This might seem like a completely backwards question, especially when you consider the recent mega-breach of credit and debit card numbers at Target. But it could be that the wider adoption of credit cards and electronic payments contributed to huge decreases in crime rates in the United States in the 1990s. [More]
For everyday over-the-counter drugs like painkillers or allergy medicine, do you pick up the brand name, or a generic? Even if the inactive ingredients and binders are slightly different, the brand-name and store-brand meds that sit side-by-side on the shelf should have the same effects. One costs a lot less. So why does anyone buy name-brand over-the-counter drugs? [More]
If the Japanese disaster and out-of-control oil prices slowed economic recovery in the first half of 2011, a second half of the year free of such setbacks could mean better days for the economy. This is according to analysts who say economic growth is set to ramp up. [More]
Most professions, like lawyers, doctors, scientists, and sociologists adopted a code of ethics long ago but that could change soon for one of the lone holdouts, the curmudgeonly economists. Their big conference kicks off today in Denver. On the agenda is whether they should adopt such a code. A little movie called Inside Job might have something to do with it. [More]
Online news site The Daily Beast is apparently tired of this whole “floundering economy” thing, so it got more than a dozen economists and historians to come together and issue a manifesto yesterday calling on the U.S. government to “reboot America.” By the end of the day, the number of experts supporting the manifesto increased to more than 40. They argue that the government has to help return lost purchasing power to the unemployed and must use tax cuts and stimulus to boost overall demand, or we’ll never make it out of this slump. [More]
Feeling down? Money might help, according to Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. The Wharton economists released a paper arguing that countries with higher gross domestic products have happier citizens. The study shatters the conventional wisdom known as the Easterlin Paradox, which holds that GDP and happiness are largely unrelated.
Wal-Mart's Katrina Heroism: "Above All, Do The Right Thing," CEO Told Managers Before Katrina Struck
A paper written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist (we’re still not quite sure what that means, other than it’s considered slightly controversial), recounts Wal-Mart’s relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina (PDF) and points out that private businesses, along with the Coast Guard, did far more than any “official” government agency in providing immediate, on-the-ground assistance to victims. His argument is that something as complex as a relief effort is more efficient when it’s decentralized and involves private businesses. Horwitz has also, separately, supported the idea that Wal-Mart should win the Nobel Peace Price. Hey, we told you his school of economics was controversial.
Two professors have released a paper branding adjustable rate mortgages, which are responsible for the subprime meltdown, as the optimal mortgage type for rational borrowers. As we know all too well, few borrowers are antiseptically rational. According to Columbia professor Tomasz Piskorski and NYU professor Alexei Tchistyi, ARMs hold several unrivaled advantages: