Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The 2014 Employment Boom

Why did employment grow by about 3 million in 2014?  Here is the answer from a new paper:
We measure the effect of unemployment benefit duration on employment. We exploit the variation induced by the decision of Congress in December 2013 not to reauthorize the unprecedented benefit extensions introduced during the Great Recession. Federal benefit extensions that ranged from 0 to 47 weeks across U.S. states at the beginning of December 2013 were abruptly cut to zero. To achieve identification we use the fact that this policy change was exogenous to cross-sectional differences across U.S. states and we exploit a policy discontinuity at state borders. We find that a 1% drop in benefit duration leads to a statistically significant increase of employment by 0.0161 log points. In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lazear on Wage Stagnation

Eddie writes:
The share of the private workforce employed in the BLS-defined industries “financial activities” and “hospitals” decreased by about 5% between 2010 and 2014. Jobs in these industries pay 29% and 24%, respectively, above the economy mean. Because a smaller share of labor is working those high-wage industries, the typical job in the economy is now lower-paying than in 2010.... 
So what accounts for the relative decline in jobs in high-wage hospitals and finance? One obvious possibility is increased regulation. The Affordable Care Act for hospitals and Dodd-Frank for finance both passed in 2010, the year real wages began to decline.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Rise of Economists

Justin Wolfers documents:
in recent years around one in 100 [New York Times] articles mentions the term “economist,” ....Far fewer articles mention the terms historian or psychologist, while sociologists, anthropologists and demographers rarely rate a mention.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The most fiscally responsible country

Friday, January 16, 2015

What good are economists?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Leave the laptop in your dorm

I have long been skeptical about students using laptops in class to take notes. I had the sense that their brains were less engaged and that they were acting more like stenographers than students.  But I was not entirely sure my hunch was right. 

According to research described in this article, it was.

News from Amazon

Here are a few screen shots taken from Amazon today.



To users of my favorite textbooks: Thank you!  Have a great semester.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The New Economics of the Left

According to this article, some members of the Democratic party are moving from mainstream to heterodox economic theory. If Bernie Sanders runs for the Democratic presidential nomination, as now appears likely, this development should keep things entertaining for us econonerds.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Jeff Sachs on Paul Krugman

Here.

Monday, January 05, 2015

An Odd Question

Those who attended either of the sessions I was involved with at the ASSA meeting know that the audience included some hecklers.  During the first session, I was the target. During the second, Larry Summers was. (At one point, the moderator Bob Hall threatened to call security.)  Here is a Washington Post article about the hecklers.

After the first session was over, one of the hecklers came up to me and asked, "How much money have the Koch brothers paid you?"  My answer, of course, was "not a penny."

I don't find it odd that people disagree with me. I am always open to the possibility that I am wrong about lots of things, and I much enjoy talking with students and colleagues who have views different from mine. But I do find it odd that people who disagree with me are sometimes quick to question my sincerity. If I am wrong, it is sincere wrong-headedness, not the result of being on some plutocrat's payroll, as some on the left want to believe.

The hecklers probably limit their own effectiveness by questioning the motives of those who disagree with them. I have found that to convince other people, it is usually best not to assume your own moral superiority but rather to talk with them as equals who just happen to have a different point of view.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Me at the ASSA Meeting

I have a busy few days at the upcoming ASSA meeting in Boston.  For those interested, I will be involved in the following public events:

Jan 03, 2015 8:00 am, Sheraton Boston, Independence Ballroom
American Economic Association
A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" (D3)
 
Presiding: N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard University)
 
Capital and Wealth in the 21st Century
David N. Weil (Brown University)
 
Capital Taxation in the 21st Century
Alan J. Auerbach (University of California-Berkeley)
Kevin Hassett (American Enterprise Institute)
 
Yes, r>g. So what?
N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard University)
 
About Capital in the 21st century
Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics)


Jan 03, 2015 2:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Independence Ballroom
American Economic Association
The Economics of Secular Stagnation (A1)
 
Presiding: Robert E. Hall (Stanford University)
 
Secular Stagnation: A Supply Side View
Robert Gordon (Northwestern University)
 
Secular Stagnation: A Demand Side View
Lawrence H. Summers (Harvard University)
 
Does History Lend Any Support to the Secular Stagnation Hypothesis?
Barry Eichengreen (University of California-Berkeley)
 
Discussants:
Robert E. Hall (Stanford University)
William Nordhaus (Yale University)
N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard University)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NY Theater

My family and I have spent the past several days in New York City enjoying some theater (and fine dining). We much enjoyed A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. But the revival of Cabaret with Emma Stone as Sally Bowles and Alan Cumming as the Emcee was amazing. It is open only for a few more months. I strongly recommend you see it if you can.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Getting a Raise from Vladimir Putin

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Peltzman Effect

My friend Allen Sanderson points out these headlines in today's Wall Street Journal:

Safety Gear Helps Reduce U.S. Traffic Deaths

and

Cities Target Elevated Levels of Pedestrian Deaths

As Sam Peltzman pointed out years ago, when cars get safer, drivers are less careful, increasing externalities on pedestrians.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Affair

The best new TV show this year, at least among those I have seen, is Showtime's The Affair. It is a compellingly written and acted drama and crime story told, alternately, from two perspectives. If you want to check out the first episode, you can do so here. (One of the lead actors is Dominic West, who played McNulty in The Wire, another of the all-time great TV shows.)

From the Harvard Holiday/Skit Party

Saturday, December 13, 2014

After Obamacare

Republicans in Congress talk regularly about repealing the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  They have not, however, said much about what they will replace it with. One possibility is the plan described here.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Who pays for government?

Source. Click on graphic to enlarge.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trash Talking at the Harvard-Yale Game


Saturday, November 22, 2014

McCloskey on Piketty