Jamble Magazine Green Economy – Green News


October 30, 2018

Some Links for Today

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 12:12 pm

I believe that my new publication in the Journal of Housing Economics will generate so many cites that Ted Bergstrom will owe Elsevier an apology.   The “consequences of land use regulation” literature isn’t so convincing because we have so much trouble measuring intense land use regulation and we rarely have a good control group.  In my humble opinion, we are able to address both of these problems in the case of the California Coastal Zone.  But, the beauty of academic economic is that suppliers must sell their product on a competitive market — so you can judge its true quality.

Some other links:

When I become a billionaire, I wonder if I will live in this house.  Is this typical Mumbai architecture?

A salient example of the synergies between Government subsidies and the nascent Green Tech Sector: “Green-Industrial” Complex

October 29, 2018

Can Technology Solve Political Problems?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 10:14 pm

Recently, there was a LA Times article discussing using technology to slow immigration into the United States.  A resident of Laguna Beach wrote the LA Times the following letter; “Note to the Department of Homeland Security, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and others: Political problems cannot be solved with technology.”

In many case, this strong statement is false but it is worth thinking about.

Example #1:  Los Angeles Smog — Los Angeles used to have a terrible smog problem.  Too many cars were driving too many miles.  In the early 1970s, the catalytic converter and unleaded gasoline were phased in for new cars and by the year 2010, there are almost no pre-1972 vehicles still on the road.  Vehicles built with the catalytic converter and modern computer systems emit 99% less pollutants per mile than the 1960s makes. Technology and the phase out of old vehicles that lacked this technology have solved this problem.

Example #2:  Traffic Congestion — this is another political problem.  Time of day toll roads can now be implemented and this “Smart Grid” technology advance would go a long way in reducing traffic congestion as would time day parking rates so that parking prices would be higher during peak times and fall off peak.

Example #3:  Urban crime — the ubiquitous cell phone makes everyone a roaming reporter who can call 911 if an attack takes place. People are making videos and taking photos and this makes our streets safer. Potential criminals know that due to this technology that they are more likely to be caught “red handed”.

Example #4:  Climate Change — if some nerd could invent a renewable power source that is cheap then debates about whether the U.S should sharply reduce its CO2 emissions would vanish as the the costs of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions  would plummet.

An example where the author is right — is the budget deficit.  This is a political problem for which technological advance does not offer a simple solution.  Improvements in health technology actually increase the budget deficit as past procedures that were impossible now become possible and there is an ethical issue in denying such treatment to the sick.

A Violation of the Law of One Price?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 10:14 pm

The Universe of University of Toronto Faculty Salaries in 2018   .  I see some variation in salaries within well defined occupational categories that I cannot explain using the observables I know about.

What Do Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Greg Mankiw Have in Common?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 10:14 pm

They both have a PHD from MIT in economics, and they share a belief that the tax code matters in determining our choices.  For evidence about Keith’s views about the distortionary effects of the tax code click here.

To quote Dr. Richards, “The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws,” “It’s why we reherse in Canada and not in the U.S.  A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left and they lost out. No taxes at all.”  (Source November 1, 2018 New Yorker Magazine page 104)

Somewhere, I can hear George Harrison singing “Tax Man (Mr. Wilson)”.

Perhaps the Tea Party has found a new leader to run against President Obama in 2012?  Street Fighting Grandpa.

October 28, 2018

How Do We Judge the Quality of University Presidents?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 12:49 pm

This article  got me thinking about how we use quantitative metrics for judging University Leaders.  The endowment’s dynamics matter but do you attribute all of its growth to “the leader”?  I don’t.  How do we construct the counter-factual of what the University would have achieved under a different President?  You can see that there is no control group available and this is a hard question.   Within the Ivy League, can you judge Columbia’s President’s performance based on the performance of the other 8 leaders?  Nope.  So then, how do the trustees of Columbia make a reasoned decision on whether to grant their First Amendment lawyer another 5 years?    They like him and know him so there is a  status quo bias and they recognize that search is costly so it would take an extraordinary hire (Larry Summers? Paul Krugman? Bono?) to put them in the mood to trade horses.

At the University of California, I have some ideas for how to rank our leaders both on campus and at the Oakland office.  I will tell you my ideas in private.

Do Economists Supply Interesting Interviews?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 12:49 pm

I was not ready for these questions.

Can an Economist Predict the Future? If We Can, So What?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 12:49 pm

Are the impacts of climate change more predictable than future stock price dynamics?  I think so.  Here is my New interview with The Futurist.  If we can forecast some of the likely effects of climate change, then doesn’t economics predict that long lived durable investment choices we make today (such as over what types of buildings to build and where we build them and infrastructure choices) will reflect these expectations?  The rational expectations model of investment under uncertainty offers some bold claims about our ability to adapt to climate change. I’d like to lure some smart theorists to join me on my quest to improve our understanding of adaptation to climate change.

Can the Harvard Class of 2011 "See" Their Future Using a Sample of Harvard’s Class of 1975?

Category: Green Environmental – Admin 12:49 pm

In a stationary economy, young people can ”see” their future based on what has happened to previous cohorts who are now middle aged.   So, for the Harvard Class of 2011 what can they learn about their future 35 years from now in 2045 based on the  Harvard’s Class of 1975 asks “what if” about today?

Allow me to cherry pick some quotes:

“But over half will wish they could make a major life decision again, more than three-quarters will have gained weight, and around one-fifth of the class will have had an affair.

These statistics, found in a 100-question survey conducted this year of Harvard and Radcliffe students who graduated in 1975, portray a class whose members—despite some significant regrets—are largely satisfied with the current state of their lives and are optimistic about the future.”

So based on probability theory, what is your best guess that a Harvard graduate who is age 57 will get fat and have an affair?  Do you guess .75*.2?    I love sociology.

Back to the article:

“But when alumni were asked to reveal the main personal issue they confront today, they divulged more serious answers.  “I need to become brave enough to leave my husband,” wrote one alumna. Another asked, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?””  

I thought that a Harvard degree guaranteed being happy.  I was very happy there as a Visiting Assistant Professor from 1996 to 1998. 

Back to the article:

“On family life, 94.2 percent of men and 85.7 percent of women said they are happy in their current relationship.

About 50 percent of alumni said that they either do not believe in God or do not know, although over 90 percent said spirituality was a force for good.

Over 65 percent said that the happiest time of their lives was now or yet to come.”

I don’t know if I believe this but I am not Dennis Gilbert and I am not happy.

I can’t remember who I was at age 22.  I know that I didn’t have the zealous focus of a Zuck.  There was no one passion pushing me forward.   I had a broad array of skills and interests and I thought that economics opened the most doors and had the most option value in terms of making a choice later once I was well trained.

The one weakness of this “attitudes” survey is that it could have presented a household income histogram. How many of these graduates are members of wealthy families? How many spouses married into wealthy families? How many of the graduates made their own wealth? 

What role  has the “Harvard Network” played in this wealth creation? Did they join a firm filled with Harvard people?  Did they meet their spouse at Harvard?     

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