Tag Archives | Freakonomics

Bronies are Crashing America’s Economy

My-Little-Pony-Friendship-is-Magic-my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic-32310685-1600-1000Okay, maybe not crashing the economy, but the My Little Pony-loving subculture does catch a little flack in this article from American Public Radio. Disinfonaut “Anarchy Pony”, why must you anger The Economy? ScapePonies!

New numbers out Thursday show America’s third quarter gross domestic product rose 2.8 percent, well above what economists predicted. The headline number may sound good at first, but it masks signs of ongoing economic weakness deeper in the report.

A bit of digging shows that 0.83 percentage point of the GDP boost came from the change in real private inventories. It may sound like an obscure technicality, but it is not. It’s actually quite simple and simply bad.

“Stores were accumulating a lot of goods to sell, but people weren’t buying them,” says Julia Coronado, chief North American economist at BNP Paribas.

You can see this at Big Fun Toy Store, a Cleveland shop specializing in collectibles.

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The Freakonomics Of Hollywood’s Piracy Claims

MPAA2The Freakonomics dudes have called BS on Hollywood’s piracy claims. Adrianne Jeffries reports for BetaBeat:

Anti-piracy rhetoric holds that online piracy is a devastating force on the U.S. economy, responsible for the theft of between $200 billion and $250 billion per year and the loss of 750,000 good American jobs. “These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010,” write the economists over at Freakonomics.

But those numbers are wrong, the authors say, citing a breakdown by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez.

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology,” which is polite government-speak for “these figures were made up out of thin air.”

More recently, the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) placed the number at $58 billion; but that reporter is methodologically flawed, Mr.

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Elizabeth Kolbert Dissects and Destroys SuperFreakonomics

Elizabeth Kolbert thoroughly dissects and destroys SuperFreakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s thinking on global warming and climate change in a very astute New Yorker article. It’s long, but well worth the read. Here’s a particularly choice sample:

Neither Levitt, an economist, nor Dubner, a journalist, has any training in climate science—or, for that matter, in science of any kind. It’s their contention that they don’t need it. The whole conceit behind “SuperFreakonomics” and, before that, “Freakonomics,” which sold some four million copies, is that a dispassionate, statistically minded thinker can find patterns and answers in the data that those who are emotionally invested in the material will have missed. (The subtitle of “Freakonomics,” published in 2005, is “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”) In this way, Levitt and Dubner claim to have solved the mystery of why crime, after soaring in the nineteen-eighties, dropped in the nineteen-nineties.

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Freaked Out Over SuperFreakonomics

Brett Stephen writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Suppose for a minute—which is about 59 seconds too long, but that’s for another column—that global warming poses an imminent threat to the survival of our species. Suppose, too, that the best solution involves a helium balloon, several miles of garden hose and a harmless stream of sulfur dioxide being pumped into the upper atmosphere, all at a cost of a single F-22 fighter jet.

Good news, right? Maybe, but not if you’re Al Gore or one of his little helpers.

The hose-in-the-sky approach to global warming is the brainchild of Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold. The basic idea is to engineer effects similar to those of the 1991 mega-eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, which spewed so much sulfuric ash into the stratosphere that it cooled the earth by about one degree Fahrenheit for a couple of years.

Could it work? Mr. Myhrvold and his associates think it might, and they’re a smart bunch. Also smart are University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and writer Stephen Dubner, whose delightful “SuperFreakonomics”—the sequel to their runaway 2005 bestseller “Freakonomics”—gives Myhrvold and Co. pride of place in their lengthy chapter on global warming. Not surprisingly, global warming fanatics are experiencing a Pinatubo-like eruption of their own…

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