a time of political stability, and is related to a major, secular deterioration in terms of trade that started after 1976. Third, total factor productivity estimates indicate that TFP per capita also grew until it hit a plateau in 1976-78, and then shrank thereafter, despite gains in human capital accumulation. Fourth, Cote d'Ivoire has pursued a policy of specialization in cocoa beans but this bet on a single commodity has ultimately failed. The strategy that brought prosperity during the 1970s resulted in a growth failure when cocoa prices began declining since 1976.

Cote d'Ivoire : competitiveness, cocoa, and the real exchange rate
Summary: This paper explores competitiveness of Cote d'Ivoire's economy over a long period of 1960-2003 and its link with cocoa prices. The main conclusions are as follows. First, using four measures of real effective exchange rate (REER) for the 1960-2002 period, we track the evolution of REER and conclude, inter alia, that until 2003, REER remained well below its 1994 level. Second, we find that based on our measure of the multilateral REER with dynamic weights, which covers most recorded trade, France no longer dominates Cote d'Ivoire's trade. Instead, Cote d'Ivoire has diversified its set of trading partners. Unfortunately, it has also specialized in one export product, raw cocoa. This paper aims to contribute to the question to what extent do cocoa prices affect Cote d'Ivoire's competitiveness in world trade? Third, the answer to this question is that cocoa prices are an important determinant of Cote d'Ivoire's competitiveness. Similar to the case of a classic "Dutch Disease," increases in the real world price of a "natural resource" (i.e., cocoa) tend to result in the appreciation of the CFA franc and a loss in competitiveness. Econometric tests further confirm that 1994 was a "break-point" not only for growth and productivity (as documented in the two related papers) but also for trade competitiveness. Recent productivity per worker trends versus wages also seem to indicate slow growth in 1996-2000, without major improvement in competitiveness.

Cote d'ivoire volatility, shocks and growth
Summary: Key economic variables in Cote d'Ivoire vary widely from their long-run trends, moving in multi-year cyclical patterns. Cocoa prices move with cycles in growth rates, capital stock, real exchange rates, terms of trade, cocoa production, and coffee production and output. These patterns have become more pronounced since the 1970s as volatility increased. This paper characterize these cycles, estimates the cocoa price-quantity relationship, and analyzes co-movements due to shocks generate a forecast. Three key conclusions follow. First, the economy of Cote d'Ivoire has experienced two fundamental transitions, one in 1976 related to cocoa, and another in 1994 related to exchange rates. From 1960 to 1976, world cocoa prices grew steadily, and then fell in real terms. The country's growth showed a similar pattern. An econometric model indicates that the relationship between cocoa price and quantity experienced a break in 1976 and provides evidence of Cote d'Ivoire's significant influence on world cocoa prices. Second, cocoa price shocks affect growth rates and trade indicators, and are important sources of volatility in the Cote d'Ivoire. The terms of trade and real exchange rate are also sources of volatility for growth and productivity. Third, a forecast of per-worker output based on these variables predicts continued declines in GDP per worker in Cote d'Ivoire for the near future. This dismal forecast implies the need for a radical and rapid improvement on political, security, and economic management to reverse the two and a half decades of economic decline.

The Brilliance of Mr. Briallant

Larry Brilliant at Skoll Forum

Here is Part 2 and Part 3

Others at the forum include Charles Handy, Queen Rania, Muhammed Yunus

Will this work in US?

Viagra Used to Bribe Voters

Assorted Islam

When Islam becomes politics, assorted;

Leaders asked to follow Iqbal’s ideas on Islam
Figures show Islam third-largest religion

Ex-Muslim Jami Finishes Islam Film, Expects 'Cartoon Riots'

Islamic Renaissance now

Death demanded for UK teacher

Iran declares war on rappers

Hey, it's better than being shot

How a row over the naming of a teddy bear in Sudan has stoked interfaith tension
Perhaps the hardest question that Muslims in the West face from sceptical fellow-citizens is whether they are prepared in any circumstances to defend the harsh penalties, such as lashing and stoning, which the sacred texts of Islam prescribe, in particular for sexual offences, or blaspheming against the faith.

Tariq Ramadan, an influential Muslim philosopher, has called for an indefinite moratorium on capital and corporal punishment, using elaborate theological arguments to support his view that these penalties have resulted in horribly cruel treatment for vulnerable people, including women and the poor. Scholars in the Muslim heartland do not go far enough when they say the necessary conditions for the application of these traditional punishments are “almost never” fulfilled, Mr Ramadan has argued. Some westerners (including France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, in the days when he was interior minister) taunted Mr Ramadan over the use of the word moratorium: did that mean stoning might resume in the future? But to traditional scholars, Mr Ramadan is clearly going too far. The gap he is trying to straddle is already a wide one, and the story of Ms Gibbons suggests that it risks growing even wider.

Censorship in cyberspace

Saudi oil plants targeted in missile plot
The dangers for the region and the world of the continued radicalization of Arab youth via the US presence in Iraq

The Akond of Swat

Elbaradei: An Attack on Iran would Guarantee that it Gets Nukes

Nigeria Turns From Harsher Side of Islamic Law

Ebola hits again!

Health officials in Uganda say they have identified a strain of the deadly Ebola virus as the likely killer of at least 16 people in the west of the country since late August. But as VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi, officials are baffled and worried by what they believe is a new strain of the hemorrhagic fever.

The director general of Uganda's health services, Dr. Sam Zaramba, tells VOA that scientists in South Africa and the United States conducted numerous laboratory tests to determine the cause of the deaths across 14 villages in the western district of Bundibugyo.

-New Ebola Strain Blamed for Killing 16 in Uganda

Virus Hunting on the Web;
With a little luck, ProMED and GPHIN will both take care of what CDC arbovirus researcher Paul Reiter suggests has been the regrettable history of infectious disease fighting to date. To put it simply, he says, all the monitoring and surveillance has only served to mobilize the world's resources to fight "ex-epidemics. Whenever we've been sent out to epidemics, we've always arrived when the epidemic was pretty much history." He cites, for example, a 1993 yellow fever epidemic in Kenya, at which the medical cavalry arrived in time to see the last two cases. Or, going way back, a yellow fever epidemic in the Omo River Valley in Ethiopia between 1960 and 1962. "You had something like a million people susceptible to yellow fever," says Reiter, "with 30,000 deaths"; no one outside Ethiopia, he says, "had the faintest idea until it was all over." Now with the Internet the news should get out in time to make a difference. "We're primed," he says.

Pickpockets in Islam's Holiest Cities

A recent study concludes that nearly a fourth of pickpocket crimes in the two holy cities are committed by people who are in the cities solely for the purpose of stealing from pilgrims or are pilgrims themselves who are supplementing their trips by theft.

The report, entitled “The Psychological and Social Impact Pickpockets Have on Pilgrims,” was the result of research by Mahmoud Kasnawi of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Haj Research Institute with the aim of developing strategies to protect pilgrims from such crimes.

