David Barker, writing in the Wall Street Journal – and appropriately praising my GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein’s remarkable journal, Econ Journal Watch – exposes just how very shoddy some eminent “scholarship” really is. Two slices:
Climate change hurts the economy, according to a celebrated 2012 paper by economists Melissa Dell, Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken. That paper is in the top 1% of all academic economics publications by citation count, and it has received glowing coverage in the media. The authors teach at Harvard, Northwestern and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively, and have received some of the highest awards in the profession. I took a closer look at their study, and it doesn’t hold up.
Climate activists need evidence that high temperatures reduce economic growth to advance their policies. Responsible economists have found that high temperatures have only small effects on the level of GDP. If temperatures rise as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects—assuming no CO2 mitigation at all—then according to responsible economists, global GDP in 2100 will be about 2.6% lower than if there was no temperature increase. With normal economic growth, GDP per capita in 2100 will be five times today’s level. A 2.6% reduction in GDP in 2100 would mean GDP growth of 4.9 times instead of 5—hardly a catastrophe. But if researchers claim to show that higher temperatures will affect the rate of GDP growth, then the effects of heat by the year 2100 could be significant. That is why pro-climate researchers are so desperate to find an effect of temperature on growth.
Econ Journal Watch, which published my debunking, contacted the authors and gave them an opportunity to respond to my work. They declined. It is astonishing that eminent economists, in universities with vast resources available to marshal evidence, chose to ignore my critique. But the mainstream media will ignore anything that reveals the weaknesses of climate research, and academic journals will continue to publish shoddy research that confirms the dogma of climate hysteria.
Sometimes we wonder if White House spinners write their press releases in advance of the actual news. That’s one way to explain President Biden’s boast on Thursday after the latest monthly inflation report: “That’s Bidenomics in action.”
He was celebrating an increase of 0.4% in the consumer-price index for September. “Overall inflation is down by 60% from its peak at a time when unemployment has remained below 4% for 20 months in a row,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
Inflation may be down from its peak of 9.1%, but it’s still 3.7% on an annual basis for the second straight month. In a separate report, the Labor Department said that real average hourly earnings after inflation fell 0.2% for the month. That’s a second straight monthly decline after 0.4% in August. Real wages are up only 0.5% in the past 12 months, though they are still down during the Biden Presidency.
I see little evidence that industrial policy explains the success of East Asia. Consider:
1. All countries do lots of industrial policy, and that includes the US.
2. China boomed after it dramatically reduced the role of the government in the economy.
3. Hong Kong does much less industrial policy than other countries, and yet is one of the most successful of the “tiger economies.” If industrial policy explains East Asia’s success, why isn’t Hong Kong a laggard?
4. Many of the biggest success stories in East Asia occurred in areas not favored by planners—such as Honda making cars.
The FTC seeks legally to upend the very features that make Amazon beneficial for consumers, who assume that Amazon will secure for them the lowest prices possible. “Just like any store owner who wouldn’t want to promote a bad deal to their customers, we don’t highlight or promote offers that are not competitively priced,” Amazon argues. It boasts lower prices than any other online retailer, according to a 2022 analysis, undercutting competitors on average by 13 percent. It undercuts the two next largest online retailers (Walmart and Target) by 6 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
California legislators last month quietly repealed a 2022 law that authorized disciplinary action against doctors, including loss of their medical licenses, when they share COVID-19 “misinformation” with their patients. The law, A.B. 2098, defined that ambiguous and highly contested category of speech as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
Not sure what that means? Neither were the California physicians who challenged the law on First Amendment grounds in two separate lawsuits. They argued that the state’s amorphous definition of prohibited medical advice was bound to have a chilling impact on constitutionally protected speech.