Cochrane escribe sobre el salario mínimo en EU

John Cochrane hace su aportación a la discusión actual sobre el salario mínimo y la propuesta de Obama de subirlo a $9 dólares por hora:

The point is not to be heartless — government programs or not, life on the lower end of America’s economic and social spectrum is pretty awful. The point is, if we seriously want to address the problems of the “working poor,” if we want policies that actually work rather than spew a lot of TV time and make us feel good, let us paint a vaguely realistic picture of what their life is like. Absolutely nobody (except perhaps illegal aliens) is trying to support a family on $14,500 from a full time minimum wage job, period. The actual economic life of the “working poor” is a welter of government programs, transitory employment, and a lot of illegal activity

And, one huge problem facing people who do work full time and earn minimum wage is the astounding marginal tax rates that our various social programs imply. In fact, much of the raise from $7.25 to $9.00 will be taken away. Even more of a raise to $20 an hour will be taken away. The structure of our programs that are supposed to help people are instead trapping them.

Yes indeed, let us help families to “finally get ahead!” Let us talk about lousy schools, incentive-destroying social programs, horrendous violence, life-destroying incarceration, and the war on drugs run amok. The minimum wage may slightly help the few who can get such jobs, and put such entry-level jobs slightly more out of reach for many others. But it’s just irrelevant to the real, first-order problems such families face.

vía The Grumpy Economist: Two cents on the minimum wage.


Plática entre un liberal y una Occupy Wall Street

Russell Roberts, de EconTalk, entrevista a Cathy O’Neil de acerca de la crisis, los modelos financieros y de Occupy Wall Street. El intercambio es sumamente enriquecedor y es curioso ver cómo dos personas con creencias completamente distintas están de acuerdo en casi todo, incluso en lo fundamental.

Algunos pasajes interesantes de la entrevista:

I’m a capitalist; I love profit; and I love loss. And profit without loss is the most destructive thing you can probably imagine. And so a political system that has banks that make money at our expense as taxpayers and don’t bear the losses is pretend- or crony-capitalism, and faux capitalism. And those of us who love capitalism shouldn’t be defending their right to make profit, or defending them by saying, well, they are just playing by the rules. They help write the rules; they help make the rules; they influence the rule-makers as much as they can. And we can debate whether they are immoral or not, or evil, or dark, or unethical. All those things. Or even something minor, like jerks. That’s not the key issue. To me the key issue is: The system itself is not healthy in the way that capitalism should be. And don’t defend it. Those of you out there–they are going to destroy it.

Russ Roberts

Listen, I’m smart. You know. One of the reasons I disagree is because I’m smart and I don’t know what to do. And I know a lot of awfully smart people who don’t know what to do. And I know a lot of slightly less smart people who claim to know what to do. So really what it comes down to for me is, I want there to be a strong way of asserting: I don’t know.

And if you are saying: I don’t know the answer and we have to think about it, and we have to make sure the incentives are right and we have to make sure that the average person is protected from starvation, and it’s going to be hard, and the people who are in power now are going to have less power and they are going to have less money–that doesn’t sound like a very, you just don’t get play on that. But I do think that the ‘I don’t know’ somehow needs to have more cultural weight. And I think part of that is–starting this, that’s how I’ve chosen to start. I’ve chosen to start by saying: Distrust the expert. To be a skeptic. I want to first promote skepticism. Because once people sort of look under the covers to these mathematical models or whatever other models–political models–they realize that people are inside those. The systems are simply acting in their own best interests, almost all the time. And then people will start saying: Wait a second; that’s not working. What should we do? And that’s when they’ll come to–in an ideal world they’d come to this moment of: I don’t know. And they’d admit that they don’t know. And we’d actually get somewhere with our conversation.

O’Neil acerca de los financieros durante la crisis y su arrogancia en torno a los modelos financieros

Al final, Russ Roberts cita "The Second Coming," de Yeats.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


And that last line of that verse, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity," that to me is a big problem we have with experts.


Vía Econtalk

Las 10 tendencias tecnológicas que hay que seguir en 2013

De acuerdo con el blog del World Economic Forum son:

  1. Vehículos Eléctricos basados en transmisión electromagnética de energía
  2. Impresión en 3D y manufactura remota
  3. Materiales autorreparantes
  4. Purificación de agua energéticamente eficiente
  5. Conversión y uso de CO2
  6. Mejoras moleculares para la nutrición
  7. Detección remota
  8. Entrega precisa de medicamentos por medio de nanotecnología
  9. Electrónicos y celdas fotovoltaicas orgánicos
  10. Generadores nucleares de 4a generación y reciclaje de desechos nucleares

The top 10 emerging technologies for 2013 | Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum.

