Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's in the journals?

From the Economist, on how to boycott a company, the value of brands, the economics of prostitution, company reputations, the strength of the glass ceiling, and so on.

Against Intellectual Monopoly

Two professors from the Econ dept here have a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly, in which they challenged the conventional wisdom that patents and copy rights are crucial in providing necessary incentives to the inventors. Instead, they argue that copyrights and patents are used by the politically powerful to maintain monopoly profits and that the incentive effects that have been used to justify copyright and patents are exaggerated -- there were few examples from history suggesting that the temporary and not-so-temporary monopoly power from copyright and patents were necessary to induce innovation.

Here is a podcast from Econtalk.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Capitalism vs Socialism

According to Rasmussen Reports:

53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

There is a partisan gap as well. Republicans - by an 11-to-1 margin - favor capitalism. Democrats are much more closely divided: Just 39% say capitalism is better while 30% prefer socialism. As for those not affiliated with either major political party, 48% say capitalism is best, and 21% opt for socialism.

Source: Mankiw.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wolfram Alpha

Having computational difficulties? Try WolframAlpha.

Here is a sneak preview from Youtube.

Saez: A U-Turn

Emmanuel Saez, 36, a public economics expert teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, was awarded the 2009 John Bates Clark Medal last week. Nobody has done more to describe the broad changes in income distribution in the United States that have taken place during the last ninety years.

"[Saez's] work attacks policy questions from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, on the one hand refining the theory in ways that link the characteristics of optimal policy to measurable aspects of the economy and of behavior, while on the other hand undertaking careful and creative empirical studies designed to fill the gaps in measurement identified by the theory. Through a collection of interrelated papers, he has brought the theory of taxation closer to practical policy making, and has helped to lead a resurgence of academic interest in taxation."

Also see here.