Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Dismal Science

In the Los Angeles Times Hector Tobar writes that "In "The Half Has Never Been Told," Baptist adds many new, stark and essential elements to that story. His most important achievement is to show us how the "dismal science" of economics served to make the lot of slaves even grimmer."

If Baptist were to do this it would be a nice trick. Thomas Carlyle was the one who named economics the dismal science. What did he find dismal about it? He thought it was dismal that economic theory did not provide support for slavery and that economists like John Stuart Mill supported emancipation.

I think there are a number of problems with Baptist's book, but I suspect this quote just reflects Tobar's ignorance.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The truth about student debt

The Reality of Student Debt in the New York Times

"the share of income that young adults are devoting to loan repayment has remained fairly steady over the last two decades, according to data the Brookings Institutions is releasing on Tuesday. Only 7 percent of young-adult households with education debt have $50,000 or more of it. By contrast, 58 percent of such households have less than $10,000 in debt, and an additional 18 percent have between $10,000 and $20,000."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

For what shall it profit a university if it shall gain AACSB accreditation and lose its own soul?

Mark Perry argues that the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is fueling the growth of fraudulent journals by demanding that faculty publish but giving no consideration to where they publish. I am starting believe that he is right.

Friday, February 28, 2014


This sounds like a good idea, but I think the article might be exaggerating how large a change this is. I graduated from Evergreen in 1984. For each interdisciplinary program you had to write a self-evaluation and an evaluation of the program and faculty, and the faculty member that you worked with wrote an evaluation of you. Each of these evaluations was 2-4 pages. Written evaluations and serious reflection have always been the norm at Evergreen. I do, however, think this is a nice addition. It sounds like it asks students to keep the big picture in mind. It also reminds me a bit of the plans that my daughter had to do while she was at Bennington.
P.S. I looked at the Evergreen webpage, and it is great to see that Greeners still have the opportunity to work with Tom Rainey and Jeanne Hahn.

HT to Steve Greenlaw

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Problems with Bitcoin

The New York Times reports that "On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin’s existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Economic History in the News

Gregory Clark of UC Davis describes the results of his recent research in the Sunday New York Times. He uses a large amount of evidence on family names and economic status o show that reversion to the mean takes place, but it takes a long time. I thought his story seemed pretty persuasive. On the other hand, at the end he concludes that adoption studies, "along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status." I don't find this conclusion nearly as persuasive. The problem with adoption studies is that adoptable children are not selected at random from the population, making it difficult to say how for results can be generalized. I would like to see more direct evidence that people do not treat people with high status names differently.