Marginal REVOLUTION

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Tuesday assorted links

1. What Vietnam has been like.  And the Katya Simon recommendations. 2. Leopold Aschenbrenner is now blogging. 3. Don Boudreaux on “Tyler vs. Tyler.”  (Usually a rich topic, I might add.)  In my view, the mobility data and cross-comparative data show that most of the real resource costs have come from fear and risk avoidance, not from lockdowns...

Why is bitcoin at $18,000?

We can all admit now that it isn’t a bubble, right?  Of course you still might think the current price is too high, as returns are a (near) random walk. This WSJ article ably surveys the current landscape.  I put the least stock on “inflation hedge” arguments, and the most on ordinary factors such as these: In October, PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL...

The Flat Tax Increases Growth

There is something to be said for tearing it all down and starting again. The flat tax, for example, has long been debated but has never been fully adopted in the United States. After the end of communism, however, many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia adopted flat taxes. Brian Wheaton, on the market from Harvard, has a very nice paper which,...

Do pandemics boost public faith in science?

No, according to Barry Eichengreen, Cevat Giray Aksoy, and Orkun Saka: It is sometimes said that an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be heightened appreciation of the importance of scientific research and expertise. We test this hypothesis by examining how exposure to previous epidemics affected trust in science and scientists. Building on the...

The case for geographically concentrated vaccine doses

Here goes: A central yet neglected point is that vaccines should not be sent to each and every part of the U.S. Instead, it would be better to concentrate distribution in a small number of places where the vaccines can have a greater impact. Say, for the purposes of argument, that you had 20,000 vaccine doses to distribute. There are about 20,000...

The pandemic is indeed a big deal

In our estimation, and with standard preference parameters, the value of the ability to end the pandemic is worth 5-15% of total wealth. This value rises substantially when there is uncertainty about the frequency and duration of pandemics. Agents place almost as much value on the ability to resolve the uncertainty as they do on the value of the cure...

Monday assorted links

1. Short video, Beijing residents on Biden and Trump.  They are better thinkers than the lot of you. 2. Worthwhile Canadian moose car-licking warnings.  And new Jordan Peterson book coming in March. 3. Other coronavirus variants found in frozen bats outside of China. 4. Tanner on Substack. 5. Rolf is wrong again.  And yet another dispute.  And...

Rapid Antigen Tests in Europe

‘If rapid antigen tests are so good how come other countries aren’t using them’? is a question I get asked a lot. In fact, India authorized these tests months ago. Slovakia tested most of their population using antigen tests. Germany is using them to protect nursing home residents. Lufthansa is trialing rapid antigen tests on special flights. Rapid...

Externalities and Covid

I am getting a little ornery with all of the people citing Covid externalities, and then not going a step deeper.  To be clear, I agree we should subsidize preventive measures (most of all vaccines and testing, but more too), and close down high-risk indoor gatherings in many locales.  No more Democratic Party fundraisers in New York State, not indoors...

Vaccination economic resumption sentences to ponder

If you think of state governments as basically being as permissive as possible consistent with not overwhelming their hospital systems then even vaccinating 20% of the population has a huge economic impact as long as it’s targeted in a halfway plausible way. That is from Matt Yglesias.  I would stress also the bad news that in the meantime many Americans...

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