Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Simpsons Guess Wrong on the Econ Nobel

A bit before the actual announcement, the Simpsons took a shot at forecasting the Nobel recipient for economics.  Watch the first 90 seconds of this episode from the last week of September:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Are You Reading?: "Economics in Christian Perspective"

From J.R. Durden, correspondent for the Lakeland Ledger:
Hubert Lau, 22
What Are You Reading?

Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy, and Life Choices
By Victor Claar and Robin Klay

Hubert Lau, 22, picked up this economics textbook for a college economics class. The book, said the Lakeland resident, asks straightforward questions about the effectiveness of charitable giving to non-profit and non-governmental organizations, like OxFam and World Vision, that give aid to third-world countries. 'We send money over to those countries, but nothing changes. They are still poor,' he said.

This story appeared in print on page D10.

I'd love hearing from Mr. Lau. (UPDATE: Mr. Lau and I have since connected through facebook.  Where else?)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Zinc Lobby and the Penny, the Nickel Lobby and the Nickel

From a surprising source,, Gregg Easterbrook discusses efforts by the zinc and nickel lobbies to save the penny and the nickel:
Eliminate the Dime, Too: The U.S. Treasury is seeking to save $100 million per year by removing nickel from the nickel; nickel lobbyists are fighting this in Congress. The International Zinc Association is lobbying to maintain the existence of the penny, which is mostly zinc. If the United States, at a time of record mega-deficits, can't even get rid of pennies because members of Congress fear the loss of donations from the zinc lobby, how will fiscal sense ever be established?

The quarter is the smallest unit of currency that bears meaning in modern society: pennies, nickels and dimes merely clog the national pocket, at a cost to taxpayers. Pennies mean so little they possess negative value . . .

(Read more--oh, and you'll need to scroll way down)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scouting the Field of Economics-Nobel Candidates

Writing for the Globe and Mail, Barrie McKenna runs down Nobel hopefuls in economics. The announcement will be made Monday, October 11.
OTTAWA - They’re overwhelmingly male, American, and their work has probably touched your life in some way, though you may not know it.

That’s the way it is with the Nobel Prize in economic sciences, slated to be awarded Monday. Only one woman has ever won the prize since it was first awarded in 1969. And roughly 70 per cent of past laureates are either American, or dual citizens of the U.S. and another country. Three are Canadian-born – William Vickrey, Myron Scholes and Robert Mundell.

The Nobel Foundation’s six-member economic prize committee keeps close guard on its list of candidates for the prize, worth 10 million Swedish kroner (about $1.5-million). But bloggers, odds-makers and pundits eagerly fill the void with their best guesses. A New Zealand-based online futures dealer ( rates British-born Harvard economist Oliver Hart, University of Chicago behavioural economist Richard Thaler and Yale real estate guru Robert Shiller among the top favourites.

Here’s a look at several worthy choices, and the work they do . . . . (More)
Speaking for myself and what I would like to happen--not what I predict will happen--I would love to see any of Jagdash Bhagwati, Robert Barro, or Paul Romer garner a win.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

When It Comes to Poverty, Are You Squinting at Reality?

Mark Hanlon, Senior Vice President, USA, Compassion International, reflects on our eyesight when we consider the problem of poverty:
(The Huffington Post) - A Census Bureau report recently released found the percentage of Americans now living in poverty rose to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest in decades.

For many of us, this was a huge shock. News like this sends a shudder through our collective spine. And for every family that finds itself now living in poverty, it isn't a headline at all; it is a personal tragedy.

But as we come to grips with this most recent statistic, we have a dual set of challenges. On one hand, we need to do all in our power to help those struggling here at home. But we also have the challenge of viewing poverty with "global bifocals." With one portion of the lens we see and attack needs close to home. With the other portion of the lens we focus on the realities of global poverty that may seem far away.

Here at home, poverty is a single mom in Detroit trying to keep food on the table. In Africa, poverty is a 14-year-old orphaned head-of-household trying to find fresh water for himself and his siblings. The challenge isn't to choose one over the other. The task is to view two harsh realities through a common lens of compassion and assistance.

In America, poverty is defined as living on less than $26.22 per day. In the rest of the world poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 per day.

In America, clean water flows from our faucets and we still purchase designer water. In the developing world, clean water is kilometers away and more than 1 billion people lack access to potable water. In fact, 1.4 million children will die this year from waterborne diseases. That's more than 3,800 children every day -- yesterday, today and tomorrow. . . .