The study concluded that 17 percent of the pickpockets in and around the mosque complexes at Makkah and Madinah are there for the sole motive of stealing while 16.5 percent are the pilgrims themselves. The rest are opportunists that steal when the chances arise but aren’t pre-meditating these criminal acts.

The study also contends that 46.5 percent of the pickpockets arrested at the Grand Mosque in Makkah were Egyptians. About one in five people that have been arrested for pick-pocketing are women. About 14 percent of the pickpockets sleep in the Grand Mosque or on the pavements, bridges and tunnels, the study said.

The report underscored the need to minimize the sense of insecurity and loss of mental peace caused by the acts of pickpockets on the pilgrims.

Some gangs use children under the age of 15 to steal from pilgrims. Teenagers account for a third of the pickpockets.

Another finding of the study was that 10 percent of the pickpockets have been for Haj more than once, possibly encouraged to return because of the money they stole during the previous pilgrimage.

The study also said 84 percent of the arrested pickpockets were married while 67 percent of them had their family with them.

While 86 percent of the pickpockets traveled to the Kingdom on their private earnings, the remaining stole the money to pay for the travel expenses.

The study noted that most of the thefts take place close to Kaaba at the time of tawaf (circumambulation) to take advantage of the heavily crowded conditions and the fact that pilgrims often carry with them their valuables.

-Study Reveals Startling Statistics About Thieves

British Humor on the Credit Crunch


via Naked Capitalism

Where is the Committee to Save the World?

Bernanke Says Fed to Judge Market `Turbulence' Impact

Winds of Change in Down Under

The turn of the cycle

Is the Howard government running against the issue cycle?

In his book Tides of Consent, the American political scientist James Stimson argues that in US politics the issue cycle turns against those in power. I think this is an interesting idea in the Australian context. In areas where a party enjoys success in the public’s eyes, as the Liberals have with the economy and immigration, the issue stops becoming so important and so becomes less of an advantage. And with the Opposition and interest groups constantly emphasising - and perhaps reality partly matching - the government’s weaknesses in areas of Opposition strength the issue cycle starts to turn.

Ian Ayres at Google

Ian Ayers need to update his page.

Related Index: (help me add an index to the speech- just put a comment when you've watched it) / e-harmony / Why Not / Randomized Trials for Congress / JO-ANN /

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Your President's travel entourage

I think they forgot to mention Mr. Barney and Miss Beazely

via Boing Boing

Op-ed on Indian Financial Sector Reform

Confusion worse confounded?
Whither Indian financial reform? An answer to that question remains elusive. After a decade, debate about reform has revived with the Tarapore-2 and M-IFC Reports. But it is bizarre and personal. A visiting Martian would think that it involves only dichotomies; i.e. between: (a) going fast vs. going slow; (b) pitting the careful/conservative vs. the brash, aggressive, over-ambitious; (c) impugning 'young', inexperienced, critics vs. eulogising practitioners wedded to past paradigms; (d) old heterodoxies, apparently durable vs. new orthodoxies, allegedly crumbling; (e) Big Bangs vs. small splutters, neither understood; (f) a fiscally incontinent GoI vs. a blameless RBI burdened with cleaning up everyone else�s mess; (g) impossible trinities vs. monetary magicians who reconcile the irreconcilable through sleight-of -control; (h) institutional infallibility vs. the all-too-fallible who argue that regulators may have no intellectual clothes on � if they did, they would not be arguing the way they are; or (j) theoretical market-fundos vs. experienced control-commandos. And so on.

Recently from the Fund

What Explains India's Real Appreciation?
Summary: We examine the evolution of nontradable and tradable prices in the Indian economy over 1980-2002 and find widening differentials: the real exchange rate has been appreciating. This might seem unsurprising, since India's rapid per capita income growth suggests Balassa-Samuelson factors at play. However, after 1990, the tradable-nontradable labor productivity gap, the driver of real appreciation according to Balassa-Samuelson, virtually disappeared. So what explains the real appreciation? Assessing the role of both demand and supply factors, we find that demand pressures arising from higher income growth accounted for much of the relative price increase during the post-reform period. Falling import prices also contributed significantly, along with an increase in government spending.

China's Changing Trade Elasticities
Summary: China's sectoral trade composition, product quality mix, and import content of processing exports have all changed substantially during the past decade. This has rendered trade elasticities estimated using aggregate data highly unstable, with more recent data pointing to significantly higher demand and price elasticities. Sectoral differences in these parameters are also very wide. All this suggests greater caution in using historical data to simulate the response of the China's economy to external shocks and exchange rate changes. Analyses based on models whose estimated coefficients largely reflect the China of the 1980s and 1990s are likely to turn out to be wrong, perhaps even dramatically.

The Optimal Level of Foreign Reserves in Financially Dollarized Economies: The Case of Uruguay
Summary: This paper extends the framework derived by Jeanne and Rancière (2006) by explicitly incorporating the dollarization of bank deposits into the analysis of the optimal level of foreign reserves for prudential purposes. In the extended model, a sudden stop in capital flows occurs in tandem with a run on dollar deposits. Reserves can smooth consumption in a crisis but are costly to carry. The resulting expression for the optimal level of reserves is calibrated for Uruguay, a country with high dollarization of bank deposits. The baseline calibration indicates that the gap between actual and optimal reserves has declined sharply since the 2002 crisis due to a substantial reduction in vulnerabilities. While the results suggest that reserves are now near optimal levels, further accumulation may be desirable going forward, partly because banks' currently high liquidity levels are likely to decline as the credit recovery matures.

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2007 Article IV Consultation with Sri Lanka

Debate of the Day

What Will Climate Change Cost Us?

Health Policy in Poor Countries is No Joke

Three serious problems in health policy—illustrated by three jokes

Google Under Attack!

Hackers hijack web search results;
A huge campaign to poison web searches and trick people into visiting malicious websites has been thwarted.

The booby-trapped websites came up in search results for search terms such as "Christmas gifts" and "hospice".

Windows users falling for the trick risked having their machine hijacked and personal information plundered.

The criminals poisoned search results using thousands of domains set up to convince search index software they were serious sources of information.

Porn back on site? Oh, this is not good
Massive amounts of malware redirects in searches

You Better Watch Out, Xmas Web Threats Come to Town
Adult Sex Finder Finds Propagation Partners
On Malicious Web Sites from Google Searches

Books to Read

John Zdanowicz's Book Recommendations:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
My first exposure to the relationship between individualism and capitalism came from reading Atlas Shrugged as a college student. It also stimulated me to expand my reading and studies of classical liberalism and stressed the importance of individual self esteem, productivity, and freedom. Rand and her writings were the catalyst for my future studies of libertarianism.

Capitalism And Freedom by Milton Friedman
Friedman provides an explanation of the role of capitalism and the importance of private property and a free market. He explains the relationship between economic freedom and personal freedom and illuminated the contradictions of both the liberal and conservative philosophies. His writings convinced me that I was a libertarian and that personal and economic freedoms were two sides of the same coin.

