Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Which Countries Work Hardest? You Might (Not) Be Surprised

Imagine you had to choose, and could choose: you can spend your whole life and raise your family in either of two equally prosperous countries. In one country people work lots of hours to attain that prosperity. In the other country people work far less. You don’t know anything else about these countries. Which would you choose? The answer […]

Scalia’s Craven Self-Contradiction and Pettifogging Pedantry

In his dissent to Edwards v. Aguillard, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia made a neat distinction, sidestepping the issue of “legislative intent” that he finds so troubling: it is possible to discern the objective “purpose” of a statute (i. e., the public good at which its provisions appear to be directed), (The dissent is obsessed with […]

No: Rich People Don’t Work More

The meme is ubiquitous, and widely documented: Rich people work longer hours. Obvious implication: they deserve what they get, right? Ditto the poor. Bunk. Why? All the research supporting that meme looks at workers, not families. It completely ignores students, the retired, and anyone else who isn’t working. Alert the media: workers work more than non-workers. And, news flash: rich families […]

Darwin Wept: Pyramid Schemes, Collusion, and Price-Fixing, the Modern American Way

The story hardly bears repeating: Pricing is the ultimate miracle of Darwinian markets. Competitors who produce goods at lower prices thrive, expand their operations, and produce more. Those who charge higher prices (for equivalent goods) are driven to extinction when sensible purchasers abandon them for their more-efficient competitors. This inexorable mechanism drives innovation, investment, and productivity, […]

National Debt: Since When is the Fed “The Public”?

This issue has been driving me crazy for a while, and I never see it written about. When responsible people talk about the national debt, they point to Debt Held by the Public: what the federal government owes to non-government entities — households, firms, and foreign entities. (Irresponsible people talk about Gross Public Debt — […]

Why Liberals Keep Losing

James Carville was certainly right: “It’s the economy, stupid.” And under Democrats (compared to Republicans), the economy kicks ass: This is GDP growth, but that kick-assness is blatant in any economic measure you look at, from job growth to stock-market returns to household income to government deficits. And it’s true over any lengthy period (say, 30+ years) […]

Is GDP Wildly Underestimating GDP?

The markets have been showing a rather particular schizophrenia over the last dozen or so years — but not, perhaps, the one you may be thinking of. This schizo-disconnect is between the goods markets and the asset markets, and their valuations of U.S. production. In short, the existing-asset markets think we’re producing and saving far […]