Mark Schaffer

Mark Schaffer

  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    And now, with exquisite timing, here comes Brad DeLong (Berkeley economic historian) with a lovely blog entry on whether, in an alternative history, Rome could have experienced an industrial revolution and made the transition from Malthusian to modern growth: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/notes-on-mark-koyama-on-rome-on-medium.html...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    Fair enough, though strictly speaking I think you should be comparing agricultural capacity (a stock) to population (also a stock) rather than to fertility (a flow). The declines in fertility are huge - according to the UN, from around 6...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    Well, I don't really want to get into a longwinded defence of economics and economists here, esp when I did it already in the comments of a different blog entry here - environmental economics, externalities, pollution, resource constraints etc are...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    "Drop the money talk." Oops, sorry, you are right in this respect. (I'm an economist, we teach this stuff in economics courses, and we sometimes use "income" as shorthand even when it doesn't imply a monetary economy. Nostra culpa.) What...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    (Infertile "immortals" who can starve to death, that is.)...
  • Commented on Crib Notes: Empire Games
    The world average fertility rate in 1950 was 5 live births per woman. It has been falling continuously since then and is now around 2.5 or so. The UN projects (medium variant) that it will be around 2.0 in 2100....
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    "it is impossible to base any policy on deflationary currency such as gold" Well, not literally "impossible", rather just a very bad idea (which is what you mean, I think). The Great Depression is the classic example - the sooner...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Good timing: the Lindau Nobel Laureate economics meeting just took place, and Chris Sims did a talk on central banks and fiat money. I haven't watched it but Frances Coppola has a nice blog entry about that starts with this:...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Geoff wrote: "My point, unclearly conveyed, was that governments tend to hire economists to shape policies that make it easier for businesses to get away with such behavior. ... Aren't economists (perhaps masquerading as MBAs) up to their armpits in...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    "When did teaching externalities and basic environmental econ become standard in principles courses?" Probably nobody cares but I checked some old textbooks in my office. The first edition of Samuelson's textbook (1948) covers externalities in a footnote. By the 11th...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Interesting ... I have the same question about training lawyers that RP had about training economists - when did learning about externalities become standard in (US?) law schools?...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Geoff, What discipline are you refereeing for? I can easily imagine that the set of academic economists you have encountered via your refereeing don't incorporate externalities in their models as much or as often as you think appropriate. I might...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    When did teaching externalities and basic environmental econ become standard in principles courses? Good question ... off the top of my head, I'd say it goes back at least to the 90s, but how much earlier than that (if at...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Geoff, About economics as a discipline - you start off completely wrong, and end up partly right (but still wrong). You start with this: "[F]ossil fuels are still "economic" precisely because some clever economists managed to find a way to...
  • Commented on Report on Seat 14C
    "the crappy movie "Millennium", and the somewhat less crappy novelization of the same name, by Varley" That's a bit harsh - I thought the novel was pretty good, maybe not in the same league as Varley's best, but a nice...
  • Commented on Crib Sheet: The Nightmare Stacks
    The "human self-domestication" thesis is speculative, but is taken seriously by some serious people other than Pinker. Here's a link to a great symposium (videos of the talks) on domestication and human evolution: https://wn.com/carta_domestication_and_human_evolution_-_robert_franciscus_craniofacial_feminization_in_evolution The talk by Wrangham (yes, same...
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    Just saw your comment above that in Wadham's book 'the certainties encompass "agriculture goes away" by no narrow margin'. If that were his explicit assessment in the book, and he had explained it at some length, then I'd go there....
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    OK, that's a start, thanks. I guess I'm looking for a paper or literature that takes the global perspective, along the lines of (apologies, simplifying/guessing here) "we have net losses to agriculture in locations X because of mean temperature increases,...
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    Thanks, getting closer to my sought-after shortcut (if you don't mind indulging me one more time). Can you point me to something in this literature that looks at the total impact and the prospect of losing agriculture everywhere (or nearly...
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    There's mountains of stuff out there on climate change, agriculture and food security, looking at all kinds of impacts in all kinds of areas. And I'm just an interested amateur. What I was looking for specifically was something to read...
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    Too bad, it sounded promising. If you don't mind, can I move it to the next link in the chain and ask who Wadhams cites (if anyone) in the process of "noting that it's generally accepted that 2 C of...
  • Commented on Rejection Letter
    How much discussion does Wadhams devote to agriculture in his "A Farewell to Ice"? Book looks very good from the various reviews I read, but the blurbs and reviews refer mostly to the Arctic and climate in general. The only...
  • Commented on We get mail (contd.)
    If you want to see some back-and-forth, there was a special issue of Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 2006 with commentaries by Gintis and Seabright on a Binmore book (Natural Justice) with a response by Binmore. All article-length so a...
  • Commented on We get mail (contd.)
    How about Ken Binmore (1996), "Evolution of Fairness Norms", Nordic Journal of Political Economy, open access version here: http://www.nopecjournal.org/NOPEC_1996_a12.pdf If you like this kind of economics, and you like book-length format, I can also recommend: Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    "Why would Krugman have needed to specify any models?" Err... because in that particular blog post he was trying to explain how Arrow's model worked? He has plenty of other data-oriented evidence-based posts on healthcare, but that wasn't the point...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    'Krugman has a good summary here:' That's not quite fair: I meant Krugman had a good summary of Arrow's 1963 argument, not a good summary of today's healthcare debate and evidence. He's got lots of other blog posts where he...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    The Washington Post quote is a little too slick, in that his existence proof also showed just how many strong assumptions were needed. Others were rash in taking the the proof too literally and using it to justify market solutions...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    My pleasure. Maybe we economists should cite Arrow more often when we try to explain what we do, or to be more accurate, what we should be trying to do. He was an ideal role model. I wish your film...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    Lurking economist here... An awful lot of what gets labelled "economics", and who gets labelled "economists", isn't/aren't. "Supply-side economics" [sic], mentioned above, is a good example. Paul Krugman (left-leaning mainstream economist, Nobelist, and Charlie fan) regularly trolls Greg Mankiw (right-leaning...
  • Commented on The iron law of development
    Maybe some misunderstanding above about Kremer, Romer, "rivalrous", etc. "Technology is non-rivalrous" is referring to a characteristic of information. If someone consumes a rivalrous good, it means there's less of it for everyone else. But ideas/inventions/information/etc are non-rivalrous - once...
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