Author Archive

Don’t give me the creeps

Posted by on February 23rd, 2008

Here is a quick quiz question and reality redefinition brought to you by President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Fill in the blank:
“[A]s people’s real incomes grow, they become subject to higher tax rates.”
This phenomenon is known as _______________________.

Valuing the intellectual commons

Posted by on October 6th, 2007

Ubuntu is a popular distribution of the Free/Libre/Open-Source Software (FLOSS) GNU/Linux computer system.
Using the COCOMO model to estimate the cost of producing computer code of specified length and complexity, a linux enthusiast estimated the actual cost to produce the software in the Ubuntu repositories. The Ubuntu software repository contains over 121 million lines of code, and the estimated cost to produce it is over 7 billion dollars.
Is this a lot?
On the [...] read more >

Afraid to ask or not, all you really wanted to know about the recent Fed liquidity injection…

Posted by on August 21st, 2007

Check out former FRBoNY Director of Research Stephen Cecchetti’s F.A.Q. on the Fed’s emergency injection of liquidity in early August using mortgage-security backed repurchase agreements (repos). The explanation is really clear, complete with illustration. I am a bit skeptical of the claim
The Fed isn’t spending the money on bailing out banks, hedge funds, or helping rich people.
but it’s otherwise an excellent piece that describes the mechanism, the scale, and the reasons.

Right-to-Know: No-Bid Federal Contracts and Other Federal Spending

Posted by on July 16th, 2007 is a new website sponsored by effective OMB watchdog organization and Right-to-Know enforcer, which keeps an eye on the deregulatory manias of recent administrations. The new website allows visitors to track Federal grants and contracts using various search criteria, e.g., location of the recipient (how about “Halliburton”), place of performance (try “Iraq”), sponsoring agency (“Defense”), and whether or not the contract was open to competitive bidding.
The Federal government [...] read more >

Generous welfare states are fine for growth

Posted by on July 2nd, 2007

The main finding of Peter Lindert’s intriguing 2003 paper, “Why the welfare state looks like a free lunch” (a warm-up for his 2004 book Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century is that generous social democratic welfare states, with a variety of universalist and means-tested safety net and family support programs, grow just as robustly as stingy laissez-faire states. Here’s the key summary from the abstract:
There is no [...] read more >

The Inequality and Health Debate: What do we learn from the twentieth-century in the developed world?

Posted by on June 24th, 2007

An important debate in the social health literature is whether more inequality causes worse health. At some later date I’ll post a bibliography, or maybe commenters can help. In any case the list of publications is long, the contributors illustrious, and the findings varied and at odds with each other. Some of the most important papers representing a range of findings include those by Deaton, Deaton and Lubotsky, Mellor and Milyo, Lynch, et [...] read more >

Socialized Medicine: America’s best health-care organization?

Posted by on June 23rd, 2007

The 14,500 doctors and 58,000 nurses of this health-care organization serve 7.6 million enrollees, delivering care that outperforms both commericial insurance and Medicare–let alone poor, underfunded Medicaid–on a host of indicators of quality of process and outcome. While Medicare costs increased from $5,000 to $6,800 (36 percent) per patient-year between 1996 and 2004, its costs stayed constant at $5,000 per patient-year. And the patients receiving this high-quality, moderate-cost care are disproportionately poor and disabled.
Is [...] read more >

The American Vacation Deficit

Posted by on June 20th, 2007

As summer rolls around, there’s been a spike in interest in the American vacation deficit.
David Moberg, writing in the excellent progressive bi-weekly In These Times, surveys the field in “What Vacation Days?” Since we’re interested in policy, here’s the punch line,
Why do workers in other rich countries have more paid time off? Mainly because laws demand employers provide it. The European Union requires its members to set a minimum standard of four weeks [...] read more >

Notes on a health reform plan

Posted by on June 18th, 2007

Berkeley economist Brad DeLong offers a qualified (“coming from a guy who is not a real health economist but has an undeserved reputation because he was good at translating the economese spoken by real health economists”) proposal for health care reform. Here are the highlights:

20% Deductible/Out of Pocket Cap
Single-Payer for the Rest
Sin Taxes [and public-health education, exhortation, etc.]
Serious Research on Best Public-Health, Chronic-Disease, and Hospital Practices

Here’s what’s good, what’s bad, and what can [...] read more >