Sunday, 25 September 2016

Love, the Efficient Market Hypothesis and Berkson's Fallacy

Waking up the day after a late-night out always makes me slightly melancholic... which obviously means we're discussing the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH). The EMH is this decades old idea about the perfect efficiency of asset markets, arguing that all (publicly) available information is already priced into any asset. In other words, it's impossible to "beat the market" since the market at any given moment is correctly priced. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Adam Smith, LTV and Scottish Whisky

Being back in Glasgow, passing by the Adam Smith statue from time to time, reminded me of an argument I once found in Larry White's The Clash of Economic Ideas, an amazing book published by Cambridge back in 2012. It's one of the absolute best books on modern (20th and 21st century) economic thinking (perfect supplement for any course on the History of Economic Thought). It covers, as its title would suggest, the disputes between economists over the ideas they have held, briefly yet comprehensively. A must-read for anyone who cares two straws for economic thinking. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

is the title of Mervyn King's first chapter in his recently published The End of Alchemy (Mervyn King is the former Governor of the Bank of England). I yet have a few hundred pages left, so the review post will have to wait. However, since my professor during first day of classes brought up King's book as a must-read for this semester, the allegory is aptly and affectionately made.

My professor's intro lecture for this course on the Government & the Economy included fairly well-defined areas of exactly these elements: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Since we're on King already, let's start with the Good:

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Travels and Privilege

So my friend linked me this ranting leftie post ("Your Obsession With Travels Sure Feels Classist To Me") during my exams in Sydney and I finally got around to comment on it. The case is this: since being able to travel abroad or backpack the world or go on family trips requires money, and since money is a social privilege that some poor people don't have, talking about one's adventures is oppressive, showing your pictures is distasteful, publishing them on instagram is classist (whatever that really means...).

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How Inequality Causes Ill Health

Newsflash: it doesn't. But people still believe it.

Regardless, courtesy of some girl at Glasgow Uni Fresher's Fair - whom my friend fancied enough to ask on a date - here's the argument:

In Public Health research circles, there's this infamous observation called 'The Glasgow Effect' which shows how indicators such as life expectancy, mortality rates, morbidity, acute sickness or ill health are worse in Glasgow than many other places - even when controlling for all kinds of things. Compared to historically and culturally similar cities such as Liverpool or Manchester, the effect still persists. Sometimes, it is even given as a within-Glasgow-inequality example, showing how life expectancy drops almost linearly for every stop on the Glasgow subway.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Unintended Consequences of Income Taxation

From one ranting to another, here's one that really makes my hatred for the state burn: Income Taxation. And not only or even primarily for the intended and obvious effects of states confiscating other people's just property, meddling their juicy fingers in other people's business, but for the unintended consequences

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Two Questions People On the Left Can't Answer

A favourite pastime of mine is making fun of my friends on the left. Most of the time it is a sign of affections, a bleeding-heart inspiration that I share with McCloskey, to reach out to my deceived friends on the left and convince them to maybe, just maybe reconsider - be provocative, and never ever apologize. About six months ago, I was relaying some entertaining Venn diagrams from the AEI that puts lefties' convictions in awkward positions. Today I have a few more, namely two questions lefties can’t answer without abandoning their own principles or running into serious academic and political problems. Here we go:

Monday, 5 September 2016

Why Econ Matters Most of All

I'm in the habit recently of telling everyone that Economics matters most of all. Needless to say, this infuriates pretty much every non-economist that I know, either shaking their heads at my lunacy or openly accusing me of economism.

Let me explain what I mean.

Economics is many things, particularly a way of thinking. This way of thinking, radically opposed to the charge of 'economism' (that says we're just reducing everything to monetary costs, favouring the 1% etc.), involves a few things: opportunity costs and what they mean; the inevitable scarcity of life and the positive time preference that come from that; and marginality, meaning that we compare incremental units of goods or services (or feelings) rather than entire categories at once. Do have a quick look at the links, for the best education of your life. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Charlie Söderberg and the Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell is the title of one of my favourite journal articles, written by David Colander in 1995 and published by JEP. Not for its conclusions, but for illustrating the dissonance between what economists are doing and students are learning. Obviously fuelling my passion for Rethinking and their stated goals.

Therefore, attending Charlie Söderberg's lecture i Malmö two days ago was quite delightful. I laughed in recognition, had a few "aha"-moments and a veritable avalanche of inspiration. Söderberg is an entrepreneur and lecturer, quite famous by Swedish standards for his appearances in the reality-TV show Lyxfällan - a show everyone knows about.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Mistakes We Make

Lately I have been on a thematic killing spree, publishing controversial material enclosed in antagonizing language left and right: harsh words over feminism (with more coming Thursday), state crimes and environmentalism. In complete lack of humility I'll follow up with the Climate Change debate as it should be.

