Thursday, March 10, 2011

Small bag between meetings

I have been actively job marketing this week, sorry for the few postings. While I wait for the airport, here are a few quick links to tide anyone over who has missed their daily dose of Derrill:

A one thought summary of what the left and right are missing out on by Kling in response to Cowen's longer lists of the same:

What I think left-leaning economists should do more:
Look for structural reasons for policy failure, rather than attribute it always to misguided ideology. Consider the implications of imperfect knowledge on the part of government actors. Also, consider that the existence and growth of special interests is at least partly endogenous with respect to policy.

What I wish that right-leaning economists would do more:
Look for structural explanations for the growth of the state, rather than attribute it always to misguided ideology. Consider the implications of urban density. Consider that as the economy becomes more complex, the potential dispersion in wealth due to differences in ability, information, and luck becomes very large, while the ability to overcome such differences with sheer effort probably declines.

Yglesias' comments on oil prices have some application to food prices as well: when moving supplies are short (as they were in 2007/08), supply becomes much more price inelastic in the short run. Again similar to his comments on oil, there are policies we and other countries could use to reduce susceptibility to food price swings or reduce their frequency.

Yglesias also points out that "a world where ten rich bankers pay the taxes to finance make-work jobs for ninety other people isn’t an alternative to a pity-charity version of economic justice it’s just a way of hiding the ball."

Blattman points us to some happy news: Tanzania has granted citizenship to 162,000 refugees who have been there since 1972 or who were later born there as refugees. They had close to 700,000 refugees and told them to either apply for citizenship or go back home.

I can see the children's book on development now: If you give a man a cellphone...   [if you don't get the joke, try here]   More on the project here.

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