Category Archives: links to my essays

Complexity illustrated by the financial crisis

This IGM poll of leading economists on the importance of various factors in the financial crisis of 2008 provides interesting results. The poll lists 12 factors, and all of them receive at least some positive weight. In fact, this under-estimates … Continue reading

Posted in Financial Crisis of 2008, links to my essays | 3 Comments

Re-litigating Netscape vs. Microsoft

In WTF, Tim O’Reilly writes, Netscape, built to commercialize the web browser, had decided to provide the source code to its browser as a free software project using the name Mozilla. Under competitive pressure from Microsoft, which had built a … Continue reading

Posted in books and book reviews, business economics, links to my essays | Tagged | 9 Comments

Re-litigating Open Source Software

In his new book, Tim O’Reilly reminisces fondly about the origins of “open source” software, which he dates to 1998. Well he might, for his publishing company made much of its fortune selling books about various open source languages. In … Continue reading

Posted in books and book reviews, business economics, links to my essays | Tagged | 18 Comments

Why pick on sociology?

A reader asks, Why do economists have such contempt for sociologists? …I was thinking of this because of your posts on “normative sociology” 1. The term “normative sociology” comes from Robert Nozick, and he described it as the study of … Continue reading

Posted in Economic education and methods, links to my essays | 5 Comments

A negative review of Thomas Leonard

In the important Journal of Economic Literature, Marshall I. Steinbaum and Bernard A. Weisberger write (gated, unless you are a member of the American Economics Association), Motivated history is not good history. And the approach the book takes is particularly … Continue reading

Posted in books and book reviews, links to my essays | 4 Comments

Regulatory miscalculation

Two examples. 1. Stephen Matteo Miller writes, While these findings do not establish that the Recourse Rule caused the financial crisis, they are consistent with the view that the rule encouraged securitizing banks, especially the largest ones, to hold the … Continue reading

Posted in Financial Crisis of 2008, links to my essays | 1 Comment

Variable costs approach zero

Jan De Loecker and Jan Eeckhout write, We document the evolution of markups based on firm-level data for the US economy since 1950. Initially, markups are stable, even slightly decreasing. In 1980, average markups start to rise from 18% above … Continue reading

Posted in business economics, links to my essays, Tyler Cowen is my Favorite Blogger | 3 Comments

Re-reading David Brooks

Almost twenty years after it first appeared, I review Bobos in Paradise. What Brooks might have foreseen, but did not, was how this Bobo project would play out as it gathered momentum. In the last two decades, we have witnessed … Continue reading

Posted in books and book reviews, culture, David Brooks, links to my essays | 9 Comments

Greg Ip Praises Economics

He writes, By stripping the emotions from pressing problems, economists can often illuminate the most practical ways to tackle them—but only if ordinary people and their representatives are prepared to listen. There is a gulf between small-scale society and large-scale … Continue reading

Posted in Economic education and methods, links to my essays | Tagged | 3 Comments

Revisiting Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest

I write, I have come to see the “can-do” attitude, and its attraction to politicians and the public, as very dangerous. On economic matters, the “can-do” adviser offers the promise of a free lunch: increased access to health care without … Continue reading

Posted in books and book reviews, links to my essays | 8 Comments