Tag: Bedtime reading

Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains?

Crazy, awesome, completely plausible:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia? A biologist’s science- fiction hunch is gaining credence and shaping the emerging science of mind- controlling parasites.

In other words, Reading Period continues

Early Holiday Book Recs

Ah, Winter Break is almost upon us, which means that it is almost time to get to my pile of books.  I’m not sure what came over me, but I just went out and bought a whole bunch more that I can’t possibly get to.

Here’s the latest in the queue:

Roger E. Backhouse and Bradley W. Bateman Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes.  I picked this one up after reading this New York Times piece where the authors argue that contemporary economists are lacking in the “worldly philosophers” department (see also the previous post).

Douglas W. Allen The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World.  A perfect little something for the New Institutionalist that has everything. Allen is an expert on transaction cost economics, co-author of some great work on agriculture contracts, and one of the funnier economists you are likely to ever meet. I will bet dollars to donuts that the book contains at least one example that you’ll be dropping at your next mixer (From the publisher: “Allen provides readers with a fascinating explanation of the critical roles played by seemingly bizarre institutions, from dueling to the purchase of one’s rank in the British Army”).  It says available December 1, but I got my copy in the mail today.

Eugene Fitzgerald, Andreas Wankerl, and Carl Schramm. Inside Real Innovation: How the Right Approach Can Move Ideas from R&D to Market – And Get the Economy Moving.  Schramm is from Kauffman, one of our recent visitors to the innovation class touted this as a must read, and I hear rumors that this will rear its head in Econ 405 next term.  A convincing trifecta!

Michael Lewis Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World.  If you read this blog semi-regularly, you’ve probably seen something about Lewis’ new compilation of economic disaster tourism writing.  I was going to recommend this as an e-book, but it has an unusually awesome dust jacket. Great for the plane.

Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon.  This was on my wish list and I no longer remember who tipped me off to it.  Looks great, if a bit thick.

I have some course-related pieces that probably aren’t such fab holiday gift ideas, but I will get to them as I get to them.

Enjoy!

The Long and Winding Road

As we continue On the Road with Hayek this term, we are faced with questions such as “what is capitalism?” and “what does it mean to have economic freedom?”   These are questions that we tend not to get at when we are teaching the nuts and bolts of supply & demand or getting to the bottom of a subgame perfect equilibrium.  But a nice piece in the New York Times argues that maybe we should pay more attention to the former than the latter.  It is on the role of economists and economics in the face of radical economic and social change:

Perhaps the protesters occupying Wall Street are not so misguided after all. The questions they raise — how do we deal with the local costs of global downturns? Is it fair that those who suffer the most from such downturns have their safety net cut, while those who generate the volatility are bailed out by the government? — are the same ones that a big-picture economic vision should address. If economists want to help create a better world, they first have to ask, and try to answer, the hard questions that can shape a new vision of capitalism’s potential.

The whole article is well worth the read and also worth thinking about as we continue our lifelong quest in developing an economics ciricullum.

Also fundamental seems to be this piece by Luigi Zingales on meritocracy and democracy.

[M]eritocracy is a difficult principle to sustain in a democracy. Any system that allocates rewards on the basis of merit inevitably gives higher compensation to the few, leaving the majority potentially envious. In a democracy, the majority generally rules. Why should that majority agree to grant a minority disproportionate power and rewards?

… Even the most meritocratic people, then, can vote against meritocracy when it damages their own prospects. No wonder meritocracy is so politically fragile.

However, two factors help sustain a meritocratic system in the face of this challenge: a culture that considers it legitimate to reward effort with higher compensation; and benefits large enough, and spread widely enough through the system, to counter popular discontent with inequality.

Certainly, we can see rather vocal and enthusiastic segments of our population questioning both of these assumptions.  What are the implications for American-style capitalism?