I'm also thinking a lot about signalling. Once you start analyse things through the lens of signalling, most incomprehensible and sacrosanct behaviour becomes understandable - like climate activists. The prime example of short-term, economically illiterate social signalling.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

If Men Were Angels

"If Men Were Angels", wrote the contributor to the American constitution James Madison in 1788, "no government would be needed". Indeed, if men were angels, any government would be flawlessly run. But as long as men are not angels, the standard interpretation has been that a government violently keeping us all in check is required for life not to be unimaginably terrible.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Greek Restaurant & Econ Fallacies

During my year in Sydney, I often went to a Greek restaurant next to my house. They made slightly-too-expensive food, but oh so incredibly yummy and the staff were super-friendly and - perhaps most importantly - it was literally 2 houses down the road. Suffice to say I ate there quite a lot.

In Australia, the government came up with this ingenious policy called Penalty Rates, a sort of Sunday-only minimum wage that requires employers to pay their employees some extra wage simply because it's Sunday. Consequently, many places around Australia shut down on any given Sunday, (which is part of the policy's intention) but in Sydney the policy also provided me with an excellent illustration of important econ concepts.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Review of Bob Murphy's 'Choice' - Amazing Yet Surprisingly Dull

Before this year's Mises University, I had promised myself not to buy any books in the Mises Bookstore. My reading list was too long already and my bags were completely full after weeks of travelling and a year in Australia - and most books are available online anyway. Being at the Mises Institute however, in the presence of brilliant people, and encouraging scholars, surrounded by so much amazing reads, I evidently couldn't resist. Among the books I acquired, were Murphy's latest book Choice as well as his study-guide to Human Action.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Why People Don't Understand 'Comparative Advantage'

Comparative Advantage is the most fundamental, yet revolutionary concept in Economics. For centuries, however, very few people have grasped it, and the vast majority have taken measures against it - as seen by every protectionist policy, every tariff or politician calling for them. Not doing a better job at explaining this to our fellow citizens is the biggest failure by those of us with a passion for econ. In this, we're all guilty.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

In Defense of Sane Thinking

Since Charles Peralo's indignant attack on Rothbard yesterday, my social media feed has scarcely spoken about anything else - and since my Australian losertarians keep saying I'm a leftie, here are my two cents:

I'm probably in the midst of this Rothbard cult Peralo is referring to, especially considering my involvement with the Mises Institute and my deep passion for hardcore Austrian Economics. I have most certainly heard vague rumours about people who genuinely hates Rothbard - for reasons I have never quite understood. Charles Peralo over at BeingLibertarian.com clarified the issue for me; Rothbard sucks, because he
a) sometimes associated with terrible people - even racist people, or far-left people; and
b) never had a big impact on public policy.

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Naivety of the Enviro-Left

It comes as no surprise that the hip, inner-city enviro-left is short-sighted, economically illiterate, and generally anti-human. However, there's an element of their stupidity that I didn't see until today - probably because I've been intuitively swayed by an ounce of efficiency-thinking in this particular argument. I'm talking about videos like this:

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Impossibility of a Gender Wage Gap

Sometimes friends and acquaintances say things that take you by surprise - and make you subconsciously plan a blog post. It doesn't have to by anything remarkable, just enough to set my guts on fire.

This recently happened to me, when a good friend of mine offhandedly mentioned the wage gap. My first reaction was one of genuine surprise, tantamount to when rational people around me profess strong association with party politics or the Jehovas Witness; "what?! Come on, you're smarter than this! You don't seriously believe in a gender pay gap?"

Sunday, 31 July 2016

From Euphoria to Despair in Less Than an Hour

Today, Mises U is coming to a close, with a live-show of the ContraKrugman show & Mises Weekend, as well as games, cookout and – examination. When I passed the written exam back in 2014 and went onto the first stage of interview-style examinations, I was still a freshie to Austrian Economics. Suffice to say, I was frightened to pieces. Dr. Salerno, Dr. Block & Dr. Woods crossed their arms, fixed their gaze firmly on me and saw straight through my feeble attempts at organising my answers. I obviously didn’t qualify for the next stage, and I have since described it as the most intimidating experience of my life.

Now I have a new one.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

In Presence of Intellectual Giants: Gary North

Little under three years ago, I stumbled upon the vast resource known among reasonably intelligent people as Mises.org (check it out!). Great, provocative, insightful and educating articles on every topic related to political economy and the study of economics gathered in abundance - not to mention the pdf-versions. Somehow, working on some assignment for my first class in economic history at the University of Glasgow, I found a lecture on the MisesMedia YouTube-channel by some well-dressed, gray-haired man called Gary North. The title of his talk drew me in, capturing my curious mind, recently extremely hungry for knowledge:  How Come We're So Rich?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Mises University 2016 is ON!

Way more exiting than the Olympics is obviously Mises University. I’m so incredibly happy and grateful to be here, among seriously brilliant minds and more people than I have time to talk to! Over lunch I get into crazy hectic debates about the Austrian Business Cycle Theory; during social hours I interview the best professors; in the evenings I pick the brains of smart grad students and professors who so generously give of their time, experiences and knowledge.

Short intro: Mises University is a yearly summer event at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, where hundreds of students of Austrian Economics come together every year to listen to top-quality lectures in fields ranging from Monetary Theory and Austrian Subjectivity to Socialism and Development Economics and the Euro Crisis (most of these incredible lectures are streamed live on Youtube). Most of the hot-shots in the Austrian world are present and generously give of their time, inspiration and wealth of knowledge, all under the scorching 38-degrees-celsius Alabama sun.