On Liberty
by John Stuart Mill
"Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign." Need I say more?

The Road To Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
In 1944, Hayek warned of the dangers of collectivism, social planning, and the expanded role of government. His views were considered shocking in the collectivist orthodoxy of that time period. Hayek's warning of the destruction of personal and economic freedoms are a prophecy, that unfortunately, are commonplace throughout the world today.

Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block
I first met Walter Block when we were professors at Baruch College in New York. His logical economic analysis of social issues is both shocking and correct. Block defends "capitalistic acts between consenting adults." When I need to laugh and get my fix of economic logic, I read this book.

Development Podcast

The Divergence of the Bottom Billion - Paul Collier

Chinese Communists on Reincarnation

THE Chinese government's web portal has an odd-looking entry on its page listing laws that came into force in September. Buried among new regulations on issues ranging from registering sailors to monitoring pollution is one on how to manage the reincarnations of living Buddhas. Violators are threatened with prosecution. China's Communist Party—though avowedly atheist—does not hesitate to pontificate on religious matters that it sees as having a political dimension. Living Buddhas make up the senior clergy of Tibet's religion. They are traditionally selected from among boys considered to be reincarnations of deceased office-holders. Controlling the selection process, in the party's view, is crucial to controlling Tibet.

Tibet's exiled leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, who is 72, knows this too. China, already enraged by his recent high-profile meetings with George Bush and Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, is now incensed by his proposal that in selecting the most critical reincarnation of all, his own, new procedures may apply—his, not China's.

He has long has said he may not be reincarnated at all, or, if Tibet is not free, that he may be reborn outside China. This would do much to undermine any attempt by China to appoint its own Dalai Lama in the way it chose a new Panchen Lama, the second highest-ranking leader of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1995. (A rival reincarnation endorsed by the Dalai Lama, a boy living in China, has not been seen since.) Recently the Dalai Lama has gone further, proposing that his successor be chosen while he is still alive, by himself or by senior monks. And this week he even suggested that Tibetans could hold a referendum to decide on the Dalai Lamas' future.

-The Dalai Lama

Mishkin lecture on Monetary Policy

Via Mankiw

The Federal Reserve’s Enhanced Communication Strategy and the Science of Monetary Policy

`Powerhouse' Mishkin May Provide Clues to Fed Plans

Another Index

The humanitarian response index, drawn up by Dara International, a Madrid-based evaluation agency, ranks the European Commission in fifth place, in spite of frequent criticism of its bureaucratic procedures. The UK ranks ninth, Germany 13th, and the US 16th out of the 23. The bottom two countries are Italy and Greece.


How long will the dollar remain the world's premier currency?

Climate Change, ethics and the economics of the global deal

Government and Health Care: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Anova: why it is more important than ever

Margin of error

Oxygen Suppliers Fight to Keep a Medicare Boon

Biblical Wall May Have Been Located

The Euro as the World's Reserve Currency: A Progress Report

Taking Marriage Private

Size Limits for Cable Look Likely

Gross Domestic Income Tells Different Story Than GDP

China may be a smaller economic giant than previously thought

Struggling to decode Bali's message

Another Israel-Palestine Joke

An Israeli and a Palestinian are watching a Western. In the movie, a cowboy is riding bareback on a particularly wild horse. The Israeli, being aggressive, says to the Palestinian, "I'll bet you 10 shekels he falls." The Palestinian, being impulsive, replies immediately, "I'll bet you he doesn't."

The cowboy falls, and the Palestinian forks over 10 shekels. The Israeli, feeling that famous Israeli guilt, refuses them. Then he admits, "I've seen this movie before."

The Palestinian replies, "So have I. But I thought he would learn from his mistake."

A joke from FP blog

Annapolis "talking points"

How to Change History

Changing history: doctored photographs affect memory for past public events;

We investigated how doctored photographs of past public events affect memory for those events. Italian participants viewed either original images or misleading digitally doctored images depicting the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and a 2003 protest in Rome against the war in Iraq, and they subsequently answered questions about those events. Viewing the doctored images affected the way participants remembered the events. Those who viewed the doctored photograph of the Beijing event estimated that a larger number of people participated in it. Those who viewed the doctored photograph of the Rome event rated the event as more violent and more negative, recalled more physical confrontation, damage to property, and injuries to demonstrators, and were less inclined to participate in future protests. Both younger and older adult participants were affected by the manipulation. Results indicate that doctored photographs of past public events can influence memory, attitudes and behavioural intentions

via Mind Hacks


What Ails the Short Story by Stephen King

A Slowdown in Jobs Lost, and Created

To Muslim Girls, Scouts Offer a Chance to Fit In

Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department

Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal Vexed Nixon

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Archimedes Palimpsest

The Archimedes Palimpsest

Podcast of the Day

Where is the Middle Class?
Princeton Professor of Economics Paul Krugman talks about how the New Deal society has been dismantled in America, and the reasons for it. He brings it back to a revival of Southern issues about race being used by the 'Movement Conservatives' to undo various social policies during the present adminstration.

Reviews of Krugman's Book;
The Partisan
Malefactors of Megawealth

Quote of the Day

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

via K4D

Human Development Report 2007/2008

Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world

East Asians- Not Fit for Democracy?

In a special episode of People & Power based in Kuala Lumpur, Samah El-Shahat presents an engaging discussion between Anwar Ibrahim, the former Malaysian deputy prime minister, Kishmore Mahbubani, Singapore's former ambassador to the UN; Madame Ton-Nu-Thi Ninh, of Vietnam's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kavi Chongkittavorn, the editor of The Nation newspaper in Thailand.

A course from World Bank

Trade, Growth and Poverty- application deadline 30 November

I, the Sock

World Sock Capital Suffers From Duty-Free Imports

via Mankiw

Paying Taxes 2008

More about the report

Headline of the Day

Too few goods in Harare’s shops to gauge inflation;
Zimbabwe’s latest inflation figures had been delayed because there were not enough goods in the shops to measure price increases, the state statistical department said yesterday.

There was an “unavailability of required information such as prices of goods, due to their shortage on the formal market”, the state-controlled Herald daily newspaper quoted Moffat Nyoni, director of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), as saying.

“There are too many data gaps,” said Nyoni. “We went to too many shops to observe and so compilations have not been completed.” Some of the items in the office’s basket of goods used to measure inflation “were not available”, he said.

The CSO was “trying to find ways of coming up with the missing figures”.

Assorted Scholarships

The German Academic Exchange Service is one of the world's largest and most respected intermediary organisations in its field. Scores of students, teachers, researchers and scientists supported by the DAAD have been able to gain valuable experience abroad. However, there are also many other sides to the work of the DAAD.

Stanley M. Schoenfeld Memorial Scholarship
The scholarship is available for students who are enrolled in a postgraduate program in public affairs/management (with a concentration in finance) at an accredited college or university in New York State.

Humane Studies Fellowship

Hayek Fund for Scholars

Funding for US Study Online

Bribes of Prince Bandar

Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the US, who says there was no impropriety about a £1bn payment he received for brokering arms deals with BAE, has hired a former head of the FBI and a retired British high court judge to defend his position. The British government has been attempting to block all investigations into payments from BAE to members of the Saudi regime.

British ministers are refusing to grant a six-month-old official request from the US department of justice for mutual legal assistance, in defiance of the UK's anti-bribery treaty obligations. This follows the suppression of Britain's own Serious Fraud Office investigation, which was abandoned last year on the grounds that the inquiry might jeopardise national security. The move, following Tony Blair's intervention, infuriated anti-corruption campaigners.

There was further uproar when the Guardian published the SFO's findings - that £1bn had been paid to Bandar with UK government acquiescence, and another £1bn had been sent to Switzerland to agents acting for other Saudi royals. Bandar, who was also presented with a new Airbus jet by BAE, does not deny receiving the money, but says it was for authorised purposes.

-US obtains Swiss records and flies in British witness in BAE investigation

Ricardo Hausmann on Gender Gap

The Global Gender Gap Report 2007

Obama goes to Google

Most Interesting Readings for the Day

Ruggedness: how bad terrain helped parts of Africa

Data on Slavery Trade

Measuring Pure Inflation

"The Problem with Forecasting House Prices"

Greenspan Shrugged

Exchange Rate Expectations and Interest Rates

What Is "Subprime"?

Assorted Working Papers

From World Bank;

Measuring ancient inequality ( a must read)by Milanovic,Branko; Lindert, Peter H.; Williamson, Jeffrey G.;
Summary: Is inequality largely the result of the Industrial Revolution? Or, were pre-industrial incomes and life expectancies as unequal as they are today? For want of sufficient data, these questions have not yet been answered. This paper infers inequality for 14 ancient, pre-industrial societies using what are known as social tables, stretching from the Roman Empire 14 AD, to Byzantium in 1000, to England in 1688, to Nueva España around 1790, to China in 1880 and to British India in 1947. It applies two new concepts in making those assessments - what the authors call the inequality possibility frontier and the inequality extraction ratio. Rather than simply offering measures of actual inequality, the authors compare the latter with the maximum feasible inequality (or surplus) that could have been extracted by the elite. The results, especially when compared with modern poor countries, give new insights in to the connection between inequality and economic development in the very long run.

Bank privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa : the case of Uganda commercial bank

Analyzing the impact of legislation on child labor in Pakistan

Fiscal policy, public expenditure composition, and growth theory and empirics

Patterns of rainfall insurance participation in rural India

An Intelligent Model

via Brad Delong

Assorted Reading List

Moniker Maladies: When Names Sabotage Success

Clustered standard errors vs. multilevel modeling

Different Data

Psychopaths as Hawk Strategists

Do suicide barriers save lives?

"Don't Trust Outside Experts"

Tie me Hayek down, Rudd!

A Pocketful of Multipliers

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Malaysia plans an “Islamic” car?

What next?

MALAYSIA'S struggling national carmaker, Proton, claimed this week to have identified a huge gap in the world's car market. It believes there is demand for an “Islamic” car. The idea stems from desperation, but it is not as batty as it first seems.

Carmaking represents a big chunk of many economies. It brings jobs, advanced manufacturing techniques and national pride. But carmakers find it devilishly hard to make money, especially when volumes are small. Proton has struggled to make headway since it was created almost 25 years ago, despite protectionism and lots of state aid.

Its position has become especially dire recently. Its domestic market share has fallen from over 60% to 23% in the past five years after a cut in import tariffs, and the firm now appears to be heading for the industry's exit ramp. It has meagre export sales of around 20,000 cars a year, which go mostly to tiny markets such as Brunei, Nepal and Bangladesh. As a consequence, Proton is facing mounting losses. It lost M$591m ($169m) in the year to March on sales of barely 130,000 cars. Compared with its much larger international rivals, Proton is a vulnerable minnow.

Hence its latest wheeze (and there have been many): a plan to build an “Islamic” car in association with carmakers in Iran and Turkey. Iran, which dreamt up the idea, has a big car market with several manufacturers building vehicles under licence from foreign firms such as Peugeot and Renault. But, with a desire to skirt international sanctions and create more jobs, it has long wanted a car industry of its own. It just needs someone to provide the technology.

Turkey has not expressed a wish to create a home-grown car industry, but it is one of the largest Muslim car-buying markets. Together, the Iranian and Turkish markets might give Proton a chance to achieve economies of scale. And as demand grows in other more populous Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan, sales of an “Islamic” car, the thinking goes, would surge.

But is Proton really in a position to lead such a venture? Its most ambitious recent model, the Gen-2, was a flop. Such is Proton's desire to remain independent—partnership discussions with various international carmakers over the years have all foundered—that it is unlikely to be keen to share know-how. And if indeed Proton has identified a new market, its rivals will surely soon be on the scene. As planned, its “Islamic” car will feature a compass to indicate the direction of Mecca, a box in which to store a copy of the Koran and a compartment for a headscarf. This, Proton seems to think, is a formula that no other carmaker can match. That seems unlikely.

I have done it

You should order it too;

Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2nd Edition

The Attack of the Jellyfish

Scientists Mystified by Jellyfish Attacks on Fish Farm

Demography and Conflict

Henrik Urdal from the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo with Fareed Zakaria.

Where are they now- James Wolfensohn

A recent interview with James Wolfensohn;

Australia's 'own' Wolfensohn on prospects for Middle East peace, American politics, etc.

The Wolfensohn Center for Development;
The mission of the Wolfensohn Center is to examine how development interventions can be successfully implemented, scaled up and sustained to solve key development challenges at a national, regional and global level. To pursue this goal, the Wolfensohn Center strives to bridge the gap between development theorists and practitioners, working in partnership with others, especially partners in developing countries, to promote local ownership and capacity, and ensure development impact

World Bank VP leans how vulnerable the poor are to exploitation

The Arithmetic of Poverty;
But escaping the clutches of poverty is never easy. Little did I realize how vulnerable the poor are to exploitation. Now that the family farmed two pans, the water vendor had doubled his charges! As the sole seller of a vital commodity -albeit of dubious quality - he charged whatever he pleased, in this case based on the number of salt pans they owned, instead of the amount of water they bought! Frustrated that others were benefiting from his hard labor, Mangabhai, Bhavanben’s husband, said he didn’t see any incentive to expand his salt business further.

The cost of diesel - their major expense - had also gone up, while the price of salt had remained the same. In Ahmedabad, the state’s major city, I had heard talk about introducing solar or wind power on the salt flats since both have good potential in the desert. But, I saw no evidence of anything being installed so far.

