Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Effects of gender preferences

 NBER working paper:

Currently, women are 3-15 times more likely to be selected as members of the AAAS [American Academy of Arts and Science] and NAS [National Academy of Science] than men with similar publication and citation records.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

China directing banks to sell $ to buy ¥

Article: Such an increase in the supply of $ would reduce the price of a dollar, the exchange rate. This would help Chinese consumers by making domestic goods, including imports, less expensive; but hurt Chinese firms by making their exports look more expensive to Americans.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Good MRU video on Prinsoners' Dilemma

Will markets thwart Xi's plans for China?

Economist lead article on President Xi's "rejuvenation," and efforts to  "maintain authority",

When Mr Xi took over in 2012, China was changing fast. The middle class was growing, private firms were booming and citizens were connecting on social media. A different leader might have seen these as opportunities. Mr Xi saw only threats.
[Xi has] reasserted state control over the economy and hobbled some of China’s most successful firms. His plan to tame the property market lies in tatters and bad loans weigh perilously on the economy.

Ironically, he is forgetting the lessons of Xiaogang village, and harming his own economy much faster than he is harming ours (see post below).

Is Chinese Capitalism an oxymoron

I begin my management course by telling students how Xiaogang villagers defied their Communist rulers in 1978 by secretly instituting a system of private property.  By the time the authorities found out, it was too late as the system had already spread to neighboring villages due to its tremendous success.

China adapted and allowed the institution of private property to spread.  At the time, many people predicted China would continue to reform and they were let into the WTO. However, "...as even the most ardent defenders of China’s WTO accession now acknowledge, that did not happen." Today we are left with an integrated world with two very different systems. To explain the effect, we can use the metaphor of A/B testing:
...imagine that the Department of Justice randomly assigns half of U.S. corporations to be A-corps and half to be B-corps. For A-corps, nothing changes. But B-corps now enjoy special privileges and rules. They are exempt from laws governing intellectual-property theft. They receive more-favorable tax incentives. They are recipients of sizable subsidies, including some to buy their A-corp rivals. They are able to enlist the DOJ to win capricious legal claims against A-corp rivals.
The result of such an experiment would be dire: The best, most innovative A-corp firms would lose market share; A-corps would be loath to invest in research and development, given that B-corp rivals would be able to purloin it; and there would be massive waste as inefficient B-corp firms expanded more than market forces required. Now extrapolate that to the global economy and you get a sense of the harms the Chinese system has imposed on capitalist economies.
I did a search on all my posts in China and I came across this one from 2007: "Market Socialism" and China's new antitrust laws  in which I argued that unless China developed "... the kinds of Democratic institutions that provide checks and balances on state power," their economy could stagnate under the what i called "regulatory miasma."  It turns out that, I needed the caveat I closed with:
But China's oxymoronic "socialist market economy" has surprised us before. In the words of Deng Xiaoping, "I don't care if the cat is black or white as long as it can catch mice."

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Is the Inflation Reduction Act, "False and Misleading Advertising?"


President Biden touts the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowers deficits by $240 billion over a decade, he has also signed into law increased spending on veterans benefits, infrastructure and semiconductors, while taking executive actions that vastly expand food stamp and Obamacare benefits and cancel student debt worth $400 billion to $1 trillion.

Increased Govt. spending increases Aggregate Demand for US Goods and Services, which increases price (inflation).

Someone tell the FTC.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

How will the rise in interest rates affect Corporate Borrowers?


From the Economist:

...in aggregate the West’s corporate debt load looks manageable ... American public companies’ earnings before interest and tax are a healthy 6.7 times the interest due on their debts, up from 3.6 times in 2000. 

But 3 types of loans may be in for a "reckoning:"
  • The first comprises businesses that have come to rely on less orthodox sources of credit, which are often those with the diciest prospects.
  • The second area of vulnerability involves so-called zombie firms: uncompetitive enterprises, kept alive by cheap debt and, during the pandemic, government bail-outs.
  • The third and biggest area of concern involves firms that are merely unfit rather than undead.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Consult an economist before buying a wedding dress

When Stephanie (her name has been changed to avoid embarrassment) went shopping for a wedding and bridesmaid dresses, she found valuable advice from an unusual source, Chapter 23 of her favorite economics text.  And it was not about sleeve options, figure flattery, or bustles.

She was puzzled that over half of the stores that sell wedding dresses do not permit photos, and do not have tags in the dresses that would identify the manufacturer and style type.  

These retail stores want to prevent customers from "free riding" on their fitting and display services:
I just spoke with someone who had all her bridesmaids sized in the store only to go online and buy them from a discount site. I would assume many of the brides are doing this as well.
Note that this is not just a problem for the store, but also a problem for the dress manufacturer: if stores cannot prevent free-riding, they will invest less in point-of-sales fitting services, and dress sales will suffer.  See our earlier post about golf club manufacturer PING, who faced a similar problem,
The discount retailers were advising consumers to visit a full-service retailer to request a custom-fitting session, and then bring the specifications for custom-made clubs back to the discounter. PING could control this kind of opportunistic behavior only by dropping dealers, a very costly option.
PING wanted to set a minimum retail price (called "retail price maintenance") to address the problem.  The minimum price meant that discount retailers could not undercut full service retailers.  The antitrust laws prevented this until the Supreme Court changed the case law.

For the wedding dresses, the no-photos policy created a problem for Stephanie because she wanted to photograph her bridesmaids in each of the dresses to make sure that they choose the best dresses for the wedding. So she chose to purchase from a large retail chain, like J. Crew, BCBG, Ann Taylor, or Nordstrom’s because they had solved the free riding problem, using exclusives, where only one chain carries the style.

For an economic analysis of resale price maintenance, see the amicii brief of 24 antitrust economists (I am one of the 24.)

UPDATE:  Amazon just made free riding a lot easier.

What happened when Oregon decriminalized drugs?

More evidence that Demand Curves slope downward: when you reduce the "price" of taking drugs (the expected penalty), quantity will increase. From AP:
“If there is no formal or informal pressure on addicted people to seek treatment and recovery and thereby stop using drugs, we should expect continuing high rates of drug use, addiction and attendant harm,” said Keith Humphreys, an addiction researcher and professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Of 16,000 people who accessed services in the first year of decriminalization, only 0.85% entered treatment, the health authority said.

HT:  MarginalRevolution.com 

Why did Martha's Vineyard homes increase from $700K to $1M in 2021?

NIMBYism restricts development (supply), so that the only thing that can adjust to an increase in demand (induced by the pandemic) is the price. From a 2021 NY Times letter to the editor
In the end, what really reads in this strange piece is that this gentleman didn’t like the Water Street apartments in Vineyard Haven for some reason, and is nervous about the Lambert’s Cove development. To this, there is of course an argument to be expressed and heard. But when it takes the form of such cynical bloat, it becomes a mockery of its own argument. It makes clear that the spirit of “not in my backyard” is as much of an obstacle to continuing to preserve the Island’s community as some self-interested folks, such as those who are pretending to oppose the housing bank out of supposed “environmental” issues. 
 ... I am also absolutely and constantly baffled when people complain about the one, sole affordable housing developer on the Island, a developer which takes great pains to protect the environment and build in accordance with what natural environment and cultural environment exists there, such as preserving and occasionally building around trees and trying to tear down as little as possible — and then conveniently miss the fact that every other building in Edgartown, for instance, has been torn down and turned into a McMansion over the past three years. If this attitude doesn’t come from self-interested hypocrisy, it comes from an extreme level of blindness.