Assorted Links

  • A book on the long and colorful history of antitrust in agriculture. Here is a review and summary of the book, by chapter. I don’t really agree with the book, but it is very interesting and fairly thorough. Even the review suffers from mentioning the “overproduction fallacy“:

    Yet, in the final analysis, what we do come away with here is the unavoidable conclusion that agricultural politics matter, even in an overwhelmingly urban society, because, just as gravity pulls water from higher elevations to lower, farmers will ultimately pursue whatever action brings them the best prices, and, at the same time, be bedeviled by market conditions that undermine those actions. As Lauck writes, “Farmers’ failure to achieve everything they wanted partly reflected their disagreement over which legislation was beneficial and partly reflected ideological opposition to state control of their economic lives” (p. 162). Hence the irony of the enactment of the Freedom to Farm Act of 1996, which supposedly phases out subsidies by 2003, and yet at the same time the federal government has been making record payouts to farmers to prevent widescale abandonment of farms due to –surprise, surprise –depressed prices caused by overplanting and overproduction.

  • Paul Krugman uses graphic analysis from a book co-authored by Kenneth Rogoff shed light on doubts about a paper by…Kenneth Rogoff.
  • From The Economist Debates: Is creating “green jobs” a sensible aspiration for governments? My assessment:

    The problem, beyond that of special interests (which have done enough harm to our alternative energy “efforts” already), is that the government’s (political) incentive is to maximize worker per output (“we need jobs!”). Whereas, the economically beneficial thing to do is the exact opposite: maximize output per worker. Both of these goals are mutually exclusive, as you cannot achieve both at the same time. The reality of the emergence of the “green collar economy” is that we want the least number of people employed as possible. This is true of any sector of the economy. This means that “green collar” jobs will be relatively few and those that work in this sector will need to be highly productive. That is, unless “we” want to give up efficiency in the sector in the name of maximizing worker per output.

  • The Obamas’ financial life exemplifies Milton Friedman’s permanent income hypothesis. [H/T Tino]
  • Consumer advocates tapped for Fed posts?

    Peter A Diamond co-wrote a book with Peter Orszag, now OMB director, on saving social security…And Sarah Bloom Raskin won the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition’s Consumer Advocate of the year award.

    As I have said before (and here), the Fed should have nothing to do with regulation, and its target should have nothing to do with employment. Employment is a real variable that is impossible to hit, especially while trying to maintain “stable prices”. The Fed should have a single nominal variable. I’m not very familiar with either of them, but I haven’t seen “expert on monetary policy” or “knows nothing about economics” in any of their bios, which is very discouraging.

  • The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s new album comes out on March 23rd. You can preview the lead track, Farewell, Mona Lisa, here. Read the review!

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