Is it a good time to be a professional economist?

Greg Mankiw points us to a Business Insider graph showing a pretty rapid increase in the quantity demanded of professional economists.

Interestingly, the number of job openings seems to follow the business cycle, suggesting this rising demand is not sustainable.



Holy Smokes! Gary Johnson can travel back in time!

Folks, I just learned today that Gary Johnson will be running for president in 2016! That’s great news.

But not only is Johnson an incredibly talented politician–even more important, and less known, is that he can travel back in time!

That’s right. Give his name a google search, and on the first page it will tell you that he was Governor of New Mexico from 1995-1903! Here’s a screenshot I took:


Just another reason to vote for the (now) former CEO of a cannabis company!


The race card is cheap

The “race card” is in such abundance these days that economists illustrating it with supply-demand curves would unanimously conclude that at current prices it’s in a severe surplus. The response would be to raise its price (discredit those who have the temerity to supply it).

That’s why I was about to slam my head on my desk when I read this story at Bleacher Report

Here’s my summary: Kendall Marshall played point guard for North Carolina a few years back, and now he plays for the Philadelphia 76ers (who, last I checked, are a miserable 4-33). However, Kendall’s old man thinks he should be getting more playing time, especially in the place of an unnamed white player. Because a white guy is allegedly taking minutes from his son, papa Marshall immediately cried “racism!”

Isn’t that something! A white guy finally gets a chance in the NBA and people suddenly suggest some racism is at play.

Now I have no idea why Kendall isn’t getting minutes on a 4-33 team. Personally, I never thought he was anything special in college, so it doesn’t startle me that he isn’t making it in a league with the best players in the world.

But can people please start to think critically instead of settling for such a pathetic explanation? Please?

Especially because the same principle haunts the financial industry, where government policies are in place to essentially force banks to issue loans to minorities, even if banks don’t think they’ll be profitable.

In my view of the world, though, a bank isn’t going to turn down making profitable loans on account of racism. If it did, then I’m sure another bank would be more than happy to make some dough.

Likewise, if the 76ers thought Kendall Marshall could help the team win some more games, then they’d be shooting themselves in their racist feet by keeping him on the bench. Another (less racist) team would probably gobble him right up.

When winning (in sports) and profit (for banks) is the motive power behind the operations, race becomes irrelevant.

How can you not be romantic about economics?

Today’s insight comes from the 6th edition of Greg Mankiw’s textbook, “Principles of Economics,” page 49:

Consider your typical day. You wake up in the morning and pour yourself juice from oranges grown in Florida and coffee from beans grown in Brazil. Over breakfast, you watch a news program broadcast from New York on your television made in China. You get dressed in clothes made of cotton grown in Georgia and sewn in factories in Thailand. You drive to class in a car made of parts manufactured in more than a dozen countries around the world. Then you open up your economics textbook written by an author living in Massachusetts, published by a company located in Ohio, and printed on paper made from trees grown in Oregon.

In one of my favorite movies–Moneyball–Brad Pitt wonders how anybody can’t be romantic about baseball. I share that sentiment.

And I also wonder how people can’t be romantic about economics. Mankiw’s observation shows that, even in the confines of our own homes, each day is a trip around the world. I’m provided with all of the necessary goods by people who I have never even met, and by people who may even hate me if they knew me. How and why does this happen? That’s what the study of economics is all about.

And if you (or someone you know) still isn’t taken with pure wonder from the insights to be gained by studying economics, show them this video of Milton Friedmanand you can rest assured that if they aren’t immediately swept off their feet then they are probably a zombie!


Jeffrey Tucker reviews ‘The Big Short’

I saw The Big Short on Christmas day and I enjoyed it so much that I was planning on writing up a review for the blog. But then I saw that Jeffrey Tucker already summed it up better than I could hope to, so why even bother? I’ll just forward you guys to it and go on being productive in other areas of my life (guitar practice and working on that summer 6-pack, mostly).  Here’s a sample:

Depending on the knowledge you bring to it, The Big Short — as entertaining as it is — can be extremely misleading. Not wrong. Just incomplete. Anyone who tries to sell an explanation of the 2008 financial crisis that does not mention the Fed is no more trustworthy than a trader who offered to sell you an MBS at top dollar in 2007.

Why should we care about how the 2008 crisis is interpreted? As with the 1929 crash, the story we tell has much to do with the policies that are created later. If 2008 was the failure of capitalism, massive new regulations, controls, and taxes might make sense. If 2008 traces to centralized mismanagement of money and banking, a very different policy follows.