However low interest rates might go, the IRS will never act like a bank


Good piece

Originally posted on Quartz:

A revolution has come to Europe–the revolution of negative interest rates. 10-year Swiss government bonds now have a negative yield. Short-term funds kept at the Swiss National Bank now pay -.75%: that is, private banks have to pay .75% per year to the Swiss National Bank to tend their Swiss francs. Denmark now pays -.75% for short-term funds while Sweden is at -.25% and the Eurozone is at -.2%. How low can interest rates go?

Ben Bernanke has started a blog, now that (in his words) he is free from “being put under the microscope by Fed watchers.” In the first few posts, he got into a debate with Larry Summers about what it means that interest rates are so low. Paul Krugman joined in with his own post “Liquidity Traps, Local and Global.” These three—a former Fed Chairman, a brilliant former Treasury Secretary…

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Rognlie vs Piketty: Which Capitalism To Blame

Originally posted on Abolitionist Dynamite :

This article caught my eye. The author, Greg Ferenstein, concludes “it might be wiser to redirect anger towards those who get in the way of new housing, rather than rely on taxes to solve our problems.” Yes, and no.

Back up. What’s the general idea? Well, Matthew Rognlie found that “recent trends in both capital wealth and income are driven almost entirely by housing.” This is not entirely in contrast to the findings of Piketty, rather derived from Piketty’s data: “Also using Piketty and Zucman (2013)’s data, I find that a single component of the capital stock—housing—accounts for nearly 100% of the long-term increase in the capital/income ratio, and more than 100% of the long-term increase in the net capital share of income.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Individuals who are forced to spend almost all of their income on housing can’t save any money. We’re talking about people forced…

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Cancer drugs: Why the high and rising prices?

Originally posted on Health Business Blog:

Cancer drugs. Good stuff cheap? Cancer drugs. Good stuff cheap?

When Americans talk, pharmaceutical companies listen. And what they’ve heard is that initiatives to contain or regulate medical costs get labeled as “rationing,” a word with very un-American connotations.

While politicians wring their hands, pricing strategists at pharma and biotech companies take action by charging high and rising prices for products for life-threatening illnesses. Cancer is Exhibit A, with many drugs costing more than $100,000 per year of treatment. A JAMA Oncologypaper reviewed wholesale prices for cancer drugs approved over the past five years and found that prices are not correlated with a drug’s novelty or efficacy.

The authors conclude:

“Our results suggest that current pricing models are not rational but simply reflect what the market will bear.”

Now it’s possible that there is a greater correlation between actual negotiated prices and novelty or efficacy that isn’t showing up in the researchers’ data on wholesale prices. Still, the main conclusions…

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Robert Reich: America is headed full speed back to the 19th century

Originally posted on Jo Weber Economist & Social Media Expert:

Robert Reich: America is headed full speed back to the 19th century

Robert Reich

The former secretary of labor on the dangers of the sharing economy and our growing intolerance for labor unions

My recent column about the growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism that workers get what they’re worth in the market.

Forbes Magazine contributor, for example, writes that jobs exist only  “when both employer and employee are happy with the deal being made.” So if the new jobs are low-paying and irregular, too bad.

Much the same argument was voiced in the late nineteenth century over alleged “freedom of contract.” Any deal between employees and workers was assumed to be fine if both sides voluntarily agreed to it.

It was an era when many workers were “happy” to toil twelve-hour days in sweat shops for lack of any better…

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Brad DeLong and the true nature of neoclassical economics


Another clear piece from Lars, drawing on previously published work

Originally posted on LARS P. SYLL:

I think that modern neoclassical economics is in fine shape as long as it is understood as the ideological and substantive legitimating doctrine of the political theory of possessive individualism. As long as we have relatively-self-interested liberal individuals who have relatively-strong beliefs that things are theirs, the competitive market in equilibrium is an absolutely wonderful mechanism for achieving truly extraordinary degree of societal coordination and productivity. We need to understand that. We need to value that. And that is what neoclassical economics does, and does well.

Of course, there are all the caveats to Arrow-Debreu-Mackenzie:

adb_poster_red_kickitover1   The market must be in equilibrium.
2   The market must be competitive.
3   The goods traded must be excludable.
4   The goods traded must be non-rival.
5   The quality of goods traded and of effort delivered must be known, or at least bonded, for adverse selection and moral hazard…

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Economist: World Leaders Will Exploit Charlie Hebdo to Eliminate Encryption

Originally posted on The Kiellopathra Report:

‘Economist Martin Armstrong warns that the twin attacks in France will be used by world leaders to push for restrictions on Internet privacy and the total elimination of encrypted communications.

Armstrong, who correctly predicted the 1987 Black Monday crash as well as the 1998 Russian financial collapse, writes that, “They are using this latest event precisely as they used 911 to strip us of all rights.”

“David Cameron, PM of Britain, wants to block WhatsApp and Snapchat if he wins the next election, as part of his plans for new surveillance. Britain will lead the charge to outlaw encryption altogether when Britain has been walking hand-in-hand with the NSA. They are using this latest event precisely as they used 911 to strip us of all rights,” adds Armstrong.’

More from Source…

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Variance: regression, clustering, residual and variance – Liyun Chen ’11


GSE are a great school, and their thoughts are worth spending time on..

Originally posted on The Barcelona GSE Voice:

Liyun ChenLiyun Chen ’11 (Economics) is Senior Analyst for Data Science at eBay in Shanghai, China. The following post originally appeared on her economics blog in English and in Chinese. Follow her on Twitter @cloudlychen

Variance is an interesting word. When we use it in statistics, it is defined as the “deviation from the center”, which corresponds to the formula  sum (x- bar{x})^2 / (n-1), or in the matrix form Var(X) = E(X^2)- E(X)^2=X'X/N-(X'1/N)^2(1 is a column vector with N*1 ones). From its definition it is the second (order) central moment, i.e. sum of the squared distance to the central. It measures how much the distribution deviates from its center — the larger the sparser; the smaller the denser. This is how it works in the 1-dimension world. Many of you should be familiar with these.

Variance has a close relative called standard deviation, which is essentially the square root of variance, denoted by sigma// . There is…

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