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1 month

The Not-So-Triumphant Return of the Marshmallow Test

The marshmallow test is one of those legends of social science that a lot of non-social-scientists have heard about. Relatively young children are offered a choice: they can either eat a marshmallow (or some other attractive treat) right now, or they can wait for some period of time (maybe 15-20 minutes) and then have two marshmallows. If you follow up on these children some years later, the legend goes, you find that those who were able to defer gratification early in life will have more success later in life. A satisfyingly moralistic policy recommendation follows: If we could teach young children to defer gratification, that skill might help them as they advance in life.

2 months

Taxing Carried Interest Just Right

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on one thing: Managers of private equity funds should pay ordinary tax rates on their carried interest, not the lower rates that apply to long-term capital gains and dividends. They differ, of course, on what those rates should be. But if we made that change today, managers would pay taxes at effective federal rates of up to 44 percent, rather than the up-to-25 percent rates that apply currently.

2 months

Sweden Heads Toward a Cash-Free Economy

Sweden seems headed toward a cash-free economy. Here are some comments from Stefan Ingves, Governor of Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, in a short essay called "Going Cashless:

2 months

Wakanda and Economics

I told my teenage son that the economics of Wakanda, the home country of the "Black Panther" in the recent movie, raised some interesting questions. He looked at me for a long moment and then explained very slowly: "Dad, it's not a documentary." Duly noted. No superhero movie is a documentary, and pretty much by definition, even asking for plausibility from a superhero movie is asking too much.  But undaunted, I continue to assert that the economy of Wakanda raises some interesting questions. For some overviews, see:

2 months

Can Trump Make Mexico Pay for the Wall?

Mexico won’t willingly write the check for Donald Trump’s wall. So the president is hunting for a way to make Mexico pay. That search isn’t going well.

2 months

Two Issues for an Aging Japan: Financial Gerontology and the Rise of Robots

Japan is aging fast. Here are some trends on total population and age distribution, according to projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Japan.

2 months

Most Global Violent Deaths are Murder, Not War

I did not know that by far most violent deaths in the world are a result of murder, not war. The pattern is reported in Global Violent Deaths 2017: Time to Decide, by Claire Mc Evoy and Gergely Hideg. It's a report from Small Arms Survey, which is a research center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. The report notes: