Monday, November 30, 2009

Asia's rise -- how and when

Again, this piece is brought forward by Hans Rosling, a charming Swedish statistician and presenter.

I have an old post where I was first amazed by Dr. Rosling's impressive presentation skills and techniques.

A Fresh Look...

...of my long time favorite blog. Bravo!

Below is the old look:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What if shopping worked like health care?

Watch the video here.


The State of Corporate Governance Research

By Lucian Bebchuk and Michael Weisbach. This paper is an introduction to a special issue on corporate governance co-sponsored by the Review of Financial Studies and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The special issue features seven papers on corporate governance that were presented in a meeting of the NBER’s corporate governance project. Each of the papers represents state-of-the-art research in an important area of corporate governance research. For each of these areas, we discuss the importance of the area and the questions it focuses on, how the paper in the special issue makes a significant contribution to this area, and what we do and do not know about the area. We discuss in turn work on shareholders and shareholder activism, directors, executives and their compensation, controlling shareholders, comparative corporate governance, cross-border investments in global capital markets, and the political economy of corporate governance.

H/T to Peter Klein.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


From "free documentaries online".

"Home is a documentary about Earth, humanity, nature, where we're going and what we've been. Shot in 54 countries with aerial footage it's a combination of all the navel-gazing movies we've seen lately like Planet Earth and Baraka. Like a guilty abusive adult, we're now taking a closer look at ourselves, what we've done to the planet and what we've to ourselves."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quotes for today

Years ago, an old scholar recommended me a book by economist E. F. Schumacher called, Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered, from which he particularly mentioned the following quote:

"Everywhere people ask: 'What can I actually do?' The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind. "

H/T to the E. F. Schumacher Society Blog. See more insightful quotes from this book here.

Douglass North on Ostrom and Williamson

Douglass North, Professor of Economics at Washington University, also the 1993 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics discusses Ostrom and Williamson's work on economic governance and the central agenda of the New Institutional Economics.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A survey of behavioral finance

By Barberis and Thaler.

H/T to Simoleon Sense.

Scroogenomics: Why shouldn't we buy gifts for Christmas?

Ever since the publication of his 1993 AER paper "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas", Wharton School economist Joel Waldfogel has built something of a reputation as a Christmas killjoy (see comments on this piece here, here and here). In that short essay, Prof. Waldfogel argues that holiday spending is "a massive institution for value destruction" because of the fact that so many gifts -- billions of dollars' worth -- match up so poorly with what recipients would have bought for themselves. Instead of the Friedmanian argument that "nobody spends somebody else's money as wisely as he spends his own", Prof. Waldfogel seems to argue for the contrary (although a little bit twisted), that "nobody spends his own money (on somebody else) as wisely as somebody else spends his money (for her own)". Moreover, there might be another possiblity here -- what if the welfare gains for the gift-buyers outweigh the possible welfare losses for gift-recievers because of this resource misallocation? Is the measure of welfare gains valid in the first place? Finally, economists always tend to argue that the reason why some instituition or mechanism exists is exactly because under some circumstance, this institution or mechanism is more efficient than some alternative ones. So it seems to me that the more interesting question to ask is not whether gift-giving is efficient or not, but to ask under what conditions, gift-giving is more efficient than its alternatives, say, giving money or giving gift cards?

In his new book, Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays (see his interview here), lively and informed, Prof. Waldfogel illustrates how our consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste --to the shocking tune of eighty-five billion dollars each winter. He also seems to provide solid explanations to show us why it's time to stop the madness and think twice before buying gifts for the holidays.

While giving presents may lead to a huge amount of efficiency loss, and giving cash is considered inappropriate or cold, gift cards may probably become the best alternative -- which now represents up to a third of holiday spending. However, 10% of the value of gift cards goes unredeemed each year -- retailers could be more than happy because of this.

Anyway, it is up to you whether to buy this book or not, but when you decide to buy it, DO NOT give it as a holiday present to someone else, because that is all this book about.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Beauty of Symmetry

What is symmetry? How to mathematically characterize the beauty of symmetry? Watch the following lecture.

History of Finance: A Collection of Interviews with Finance Gurus

American Finance Association recently conducted a series of video interviews with important contributors to financial economic knowledge. Links to streaming videos of edited versions of interviews can be found here. The gurus interviewed include Harry Markowitz, William Sharpe, Paul Samuelson, Robert Merton, Myron Scholes, Jack Treynor, Kenneth Arrow, Eugene Fama and Fred Weston.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview with Non-Freakonomists

Aaron Steelman interviews with Allan Meltzer on the history of Federal Reserve, the fact of “Too Big to Fail”, and on the optimal size of government and the role of World Bank.
Douglas Clement sits down with Kevin M. Murphy on inequality, technological change, economic growth and health.
Barron’s presents an interview with Burton Malkiel on overinvestment in certain stocks during a bubble and on Behavioral Finance.

H/T to Timothy Taylor, Editor of Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

100 Useful References for B-School Students

See here, which includes News feeds, Search Engines, Twitter pages, iphone apps, Open Edu links and many others.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quote of the day

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

This quote orginally from CS Lewis was stolen from my colleague Peter Boumgarden's Blog, The Captured Perspective. In that article, Peter mainly focuses on the relationship between language (what we speak) and reality (what we perceive), using love and religion as two concrete examples. Worth a read!

Monday, November 2, 2009