Economics for the 21st Century

David Warsh has an Economic Principals piece on the direction of the economics profession for the next decade.   Warsh points to a compilation of 55 papers, Ten Years & Beyond: Economists Answer NSF’s Call for Long-Term Research Agendas, posted at the Social Science Research Network.  Charles Schultze from Brookings provides some perspective in the title piece:

The National Science Foundation’s Directorate for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (NSF/SBE) for challenging economists and other relevant research communities “to step outside of present demands and to think boldly about future promises.” Specifically, NSF/SBE invited groups and individuals in August 2010 to write white papers that describe grand challenge questions in their sciences that transcend near-term funding cycles and are “likely to drive next generation research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.” NSF/SBE planned to use these white papers “to frame innovative research for the year 2020 and beyond that enhances fundamental knowledge and benefits society in many ways… We are disseminating the white papers of interest to economists independent of the NSF because these papers offer a number of exciting and at times provocative ideas about future research agendas in economics that are worth further consideration by economists.

There are many titles that look promising, including Deidre McCloskey’s “Language and Interest in the Economy,” which argues that economists should pay more attention to the role of persuasion. A number of us have been plowing through McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity, so we certainly welcome a succinct case.

Some other provocative titles include Nicholas Bloom’s “Key Outstanding Questions in Social Sciences,” David Autor and Lawrence Katz’s “Grand Challenges in the Study of Employment and Technological Change,” Randall Krozner’s “Implications of the Financial Crisis,” and Kenneth Rogoff’s “Three Challenges Facing Modern Macroeconomics.”

These are short, generally readable pieces from some of the biggest names in the profession.  This seems like a good place to poke around.

The Pope’s Children Revisited

“Economists festivals tend to be so po-faced, so bitchy"

In the wake of Michael Lewis’s recent piece, Professor Galambos reminds me of the excellent “In Search of the Pope’s Children” from 2006.   If you have read the piece on Germany, you might take a look at the first 15 minutes of part 3, which is amazingly prescient given this was done five years ago (like Lewis, McWilliams also invokes a prostitution metaphor to dissect the situation).   The piece also melds well with Lewis’s piece on Ireland.

Of more recent vintage, McWilliams is the author of The Generation Game and Follow the Money, and also launched a comedy tour dedicated to mocking Irish bankers.

Here’s more on the cheeky McWilliams.

Add Germany to the List

Michael Lewis continues his Vanity Fair series with a rather disturbing article — disturbing on many levels — about Germany and the world financial crisis: “It’s the Economy, Dummkopf!

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution calls the piece ” funny, one-sided, slightly offensive, somewhat true.”

I agree with everything except the “slightly” part.  Not for the faint of heart.

ADDENDUM: Walter Russell Mead weighs in.  Paul Krugman expresses some optimism.  Follow his blog for much, much more on the nuts-and-bolts of what’s going on.

The Triumph of Ed Glaeser

You know you’ve hit the big time as an economist when the Appleton Public Library starts featuring your stuff.   Those of you who follow the LU blog have probably heard of Ed Glaeser and his recent book, The Triumph of the City. And now, readers of the Appleton Post Crescent have as well, with Bill Coan featuring Glaeser in his discussion of the impact of local libraries.

For those of you who missed it, here’s Glaeser talking about his book at one of our more trusted news outlets.

Old School Essay and Book Recommendation (Summer Reading, Part 3)

In a piece dear to the hearts of all my Econ 300 students, Master of rhetoric Deidre McCloskey lays out the case for teaching old school, Chicago economics.  Although I certainly beat the maximize! drum, the central intuition is certainly that profits drive economic activity in the long run. McCloskey traces the historical context back to Adam Smith:

The core of Smithian economics, further, is not Max U. It is entry and exit, and is Smith’s distinctive contribution to social science… He was the first to ask what happens in the long run when people respond to desired opportunities. Smith for example argues in detail that wage-plus-conditions will equalize among occupations, in the long run, by entry and exit. At any rate they will equalize unless schemes such as the English Laws of Settlement, or excessive apprenticeships, intervene. Capital, too, will find its own level, and its returns will be thereby equalized, he said at length, unless imperial protections intervene.

The essay is interesting throughout, and I certainly approve of her message on this point.

If you like the rhetoric of this piece, you might consider checking out some of McCloskey’s  other works, as she is indeed a prolific writer.  One recent add to my summer reading list is her update of The Rhetoric of Economics. In it, she argues that “economics is literary,” and that making a persuasive case is “done by human arguments, not godlike Proof.”

This is one of McCloskey’s continuing projects. This one began with her work in the 1980s, and continues to be discussed today. The preface to the second edition, in fact, begins with a discussion of why more people didn’t read past chapter 3 in the first edition.

