≡ Menu

Some Links

GMU Econ alumn Dominic Pino reports on a new paper detailing the costs of the Jones Act. A slice:

Almost $800 million per year in costs for consumers of petroleum products alone, according to a new paper.

The Jones Act was passed in 1920 and is one of the strictest protectionist laws on the books. It says ships carrying freight between U.S. ports must be built, owned, and crewed by Americans, and they must be flagged in the U.S. Few ships meet those requirements (in the case of LNG tankers, zero ships meet those requirements), so American consumers pay higher costs for a variety of goods.

Those costs are especially notable in the petroleum industry. Most refining in the U.S. is done near the Gulf Coast. It would be very convenient to load gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and other refined products onto ships and transport them to the East Coast, which is home to a significant portion of the U.S. population. But the Jones Act makes that difficult, so the East Coast frequently imports fuels from abroad that cost more than what U.S.-made fuels would cost.

Ryan Kellogg of the University of Chicago and Richard Sweeney of Boston College calculated the costs of the Jones Act on East Coast petroleum markets in a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. They only look at the East Coast because transporting petroleum products by water to other regions would be less practical. They use data from 2018 and 2019.

Jonathan Putnam’s letter in today’s Wall Street Journal is a gem:

Ilya Shapiro warns against “The Wealth Tax You May Already Owe” (op-ed, Dec. 7) and the havoc that will result if the court recognizes a congressional right to tax unrealized gains as “income.” He understates his case.

The government only taxes net gains—that is, after deductions. Therefore, I hereby declare my future charitable donation of $50 million. An unrealized deduction, you say? Why should I get the benefit today of a donation that may never occur? Exactly.

Jonathan Putnam
Marblehead, Mass.

Here’s the published version of Mike Munger’s paper titled “‘Apparently You Don’t'”: Economist Jokes as an Educational Tool.”

John Cochrane blogs about the unintentionally comical state of the sociology profession.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa describes some of the many challenges that await Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei.

Will Ruger and Jason Sorens draw lessons for America from New Hampshire.

Matt Ridley warns of the dangers of gain-of-function research.

Jeffrey Blehar isn’t impressed with the credentials of Harvard’s president Claudine Gay. A slice:

Meanwhile, a few conservative commentators mused idly about how someone so utterly incompetent had been promoted to be the face of America’s most prestigious academic institution, a question that became ever more curious when it was pointed out that Gay, unlike any previous president of Harvard, had produced almost zero actual scholarship — a mere ten pieces in boutique academic journals since acquiring her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1998, no monographs or extended scholarly works to her name, and nothing whatsoever since 2016. In the hypercompetitive publish-or-perish world of academia, her rapid ascent from graduate student to professor to full tenure to a chair at Harvard to the presidency of the university in 2023 was quite the remarkable climb, one that most scholars would envy.