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1-800 Bets Off

March 18, 2010

I strongly think that public intellectuals, and especially people who are paid to write puff pieces op-ed’s about things they “believe in”, should be required to take a financial stake that reflects their underlying thesis. Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson strongly believe this, as well. Why? Well…

Exhibit A, Michael Kinsley:

Another way to say “collapse of the currency” is to say “hyperinflation.” Hyperinflation is when inflation feeds on itself and takes off beyond control. You can have stable 2 to 3 percent inflation. But you can’t have stable 10 percent inflation. When everybody assumes 10 percent, all the forces that produced 10 percent push it to 20 percent, and then 40 percent, and soon people are lugging currency in a wheelbarrow, as in the famous photos from Weimar Germany.

Matthew Yglesias formulates a fairly long analysis based on this selection. This line sums up the whole article:

In short, I can’t help feeling that the gold bugs are right. No, I’m not stashing gold bars under my bed. But that’s only because I lack the courage of my convictions.

There, end of story. Mystery solved. He doesn’t really believe what he’s saying, he’s just filling in a blank page…we can all go on with our lives. Now only if he had put this information in the first sentence. Thankfully, Matthew did the dirty work for me by quoting the piece.

And so we see, once again, just how strong a discovery mechanism prices are.

Addendum: I wonder what the equilibrium would look like under these conditions? Would we get more op-eds, or less? No doubt they would be of higher quality. Would it have an large effect on efficiency? People would more easily be able to avoid the opportunity costs of reading a crappy op-ed…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 7:27 pm

    The market has been climbing out of control. It may have something to do with expectations that the prices of everything will go up due to the inflation and thus company earnings will go up a lot on paper.

  2. March 18, 2010 9:07 pm

    I doubt it’d work. There’s too much money to be made by skewing the public discourse away from reasonable, rational thought and reporting. Placing penalty for bad reporting/commentary might work in sectors of journalism that requires some level of education, such as finance and whatnot, but when it comes to politics, where most who pay attention are not that educated, shifting the Overton window may be worth the penalty cost.

    All it would do is give journalists with no integrity a reason to demand more money from the lobbyists and corporations who pay them to shill.

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