Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Gus Rankings: Week 13

Gus has his own opinion on who should join LSU in the National Championship Game this week-- Houston! The Cougars come in ranked #2 this week, even on points with Stanford. Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech are tied for fourth. This week's rankings are here.

LSU looks to be a lock for #1 even with a loss to Georgia this weekend-- it would take a perfect storm of Georgia upsetting LSU and UCLA defeating Oregon, along with Houston beating Southern Mississippi and North Texas finding a way past Middle Tennessee State. And even that wouldn't do it if West Virginia defeats South Florida.

Houston, though, looks like a solid bet to hold on to the second spot through next weekend. Naturally, they would need to win their conference championship-- a home game against Southern Mississippi. But otherwise, things look promising. A win by Houston guarantees them second place; their two-point edge over Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech combined with a 9 point win would be too much for the pair of chasers to overcome. Further, Stanford looks to drop in the rankings by virtue of not playing. Here's how the weekend shapes up, points-wise:

Houston: Would earn 9 points with a win over Southern Mississippi; potential additional points from North Texas and UCLA. Total possible points: 11

Oklahoma State: Would earn 9 points with a victory over Oklahoma; one additional point from the Texas/Baylor winner. Iowa State also plays Kansas State; either outcome yields no net gain for Oklahoma State. Total possible points: 10

Virginia Tech: Would earn 7 points with a victory over Clemson (Clemson's 8 wins, less a point due to losing to Clemson earlier in the year). One potential additional point from Arkansas State. Total possible points: 8

So, in our weekly installment of the BC(GU)S, here's how Gus would allocate the teams:

National Championship Game: LSU (SEC champion) vs. Houston (automatic qualifier)
Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac-12 champion) vs. Michigan State (Big 10 champion)
Fiesta: Oklahoma State (Big 12 champion) vs. Alabama (at large)
Sugar: Stanford (at large, replacement for LSU) vs. Boise State (at large)
Orange: Virginia Tech (ACC champion) vs. West Virginia (Big East champion)

One more week of regular season action!

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Gus Rankings: Week 12

Here are this week's Gus Rankings. LSU continues to lead the pack, and Oklahoma State retains the second position despite suffering their first loss of the season. Houston surges into the third position, followed by Alabama and Virginia Tech.

As we noted last week, it's fun to project the BCS lineup per the Gus Rankings. You can find the BCS selection procedures here; remaining games are assumed to be decided by the Gus Rankings as well. As such, Gus determines the lineup for the BCs games should be as follows:

National Championship Game: LSU (SEC Champion) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champion)
Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac 12 Champion) vs. Penn State (Big 10 champion)
Fiesta Bowl: Alabama (at-large, replacement for Oklahoma State) vs. Boise State (at-large)
Sugar Bowl: Houston (automatic qualifier, replacement for LSU) vs. Stanford (at-large)
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech (ACC Champion) vs. Rutgers (Big East champion)

Not a bad lineup; the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl would probably swap lineups in this situation out of geographic preference. I don't see Boise State making it, but Alabama and Stanford have to be looking pretty good at this point to secure at large bids. Note also that Michigan cannot make the Big 10 title game and thus does not secure the automatic Big 10 bid. Rutgers takes the automatic Big East bid because I *think* Gus predicts a 4-way tie at the end of the season, and the tie-breaker is highest BCS ranking.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 Gus Rankings: Week 11

Here are this week's Gus Rankings. LSU leads the way with Oklahoma State two points back in the second spot. Alabama is third, Oklahoma fourth, and Oregon fifth.

At the bottom of the rankings, Memphis holds a two point "lead" over Tulane.

At this point, it is fun to extrapolate whom Gus would have playing in the BCS bowl games. We'll use the current Gus Rankings to determine bowl choice and to break any conference tiebreakers or uncertainty.

The National Championship Game is easy enough-- the top two ranked teams in the poll are LSU and Oklahoma State, here assumed to be the champions of the SEC and the Big 12, respectively.

The Rose Bowl is the next easiest bowl to figure. The champion of the Pac-12 and the Big 10 are each sent to the Rose Bowl unless they are committed to the National Championship Game. Neither figure to fit this stipulation this week; Oregon would be the champion of the Pac-12 (with the highest Gus Ranking), and would face Michigan (again, the highest ranked team from the Big 10). Note that the actual Big 10 race is still wide open; Michigan finds itself one game behind Michigan State in the standings, and Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin all have two losses or less as well.