Why Go to College?

With reunion upon us, it is an excellent time to ask, “why go to college?”  Indeed.  To help us out with that question, Louis Menand has a provocative piece in a recent New Yorker examining the ins and outs of  this exact question.  As I got a few paragraphs into this one I started to wonder why this question gets discussed so rarely. It hardly seems self-evident, but I would guess it’s some combination of “expand your mindset,” “expand your skill set,” and “expand your wallet.”

Of course, Menand is a more eloquent writer than I am, and he posits two theories, with the first one going something like this:

College is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test. Students have to demonstrate intellectual ability over time and across a range of subjects. If they’re sloppy or inflexible or obnoxious—no matter how smart they might be in the I.Q. sense—those negatives will get picked up in their grades. As an added service, college also sorts people according to aptitude. It separates the math types from the poetry types. At the end of the process, graduates get a score, the G.P.A., that professional schools and employers can trust as a measure of intellectual capacity and productive potential. It’s important, therefore, that everyone is taking more or less the same test.

That seems like a riff on the “expand your wallet.”  The second has more to do with expanding horizons:

College exposes future citizens to material that enlightens and empowers them, whatever careers they end up choosing. In performing this function, college also socializes. It takes people with disparate backgrounds and beliefs and brings them into line with mainstream norms of reason and taste. Independence of mind is tolerated in college, and even honored, but students have to master the accepted ways of doing things before they are permitted to deviate. Ideally, we want everyone to go to college, because college gets everyone on the same page. It’s a way of producing a society of like-minded grownups.

At Lawrence, we recruit students based on our mission in the liberal arts, so I’m not sure if you could pigeonhole us into either of those categories.  But we certainly make the claim that we train people to think and communicate, which are not explicitly vocational skills, but do come in handy.

Menand is certainly sympathetic to our cause, here and elsewhere, and makes some interesting points about our students.  One is the results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment — a test designed to see if students learn anything in college:

The most interesting finding is that students majoring in liberal-arts fields—sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities—do better on the C.L.A., and show greater improvement, than students majoring in non-liberal-arts fields such as business, education and social work, communications, engineering and computer science, and health.

Well, that’s reassuring.
Definitely worth a read if you are interested in higher education.

On the Road with F. A. Hayek

This fall, Professor Galambos and I will be leading a group read of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. The course will be offered for one unit as DS 391 — On the Road with Hayek, and we will have a sign up and coordinate times at the beginning of fall term. I expect with this book we will probably meet eight of the ten weeks.

If you are the type that lets one-unit courses slide, you might consider picking up the book and giving it a once over this summer in preparation for fall term. I suggest you get the edition edited by historian of economic thought, Bruce Caldwell.

For those of you looking to kill an hour with a podcast, here’s Caldwell at EconTalk, talking about Hayek.

Here’s Hayek’s classic American Economic Review piece, “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”  And here.  And here’s Hayek’s Nobel lecture, “The Pretence of Knowledge.”

See you this fall.

UPDATE:  You can get an add course sheet outside of our offices.

(Not so) Undercover Economist

The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford, is all over the internets these days.  He has just come out with a new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure — a meme no doubt familiar to the Pursuit of Innovation crowd.  Beginning Monday, you can hear an extended discussion about the book over at our favorite economics podcast,  Econtalk. I have penciled this one in on my summer reading list.

Harford also recently named his top five books that give unexpected lessons in economic principles, a list that included Klein & Bauman’s Cartoon Guide to Economics (my intro textbook!), Charles Perrow’s classic, Normal Accidents, and Cory Doctorow’s For the Win, a book that should “appeal to any enthusiastic player of MMO [Massively Multiplayer Online] games.”  Huh.

Undercover. Unexpected.  Un for the whole family.

Supply & Demand in The New Yorker this Week

As the waters surge southward towards the Gulf, The New Yorker reprints John McPhee’s classic “Atchafalaya,” about the Army Corps of Engineers’ handiwork on the Mississippi River.  McPhee is possibly the greatest American non-fiction writer of the past fifty years and is renown for his ability to describe natural phenomena. One of the key takeaways from the article is that New Orleans simply wouldn’t exist in the form that it does were in not for the Corps pinning the river in place some years back.

