‘publish or perish’ in universities

April 23rd, 2018

It is well-known that university professors must publish in peer-reviewed journals in order to obtain tenure and retain their jobs. At the same time, good researchers are rarely the best teachers. Steve Payson, a certified economist who has an MSc from the London School of Economics and a PhD from Columbia University, has written a very personal and very strong critique of this system. Read the rest of this entry »

pre-funding social pensions in Bermuda

April 22nd, 2018

At least some residents of Bermuda, a wealthy self-governing British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, with a tiny population of 63,779, are worried that government has not saved enough to pre-fund its noncontributory old-age pension promises. Benefits as of 2015 were US$103.81 a week for residents aged 65 and older with total annual income greater than $4,000 and US$106.83 a week for residents with less income. Additional requirements are citizenship and at least 10 years of continuous residence in Bermuda in the past 20 years. Read the rest of this entry »

the new barter economy

April 21st, 2018

FT columnist Gillian Tett explains, very well and concisely, that the ‘free’ services that internet companies provide in exchange for our personal data is the age-old system of barter. This system is difficult for economists to understand, because prices, measured in money, are absent. Read the rest of this entry »

global effects of the Trump stimulus

April 20th, 2018

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts global growth of 3.9% this year and next – the best performance since 2011. Its prediction is based largely an expectation of stimulus from Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which will bring an inevitable increase in US imports and the country’s current account deficit.

But what response might we expect from a president who dislikes trade deficits? The answer is predictable, as FT columnist Robin Harding explains. Read the rest of this entry »

high pharma prices in the USA

April 17th, 2018

High prices for prescription drugs are not the only reason for the high cost of medical care in the US, but it is an important reason. Here is an ungated paper that seeks to explain how, and especially why, pharmaceutical companies charge so much, and are so profitable. The simple reason is they can get away with it!

Here is about half of an informative abstract from the full working paper. I especially recommend the paper’s conclusion, “How to Fix US Pharma’s Broken Business Model”. Read the rest of this entry »

chemical and conventional weapons in Syria

April 16th, 2018

FT chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman writes that destruction of chemical plants and deposits will have little effect on the war in Syria, even if the Assad regime refrains from using chemical weapons,  it is free to use conventional weapons against rebels and the civilian population. Read the rest of this entry »

intellectual property theft by developing countries

April 12th, 2018

Dean Baker has posted a blog that nicely complements yesterday’s TdJ on “the rise of China“.

[I]t was largely the United States that has set the rules in this story and it is demanding ever more money for items protected by its patent and copyright monopolies. We do this through our control of trade arrangements, most importantly the WTO …. These rules were about forcing developing countries to pay more money to companies like Pfizer and Microsoft for everything from drugs and medical equipment to seeds and software. ….
Read the rest of this entry »

John Bolton’s wartime experience

April 12th, 2018

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, is known to be a keen advocate of war, with a dislike for all things international, including the United Nations. He has never met a war that he didn’t like. I was curious to see whether he had any military experience, so looked up his biography in Wikipedia. I discovered that, like his former boss, George W. Bush, he avoided service in Vietnam by enlisting in the National Guard. He served in the Maryland National Guard for four years, then in the US Army Reserve for two additional years. In those days, without political connections it was difficult to join the National Guard, because that was a way to avoid the draft, and service in Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »

the rise of China

April 11th, 2018

FT columnist Martin Wolf has a long essay in today’s Financial Times on China as an emerging superpower and the potential for destructive clashes with the USA. It is balanced and well-written, exceeding even the high standards I have come to expect from Martin. Read the rest of this entry »

private and social pensions in Latin America

April 8th, 2018

FIAP (Federación Internacional de Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones/International Federation of Pension Funds Administrators), the Latin American trade group of private administrators of government-mandated contributory pensions, now acknowledges the need for social pensions, financed from general government revenue. Private managers of Latin American pension funds in the past tended to ignore social pensions, at least in part because these provide little or no opportunity for private profit.

A recent 9-page FIAP report begins by explaining the need for social pensions: Read the rest of this entry »