Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The two kinds of environmentalism in China:
I've been sucking down inhaled steroids twice a day. The day after we left for Nanning, I got a worried email from my husband, who didn't know what city I was in; the pollution index in Beijing had apparently hit 500 on a 1 to 500 scale... I'm now in Shanghai, where the pollution is also worse than usual. The rumor is that this is due to the recently closed Shanghai Expo (a sort of world's fair). During the expo, apparently, incinerating trash and various industrial processes were forbidden; now everyone's making up for lost time.

But among the people we've talked to, the pollution gets wrapped together with the issue of carbon emissions: "clean energy" and "green technology" tend to cover both the need to get rid of the particulate soup, and the need to lower carbon emissions. The one is of prime importance to the Chinese; the other is what the Americans care about.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On average, Federal workers make double what private sector workers make.

h/t: Mikey Kaus

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who funds the research that develops pharmacutical drugs?
  • 58% from pharmaceutical companies.
  • 18% from biotech companies.
  • 16% from universities, transferred to biotech.
  • 8% from universities, transferred to pharma.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What does McDonalds put into a Big Mac so that it doesn't rot?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Are you sure you want a la carte cable TV?
This is a potentially disruptive innovation for the television industry because one of the main ways the industry had practiced price discrimination (and therefore increased both revenues and quantity) was to engage in bundling. A switch to a la carte will probably result in an increase in consumer surplus per unit demanded but a drastic decrease in quantity supplied. (“Consumer surplus” is econ jargon for the subjective experience of a “bargain”).

Read the while thing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We often hear that big cuts in government spending over a short time are a bad idea. The case against big cuts, typically made by Keynesian economists, is twofold. First, large cuts in government spending, with no offsetting tax cuts, would lead to a large drop in aggregate demand for goods and services, thus causing a recession or even a depression. Second, with a major shift in demand (fewer government goods and services and more private ones), the economy will experience a wrenching readjustment, during which people will be unemployed and the economy will slow.

Yet, this scenario has already occurred in the United States, and the result was an astonishing boom...

Ask people who lived through that period as young adults what economic conditions were like, and you will inevitably get the answer that they experienced an economic boom. The U.S. economy during the post-World War II years is exhibit A against the Keynesian view that economies will necessarily suffer high unemployment and slow growth when governments make big cuts in government spending. Why did the U.S. economy do so well in the years following World War II given how badly it had done in the years preceding America’s entry into the war? The answer, in a nutshell, is that dramatically reducing government spending and deregulating an economy can take that economy from sickness to health.

-David Henderson at the Mercatus Center
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