Also this week appears to be the innovation issue.   James Surowiecki kicks it off by exploring the role of “venturesome consumers” in the innovation process. If it wasn’t for you guys trying new, possibly crappy and buggy and high-priced things, how would producers ever figure out what you like and how to deliver it?

OG Mouse

We’re also blessed with another Malcolm Gladwell piece, this time examining the development of the Apple mouse.  Click the mouse on the right for an on-line slideshow of various prototypes. In what will certainly be music to Professor Brandenberger’s ears, Gladwell chooses some money quotes from psychologist Dean Simonton, including

“Quality is a probabilistic function of quantity.”

Meaning, roughly

“The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well”

We also get a report on how Pepsi is taking on the obesity epidemic (didn’t read that one yet) and an expose on Pixar.

So, that should keep you busy for a while.

Michael Lewis on Iceland and Ireland and Greece (Oh, my!)

We had a very enthusiastic EconTea today with Bob Atwell and Sarah Bohn, including a cursory discussion of Michael Lewis’ excellent series of pieces over the past two years in Vanity Fair.

Here’s a piece on the rather bizarre Icelandic collapse.

Then another on the Greek disaster.  That doesn’t look good for them.

And, finally, here’s a piece on Ireland that Professor Finkler wrote about a few months back.

Each piece is an interesting mix of sociology, economics, and business, with generally the same result (financial catastrophe), but with different causal factors and different prospects going forward (Iceland still has fish and heat; Ireland will go back to being Ireland; Greece is hosed).  For more on Lewis, check out our previous posts, or simply head over to The Mudd.

Thanks to our guests.  We hope to see you back in Briggs soon.

The Constitution of Liberty — A Panel Discussion

Speaking of Hayek, late last week the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a blockbuster panel on The Constitution of Liberty, which was just re-released.  The curiosity of the day was the appearance of Hungarian financier, George Soros, certainly no libertarian, but someone who was around when Hayek and Popper were mixing it up.   The panel also contained rock star law professor Richard Epstein, and preeminent historian of economic thought,  Bruce Caldwell.

Good review of the panel here, and the video is here.

Q: Who’s Making Those “Record” Corporate Profits?

Tater Skins

Answer: The financial sector.

Felix Salmon, citing a WSJ piece,   reflects upon the very large taters being made by the financial sector.    Without some frame of reference, it is hard to know what to make of the financial sector banking 35% of all of US profits.   So, for some perspective check out Simon Johnson in his Atlantic Monthly piece:

From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007

I was discussing an opportunity to attend a financial markets seminar with one of my colleagues, and he correctly pointed out that financial regulations are something I really don’t think about that much. Yet, as time marches on, this seems like a very interesting place to be looking.  Let’s take a peek.

First, there’s Richard Sylla’s review of Rajan and Zingales Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists.  In his review, Sylla provocatively compares Rajan and Zingales to Joseph Schumpeter in their roles as prognosticators of the future of capitalism.

What is the nature of the threat to capitalism? Rajan and Zingales argue that it arises from within the heart of the system, not from limousine liberals, social critics, reformers, and disadvantaged groups on capitalism’s fringes. Established enterprises, the “incumbents,” constantly seek to co-opt the political system and use it to stifle entry to industry, access to financial services, and competitive markets in order to protect their privileged positions and profits. “Capitalism’s biggest political enemies are not the firebrand trade unionists spewing vitriol against the system but the executives in pin-striped suits extolling the virtues of competitive markets with every breath while attempting to extinguish them with every action.” (Sylla, p. 392 citing Rajan & Zingales, p. 276).

I had seen this type of “regulatory capture” argument before, notably from Simon Johnson’s piece that I assign to my regulation class, but I was surprised to see it from the relatively more pro-market Rajan & Zingales.

But they aren’t the only ones.  In “The Inequality that Matters,” libertarian Tyler Cowen looks at the role of the financial sector in increasing income inequality, and comes to this rather unsettling conclusion:

For the time being, we need to accept the possibility that the financial sector has learned how to game the American (and UK-based) system of state capitalism. It’s no longer obvious that the system is stable at a macro level, and extreme income inequality at the top has been one result of that imbalance. Income inequality is a symptom, however, rather than a cause of the real problem. The root cause of income inequality, viewed in the most general terms, is extreme human ingenuity, albeit of a perverse kind. That is why it is so hard to control.

