Thursday, February 28, 2013

Do Women Earn Less Than Men?

This came up in a discussion I had on 2/15.  The conventional wisdom is that women earn roughly 77% of the wage that men do for the same job.  In making this type of comparison, it is important to compare "apples to apples" and make sure that the only difference between two workers is the gender.  Steve Horwitz does a good job explaining this perspective in the video below. Links to articles can be found in the comments if  you watch the video on its youtube page.

On the flip side of the male/female coin, Greg Mankiw just had a blog post showing that a college degree is worth more for women than it is for men.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Econ Blogging

So, I've been inspired by some other economists to start an economics blog.  I won't post as regularly as I do to my personal blog, but this one will be way more focused.

Here are some links to other neat blogs/websites maintained by other economists:

The Stand-Up Economist (Yoram Bauman)
The Yogiconomist (Katie Sauer)
Economists Do It With Models (Jodie Beggs)
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Cafe Hayek
Marginal Revolution

Sunday, February 24, 2013


There's a new currency out there and it's called Bitcoin.  Monetary policy for this currency was set even before it began to be used.  There will never be any more than 21 million bitcoins in existence.  This may lead to deflation, but that should not be a problem because bitcoins are infinitely divisible.  Think about a dollar...the smallest portion of a dollar you can spend is $0.01 or a "cent."  Bitcoins are divisible to 8 decimal places at the moment, so you could spend BC0.0000001.  If deflation becomes an issue, then the software could make bitcoins divisible down to one hundred-millionth of a bitcoin.

Bitcoin is interesting because it is as anonymous as cash but can be spent electronically.  Furthermore, people in different parts of the world can transfer bitcoin to each other without losing money to exchange rates.  The transactions also easily remain in the informal economy.

At the moment, there are only about 10.7 million bitcoins in existence.  This number will grow as people "mine" them by solving complicated math problems.  More info about the usage of bitcoin can be obtained here.

Instead of bank accounts, bitcoins are stored in virtual "wallets."  You can get one for free...just don't lose your password or your bitcoins will be useless.  In fact, it is likely that after 21 million bitcoins are mined, there will be fewer than 21 million bitcoins in circulation because people will lose their wallets.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Price of Weed

I was reading an article about how the price of marijuana responds to law enforcement.  I learned of a neat website called where people can anonymously post how much of which strand of marijuana they purchased (including quality level) at what price.  I don't know how much I trust the data, but it's notoriously difficult to get high quality data on black market transactions.

The basic finding is that :::surprise::: weed is more expensive when enforcement is heavier!  One interesting result that I had never thought about (maybe because I'm never in the market for illegal drugs...) is that latitude matters.  It appears that pot is more expensive the farther north you go, in richer countries, when it's higher quality, or when you purchase it in lighter weights.

The article is:
Thies, Clifford. 2012.  "The Relationship Between Enforcement and the Price of Marijuana." Journal of Private Enterprise.  28(1):79-90.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Debt Limit - A Guide to American Federal Debt Made Easy

In response to the State of the Union address last night, I think this video is appropriate.  It's about what the federal debt would look like on a per capita basis.  People have a hard time telling the difference between a billion dollars and a trillion dollars...making it a size you can understand gives it more meaning.