Saturday, March 6, 2010

RSS Feed Now Available for New Site

My apologies for the delay: the feed is here (   Thanks for reading,  jeff

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Blog Site

Dear Readers:

In anticipation of my book's release (May 4th), I am switching to a nicer-looking blog site that adopts the look and feel of the book (the address is, or click on the link).

Many thanks to Brian Aitken of Alister & Paine for creating the site. My apologies for any inconvenience the transition might cause.

Thanks for reading,


Airport Security Anecdote

When my wife, son, and I flew back from San Francisco yesterday, the security scanners detected a small Swiss Army knife in my wife's purse. Shows the system works, right?

Not so much.  She cannot remember when she put the knife in her purse, but it was years ago and has therefore gone through security undetected on numerous occassions.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Out of the Cap-and-Trade Frying Pan, ...

Three key senators are engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation, preparing to jettison the broad "cap-and-trade" approach that has defined the legislative debate for close to a decade. ...

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) ... , Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) ... plan to introduce legislation next month that would apply different carbon controls to individual sectors of the economy instead of setting a national target.
It is hard to imagine a worse policy than the Cap-and-Trade program being kicked around Congress, but this new proposal fits the bill. 

For all its problems, CAT at least allows markets to price the permits, which means economic considerations determine who emits more or less carbon (given the number of permits).

The command-and-control system being suggested by Graham et al. means politics, not costs and benefits, will determine who gets to emit carbon.  Another victory for crony capitalism.

Vancouverites on Hosting the Olympics

I have enjoyed watching the Olympics (short track is my favorite), but I'm glad the U.S. taxpayer did not foot the bill.   Apparently many Vancouverites are not persuaded the city got a good deal:

While hundreds of thousands of people have streamed onto the streets to enjoy (some of them to excess late at night) the Olympic party, there is still an undercurrent of crankiness and apprehension in the city. ...

Security costs, first estimated at $165 million, are now headed toward $1 billion.

So maybe the cost-benefit analysis mentioned in my earlier post, which concluded the Games are a loser for Canada, was too optimistic!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Pot (Microsoft) Calling the Kettle (Google) Black

Microsoft Corp made its most vehement and public attack on Google Inc on Friday, calling its internet rival's actions potentially anti-competitive, and urging victims to file complaints to regulators.
The irony of  Microsoft trying to squelch competition via the antitrust laws is amusing. 

But the incident illustrates one key negative of antitust: companies that are losing in the marketplace encourage Justice or the FTC to prosecute competing firms, often with dubious justification.

Are Increasing Housing Prices a Good Thing?

The latest Case-Shiller data indicate that housing prices increased in December for the 7th straight month.  Most news accounts regarded this as good news.

But between 2000 and 2006, housing prices rose 80-90 percent, and they are still 35-40 percent above the 2000 level.  If most of the 2000-2006 increase was a bubble, then housing prices should be lower, not higher, based on fundamentals.

In that case, the U.S. is continuing to overinvest in housing.  So the higher prices are bad news.

This does not imply that policy should attempt to lower housing prices; it should just not care one way or the other.