Yikes.

MIT economist Daren Acemoglu has also turned his attention to this matter, with a talk at the annual American Economic Association meetings that he discusses with Russ Roberts on EconTalk.  In it, Acemoglu actually discusses Rajan’s more recent book, Fault Lines (discussed here).

Russ Roberts himself gives a very thoughtful overview of his case for cronyism the capital markets in his piece, Gambling with Other People’s Money, that he discusses in his monologue at EconTalk.

Overall, we’re building up a pretty good reading list here.  We’ll see if we have a seminar on this forthcoming.

Do Natural Disasters Spur Economic Growth?

As I pointed out before, there is some disagreement on this issue.  Will Wilkinson at The Economist helps us out by reviewing some of the evidence himself. And here we go:

By far the boldest claim… is that some disasters can boost GDP by forcing upgrades in technology and infrastructure, and offering the opportunity for critical reappraisal of ingrained modes of economic activity, leading to a higher level of productivity and, eventually, to net gains in growth. They find that this holds for some weather-related disasters, but not for geological disasters. They find persistent, long-run negative effects for geological catastrophe, suggesting any upside from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami is unlikely. The argument of this paper, which is as strong as the disaster-bonus case gets, is a touchstone for a good deal of later research.

Wilkinson also directs us to a review from Binyamin Applebaum in the New York Times.

And there is a rather extensive piece from Ilan Noy over at Econbrowser with this surprising conclusion:

Given the findings described above, one can conclude that the likely indirect impacts of this horrific earthquake/tsunami event on growth in the Japanese economy will be quite minimal. The Japanese government and the Japanese people have access to large amounts of human and financial resources that can be directed toward a rapid and robust reconstruction and rebuilding of the affected region. Neither do we have any evidence to suggest that the earthquake is likely to have any enduring monetary effects.

After reviewing some potential regional impacts, he gets to the elephant in the room:

We still do not know what will be the impact of the enfolding crisis in the various nuclear reactors that have been affected. The analysis above ignored this danger, though the still present devastation in Chernobyl attests to its potentially destructive powers.

Indeed.

Ask Him if the Cubs will Ever Win the Series

Überwriter Michael Lewis has written extensively about the potential economic impacts of an earthquake in Japan, “How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street and the Global Economy.”  Interesting thing about this is that he wrote the piece back in 1989!!!

My eyes aren’t quite good enough to make out that copy online, unfortunately, so I’ll wait for some younger eyes to give me the summary.

On the plus side, the global economic situation is far different that it was back then.  Indeed, back then we had an MIT economist telling us that if we didn’t start following Japan’s lead that the US was in for a meteoric drop.  Instead, it was Japan’s economy that was in for a lost decade, not the US.  But, on the minus side, that our economic situation is different doesn’t mean that our financial institutions are any less vulnerable — again, see Lewis on this point.

He’s a prolific writer, that’s for sure.

In another sign that the world has changed, Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the voice of the Aflac duck for telling tasteless jokes about the disaster on his Twitter feed.  Isn’t that sort of like firing Big Bird for being tall and having feathers?

I saw the Lewis tip at Kottke and the Gottfried bit at Slate.

Economists in Love

Looking for a last-minute gift for that special someone (or would-be someone) in your life? Well, Pilgrim, it’s your lucky day. Spousonomics — “using economics to master love, marriage, and the dirty dishes” —  has hit the shelves, and with it a barrage of Valentine’s-related articles accompanying its release. Wow, check out this saucy Bloomberg headline.  Or this WSJ graphic.

Yes, it’s true, economists often find themselves partnered up, and not just at consulting firms (Who can forget this classic quote?).  And, what better way to get past the “animal spirits” stage of the relationship than this handy guide?  Check it out if you need to get that special someone up to speed on benefit-cost analysis, why sunk costs are sunk, and the wonders of marginal analysis.

You might also pick up a box of chocolates just in case.

