“Why some buyers pay more than others.” Robert Frank begins the so-named chapter of The Economic Naturalist with this statement: The law of one price applies most forcefully in perfectly competitive markets—roughly speaking, markets like those for salt or gold in which numerous suppliers sell highly standardized products. Frank goes on to probe the paradoxical-seeming … Continue reading The Law of One Product: Robert Frank, Tesla, and Hurdle Pricing
In honor of Black Friday, I have a question for the ‘Economic Naturalist’. My wife and I both received Thanksgiving sale catalogues from a clothing chain retailer. A sticker on the front of my wife’s catalogue offered 40% off a qualifying purchase; the sticker on the front of mine offered 50% off. Why would a … Continue reading A Black Friday question for The Economic Natualist
To Jason Hickel: I read your blog post elaborating the “de-growth” position that was recently criticized by Branko Milanovic. I have not read your recent book linking the inequality debate to the global warming crisis. And I’m not an academic or a professional economist. And I realize that Branko has already responded to your post. … Continue reading Growth is Good (I hope): An open letter to Jason Hickel
I might end up with criticism of this post once I read the details in the WP and forthcoming article. There is a certain amount of ideological glee here that I find troubling.
But it is undeniably important to remember that long-term average wage or GDP per capita “reconstructions” are just that. One doesn’t need to take side in the models vs. details debate in EH to recognize – or benefit from recognizing – this fact. Kudos to O’Brien, Humphries, Stephenson and others who are keeping this issue to the fore.
Everything (well,… most things) you know about wages 1650 -1800 is wrong. That’s a great opportunity for historians
by Judy Stephenson (University of Oxford)
My forthcoming paper in the Economic History Review (abstract available here) makes some big claims about the level of nominal and real wages in urban England before industrialization. There is an early working paper version here
Specifically, I argue that the data used for the years between 1650 and 1800 are completely wrong because the people who compiled them (who go back in some cases to the 1930s and late nineteenth century) took figures from bills for construction services rather than actual wage books. As an actual wage book from the contractor who built the South West Tower of St Paul’s shows, men were not paid these charge out rates, they were paid considerably less.
This has some big ramifications for some influential economists and…
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Several days ago, Prateek Raj retweeted a capsule HBR article by Piero Formica, “Why Innovators Should Study the Rise and Fall of the Venetian Empire”. Retweeting it myself, I said “This is bad history. Really, really bad”. Quite fairly, I was challenged to elaborate by University of Liverpool’s Andrew Smith. My response took the form … Continue reading Cool Hand Lagoon: On the Misappropriation of Venetian History
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a feature on Willard, Ohio – a town of some 6,000 people about 30 miles southwest of my birthplace of Oberlin and about 15 miles northeast of Savannah, where my 90-plus year-old parents now live. Growing up, I called it “Celeryville”, after a smaller, nearby community. Then, as now, … Continue reading Celeryville, Revisited
Some months ago, Pseudoerasmus posted The 25 most stimulating economic history books since 2000 – not a “best” list, exactly, but a list premised on “best” = “makes you think”. My original, absurd hope was to review several of the books in depth. I’m settling instead for possibly-useful capsule descriptions of volumes that led, in … Continue reading Book Club: Sampling Pseudoerasmus’ “Top 25 Economic History books since 2000”
A week or so ago, Alvaro La Parra-Perez tweeted a link to a Rafael del Pino master conference presentation (think of this as being asked to address bigwigs by Brookings Institute or American Enterprise Institute) by John Joseph Wallis of the University of Maryland. Wallis, an economic historian, entitled his presentation “The Nature of Long-Term … Continue reading Sanforized* Economics: A Look at Shrink Theory
"A distressing phenomenon is occurring throughout the industrialized world. Many community services have been deteriorating - fewer postal deliveries, larger classes in public schools, less reliable garbage pickups - even though the public is paying more for them." --Baumol and Blinder, Macroeconomics: Principles and Policy, 5th Ed., 1991 I so hated economics in college that … Continue reading William Baumol (1922-2017)
Some months ago, in a semiserious post, I offered a “Second Law of Strategy” in the form of a dictum that “all profits come from routine innovation.” This second “law”, like the first, was aimed more at consultspeak than economic theory. Inspired by some airplane reading, I lumped Gary Pisano’s quadrant-diagram varieties of innovation into … Continue reading The Tomato was right on Innovation! Is that a Good Thing?