One encouraging sign was that the family had begun to diversify their sources of income to reduce their dependence on their backbreaking ancestral occupation. They had set up a small shop selling basic supplies to others on the pans. The shop - looked after by the oldest son - also sold flour which they now ground themselves using a new machine. In addition, they had begun to produce industrial salt which fetched a much higher price than the consumption salt they produced earlier. And, the four older children – none of whom went to school when I first met them – were now in school. They had learnt to read the vernacular alphabet and rattled off the names of plants and animals pinned up along the walls of the makeshift tent that served as their classroom. Things were looking up, I thought.

India's 'pink' vigilante women
Mallaby writes about Praful Patel in his book, The World's Banker

Muslim Women in US

They seem quiet active here in US- two examples;

Turning Point is a community based, non-profit organization addressing the needs of Muslim women and children through crisis intervention, individual and group counseling, advocacy, outreach, education and training.

Laleh Bakhtiar, first American women to translate Quran;
This first ever English translation of the Quran by an American woman is unique in many ways. First of all, it is formatted as the Quran (meaning “Recitation”) was received in oral transmission and not as it is read in book format. Secondly, the translator uses formal equivalency for the first time in a translation of the Quran. She uses a scientific method in translation, the same method used for the most part in the translation of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Her approach to translation is logical and uniquely different from the other translators because she uses reason. The existing translations of verse 4:34 extremely disturbed her. Where, according to conventional translations, “husbands who fear adversity on the part of their wives, first admonish them, then leave their bed,” and, finally, as a last resort, ”beat them.” The translator uses three arguments for why the interpretation of this word must revert to the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and the mercy of God be upon him. 1. He never beat women even though the verb is a verb of a command. 2. The Arabic word has more than 25 meanings so why chose a meaning that is not in accord with the Sunnah of the Prophet. One of its meanings is “to go away” and this is exactly what the Prophet did when he faced difficulties with his wives in submission to God, as if to say: “God, you know I have tried everything and nothing has worked. I leave it up to Thee.” 3. The strongest argument that proves the word has been misunderstood is based on the following reasoning: Islam promotes marriage. The Prophet said: Marriage is half of faith. While divorce is allowed, it is considered to be deploarable. Every effort is to be made to hold a marriage together. The translator read verse 2:231. The Quran says that if a woman wants a divorce, her husband must not harm (injure, hurt, or use force) her. He must set her free in an honorable way. Using the reasoning of this verse, if a woman wants a divorce, her husband cannot do anything physical to prevent her from getting a divorce. Yet if she wants to stay married, he can beat her according to the interpretation of 4:34. This is clear, logical evidence that the word “to beat” has been misinterpreted. What woman would chose the option to stay married and be beaten rather than ask for a divorce and not be harmed. For further information see While this translation was done by an American woman, it is not to create a gender divide, but to bring husbands and wives together in a better understanding of their relationship as complements to one another.

Turkeyonomics from Bloomberg

Assorted Turkey Podcasts;

Serhan Cevik, a former economist at Morgan Stanley Co., talks with Bloomberg's Tom Keene from London about Turkey's economic growth drivers, the impact of the oil market on the economy, and the country's aspiration to be a member of the European Union. Keene hosts from Istanbul

Zurcher Says Suppor Turkey's EU Entry Is Falling

Hakan Aklar, an economist at Ak Yatirim, talks with Bloomberg's Tom Keene from Istanbul about Turkey's economy, energy prices and bid for membership in the European Union. Keene hosts from Istanbul.

Turkey: Selected Issues

Read This

The Evolution of an Investor by Michael Lewis
Blaine Lourd got rich picking stocks. but then he realized that everything he thought he knew about the markets was wrong. And he's not alone.

Dead Man Walking: the Journey Continues

Book event related to the wrongful convictions.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and Death of Innocents: Wrongful Executions
Listen the podcast.

Sister Helen Prejean's blog

Turkey: A Modern History

Podcast of the Day- Erik Zurcher, a professor at Leiden University and author of "Turkey: A Modern History," talks with Bloomberg's Tom Keene about Turkey's modernization and economic development, and prospects for the country's bid to join the European Union.

Books you may want to pre-order

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
by Eric Weiner

Inequality and Institutions

An event from New America Foundation featuring;
* Frank Levy
Professor of Urban Economics, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT Co-Author, "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America
* Peter Temin
Professor of Economics, MIT
Co-Author, "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America "
* Michael Lind, Whitehead Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
* Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Director, Fiscal Policy Program, New America Foundation
* Reid Cramer (moderator, Co-Director, Next Social Contract Initiative
New America Foundation

IMF Showcase

IMF Showcases its technical assistance and relevance;

Budget Reform Holds Promise in Mozambique
A cornerstone of Mozambique's reconstruction since the end of its civil war in 1992 has been the committed application of far-reaching, donor-funded and IMF-supported public financial management reform.

Tailoring Regulation for Central America
With the help of IMF technical assistance and funding from Spain, Central America has devised a strategy to strengthen the supervision of growing cross-border consolidated financial operations.

Assessing Chile's Reserve Management
As part of a recent technical assistance project, IMF experts assessed the capacity of Chile's central bank to administer two sovereign wealth funds set up in 2006 to manage the country's copper windfall revenues.

IMF Backs UAE in Statistics Overhaul
The United Arab Emirates, determined to improve its statistical system, is constructing a monthly consumer price index—set for introduction in early 2009—with support of IMF technical assistance.

Helping Postconflict Nations Rebuild
Three new books tell the story of how technical assistance by international institutions has, and can, make a big difference in the recovery of postconflict countries.
Building Monetary and Financial Systems: Case Studies in Technical Assistance, Charles Enoch, Karl Habermeier, Marta Castello-Branco (eds.), International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., 2007, $29.

One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Warren Coats, Jameson Books, Illinois, 2007, $42.50.

United Nations Development Aid: A Study in History and Politics, Digambar Bhouraskar, Academic Foundation, New Delhi, 2007, Rs. 695.

A cool website

via Wolfram blog

See also The Prize Is Won; The Simplest Universal Turing Machine Is Proved

Monday, November 26, 2007

Econ Talk for the Day

Botkin on Nature, the Environment and Global Warming (from Econ Talk)

Explainers for the Day

The Phillips Curve and the Federal Reserve

Budget Deficit Watch: Receipts Stabilize, Deficit Fails to Shrink

Deficit Watch thru Oct 2007

Robert Frank's Strange Case for Taxing "The Rich"

Why so Little Tax Evasion? Becker

Two Rothbardian Reductios

Costs and Benefits of Nation Building

Book Event Podcast of the Day- After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy by Christopher J. Coyne

Why does liberal democracy take hold in some countries but not in others? Why do we observe such different outcomes in military interventions, from Germany and Japan to Afghanistan and Iraq? Do efforts to export democracy help as much as they hurt? These are some of the most enduring questions of our time.

Historically, the United States has attempted to generate change in foreign countries by exporting liberal democratic institutions through military occupation and reconstruction. Despite these efforts, the record of U.S.-led reconstructions has been mixed, at best. For every West Germany or Japan, there is a Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, or Vietnam.