Only one remaining conference has a binding tie to a particular bowl-- the ACC, in which current Gus champion Virginia Tech would travel to the Orange Bowl. The SEC (Sugar) and Big 12 (Fiesta) champions are not committed to these bowl because they have been chosen for the National Championship Game. These bowls get to choose replacements before the pool of at-large teams is considered.

So, the first bowl that gets to select a replacement is the Sugar Bowl, as LSU was the first team to be taken for the National Championship Game with their #1 ranking. We assume that the Sugar Bowl takes the highest remaining team in the Gus Rankings. Thus, the Sugar Bowl selects Alabama, which is ranked #3.

The Fiesta Bowl is next in selecting a replacement for Oklahoma State; next highest on the list is Oklahoma at #4.

The remaining teams are selected according to the pre-determined order for the season: Fiesta, Sugar, then Orange. The Big East champion remains as an automatic qualifier; the highest ranked Big East team is West Virginia at #29. Because Houston is presumed to be the conference champion of Conference USA and they are ranked within the top 12, they, too, are an automatic qualifier (though would have been the next team selected by virtue of ranking strength anyhow). That leaves one remaining team to be selected from the Gus Rankings-- and Boise State captures the final at-large selection.

So, in assembling the final selections according to requirements and still preferring teams with the highest possible rankings, we are left with the following bowl lineup:

National Championship Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Houston
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

Of course, things change from week to we'll see where this ends up! As a fun side note...what would be the over/under on that Fiesta Bowl matchup?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blockquoting X

X = Robert E. Lucas, Jr. on Keynes and the Keynesian consensus:
I think that in writing the General Theory, Keynes was viewing himself as a spokesman for a discredited profession. That’s why he doesn’t cite anyone but crazies like Hobson. He knows about Wicksell and all the “classics,” but he is at pains to disassociate his views from theirs, to overemphasize the differences. He’s writing in a situation where people are ready to throw in the towel on capitalism and liberal democracy and go with fascism or corporatism, protectionism, socialist planning. Keynes’s first objective is to say, “Look, there’s got to be a way to respond to depressions that’s consistent with capitalist democracy.” What he hits on is that the government should take some new responsibilities, but the responsibilities are for stabilizing overall spending flows. You don’t have to plan the economy in detail in order to meet this objective. And in that sense, I think for everybody in the postwar period—I’m talking about Keynesians and monetarists both—that’s the agreed-upon view: We should stabilize spending flows, and the question is really one of the details about how best to do it. Friedman’s approach involved slightly less government involvement than a Keynesian approach, but I say slightly.

Monday, November 07, 2011

2011 Gus Rankings: Week 10

Here are this week's Gus Rankings. LSU leads the pack, followed by Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Alabama and Boise State.

At the bottom end of the rankings, Tulane has taken a commanding lead, outpacing UAB by a full five points.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Free Market Reform in Cuba

NPR reports:
Cuba announced Thursday it is allowing the purchase and sale of real estate for the first time since the early days of the revolution, the most important reform yet in a series of free-market changes ushered in by President Raul Castro.

The law, which takes effect Nov. 10, applies to citizens and permanent residents only, according to a red-letter headline on the front page of Thursday's Communist Party daily Granma.
This video provides a clear picture of the living standard in Cuba prior to these new "free-market changes." You won't be surprised.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Economics of Halloween Candy

Here is a fantastic article from NPR on the spontaneous Halloween candy after-market. From the piece:

"Within seconds of returning home, the first group at the trading party spilled their pillow cases onto the floor and started making piles.


Sierra quickly became the queen of Reese's by jumping into the market early. While most kids were still organizing their piles by brand, she was already making moves and trading her way to a hefty collection of Reese's Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups.


The decibel level in the candy-trading room rivaled that of Wall Street. The trading peaked about 20 minutes in as cross-room deals had Milk Duds flying overhead while a Jolly Rancher came the other way. Whoppers went for Smarties. Kit Kats went for a Twix. Charleston Chews, the pennies of the lot, didn't seem to move at all."