Thursday, October 21, 2010

World Statistics Day

In case you missed it, yesterday - 20/10/2010 - was World Statistics Day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Music Economics

The Economist runs a nice article on what is and is not working in the music industry. The live performance can't be displaced by the internet.
The longest, loudest boom is in live music. Between 1999 and 2009 concert-ticket sales in America tripled in value, from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion (see chart 1). Ticket sales wobbled in America during the summer of 2010, but that was partly because some big-selling acts took a break. One of the most reliable earners, Bono, U2’s singer, was put out of action when he injured his back in May. Next year many of the big acts will be on the road again, and a bumper year is expected.

It is not that more people are going to concerts. Rather, they are paying more to get in. In 1996 a ticket to one of America’s top 100 concert tours cost $25.81, according to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the average ticket would have cost $35.30 last year. In fact it cost $62.57. Well-known acts charge much more. The worldwide average ticket price to see Madonna last year was $114. For Simon & Garfunkel it was an eye-watering $169. Leading musicians have also, by roundabout means, seized a larger share of the mysterious “service” charges that are often tacked onto tickets.

Budding artists, like Sean Fournier realize giving away the music might lead to ticket sales in the future. Download his album, rip, share, burn. Of course this strategy might be a bit more productive if I could find out where he is playing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


You data needs context. Its your job to provide it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


An absolutely riveting account of prison. Its not for the feint of heart. Everything from the types of food, to drug use, to gay sex is covered. There is even a good dose of economics:
5. The Economy

I joked to my cell mate on the first day that at least the GFC couldn't fuck us inside. He'd been done for assaulting a cop when his house got taken by the bank. But within months 'GFC Nigger' became the standard reply to any query as to how black market prices were suddenly going through the roof. The price of a deck of smokes tripled. There was an actual economic reason about this. I went away in Michigan, where a lot of people lost their houses, mostly poor people already. When they had to move away from the prison, it meant they couldn't bring their loved ones as much contraband group, which meant the price of what there was sky rocketed. And the worse things got, the more the people who worked in the store would wonk and take home with them, which meant stocks ran low which fucked us even further.

Bet you didn't read about that one in the Wall Street Journal.
Plus a whole lot more. There are some interesting insights on porn as well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Output Gap

The Washington Post presents an excellent dynamic graphic on the current Output Gap.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Inflation Google Style.

Economic Misconceptions.

Students are not the tabula rasas we wish them to be. The come to us with preconceptions and even misconceptions. Here are some Economic Misconceptions.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Psychologists and Economists

We are very different types of social scientists. Seth Roberts does a good job of discussing how our approaches to data differ:
5. Psychologists rarely use observational data at all. To get them to appreciate sophisticated analysis of observational data is like getting someone who has never drunk any wine to appreciate the difference between a $20 wine and a $40 wine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Atheists know more about religion, than the religious. So reports the NYT.
On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

I recently shocked a WELS friend when I mentioned that St. Paul's views on marriage, and celibacy are obvious attempts by him to ignore or squelch his homosexual desires. His so called "thorn in his side". She had never heard that interpretation, or that Paul even had a thorn in his side.

Texting Bans

The don't reduce crashes.

Love at First Sight

Penelope hits another one down the middle. This post "Love at first sight" reminds me of missed anniversaries.
We are genetically predisposed to fall in love with someone not like us—it keeps the gene pool safe. So when you want someone to fall in love with the idea of working with you, focus on personality characteristics you offer them that they don’t already have.

I guess opposites attract? Sometimes.

Story Telling

Friday, October 08, 2010

Holy Crap!

My favorite reporter sent me a text last night, tipping me off to this:

Council decriminalizes pot possession

I can hardly believe it. Kudos to them for trying to restore some sense to drug policy. The police continue in their defense of harsh laws with an inability to apply any economics to the situation:

"It's part of a very violent equation ... Anything we do to reduce the penalties helps those drug cartels," Kondracki said Tuesday. "It's almost like subsidizing them.

Actually Ed, its the making it illegal, and reducing the supply that causes price to rise and therefore induces violence. Its supply and demand and you are the one subsidizing the dealers, by catching and incarcerating some of their competition. You don't see people killing each other over aspirin do you? Maybe we send the wrong message by making that legal too?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Make a video. Win money.

5 Myths About Prostitution

5 Myths About Prostitution:

1. Prostitution is an alleyway business.
2. Men visit sex workers for sex.
3. Most prostitutes are addicted to drugs or were abused as children.
4. Prostitutes and police are enemies.
5. Closing Craigslist's "adult services" section will significantly affect the sex trade.

ECO120 Misc

1. The Economist's (mis?)interpretation of the effects of fiscal austerity. Alesina's correction.

2.  If China's Currency Rose, Would U.S. Get Jobs Back?: [NPR Audio]

3.  Some 3,000 Millionaires Claim Jobless Benefits, IRS Data Show. [Bloomberg]

4.  Study Finds the Mortgage Interest Deduction to be Ineffective at Increasing Ownership. [Tax Foundation]


An excellent series of blog posts on our healthcare expenditures in this country. A snippet from the poignant conclusion:

But there are a few things we all have to own up to. The first is that most of the “extra” spending is in areas of care. So, please, let’s stop pretending that cost containment can be painless or unnoticed. The second is that, to make cost reform feasible, we will need to have all these sectors share in the pain. That won’t be popular, but at least it might be fair. Moreover, it will increase the chances of success.

Sunday, October 03, 2010