22 Days To Go: How Christmas Caused the Financial Crisis

A little over a week ago, I asked, “What…is the lesson from the financial crisis for Christmas? What is the connection between this economic shortfall and our moral heritage?” The best answer came from someone who wasn’t actually trying to answer the question. Yesterday, Wharton professor Joel Waldfogel, of Scroogenomics fame, spoke at LSE. His lecture added another dimension to the deadweight loss of Christmas. The following charts are not included in his book; this is a Trading 8s exclusive…   Continue reading “22 Days To Go: How Christmas Caused the Financial Crisis”

Ghostbuster Economics

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d show you how economics can even rid you of those pesky haunting spirits. But seriously, here’s my second column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The question I address lies at the heart of public choice economics, though I didn’t have enough room to delve into the details too much. I’ve written briefly about this subfield before, and I think it deserves more careful consideration by economists, not to mention the voting public. The peak of public choice came under James M. Buchanan (who won the Nobel Prize) and Gordon Tullock, both of whom concluded that most government intervention makes things worse. You can debate their opinion—and I do, on many counts—but too often we talk about market failure and don’t even think about the negative consequences of the government “solutions” we are proposing.   Continue reading “Ghostbuster Economics”

Why Some Economists Still Aren’t Smiling

Jim Hamilton, truly one of the best macroeconomists of his generation, may not be smiling, but he’s getting closer. At all times, Hamilton keeps a cartoon face—smiling, frowning, or neutral—on his blog Econbrowser to represent his outlook for the economy. It’s like security threat levels for the business cycle. Yesterday, Hamilton replaced the longtime frowning face with a neutral one.   Continue reading “Why Some Economists Still Aren’t Smiling”