Thursday, December 30, 2010
However, going to the website (which I highly recommend you do) and picking over the different prizes, it is difficult to come away impressed. Though there are some challenges with arguable social value, but a lot of them are bizarre marketing programs.
For instance, I naturally clicked on the "economic" challenges. The first challenge offered was the "'How Has Social Security Made A Difference In Your Life' Video Contest":
Not a good start, right? This of course, wet my appetite for what other creative challenges they expect to have large positive externalities. The organizations list had a hyperlink to challenges sponsored by the USDA, a group that usually gets a mention in the price control section of many econ textbooks. I learn from it that there are no existing cookbooks for children:
That one pays up to $12,000, an amount which could basically buy out the entire cookbook section of your local Barnes and Nobles.
What about the Department of Defense? Perhaps it carries some challenges for improving radar technology, or more protective body suits for soldiers? Software to better teach languages important to the intelligence community? Click the link and here is your first one, a Press Holiday Scavenger Hunt!
Yikes! Going back to the homepage, I quickly come across two more gems in their scrolling marquee:
You see, Taxpayer, stop asking for your money back and start enjoying an augmented reality photo in the National Archives!!
For this last one, I actually do use a lot of government data and I think it does provide some social value, but somehow I cannot find it in me to write a love sonnet about Census data. At the very least, even if the government data does create value, it is not clear to me how a love sonnet does.
Challenge.gov most definitely gets the TPS Seal of Approval.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sue Ellspermann (R-74) says she has filed a bill allowing recent college graduates to pitch their business ideas to local leaders, who would then decide if they want to make an offer to locate the startup in their community.I can think of several advantages and disadvantages to this proposal, but I think the bottom line is going to have to be "Winner's Curse."
Under the plan, entrepreneurs could have several offers which would then be reviewed to decide which community would make the best fit.
And in the streets: the children screamed,ATSRTWT.
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The mainstream’s bells were broken.
And the three men needed in this flurry:
Ludwig, Fritz, and my old friend Murray,
Were laughed out of court by the mainstream jury
The day the dollar died.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Depicting the financial crisis in music. An orchestral interpretation from Julian Anderson, London Philharmonic Orchestra's composer in residence. "The notes of Keynes’s surname emerge, and with them a sense of hope"
Monday, December 20, 2010
December 23 - Poinsettia Bowl - Navy over San Diego State
December 28 - Champs Sports Bowl - West Virginia over North Carolina State
December 31 - Liberty Bowl - Central Florida over Georgia
January 1 - Capital One Bowl - Michigan State over Alabama
January 3 - Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech over Stanford
January 4 - Sugar Bowl - Ohio State over Arkansas
January 10 - BCS Championship - Auburn over Oregon
As there's an odd number of differences, there has to be a winner! For the record, both rankings picked all three already-played bowl games identically and sit at 2-1. (Correct on BYU and Northern Illinois, incorrect on Ohio University.)
Friday, December 17, 2010
The theme park will be called Ark Encounter and will be made up of educational attractions that highlight all that is wrong with the scientific method. The park will be run by Christian evangelicals who also run the Creation Museum, which is on the Kentucky-Ohio state line. The museum teaches, and the theme park will teach, a literal reading of the Bible that leaves little room for Charles Darwin. Scientists' estimates that the earth is really 4.5 billion years old are the result of a mathematical error.FWIW, it is $35 million in tax incentives, which works out to a little less than $40,000 per job.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) supports giving tax incentives to the owners of the for-profit park. He says he's doing it because the park will create 900 badly needed jobs and he fears that the creationists might move to Indiana. Supporters of the park say that tax incentives are appropriate because the park is not explicitly religious, but rather an alternate explanation of the origins of the earth.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Fiesta Bowl distributed 17,500 tickets to UConn, and the school is responsible to sell them all. The cheapest of those tickets cost $111 (in the lower end zone) and can cost as much as $268 for club level.
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.
Cost of any tickets or hotel rooms that go unfilled are absorbed by the university.
As of Monday night, only 4,000 tickets had been sold, meaning UConn was still holding roughly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.
As the original article notes, UConn's inflow from making the Fiesta Bowl should be over $3 million, but consider this: Since teams that don't make BCS games in BCS conferences still get revenue, it's quite possible that by winning their final game at South Florida, UConn could have set itself back an amount of money that could stretch into the millions of dollars. Granted, going to a lower tier bowl game presents its own financial difficulties along the lines of what was described above-- albeit on a much lower scale-- but I can't help but to think that simply in terms of the bottom line, UConn is worse off making the Fiesta Bowl.
I don't think UConn's going to lose money on the deal, but it's not going to be the financial jackpot so frequently assumed when you get a BCS invitation.
Parham, a 41-year old state employee, says her kids repeatedly ask for Happy Meals, mainly for the toys. "We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."
Doesn't this invalidate all advertising for kids products-- if it's not the Happy Meal that's the problem but the "into my kids' heads" aspect of it? Further-- are doctors then prohibited from giving out lollipops after shots?
