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5 months

Have the Identification Police Become Overly Intrusive?

Every intro statistics class teaches "correlation is not causation"--that is, because two patterns consistently move together (or consistently opposite), you can't jump to a conclusion that A causes B, B causes A, some alternative factor C is affecting both A and B, or that among all the millions of possible patterns you can put side-by-side, maybe the correlation between this specific A and B is just a fluky coincidence. 

5 months

Analysing China's Growth and Inequality

Since 1978, China's share of world population has declined mildly from 23% to about 19%. In those same 40 yeas, China's share of world GDP has risen dramatically from 3% to about 20%. Here's China's share of world population and the global economy since the start of its economic reforms.

5 months

Bias Has Been Overestimated at the Expense of Noise

Daniel Kahneman (Nobel 2002) is of course known for his extensive work on behavioral biases and how they affect economic decisions. He's now working on a new book, together with Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein, in which he focuses instead on the concept of "noise".

5 months

Replacing LIBOR: An International Overview

LIBOR stands for "London Interbank Offered Rate." For a long time, it was probably most common  benchmark interest rate in the world--that is, it was the built into trillions of dollars worth of loans and financial contracts that if the LIBOR interest rate went up or down, the contract would adjust accordingly.

6 months

Market Shares for Browsers and Platforms

Teachers of intro economics, as well as industrial organization classes, are often on the lookout for recent examples of market shares that can be used for talking about the extent to which certain markets are concentrated or competitive. The W3 Counter offers a monthly breakdown of market shares for browsers and platforms. For February 2019, here's a figure for internet browser market share:

6 months

Some US Social Indicators Since 1960

The Office of Management and Budget released President Trump's  proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 a few weeks ago. I confess that when the budget comes out I don't pay much attention to the spending numbers for this year or the five-year projections. Those numbers are often build on sand and political wishfulness, and there's plenty of time to dig into them later, if necessary. Instead, I head for the "Analytical Perspectives" and "Historical Tables" volumes that always accompany the budget. For example, Chapter 5 of the "Analytical Perspectives" is about "Social Indicators": 

6 months

Can Undergraduates Be Taught to Think Like Economists?

A common goal for principles of economics courses is to teach students to "think like economists." I've always been a little skeptical of that high-sounding goal. It seems like a lot to accomplish in a semester or two. I'm reminded of an essay written by Deirdre McCloskey back in 1992, which argued that while undergraduates can be taught about economics, thinking like an economist is a much larger step that will only in very rare cases happen in the principles class. Here's Mc Closkey ("Other Things Equal: The Natural," Eastern Economic Journal, Spring 1992):