After War seeks to answer these critical foreign policy questions by bringing an economic mindset to a topic that has been traditionally tackled by historians, policymakers, and political scientists. Economics focuses on how incentives influence human action. Therefore, within an economic context, a successful reconstruction entails finding and establishing a set of incentives that makes citizens prefer a liberal democratic order. Coyne examines the mechanisms and institutions that contribute to the success of reconstruction programs by creating incentives for sustained cooperation.

Coyne emphasizes that the main threat to Western nations in the post-Cold War period will not come from a superpower, but rather from weak, failed, and conflict-torn states—and rogue groups within them. It is also critical to recognize that the dynamics at work—cultural, historical, and social—in these modern states are fundamentally different from those that the United States faced in the reconstructions of West Germany and Japan. As such, these historical cases of successful reconstruction are poor models for todays challenges. In Coynes view, policymakers and occupiers face an array of internal and external constraints in dealing with rogue states. These constraints are often greatest in the countries most in need of the political, economic, and social change. The irony is that these projects are least likely to succeed precisely where they are most needed.

Coyne offers two bold alternatives to reconstruction programs that could serve as catalysts for social change: principled non-intervention and unilateral free trade. Coyne points to major differences in these preferred approaches; whereas reconstruction projects involve a period of coerced military occupation, free trade-led reforms are voluntary. The book goes on to highlight the economic and cultural benefits of free trade.

While Coyne contends that a commitment to non-intervention and free trade may not lead to Western-style liberal democracies in conflict-torn countries, such a strategy could lay the groundwork for global peace.

Listen to the podcast or watch the event at Cato

In Praise of Sweatshops

New York Manhole Covers, Forged Barefoot in India

Rodrik asks the right questions;
An embarrassed Con Edison says that it is now rewriting its international contracts to include safety requirements.

Fine, but what if these requirements now raise the cost sufficiently for the utility to want to switch its supplies to another source? And what if these West Bengali workers now find themselves out of a job, or earning less in even worse working environments? Would we have we done them any favors by becoming outraged at their condition?

This is one of the trickiest issues in international trade, and one for which there is no straightforward answer that I can think of.

Labor Group Says St. Patrick’s Sells Sweatshop Goods
A workers’ rights group yesterday accused St. Patrick’s Cathedral of selling religious items made under terrible conditions in sweatshop factories in China.

The capitalist communist
How a poetic Marxist has transformed business prospects in West Bengal

Bangladesh's Socio-economic Development: Successes, Challenges and Imperatives

A lecture by its current acting President, Fakhruddin Ahmed

Will Putin kill Kasparov?

Garry Kasparov has been jailed.

Why is Kasparov still alive?
US concerned by Russian tactics against protestors
Kasparov on Charlie Rose

Economic Theory for an Innovative World

We must replace neoclassical theory, including Schumpeter's model, with models applicable to the modern world where many entrepreneurs conceive and develop successful new ideas born from their private knowledge, so economists can capture the range of jobs created by innovation, investment booms and slumps, the opening and closing of lags behind the lead countries, the workplace as the main locus of problem solving, the presence of as much disorder as order, and the joy from the creativity realized.

An upcoming Edmund Phelps lecture at Columbia (on 27th of November).

I hope they put the video online- I don't know why they prefer to put Iranian President's speech online rather than lectures like this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Inside Musharraf's Pakistan

Via Chapati Mystery

Politics Blog of the Day

The Monkey Cage
Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage. - H.L. Mencken

Unite against human rights abuses

Type A and Type B Procrastination

Good advice on procrastination;

Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn't consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination. In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Nearly everyone's is. Unless you're working on the biggest things you could be working on, you're type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you're getting done.

In his famous essay You and Your Research (which I recommend to anyone ambitious, no matter what they're working on), Richard Hamming suggests that you ask yourself three questions:

1. What are the most important problems in your field?

2. Are you working on one of them?

3. Why not?

Hamming was at Bell Labs when he started asking such questions. In principle anyone there ought to have been able to work on the most important problems in their field. Perhaps not everyone can make an equally dramatic mark on the world; I don't know; but whatever your capacities, there are projects that stretch them. So Hamming's exercise can be generalized to:

What's the best thing you could be working on, and why aren't you?

Most people will shy away from this question. I shy away from it myself; I see it there on the page and quickly move on to the next sentence. Hamming used to go around actually asking people this, and it didn't make him popular. But it's a question anyone ambitious should face.

Is an Oxford degree worth the parchment it's printed on?

Statistics vs. Econ (Re: Is an Oxford degree worth the parchment it's printed on?);

1. A lot of interesting papers are being written by economists now, but I'm also a big fan of papers by psychologists. Psychologists will cram the results of ten different experiments into a single article. Instead of just exploring a question with a single dataset, they'll really try to figure things out, running different experiments to consider different possibilities.

As to the question of why don't statisticians write more interesting applied papers: I don't know. I suppose people go into statistics because they like math, not because they care about any particular application. I've seen some pretty crappy applied work by well known and respected statisticians--people whose theoretical work I respect a lot. The best scientific work by statisticians is probably not social science but rather in biology, the most famous example being R. A. Fisher's model unifying the genetics of discrete and continuous traits (I hope I'm not garbling that too much). Also, yeah, there are more economists, and they're in a more competitive field, so maybe they put more effort into promoting their own work. (Yes, I know, I'm one to talk, seeing as I promote my own work all the time, but maybe I'm not typical of statisticians.)

2. I think it's easier to get into a top statistics Ph.D. program than to get into a top econ program. I'm a big fan of stat Ph.D. programs, especially if you can work with a good advisor and do some interesting stuff. I don't know the deal with the math GRE. We used to require it at Columbia but we'd get a lot of applicants who hadn't taken it, and we'd consider their applications too, so it seemed only fair to diminish it to a recommendation rather than a requirement.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

US Fact of the Day

Vindicated by DNA, but a Lost Man on the Outside
At least 205 men and one woman nationwide have been exonerated through DNA evidence since 1989, including 53 who, like Mr. Deskovic, were convicted of murder. In gathering information on 137 of them over the past four months — one of the most extensive such efforts to date — The New York Times found that many faced the same challenges Mr. Deskovic has confronted, like making a living, reconnecting with relatives and seeking financial recompense for his lost years.

But given Mr. Deskovic’s age at conviction (he was 17, one of about two dozen of the 206 exonerated inmates imprisoned as teenagers) and length of incarceration (about 35 percent spent more than 15 years behind bars), he has faced particular challenges.

He could be the assertive adult who articulately lobbied at the State Capitol in April to require videotaping of police interrogations. He could also be the overgrown adolescent who stamped his feet and pouted at a Grand Central Terminal kiosk in August when asked if he wanted his smoothie with yogurt or apple juice.

Having spent nearly half his life locked up, accused of brutalizing a high school classmate he hardly knew, Mr. Deskovic was sent into the world last fall lacking some of life’s most fundamental skills and experiences.

He had never lived alone, owned a car, scanned the classifieds in search of work. He had never voted, balanced a checkbook or learned to knot a tie.

He missed the senior prom, the funeral of the grandmother who helped raise him, and his best friend’s wedding.

He said he had never made love.

For six months, Mr. Deskovic got by on $137 a month in disability checks and $150 in food stamps from the federal government, carrying cans of tuna in his backpack. Now earning money through speeches and newspaper columns about wrongful conviction, Mr. Deskovic paid rent for the first time in his life in August, for a cozy attic apartment in Tarrytown that the county subsidizes because of his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In September, he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police, the medical examiner, a prison guard and the governments of two counties, alleging that detectives falsified reports and coerced his confession, and that the prison guard groped and beat him. A separate lawsuit in the Court of Claims is planned seeking payment from the state for the wrongful incarceration.

Since January, he has been enrolled at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, and he expects to earn a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences in two months. Since June, he has studied daily for the Law School Admissions Test in hopes of soon going to law school.

At Mercy on a $22,000 scholarship, Mr. Deskovic has read Marx, Freud and Jung but has struggled to navigate the nuances of flirtation and friendship.

“These people are half my age,” he said one morning in a campus cafeteria filled with loud young men in baseball caps and baggy jeans. “They have their own social networks and I’m not part of it. They have direction. They’re going through the normal cycle of things.”

Mr. Deskovic’s life after exoneration has been punctuated by milestones like getting a driver’s license (and a $3,000 Pontiac Grand Am with a bumper sticker proclaiming, “Failure is not an option”), and new adventures, like playing table tennis at a Greenwich Village bar with people he had met online.

Exonerated, Freed, and What Happened Then

Iran vows to fight

Tehran is serious about rooting out corruption, an Iranian official asserts at an international anti-corruption conference in Bali.


Why is there more pragmatism and less ideology at state level. But at national level there is more ideology in federal countries like US.

The Mortality Cost to Smokers

The Mortality Cost to Smokers by W. Kip Viscusi and Joni Hersch

This article estimates the mortality cost of smoking based on the first labor market estimates of the value of statistical life by smoking status. Using these values in conjunction with the increase in the mortality risk over the life cycle due to smoking, the value of statistical life by age and gender, and information on the number of packs smoked over the life cycle, produces an estimate of the private mortality cost of smoking of $222 per pack for men and $94 per pack for women in 2006 dollars, based on a 3 percent discount rate. At discount rates of 15 percent or more, the cost decreases to under $25 per pack.

Lecture Podcasts

Professor David Laibson on The Psychology of Saving and Investment
Lecture I: Intertemporal Choice
Lecture II: Investment for Dummies
Lecture III: Sticky Biases and the Curse of Education

Professor Paul Krugman Globilisation and Welfare

Professor John Van Reenen on Bloomberg Radio, discussing linkage between education and economic growth and productivity growth in America and Europe. Part 1 and Part 2

Professor Alan Krueger discussing his research on the economics of terrorism

All via CEP BLOG

Rules for being a successful empirical economist

Conversations With History - Richard B. Freeman

1. You’ve to like numbers

2. You’ve to listen to people [from the real world, businessmen, labor unions, etc] and get out of office and talk to people

3. Ability to abstract … and build mathematical models.

Berkely need to modernize their style of interviews- and open up for questions in advance for interviewers.

HT: New Economist

Video about Richard Freeman

"Feminization of Work in the U SA: A New Era for (Man)kind?"

"White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy"

"What Role for Labor Standards in the Global Economy"

"Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor"
"Does Inequality in Skills Explain Inequality of Earnings Across Countries"

A Fairer Sort of Harvard;
Last spring protesting students at Harvard demanded that the university pay all of its workers at least a living wage and that it stop contracting with outside companies for low-wage work. Faced with unflattering national publicity, Harvard set up a committee of faculty members, administrators, students and employees to look at the situation of its low-wage workers and make recommendations. The protests had raised a fundamental question: Does a major employer like Harvard have a responsibility to be a good employer to workers, or should it seek to get by with the least it can in the labor market?

The last time Harvard faced this question was in December 1929, when the State of Massachusetts ordered it to pay female building cleaners the state minimum wage of 37 cents an hour, 2 cents above what the university had been paying. Choosing to get by with the least it could, Harvard fired the cleaning women and directed other workers to do their jobs.

This time Harvard is going in a very different direction. Its committee's report, which came out this week, documents the substantial decline in the real wages of custodians and other low-paid employees. It describes how the threat that work would be contracted out has put pressure on unionized workers to accede to low pay. If the committee's recommendations are adopted next month by Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers -- as is likely, given his positive reaction to the report -- the university will be committed to treating its lower-wage workers as full members of the university community and to giving them decent wages, respect for their work and opportunities for further training.

The committee also recommends pay increases that would take the lowest wages to between $10.83 and $11.30 an hour from $8.50. These rates are based on what the committee felt collective bargaining would have produced absent the threat of outsourcing to lower-wage contractors. The recommended pay levels exceed the levels in the living wage law that the City of Cambridge applies to municipal employees and city contractors.

Contrary to the fears of some alumni, students and administrators, the committee did not cave in to student demands for setting low-level pay according to a living wage formula, about which there could be considerable controversy, or to end outsourcing. Though it recommends a wage floor for the present, the heart of its proposal is something else: a parity wage and benefits policy for contractors, based on collective bargaining. Companies under contract to provide workers at Harvard would have to pay wages equivalent to the wages for Harvard's unionized employees doing comparable work. The Harvard unions would be bargaining, in effect, for minimum wages and benefits for the employees of contractors as well as for themselves, even though those outside workers might not be union members.

Richard Freeman awarded IZA Prize 2007

Public Sector Collective Bargaining Law Data Set
Occupational Wages around the World (OWW) Database
Worker Representation and Participation Survey (WRPS)

Seventy Percent of all statistics are made up

-A female relative who recently became available said that she’s going on a strict diet.
“Stan”, she said. “A single woman can be neurotic, psychotic, irrational, unreasonable, schizophrenic and even delusional, but she cannot be fat.”
She’s right. A recent survey tells us that 56% of U.S. women would much rather have thinner waists than a higher I.Q.
-When going out to eat 28% prefer American food, 22% choose Italian, 17% prefer Mexican and 16% like Chinese. I was once told that when going out to eat, Jewish people eat more Italian food than any other nationality in the world… and Jewish people eat more Chinese food than any other nationality in the world…. And if Jewish people stop eating out, two whole countries go out of business.

-Lies, damn lies and statistics

At last a new face in Australia

Bush Ally Defeated in Australia;
Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, one of President Bush’s staunchest allies in Asia, suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of the electorate on Saturday, as his Liberal Party-led coalition lost its majority in Parliament.