Haciendo política industrial en Estados Unidos

El presidente Barack Obama ha señalado consistentemente su intención de crear trabajos manufactureros en industrias limpias. Personalmente, tengo mis dudas sobre el éxito de su estrategia de política industrial y hoy veo que Wired publicó una historia sobre cómo General Motors no encuentra demanda para partes de autos híbridos de inversiones que hizo hace pocos años con dinero del estímulo fiscal.

Federally Funded Chevy Volt Battery Plant Paid Workers to Play, Not Make Batteries | Wired Business |

Hallado en Quora

Respondiendo a la pregunta “¿qué tips de tu profesión podrías darnos?” Un usuario de Quora responde:

Today, I was trying to fix something on my wife’s computer and told her some variant of “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched”. At which she accused me of not thinking positively.

I was forced to explain to her that the computer would do what it does regardless of whether we take a positive attitude or not.

As we are increasingly faced with a world eaten by software, the skill that everyone is going to have to learn from programmers is to recognise what machines are: implacably logical, impervious to emotional appeal. They will not be brow-beaten. They will not sympathize with your suffering. They are indifferent as to whether you are happy or sad, optimist or pessimist.

In the useful terminology of the philosopher Daniel Dennett, we will all need to take more of a “design stance” and less of an “intentional stance” towards many of the institutions we deal with. Hence, “knowing how to remain calm and move forward in the face of the mechanical” is the skill I suggest that people need to learn from my trade of software developer.


Lee: Quote of Phil Jones’s answer to Tips and Hacks for Everyday Life: What are some must-know tricks of your trade that most people are oblivious to? en Quora

La era de “Big Data”, y cómo conforme aumenta la información útil, también crece el ruido

Nassim Taleb de Antifragile advierte que entre más datos producimos, también estamos produciendo más información errónea.

We’re more fooled by noise than ever before, and it’s because of a nasty phenomenon called “big data.” With big data, researchers have brought cherry-picking to an industrial level.

Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information.

In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means more false information.

vía Beware the Big Errors of ‘Big Data’ | Wired Opinion |

¿Vivimos en una era más allá de la verdad? Reflexiones de Ronald Bailey en Reason

Les comparto esta editorial en Reason que habla de cómo hay dos tipos de problemas: los “dóciles” y los “endemoniados“. Los dóciles, como el acceso a agua potable o la electricidad, requieren esfuerzo constante para encontrar una solución única. No necesariamente son fáciles, pero se pueden definir y crear un consenso hacia dónde hay una solución. Los “endemoniados” suelen incluir los problemas sociales (por ejemplo, el hambre, el crimen, la contaminación y el desarrollo social) y su solución depende de la forma en que el analista define el problema.

La discusión política reciente se ha convertido en un juego de datos respaldado por “expertos” en la nómina de cada una de las partes. En Estados Unidos es más claro: cambio climático, control de armas, vacunas, subsidios a la investigación y desarrollo, etc. Todos presentan datos que presentan puntos de vista que apoyan una agenda política ya formada.

¿La solución? No hay ninguna fácil. Una propuesta es ser más responsables al momento de emitir una opinión y reconocer nuestros sesgos. (Admiro yo a David Henderson de EconTalk por hacer eso.) Otra salida es buscar arreglos institucionales y sociales que permitan un mayor nivel de personalización en nuestras elecciones.

Do We Live in a Post-Truth Era? –

La Fed y la economía de los equipos deportivos profesionales

El Banco de la Reserva Federal de Boston (“la Fed”) tiene una página y un juego sobre la economía de los deportes y los equipos profesionales. El objetivo de ésta es familiarizar a los estudiantes y al público en general con conceptos de economía (utilidad, oferta y demanda, análisis en el margen, costo de oportunidad,…) con situaciones y escenarios comunes y divertidos.

El concepto es divertido aunque un poco extraño considerando que la Fed tiene mejores cosas que hacer que diseñar juegos por Internet*; tal vez considera que la economía no es lo suficientemente emocionante (¿?) o tal vez a sus economistas les gusta mucho el beisbol. En todo caso, el juego consiste en 81 preguntas (como máximo) y nueve “entradas”, cada una asociada a un capítulo de la economía del deporte. Recomiendo darse una vuelta e intentar contestar las preguntas. Incluso un economista tendrá dificultad en tener una calificación perfecta debido a que algunas preguntas hacen referencias a datos y trivia deportiva relacionada con la economía.

Fuente: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

*La Fed también dedica una parte de sus recursos a la creación de sitios de educación financiera y de conceptos de economía para la población, aunque ninguna de ellos resulta tan peculiar como este juego.