11 May, 2016

Plane reading, May 11 2016

Expert takes worth reading on economics, technology, and other interesting topics from the last week.
Plus, recent news on Uber and on-demand/autonomous vehicles:

Economics and business in emerging markets
  1. Alphaville, noting a draft bill in Indian parliament calling for penalties for mis-mapping of India: "Whoever depicts, disseminates, publishes or distributes any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries in contravention of section 6, shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rupees ten lac to Rupees one hundred crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years."

Economics and Inequality
  1. OSU, on research showing STEM gender pay inequality of 31% can be explained entirely by women's choice of entering lower-paying fields and family status.
  2. Megan McArdle, announcing a new series in Bloomberg Views to examine inequality
  3. Tyler Cowen, on a new book titled "The Nordic Gender Inequality Paradox." Surprisingly, "the OECD country with the highest share of women as senior managers is the United States, coming in at 43 percent compared to 31 percent in the Nordics.  More generally, countries with more equal gender norms do not have a higher share of women in senior management positions."
  4. Alex Tabarrok, on a new paper demonstrating health inequality (gender and socioeconomic) dramatically declined 1990-2010.  Paper here.
  5. Tim Lee, some unstructured thoughts about the "end" of productivity improvements driving economic growth
  6. Alphaville, on Larry Summers' recent comments that if future returns are forecasted to be lower, endowments should be paying out much less than historic averages

Economics and environment, including global warming
  1. Been seeing a resurgence of fuel cell marketing hype (in cell phones, and aircraft), perhaps there's something about electric cars "winning" that's causing hydrogen patent-holders to make another push for relevance.  Elon Musk recently re-tweeted this chart from phys.org (via elektrek.co) showing battery power is 3x the energy efficiency of a fuel cell.

Economics and Politics (aka public policy)
  1. John Cochrane, on a Coffey/McLaughlin/Peretto paper titled "The cumulative cost of regulations."  The authors conclude that additional regulations between 1980 and 2012 cost the United States almost 25% of current GDP.
  2. James Kwak, a thoughtful piece on what's working (and not!) in Obamacare
  3. Tyler Cowen, on research highlighting that prescription opiod addiction (and overdose deaths) skyrocketed between 1999 and 2012, a period which also saw the out-of-pocket cost reduce by 75%
  4. JAMA, a study showing that increased health care cost transparency was not associated with lower outpatient healthcare spending
  5. Justin Wolfers, in the NYTimes arguing that the GOP primary is illustration of Condorcet's paradox and Arrow's impossibility theorem.
  6. Economic Policy Institute, on the White House attacks on the spread of abusive non-compete agreements

Economics and business
  1. Alphaville, interviewing Jim Chanos on the role of short-selling: "being short with a good short seller who’s producing nominally minor positive returns in a bull market enables you to be more long."
  2. Tyler Cowen, on Guido Menzio's research suggesting one cause of business cycles may be firms' implicit coordination in the random firing/keeping of workers in order to maximize effort.  Menzio was the Penn economist "caught" doing math on an American Airlines flight this week.
  3. DellaVigna/Pope, on comparing expert prediction vs experimental effect of monetary and non-monetary incentives on work effort.
  4. New Yorker, reviewing new book "This is your brain on sports."  Interesting digression into the subsidies received by large sports networks from being bundled, and the possibility that the excess revenue has accidentally created a sports "bubble" that could crash as the media business model continues to evolve (presumably reducing/eliminating subsidies from non-sports watchers).

Bitcoin, blockchain, and more general FinTech
  1. Julian Noziet, "What China can teach us about banking."  I had no idea AliPay was clearing 3x the transaction value of PayPal
  2. Izabella Kaminska, on an implication of blockchain tech driving financial clearinghouses: elimination of differentiation among "competing" entities
  3. BankUnderground (BofE), on whether peer-to-peer lending is hype or threat
  4. Kaminska, on a University of Edinborough student idea to use block-chain and zero-reserve policies to streamline blood delivery in hospitals

Big Data, Machine learning, AI, etc.
  • Nothing this week

Education reform, MOOC, etc
  1. Simon Burgess, a comprehensive survey of current research on the economics and effectiveness of education
  2. Basel Parag, "Please don't learn to code...   Focusing on coding inflates the importance of finding the “right” method to solve a problem rather than the importance of understanding the problem." 
  3. Jepsen/Muser/Trosky.  "We find that the effect of GED certification on either employment or earnings is not statistically significant. GED certification increases postsecondary participation by up to four percentage points for men and up to eight percentage points for women."
  4. Alex Tabarrok, the first in an animated series explaining the Solow Growth Model.

General business and technology
  1. Noah Smith, on the potential of "High-Frequency Lawyers" (continuously adjusting contracting conducted by legal bots"
  2. Futurity, on the lateral innovation of SprioCall - testing lung function by blowing into any phone's mouthpiece
  3. Brad Feld, on the attractiveness of hardware businesses

Other interesting
  1. NYTimes, on Paul Ekman's new "Atlas of emotions."  Note: Ekman is the guy behind the psych research underpinning Pixar's "Inside-out" as well as the TV Show "Lie to me."  I've taken his online training in microexpressions and found it fascinating.
  2. WashingtonPost, reviewing INSEAD Professor Erin Meyer's new book "The Culture Map."  Interesting 2x2 categorizing countries by degree of emotional expressiveness and directness of confrontation
  3. Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian: "The level of scrutiny the press would apply to its own failures is minimal."
  4. Guardian, telling the story of two teenagers living in the US who discovered their parents were Russian spies when the FBI raided their home
  5. AFTAU, on research suggesting persuasion is limited by our inability to tell which of our friends reciprocate (and are therefore open to influence)
  6. NYTimes, an inexplicable profile of Obama advisor Ben Rhodes boasting how he sold a narrative to inexperienced press regarding the Iran deal
  7. NYTimes, on the bizarre story of a NYC charity CEO who was fired.  After being attacked and injured by employees who threw lye on her.  After she advised the board of a substantial fraud.

Uber, on-demand rides, ridesharing, hyperlocal logistics, parking, vehicle autonomy etc.
  1. Wired, on the not-a-unionization of Uber drivers in NYC
  2. TechCrunch, on the NYC launch (and possible $30m fundraising) of Juno - an Uber/Lyft competitor that aspires to compete on the basis of treating drivers better
  3. TechCrunch, on the $100m fundraising of Via - an Uber/Lyft rideshare competitor now operating in NYC and Chicago
  4. Slate, on Uber and Lyft pulling out of Austin, TX after losing a voter referendum requiring stricter driver fingerprint/criminal background checks.  "Lyft... Uber's more-cooperative little brother."  Interesting that Uber/Lyft spent $224 per vote, compared to the $5-20/vote spent by presidential candidates in the primaries
  5. TechCrunch, on Uber appointing former EU exec to its new Public Policy Advisory Board
  6. AvWeb, on Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International conference including proposed drone delivery of coffee for $3
  7. TechCrunch, on cell-phone call data implying Ola is ~2x the size of Uber in India

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