Also, the fantastically-named Center for Science in the Public Interest is along for the ride.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
California law requires claims be posted for property "abandoned or lost" for more than three years. If the person doesn't claim it after six months, the property is transferred to the state, which then attempts to contact the owner, the spokesman said.
Anyone care to venture the social cost of filing claims for property, transferring it to the state, and then having the state undertake a search for the owner of its own?
The Whos, with one voice crying out in the night
Screamed “bring back our stuff! You haven’t the right!
“We know that we’re noisy all through Christmas Day,
But if you don’t like it, it’s you who should pay!
“For we were here first, and homesteaded the rights
To sing, to make noise, and to hang Christmas lights
“The costs of our Christmas joy helped you to save!
They were fully reflected in the price of your cave!”
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Now that the season is done, had the Gus Rankings been used as the sole measure of determining the BCS Bowls (and bowls choose the highest ranked team possible when their turn comes up), we'd have the following lineup:
National Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: TCU vs. Michigan State
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Connecticut
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas/Missouri
Arkansas and Missouri are tied, so one of them would claim the Orange Bowl slot.
I think I'm changing my understanding of these situations; I don't think it's a dislike of the secondary market, per se, as much as it's a dislike of there's-a-deal-to-be-had-and-I'm-not-in-on-it. I feel this because if the University of Wisconsin were to auction off the tickets from the get go-- thereby effectively eliminating the secondary market-- the same vitriol would be directed at the University. (Though the perception of a deal to be had would change.)
There are few stronger sentiments than the sense of entitlement.
Monday, December 06, 2010
As a metaphor for our troubled economic and financial era -- and the government's stumbling response -- this one's hard to beat. You can't stimulate the economy via the money supply, after all, if you can't print the money correctly.
Because of a problem with the presses, the federal government has shut down production of its flashy new $100 bills, and has quarantined more than 1 billion of them -- more than 10 percent of all existing U.S. cash -- in a vault in Fort Worth, Texas, reports CNBC.
I await an Austrian response on whether or not a interrupted printing process is good or bad in ABCT. My guess is that, unless its permanently broken (and only then in ABCT), this is a bad turn of events under any theory of the business cycle.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Modern macroeconomists in the Austrian tradition can be divided into two groups: Rothbardians and monetary equilibrium (ME) theorists. It is from this latter perspective that we consider the events of the last few years. We argue that the primary source of business fluctuation is monetary disequilibrium. Additionally, we claim that unnecessary intervention in the banking sector distorted incentives, nearly resulting in the collapse of the financial system, and that policies enacted to remedy the recession and financial instability have likely made things worse. Finally, we offer our own prescription to reduce the likelihood that such a scenario occurs again by better ensuring monetary equilibrium and eliminating moral hazard.The paper is slotted to appear in the second volume of Macroeconomic Theory and Its Failings: Alternative Perspectives on the Global Financial Crisis, edited by Steve Kates. My contribution to that volume (co-authored with Pete Boettke) can be found here.
The Federal Reserve System was created by an act of Congress only in 1913. It then presided over a great wartime inflation followed by a major depression in 1920-21. The 1920s were an era of prosperity, due as much to Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon's wise fiscal policies as anything the Fed did. The Fed's performance in the Great Depression was disastrous, a judgment shared by its current chairman, Ben Bernanke.ATSRTWT.
The Canadian banking system weathered the Great Depression without a central bank. Instead of the thousands of small, undiversified banks that the United States had, Canada had a small number of banks (with many branches across the country) that were able withstand localized downturns. Even in the Great Depression, banking failures in the U.S. were concentrated in specific regions. Canada's central bank, the Bank of Canada, was created in 1935 in part because of pressure from the rest of the world. Canada had survived without it quite well.
In short, central banking has been neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of a modern economy and financial system. A number of reform proposals for the Fed are being crafted, but there is no agreement on why the institution exists.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Just as last week, if the standings remain as listed, the BCS would shake out as follows (higher ranked teams assumed to win appropriate conference championships):
National Championship Game: Auburn vs. TCU
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
Sugar Bowl: Michigan State vs. Arkansas
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Boise State
In addition, at Art Carden's request, here is a breakdown of the average rating by conference:
ACC: 2.3 (Atlantic 7.0, Coastal -2.3)
Big 10: 13.9
Big 12: 19.1 (North 11.8, South 26.3)
Big East: -2.1
SEC: 17.2 (East -0.7, West 35)
And while we're here, the following is my prediction of how it will actually shake out:
National Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia
(...with the caveat that: if Connecticut makes it from the Big East, put them in the Fiesta and put Stanford in the Orange Bowl, and the Virginia Tech spot is for the winner of Virginia Tech/Florida State and the Oklahoma spot is for the winner of Oklahoma/Nebraska.)
2. Longtime TPS reader Rob Holub sends along Jack White and his understanding of the secondary market. I've long believed that if artists really want to collapse the secondary market for memorabilia or concert tickets, simply incorporate an auction mechanism for distribution-- the market will either go away or be vastly reduced in scope. It's nice to see Jack White take a step in that direction.