He will be replaced by Kevin Rudd, the Labor Party leader and a former diplomat. “Today Australia looks to the future,” Mr. Rudd told a cheering crowd in his home state of Queensland. “Today the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward.”

Mr. Howard’s defeat, after 11 years in power, follows that of José María Aznar of Spain, who also backed the United States-led invasion of Iraq, and political setbacks for Tony Blair of Britain...

Mr. Rudd, 50, campaigned on a platform of new leadership to address broad concerns about the environment, health and education. He has said his first acts as prime minister would include pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and negotiating the withdrawal of Australia’s 500 troops from Iraq...

Mr. Rudd’s dry image was altered by the news that he had visited a strip club during a trip to New York in 2003.

He was a diplomat in Beijing and speaks Mandarin. He impressed many with a fluent address to Chinese President Hu Jintao when Mr. Hu visited Australia in September.

Read John Quiggin for more coverage of the elections

Study Governance in Berlin

The Master of Public Policy Programme in Governance
The Master of Public Policy (MPP) programme is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in modern governance. The interdisciplinary two-year degree combines traditional classroom education with real-world training to develop candidates' practical and analytical problem-solving skills. Prospective students have typically studied economics, law, or political science, but the HSoG encourages candidates from every field to apply.

Hertie School of Governance

Things I wish were Made in China

Why is it so difficult to find good quality cotton swabs in US?
All I buy have one feature in common- 'Made in USA'.

Is it because of the cotton subsidies?


Henry Farrell and Daniel Drezner on mostly about Rodrik's book.

Why globalization doesn’t lift all boats- Nancy Birdsall

Toward a new development economics

Delivering Health Care

The Problem of Corruption

Why do some economists blog?

Monoposonistic Labor Markets, Minimum Wages and Employment - the Laffer Curve of Leftist Economics?

Turning a Sphere Inside Out

I'm Dreaming of a Rawlsian Thanksgiving

Weekend Reading List

Strong Medicine

From Sets to Arithmetic

Am I a heterodox Keynesian?

An economist and a philosopher on God

Philosopher Joshua Cohen, left, and economist Glenn Loury discuss the essence of Christianity. Watch the video

Glenn Loury on race and crime
Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?
The travails and temptations of a black intellectual
Lies, Damn Lies, and Narratives
John McWhorter and Glen

Friday, November 23, 2007

New York Unverifiable Fact of the Day

Over 1.3 million people, one in six New Yorkers, cannot afford enough food, with queues at soup kitchens getting longer, anti-poverty groups say...

Food Bank, a non-profit organisation which distributes food to about 1,000 pantries, said its shelves were half full compared with usual levels.

According to a survey, 59% of New York's food programmes, up from 48% last year, said they did not have enough resources to meet demand.

The US Department of Agriculture says 12.6 million households nationwide, or more than 30 million people - 10% of the population - did not have enough food at some point in 2006

-New York hunger levels 'rising'

About Books

Interesting blog- The Page 99 Test

A case for the case-control method- on research methods

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nassim Nicholas Talem- You Tube Interview for the Day

A practitioner of uncertainty

Adam Smith on Leadership

It is not thirty years ago since Mr. Cameron of Lochiel, a gentleman of Lochabar in Scotland, without any legal warrant whatever, not being what was then called a lord of regality, nor even a tenant in chief, but a vassal of the Duke of Argyle, and without being so much as a justice of peace, used, notwithstanding, to exercise the highest criminal jurisdiction over his own people. He is said to have done so with great equity, though without any of the formalities of justice; and it is not improbable that the state of that part of the country at that time made it necessary for him to assume this authority in order to maintain the public peace. That gentleman, whose rent never exceeded five hundred pounds a year, carried, in 1745, eight hundred of his own people into the rebellion with him.

Via Sandra Peart

God's Business Fact of the Day

The Evangelical Christian Credit Union in Brea, Calif., a pioneer in lending to churches and a proxy for this market shift, has seen its loan portfolio grow to $2.7 billion, from just $60 million in the early 1990s, said Mark A. Johnson, its executive vice president. Where bankers were once reluctant to lend to churches, the credit union now shares a market with some of the nation’s largest banks.

-Megachurches Add Local Economy to Their Mission

Discuss- the lessons of marketing to other businesses.

Homicides Tipping Point has passed in NY

The low number of killings by strangers belies the common imagery that New Yorkers are vulnerable to arbitrary attacks on the streets, or die in robberies that turn fatal.

In the eyes of some criminologists, the police will be hard pressed to drive the killing rate much lower, since most killings occur now within the four walls of an apartment or the confines of close relationships.

“What are you going to do, send cops to every house?” said Peter K. Manning, the Brooks professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston.

“We know that historically, homicide is the least suppressible crime by police action,” he added. “It is, generally speaking, a private crime, resulting from people who know one another and have relationships that end up in death struggles at home or in semipublic places.”

Police officials did not dispute the validity of that assessment.

-City Homicides Still Dropping, to Under 500

Readings for the Day

Western Union Empire Moves Migrant Cash Home

Is the Bond Market the Best Predictor of the Outcome of a War?--Posner

Iraqi Bonds and the Effects of the Surge-Becker

Business Bankruptcy Filings

Krugman on Obama on Social Security

Interpreting the Fed

Publication Bias and the Death Penalty

Freddie Mac--victim, villain, or savior?

South Africa Facts for the Day

Apparently the 25th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in 1990 adopted November 18 as African Statistics Day and last year "the day was celebrated by more countries than ever before".

I'm not sure how one celebrates statistics or even what to wear.

Nor am I sure what statistics South Africa contributes though I do know the government is not too keen on releasing statistics that might question its degree of success in certain fields. It was this thought that led me to instruct the Stoep Talk Organisation's Statistics Division to bring readers stats they can trust.

This is what we found.

Our surveys revealed that the cops with the highest income are Gauteng's Metro Police who man night-time roadblocks. On average each cop makes R15 000 a month in bribes.

We discovered that the average combi taxi driver breaks traffic laws 273 times a day.

At any one time there are 178 sets of traffic lights out of order in Johannesburg.

If the person in charge of the city's robots was replaced by a trained chimp paid in bananas it wouldn't help much but it would save R380 000 a year.

The one Metro policeman known to have been trained to actually help road users by directing traffic at faulty traffic lights was run over in 2004 on his first day on duty.

Since then all Metro policemen opt to work at nighttime roadblocks.

Seventy-five percent of Johannesburg councillors are unable to point out more than three suburbs on a map of the city.

Eskom's rolling blackouts are costing the national economy R1-million a minute.

The unchecked spate of car thefts is now worth R22,6-billion a year to the motor car industry which has to replace the cars. The industry has categorically denied it trains car thieves.

The Star went on sale in Harare last week at $250 000 a copy (no kidding). With inflation running at more than 1000% the newspaper should be costing $20-million a copy this time next year. Vendors cannot give small change (ie: anything less than $50 000).

- What do you wear to a statistics function?