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Unintended Consequences: MPAA Eliminates Pirate Lemons

As Randall recently posted, the US has made it a felony to record films with a camcorder. Like many pieces of legislation produced without economic analysis, this is likely to have severe unintended consequences. In this case, if the ban is successful, its results will be the opposite of the law's supposed intent, as this excellent piece at bubblegeneration points out. Here's a quick summary of the argument: Read more »


Weapons of Math Instruction

Some of you have probably seen this parody piece which went around the net awhile back. I enjoyed it enough that I decided to rewrite it and record it as an MP3. Since audio parodies are not exactly my forte, it may only be amusing to those who like math and bad puns, but hey, that probably describes some of y'all. It begins: Read more »


Blue Eats Restaraunt Insurance

Arnold Kling has a great piece over at TCS called You Call This Health Insurance? It argues that what we call health insurance is rarely insurance at all, instead its a split-the-buck program: Read more »


A Critique of the Digital Monetary Trust

Going through some older files, I came across a paper of mine called A Critique of the Digital Monetary Trust: Read more »


Learning Economics

Arnold Kling has a nice article over at TCS plugging his new book and talking about the role of math in learning econ: Read more »


And So It Begins

Via EconLog comes this frightening fact from the WSJ: Read more »


Futures Markets Mailing List

I've started a mailing list for those interested in discussing idea futures markets like Tradesports, Foresight Exchange, and so forth. To subscribe, send an email here with body "subscribe futures-markets your-email@yourhost.com"


The Robustness of the Blogosphere

There is a common mistake which can be made when criticizing almost any system (I often encounter it among opponents of polycentric law). The error is to compare the system under discussion to a perfect ideal, rather than to the best available alternative. For example, it is often assumed that the state will handle perfectly something which polycentric systems handle imperfectly. But these comparisons are not fair. Failing to meet impossible standards is as inevitable as it is irrelevant. Read more »


Predicting Electoral Vote Distribution

One interesting use of Tradesports data is to derive things from their state-by-state predictions. Geekmedia has done this with a page that automatedly derives a projection of total electoral votes. They chart the chances on this map:
Presidential Election 2004 Tradesports Price Map (with transparency) Read more »


Untangling the Happiness Paradox

(co-authored with SmileyCynic) Read more »


Its OK to dislike big business

Over on the ASC forum, Bono asks:

Am I bad if I don't like (most) big businesses? I don't like them. At least not really. I also think in Ancapistan, allmost every business would be medium sized only, or else extremely efficient.

I don't think its bad to be against big business as a libertarian or ancapist. Its a tricky issue because we tend to be pro-business and pro-capitalism, and to disagree with the arguments leftists use to attack big corporations. Yet this does not mean that there are not excellent libertarian reasons to be wary of big businesses. Read more »


Psychological Impact of a Large Connected World

Rachmaninoff prelude sheet music pageMy girlfriend is an excellent piano player. While I can pick out simple tunes where the notes are happily sparse, she plays from pages that are more black than white. Yet I have a tough time seeing this as being as impressive as it is. While she may be a 1 in 100,000 piano player, I get to listen to recordings and go to concerts of the few 1 in 10,000,000 players. Read more »


Market Efficiency: Tradesports vs. IEM

There is a great post over at Crooked Timber about the Iowa Electronic Markets. Daniel Davies, like many, finds serious inefficiencies in IEM and wonders why. I'll give him my standard answer: $500 deposit limit. Why does this matter? DD's post contrasts Robin Hanson markets and James Surowiecki crowds. While his contrast may have been incorrect (as Robin commented), its a useful metaphor for explaining why I expect less efficiency on IEM than Tradesports. Read more »


My Tradesports Portfolio

As I've mentioned earlier, I recently started betting on current events on Tradesports, which is the closest thing we have right now to an Idea Futures market. In case anyone is curious (and to brag), here is my current portfolio. The only contract I've purchased which is not shown was that the Terrorism Alert Status would be Yellow at the end of August, which it was.

Contract Position Bought Avg. Current Price Current Profit/Loss