May 2009 Archives

I just saw that is now on the official list of economics blogs on the American Economics Association's Resources for Economists (RFE) web site. But even better is that our economic jokes page is the first link on the AEAweb page entitled "Neat Stuff".
Back in March, I wrote a piece entitled, "Overall economy not as bad... relatively" in which I graphically compared the current U.S. recession with the previous 13 recessions including the Great Depression. In that post, I concluded that the recession at that time was not the biggest since the Great Depression. This current post presents updated graphics and provides evidence that this is now the biggest U.S. recession since the big one at the beginning of the 1930s.

Ran (Rani) Spiegler is a Professor in the Department of Economics at University College London who specializes in game theory and industrial organization. He has a great economics jokes page on his website entitled "Quasi-economics." Most of the links are to satyrical pieces that he has authored. My favorites are "How (not) to write an NSF Grant," a piece about world population per capita, and the Ariel Rubinstein Seminar Comment Generator (ARSECOG). The last paper is particularly funny for anyone who has attended a seminar presentation of an economic theory paper.

(Thanks to Scott Findley for pointing me to this.)

Donald Marron's blog

The newest economics blog that I know of is an offering from Donald Marron. I worked for Donald back in the summer of 2002 on the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. The main project I worked on with him was a report entitled, "Understanding the Stock Option Debate," that advocated stock option valuations on corporate balance sheets. Donald has worked as an economist in the highest levels of academia, government, and the private sector. I think Donald has a great understanding of the turbulent confluence of politics and economics, and I look forward to his forthcoming posts and insights.

Leamer and the state of macro

(Pardon the long post, but this is a topic that I love.) Adding another post to a topic that Jason and I have discussed often both on and off this blog (post 1, post 2), I wanted to post a link to a podcast interview with Ed Leamer on EconTalk. Leamer is a renowned economist in international trade and econometrics. Russ Roberts' interview with Leamer is interesting and insightful, and I recommend it as a good listen. But I finished the podcast feeling very confused. Leamer argues both that current macroeconomics does a terrible job at explaining the data and at having a story to explain the data. This is not an inditement, but rather a good indirect description of the two current ways of approaching macroeconomics.
Val Lambson pointed me to this great video of comedian Louis CK on the Conan O'Brien show on 10/2/08. The economic content of the video is that technology has progressed so quickly in recent years, but our baseline utility (happiness) adjusts almost immediately. One of my favorite lines is, "how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago."

Greg Mankiw posted this SNL video of Timothy Geithner commenting on the outcomes of the Treasury's stress tests of the American banking system.

Obama's standup bit

Greg Mankiw posted this video of Barack Obama doing 16 minutes of comedy at the White House correspondents dinner on May 9, 2009 ("the 10-day anniversary of my first 100 days"). I think he closes with a pretty nice commentary about the American press.

Yoram Bauman AEA performance

I reported on the AEA humor session back in January. This video contains portions of Yoram Bauman's performance. I was sitting on the front row, just to the right of what the camera frame was showing. Enjoy.

Questions About Health Economics

Given the news coverage of health care proposals, I'm posting a list of questions I have about health care and heath economics.   I'd love to hear your answers.

1) If we are worried about health care costs rising relative to GDP, why aren't we worried about iPod costs relative to GDP?  After all, these "costs" have been rising at double digit rates for several years.  Why, at that rate, they are soon to overtake our entire economy.

2) Is there any industry which you could not envision cutting the costs of?  Why don't we cut the cost of SUV's by 1.5% each year?  Why is Obama stopping with just health care?

3) Why doesn't my car insurance pay for oil changes or new brake pads?
The May edition of the International Economic Update from the Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas was released on Monday. Two points stand out to me: (1) The global growth forecasts are less optimistic than most U.S. forecasters (e.g., Ben Bernanke), and (2) the ranking of countries by relative size of fiscal stimulus in 2009 puts the U.S. a little further from the top than I expected.


Tomorrow's Reports

It's like Christmas eve... but not.  And "Santa" has been dropping some hints.  Here's a preview of what's coming tomorrow regarding the "Stress Tests".

Despite the leaks, I still expect some market reaction.  Why?  I don't know how to write down a rigorous model of it, but it seems like expectations are perceived differently from certainties, even if the expectations are correct.


  • Richard W. Evans is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University

  • Jason DeBacker is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University

  • Kerk L. Phillips is an Associate Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University