Collected Links 02/2016: Big Ben Theory

A couple of tech/science celebrities have appeared on the Big Bang Theory, including Steve Wozniak and Stephen Hawking. Now in the new season of the show, Ben Bernanke gets a cameo. Is that the first step towards the econ comedy show I have been dreaming about for years?

I have not really been following the debate about abolishing high-denomination currency, mainly because the arguments I did hear on both sides seem incredibly silly to me (No, abolishing 500 euro bills will not end organized crime and terrorism worldwide, and no, it will also not be the end of liberty and property rights). However, this excellent post makes a couple of good points, including this one: “The Sands argument [in favor of abolishing the 100 dollar bill], if correct, is that forcing criminals to use a $20 bill serves as a tax. It’s my guess that the demand for criminal service is many times more inelastic than supply; especially drugs. A tax … would hurt poor consumers, not drug dealers.“

Here is what IMF economists have to say about refugee crisis, its effects on the European economy and policy recommendations. At the top of the agenda: speedy integration into labor markets.

Tyler Cowen’s plot of U.S. house prices shows they are now above their 2005 level. Question for the experts: Is this a housing bubble? If not, why was 2005 one?

The U.S. primary elections have got their post-Keynesian moment. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has relied on a study by Gerald Friedman, who describes himself as a “Joan Robinson Keynesian”. The study predicts that full implementation of Sanders’ economic policies would result in a fantastic 5.3 percent annual GDP growth rate over the next decade. Mainstream economists, including Paul Krugman, have been quick to point out the flaws is Friedman’s projections. I’d love to see, but haven’t been able to find, a reply from a credible Post-Keynesian economist to these criticisms.

Why do countries inhabited by the descendants of historically advanced civilizations perform much better than countries now inhabited by descendants of historically backwards civilizations? Bryan Caplan has started a reading club on that topic with a couple of interesting papers which I would love to read if I had more time.

A new old economics joke (not a joke about economics, but one that teaches economics), picked up by one of my favorite economists.

If you are an econ student contemplating whether to learn Mathematica, Python or C++11, or another programming language, you may find this comparison helpful.

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