Category: Politics

A model for US: $1 coins and no pennies

I just returned from a vacation in Ecuador (which is spectacular) but wanted to post about a wonderful feature of their monetary system. Ecuador does not have its own currency but instead uses the US dollar as their only currency. US dollar bills and coins are used everywhere, which is very convenient for visitors. But […]

Read Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

I just finished reading the book Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball and the Big Short). I highly recommend it to economists as a quick read (270 pages) in accessible prose. Or anyone. http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Boys-Wall-Street-Revolt/dp/0393244660/ Every economist should be aware of the grossly unfair trading practices that the SEC and NASDAQ have allowed to […]

Personal experience with the new Federal Exchange web site

Randall P. Ellis, Professor, Boston University Department of Economics and past president of the American Society of Health Economists. Today, Tuesday Dec 3, I went on line to check out the new HealthCare.gov web site for selecting individual health insurance. I checked out options for enrolling in the Oxford County Maine. The web page now […]

Playing video games does not predict voilent behavoir in children

(Reposted from The Incidental Economist) This November 2013 UK study confirms what other studies have shown, which is that playing video games does not predict psychosocial adjustment problems in young children. Even watching 3 hours of TV per day in the UK has no meaningful association. I also reposted my favorite graph about videos and […]

A Monkey’s Fight for Equal Pay

This 2:44 extract from a TED talk by Frans de Waal, a professor of primate behavior at Emory University shows beyond a doubt the role that fairness plays in our  society. It is both hilarious and incredibly insightful. http://www.upworthy.com/2-monkeys-were-paid-unequally-see-what-happens-next?g=5%3C  

Press Interviews and Quotes

Partly just to keep track of them for my BU annual report, This post links to my press interviews and quotes. “STUDY: Grad student loan debt on the rise” The Daily Free Press. Boston University March 26, 2014. “South Shore Hospital, Partners HealthCare defend merger plan” The Patriot Ledger. by Christian Schiavone.  1/17/2014 “The Healing Begins […]

Health Exchange Rating Areas with More Insurers Offering Plans Have Lower Premiums

  For some reason I have been unable to embed these two figures, but these links should work. minimum_premiums_chart_2014   FL_minimum_premiums_chart_20140930

Joe Stiglitz Essay on Martin Luther King and inequality

My colleague Michael Manove forwarded this article which is worth reading and pondering. It is available directly at the New York Times at the link below. Two pages. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/how-dr-king-shaped-my-work-in-economics/?_r=0 The Great Divide August 27, 2013, 8:58 pm 167 Comments How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ “I had the good […]

Our Daily US Gun Killings

This repost is from the Daily Kos. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/01/1198534/-Another-day-in-the-Gun-Crazy-U-S-A While Sandy Hook murders and the Marathon Bombing get a lot national attention, it is the daily tragedy of gun shootings and killings that should be of greatest concern. The Daily Kos simply compiled lists of all of the daily reports of murders for a week ending […]

Early Exchange Bids from NY are VERY LOW

This news is sufficiently important that I am posting sections of several articles and summaries. From July 16, 2013 New York Times: Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50% By RONI CARYN RABIN and REED ABELSON Published: July 16, 2013 Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble […]

31 charts to destroy your faith in humanity

This humorous web site from the Washington Post’s WonkBlog is worth a look. It will only take a couple of minutes. 31 charts that are informative but illustrates how one can put a negative spin on anything. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/24/these-31-charts-will-destroy-your-faith-in-humanity/ Here is the original post that it is spoofing. http://www.businessinsider.com/charts-that-will-restore-your-faith-in-humanity-2013-5

Steve Brill Interview on the Daily Show

Steve Brill, who just wrote a 36 page article for Time Magazine, conducted an informative interview on the daily show on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013. Here is the link to the unedited version. It is in three parts, and lasts about 12 minutes (including some ads). Worth watching if you have time. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-21-2013/exclusive—steven-brill-extended-interview-pt–1

#5 “Let the Children and Grandchildren Pay?”

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #5 This is the  fifth and final posting in a five part series about taxes. Every time congress passes legislation to increase public spending, they should have to specify which taxes they favor increasing to balance the budget. If not, then congress should have to openly discuss why they […]

#4 State Tax Rates are Not Related to State Income or Growth

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #4 This is the fourth in a five part series about taxes. It has  become common in the media to argue that state income or sales taxes cannot be increased or it will dampen incentives and hurt the state or local economy. While this might be true at sufficiently […]

#3 Tax Bads (or at least don’t subsidize them!)

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #3 This is the third in a five part series about taxes. Introductory economics tells us that when the government taxes something, unless it is perfectly inelastically supplied or demanded, the tax will cause a distortion in a market and reduce the taxed activity. For most things (labor, profits, […]

Letter calls for gun injury research

Colleague Austin Frakt forwarded to me the link to an open letter to VP Joseph Biden and members of the Gun Violence Commission. http://crimelab.uchicago.edu/sites/crimelab.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Biden%20Commission%20letter_20130110_final.pdf The letter is signed by over 100 well-known health professionals, policymakers and economists. The letter addresses the fact that both teh CDC and the NIH agencies are currently prohibited from funding […]

Commonwealth Fund Report on Health Care Cost Control

The Commonwealth Fund has just come out with a new report outlining a strategy for containing health care costs in the US. It seems rather optimistic to me. Here is the opening two paragraphs and link. Confronting Costs: Stabilizing U.S. Health Spending While Moving Toward a High Performance Health Care System, Authored by The Commonwealth […]

Be Ready for the Trillion Dollar Coin!

In case you have not been paying attention, there is growing sentiment in favor of the Platinum Coin Seigniorage (PCS) and the Trillion Dollar Coin. Here are two solid posts on it, one by economist Paul Krugman, the other by Philip Diehl, former director of the US mint . The crux of the issue is […]

1994 assault weapons ban may have saved 6000 lives per year

Although not a statistical statement, there is a noticeable association between when the 1994-2004 assault weapon ban was in place and the observed decline in gun-related deaths. That ban also contained other provisions that will have affected availability of guns. A decline of more than 6000 gun-related deaths per year appears to be  associated  with […]

#2 Include Social Security and Medicare taxes when discussing tax burdens

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #2 This is the second in a five part series on Taxes. Far too much of the discussion of tax burdens has focused on the federal income tax rates while the federal payroll taxes – Social Security and the Medicare tax – get minor attention. This was epitomized by […]