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Some Non-Covid Links

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My Mercatus Center colleague Alden Abbott talks with Daniel Crane and the great Ken Elzinga about what Christianity can teach us about free markets and capitalism [2].

Juliette Sellgren talks with Tim Sandefur about privacy [3].

The great Bruce Yandle offers lessons about a Frankenstein economy [4]. Here’s his wise conclusion:

Life’s lessons and deep history show that as smart as people may think we are, and as large as their laboratory of digital gadgetry may appear to be, they cannot rely on the governmentally determined economic actions of empowered political agents to outperform the independent actions of billions of decisionmakers who, in less regulated times, do their best to find prosperity and happiness in a complex and sometimes uncaring world.

People should know that they cannot create enduring prosperity with more printing-press money, growing deficits, and more command-and-control sutures. A Frankenstein monster is not a good substitute for a market economy. Let’s hope that America sees more “normal” times soon.

George Mason University Econ PhD student Jonathan Plante identifies a too-often-overlooked real cost of government borrowing [5].

Here’s how Mark Perry celebrated Milton Friedman’s birthday [6].

Arnold Kling reviews Noise – the new book by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass Sunstein [7].

Eric Boehm looks at a new GAO report on the process of granting exclusions from tariffs punitive taxes on Americans who buy imports [8]. A slice:

What’s even worse is that there’s very little in the way of objectivity [9] or due process [10] afforded to companies that had their exclusion requests denied. Soon after the tariffs were imposed, members of Congress warned [11] that the exclusion process lacked “basic due process and procedural fairness” and that it could be “abused for anticompetitive purposes.” As Reason previously reported [12], business owners [11] have complained [13] that simply getting a decision one way or the other can take months. And there is no way to appeal [14] the rulings.

The new GAO report confirms some of those concerns.

My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein ponders Alexis de Tocqueville’s dystopias [15].

Jane Shaw decries academia’s intellectual silos [16]. (HT Dan Klein) A slice:

In 1994, Joseph Stiglitz wrote the book Whither Socialism? At the time, Stiglitz chaired President Clinton‘s Council of Economic Advisors; in 2001 he received the Nobel Prize. In other words, he was (and is) a leading economist.

In Whither Socialism? Stiglitz challenged the assumptions of mainstream or neo-classical economics. He argued that economists have ignored how costly information can be and how important prices are in providing information to buyers and sellers. And because there is no single, reliable source of information, centralized control of market decisions is inefficient. Without this understanding, he said, many economists have been misled into favoring socialism.

Economist P. J. Hill [17] reviewed Stiglitz’s book. After acknowledging its value, he said, “However, the book is also somewhat maddening to read in that it ignores so much of the recent developments in economics that shed light on the very issues that Stiglitz is concerned with.”

In particular, Stiglitz had dismissed Austrian economics, including Friedrich von Hayek’s article “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” [18] published in 1945 in the American Economic Review. It was exactly about the difficulty of centralization due to the cost of information. And that was in 1945! Austrians have been exploring thE subject ever since.

Stiglitz failed to mention Hayek’s article or even George Stigler’s more mainstream article on “The Economics of Information.” [19] Both Hayek and Stigler received Nobel prizes in economics. But their views were outside Stiglitz’s Keynesian perspective.

Stiglitz came upon some of the insights himself, but wouldn’t it have been better if he had built on their analyses rather than belatedly discovering them on his own? How could he have known so little about his own discipline?

That’s what I mean by intellectual silos.