Division of Labour: April 2013 Archives
April 29, 2013
I View This Glass as Half Full

Report: Obama Spent Twice as Much Time on Vacation/Golf as Economy

Please Mr. President, more golf and less economic tinkering.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 06:17 PM

April 26, 2013
Always Low Prices?

Police: Walmart Worker Turned Tricks In Store

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:23 PM

April 24, 2013
Green (Failure) Is Universal

Another Obama Green Project Folds after Getting Millions from Taxpayers

The title of the post is a take off of NBCUniversal's tag line for this week's programming.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:40 PM

Gay But Not Happy

I'm guessing this took a bite out of France's happiness-adjusted GDP:

Paris riots after gay marriage vote

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:11 PM

April 23, 2013
Where's the ACLU When You Need It?

I'm pleased the Boston bombers are no longer loose to harm people, but I found the search for them disturbing. That people who have no connection to the bombers but just happen to live within a few blocks of where one them fled from police could be ordered to let police search their houses is bothersome. I have not read the post carefully or viewed the embedded video, but this site makes the same point.

Of course Nanny Bloomberg is calling for the already loosy goosy interpretation of the Constitution to be changed. Maybe he thinks police should be able to search houses for Big Gulps.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:09 PM

Dancing for dollars

No, not that kind of dancing. Real dancing, done in corporate offices:

Most dance companies make money by selling tickets to their performances. Boise-based troupe Trey McIntyre Project [TMP] has a more expansive business model: "We've decided that we have a real asset, which is the creative process itself. We're selling that," says John Michael Schert, the company's co-founder and executive director.

HP is doing it: "working with the dancers 'pulls our staff out of the same way we do things so that we can better design solutions and solve problems.'"

I guess this story jumped out at me from the empirical perspective:

From there, a senior HP executive kicks off a broader discussion about a new product or problem facing the company. Together, TMP and the HP employees discuss how HP can hone its creative skills to solve the task at hand. Hansen says it's hard to point to any one specific breakthrough the TMP sessions have inspired, but he believes the creative vibe pays off. "They really create positive energy, and that translates into our engineers and scientists," he says. "It helps people open their minds."

They do this quarterly, yet can't "point to any one specific breakthrough." Well, I guess it's no worse than providing donuts in the break room.

Tracking the ROI on such ventures is tricky, researchers admit. There's very little hard data out there, says Barry Jaruzelski, a senior partner at Booz & Co. who conducts the firm's annual Global Innovation study. Still, he thinks the anecdotal evidence is strong: "Unconventional interactions can lower the barrier for people to posit novel things," he says.

Where would we be without anecdotal evidence? "I have lots of conjecture and hearsay; those are kinds of evidence."

Posted by Tim Shaughnessy at 10:45 AM in Economics

April 09, 2013
International Aid Blunders

A student points me to this list of the "7 Worst International Aid Ideas." Nice list, but unfortunately there are probably even bigger aid blunders than some of these.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 05:07 PM

April 08, 2013
Margaret Thatcher

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Margaret Thatcher. She was one of the few politicians with a genuine commitment to liberty. Her influence is clearly visible in the UK's economic freedom ratings (up more than a point) and ranking (up some 15 places) over her time (1979-1990) in office. R.I.P.

UK EFW.JPG

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:42 PM

April 05, 2013
How Mr. Selfridge Created the Modern Economy

That's the title of Virginia Postrel's column on department stores as entrepreurial innovations. Highly recommended.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:54 PM

CIA, Crony Capitalist

The abstract of a paper in the current edition of the AER (ungated version here):

We provide evidence that increased political influence, arising from CIA interventions during the Cold War, was used to create a larger foreign market for American products. Following CIA interventions, imports from the US increased dramatically, while total exports to the US were unaffected. The surge in imports was concentrated in industries in which the US had a omparative disadvantage, not a comparative advantage. Our analysis is able to rule out decreased trade costs, changing political ideology, and an increase in US loans and grants as alternative explanations. We provide evidence that the increased imports arose through direct purchases of American products by foreign governments.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:51 PM

April 04, 2013
Guns up for Free Markets!

Ben Powell has got the new Free Market Institute up and running at Texas Tech in Lubbock.

[Like the FMI on Facebook.]

I was pleased to help Ben kick off the Institute last month. He's also just hosted Pete Leesson and has Tom Woods coming in next. The great Walter Williams is coming this fall!

Aside from bringing in great speakers, Ben is looking for students to apply to Tech's Ph.D. program where he hopes to build up an Austrian economics field.

Good luck, Ben, and welcome to Texas! Like me, he wasn't born here but he got here as quick as he could. As Lyle Lovett says: You're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 11:51 AM in Economics

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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