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    Maxine's Essays

    • 21st Century Regress
      Sometimes it seems like the world is going to hell and there's absolutely nothing a girl economist can do about it.
    • What Exactly Are We Crowding Out?
      The current economic downturn isn't a random draw of a black ball from an urn containing white balls and black balls. There's no sampling distribution. Very specific policies and actions landed us here. Now we must decide not only what policies need to be put in place to prevent it happening again, but also what policies would best drive us out of the ditch faster and sustainably.
    • I Wish It Were Only Butter
      We should be giving up some butter if we must. We should not give up education or health investment (or infrastructure or the environment (hello, BP). They may be the only legacies of any value that we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
    • Rational Health Investment?
      The obvious "market solution" is to improve the long run return on investments in health among the disadvantaged through meaningful and effective publicly funded education. The obvious short run "market solution" is to reduce the costs of investment and the shadow price of health for the disadvantaged by providing health insurance cover and reduced out-of-pocket costs.
    • The Socrates Parameter
      To the extent that our limbic systems respond to such engineering by over-riding the judgment of our frontal lobe and to the extent that our frontal lobe is deprived of the information it requires to make a rationally self-interested judgment, we are not only pigs and fools, we are slaves.
    • The Economic Rewards of Virtue
      If individual virtue tempers our "piggy" desires and conditions our choices to something that is both individually and socially better, then the economic rewards of virtue as embodied in and promoted by societal norms and institutions are far greater than we have ever suspected. As economists, we would do well to recognize this when we teach U max.
    • The Market for Morals
      Markets then are places where more is exchanged than goods and services, labor and product, credit, and interest. They are places where we also develop the personal virtues of temperance and prudence and the social virtues of benevolence and justice. When they function well, they produce trust, loyalty, and sympathy among those who trade there.
    • Post-Modern Applied Economics: It’s the Error Term, Stupid
      Maxine believes it’s time to refocus attention and discussion on the error term. It is often where much of the action is in our models. It is where unexpectedly catastrophic events dwell resulting in fat tails. It is where our animal spirits manifest and cause us to do the right thing or the wrong thing or the thing everyone else is doing rather than the self-interested, fully-informed rational thing. It is where God and miracles and chance dwell.
    • Intergenerational Win-Win: Health Insurance, Education, Environment, Infrastructure
      So when we’re talking about fiscal stimulus packages and we’re borrowing from our grandchildren to finance them, we should be thinking about how to use stimulus monies to create value for those grandchildren AND stimulate our economy.
    • Short-term Private Payoffs, Long-term Social Costs
      The real health reform discussion, the one we should be having, is “What must we do to create a health system that is both efficient and fair?” The answer will almost certainly include relegating the private sector to markets where market forces or regulation are effective at aligning short-term private incentives and goals with long-term societal interests. If such markets are scarce or non-existent in health, then the private health sector will be of limited value.
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    07/13/2010

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    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

    Okay, your comment infrastructure is engaging in creative destruction, too. My brilliant words just went down the memory hole. Trying again because I care.

    There's shrink-the-gubmint kool aid, but there's also campaign-contributions-cause-all-our-problems kool aid. Right now the reputation damage a politician incurs by whoring himself out to corportate interests can be counteracted with a bunch of tv commercials telling us to vote for him. As soon as that's not the case anymore and the dirty stuff that gets those contributions isn't worth the cost, politicians won't go so cheap for money (or will restrain themselves to more conventional types of corruption).

    I'm a Udall-type, I come down from David King Udall through his daughter Luella. Are you a Udall or did you marry one?

    I like Udall-types.

    I like what they write, and I really really like how they write it. I like reading you after Jesse. You both write great, but I like being upbeat when I stop reading.

    I notice Mark Thoma noticing you quite a bit these days, too. Good for you!

    Brilliant.

    On my first visit to Monaco this past Spring I was confronted with the largest boats I've seen (other than an aircraft carrier).

    These were not sailboats, nor did there appear to be any owners' interest in racing them (or even taking them out of dock). Instead, it mostly seemed to be a kind of bloated self-satisfaction with the fruits of being clever rather than able.

    ecrive

    I've never understood this penchant of small businessmen to identify with huge corporate interests, even while those interests are deliberately targeting them for extinction. My grandfather, with his small furniture store, was the same way. He managed to be both honest AND canny, and my father is probably right in thinking he would have done just as well, if not better, in the current climate as he did in the Depression. But he ignored everything my economist mother tried to tell him, worried himself into ulcers over the national debt, and never ceased to blame the unemployed for their 'laziness'.

    It's a pity, really. If more of the small business people would throw their lot in with the rest of the middle class instead of imagining themselves great magnates we might get policies that allowed many more people to work for themselves. When I think of all the government grants and free business coaching my German friend got to start her small business it makes me sad.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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