AER Top 20

The American Economic Association developed a list of the top 20 “most admirable and important articles” published in the American Economic Review in its 100 years in existence.   I use several of these in class (*) and have read a handful of others.  It would be interesting to know how many of these cross your desk as an undergrad here at LU.

Alchian, Armen A., and Harold Demsetz. 1972. “Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization.”American Economic Review, 62(5): 777–95.(*Theory of the Firm)

Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. “Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care.” American Economic Review, 53(5): 941–73.

Cobb, Charles W., and Paul H. Douglas. 1928. “A Theory of Production.” American Economic Review,18(1): 139–65.

Deaton, Angus S., and John Muellbauer. 1980. “An Almost Ideal Demand System.” American Economic Review, 70(3): 312–26.

Diamond, Peter A. 1965. “National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model.” American Economic Review, 55(5): 1126–50.

Diamond, Peter A., and James A. Mirrlees. 1971. “Optimal Taxation and Public Production I: Production Efficiency.” American Economic Review, 61(1): 8–27.

Diamond, Peter A., and James A. Mirrlees. 1971. “Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: TaxRules.” American Economic Review, 61(3): 261–78.

Dixit, Avinash K., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1977. “Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity.” American Economic Review, 67(3): 297–308.

Friedman, Milton. 1968. “The Role of Monetary Policy.” American Economic Review, 58(1): 1–17.

Grossman, Sanford J., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1980. “On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets.” American Economic Review, 70(3): 393–408.

Harris, John R., and Michael P. Todaro. 1970. “Migration, Unemployment and Development: A Two-Sector Analysis.” American Economic Review, 60(1): 126–42.

Hayek, F. A. 1945. “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” American Economic Review, 35(4): 519–30. (*Micro Theory)

Jorgenson, Dale W. 1963. “Capital Theory and Investment Behavior.” American Economic Review, 53(2): 247–59.

Krueger, Anne O. 1974. “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society.” American Economic Review, 64(3): 291–303. (*Political Economy of Regulation)

Krugman, Paul. 1980. “Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade.” American Economic Review, 70(5): 950–59.

Kuznets, Simon. 1955. “Economic Growth and Income Inequality.” American Economic Review, 45(1): 1–28.

Lucas, Robert E., Jr. 1973. “Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs.” American Economic Review, 63(3): 326–34.

Modigliani, Franco, and Merton H. Miller. 1958. “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment.” American Economic Review, 48(3): 261–97.

Mundell, Robert A. 1961. “A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas.” American Economic Review,51(4): 657–65.

Ross, Stephen A. 1973. “The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal’s Problem.” American Economic Review, 63(2): 134–39. (*I should use this in Economics of the Firm, but I don’t).

Shiller, Robert J. 1981. “Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to Be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?” American Economic Review, 71(3): 421–36.

Stuck in The Mudd

Looking to pick up some reading recommendations for the upcoming Reading Period?  My pick is Tyler Cowen’s e-book, The Great Stagnation, which has been something of a sensation since its release (if by sensation you mean, which I do, a bunch of economists and policy wonks have been reading and reviewing it).  Plenty of buzz about this one, and at $4, it is about the price of a magazine.

Just not that into Stagnation? We’ve got more.  Professor Finkler also just recommended a slew of books to me, including these:

Most of these are stocked over on the shelves of The Mudd (subject to availability, of course), along with a constant stream of tasty new releases.  Just scanning that RSS feed, I see Michael Lewis’ breezy The Big Short as an appetizer(library info; more on Lewis here).  And the fascinating-looking title LinkEntrepreneurship, innovation, and the growth mechanism of the free-enterprise economies edited by Sheshimski, Strom, and Baumol could be a very enticing main course. I might just go run that one down.

You might consider adding to that list Branko Milanovic’s new book, The Haves and the Have-Nots (discussed here), that I plan to order presently.

For those of you who only do things for credit, there is a rumor floating around the department that as a follow up to the Schumpeter Roundtable, we will be Discovering Kirzner by reading Israel Kirzner’s Competition and Entreprenuership this Spring term. It was also recently announced that the Spring Lawrence community read will be Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Professor Galambos and I are both signed up for that one.

Finally, I am right in the middle of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From, which my colleagues mostly seem to like.  Something you can probably read in the car, if it wasn’t for the 6-point font footnotes.

Enjoy!