Sunday, November 20, 2011

Becker and Posner on Occupy Wall Street

See here and here.

Holdup Problem, Airline Version

It happened half way - in Vienna - through a flight from India to England. An airline took advantage of both time- and location-specificity to force its passengers to agree to pay $200 more for the service.

See here and here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

FT/Goldman Sachs Award

This annual best business book award goes to Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo's book "Poor Economics" which describes radical new and sometimes ingenious ways of tackling global poverty. While previous research on ending poverty has debated heavily on whether foreign aid does more good than harm to poor nations (a la Jeffrey Sachs) or the other way around (a la William Easterly), the authors of this book - two MIT economists - by having conducted various randomized controlled trials on all kinds of aid programs all over the world (fighting AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, etc.), have offered a closer and more granular look at this problem, and find that whether these programs are effective really depends on how things are done. The reason behind this is that poor people often face very complicated situations that aid providers haven't fully considered but otherwise may completely alter their incentives to act "properly". If these constraints as well as many other important factors such as the local culture were taken into great consideration, things may well be moving in the right direction, and sometimes even in more cost efficient ways.

Five other shortlisted books are: Exorbitant Privilege by Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen; Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by UCLA strategy guru Richard Rumelt; The Quest by energy expert Daniel Yergin; Triumph of the City by Harvard economist Edward Glaeser; and Wilful Blindess by Margaret Heffernan.

See some extracts from these books here.