In general, we expect that a beginner or novice in a field is likely to be out-performed by a seasoned veteran. We would be surprised if a beginner could build a better house than a skilled carpenter, or if an amateur boxer could knock out a pro. Yet, something like this may be true in… Read more

Bryan Caplan at George Mason University and the Library of Economics and Liberty has a couple of posts on medical screening and treatment. First, Caplan shares data on prostate cancer.  It turns out that screening does nothing good for the patient: That’s right.  Statistically speaking, prostate cancer screening is worthless.  Over the course of ten years,… Read more

Nobel economist Edmond S Phelps has a piece, What is Wrong with the West’s Economies?  He discusses the alarming slowdown in western economies dating back to the 1960s, a lack of what he call flourishing or a narrowing of innovation.  It’s a nice piece and I recommend reading it in its entirety.  As you might expect,… Read more

“It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me. The above quote is from an Atlantic article on the resurrection of American slums.  I recommend the… Read more

Once a year, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases a new set of economic growth estimates that include not yet released numbers for the second quarter and revisions to historical GDP estimates as far five years back. Today is that day. The first estimate of 2015’s second quarter economic growth is 2.3 percent,… Read more

Here’s the first paragraph from a FED press release of July 20th: The Federal Reserve Board on Monday approved a final rule requiring the largest, most systemically important U.S. bank holding companies to further strengthen their capital positions. Under the rule, a firm that is identified as a global systemically important bank holding company, or… Read more

California’s water regulatory environment is a mess.  One result is that it’s expensive and often arbitrary.  It’s expensive to support, but that’s the not biggest cost.  The real loss is in the efficient use of water. Since allocation in California is increasingly a political process, there is no reason to believe it’s economically efficient.  Indeed,… Read more

I’ve argued for some time that services for the wealthy will be a major source of Coastal California jobs in coming years.  As people become more wealthy, they increase their specialization.  That is, wealthy people specialize in consumption and whatever it is that brings them their wealth.  That may mean specializing in consumption and in… Read more

A few years ago, I was convinced that Greece would have to leave the European Union within months.  So, I made some bets.  Of course, I lost those bets. At the time, I attributed my losses to underestimating Europeans’ fear of repeating the 20th Century’s violence and their conviction that only some sort of union… Read more

Several years ago I was asked to speak at a dinner meeting for some customers of a large insurance company.  It so happens that another economist, Gene Stanaland, was the featured speaker in the afternoon session.  Gene turned out to be a professional speaker who bills himself as the “Will Rogers of Economics.”  He was… Read more

In this article, Joshua Brown argues that the impacts of Greek default are likely to be small.  He correctly points out that Greece’s economy is really pretty small in the scheme of things. But does that really mean that the impact of a default is really small?  I think most of the time it would,… Read more

Here’s what the OECD has to say about the global economy: But the global economy can be characterised (sic) as only achieving a muddling-through “B-minus ” grade. Global growth in the first quarter of 2015 was weaker than in any quarter since the crisis. And although this softness is seen as transitory, productivity growth continues… Read more

I saw this Kaufman Foundation article that argues that, by reducing the downside risks, an aggressive government-provided safety net promoted entrepreneurship, jobs, and economic growth.  If one follows the links, there is some empirical support for the argument. So, I figured that if I looked at data across countries, high-support countries would dominate new-business data.  When… Read more

Since the dismal first-quarter GDP was revised down, we’ve heard all sorts of excuses.  These include bad winter weather and problems in the seasonal adjustment process.  The bad-winter excuse has been popular for several winters now.  Of course, as I’ve said before, strong economies absorb bad winters with minimal impact on output, GDP. Now, we hear… Read more

The California Center for Jobs and the Economy has released a report comparing Los Angeles County’s economy with the Bay Area’s growth.  Needless to say, Los Angeles doesn’t look good in the comparisons. Early on, they not that Los Angeles’ economy has been almost unique in not creating jobs: In their March 2014 report, UCLA… Read more