Showing posts from December, 2011

Clearing my tabs for 2012

During 2011 I have probably spent about four days waiting for my browser to respond, due to the number of tabs I habitually keep open. Between the four computers I use, I probably have 200 blog posts in tabs waiting for me to comment. Here are a few of them (in no particular order), so my Chrome may enjoy a faster 2012.

A note from Paul Krugman on what makes economics economics. Not a rhetorical discipline but one based on mathematical models. (However, see also Deirdre McCloskey's Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics, which puts forth a persuasive case that it is both. Also, I believe that rhetoric, culture and all forms of speech will one day themselves be modelled within economics - a tantalising prospect).
Talking of persuasion, here is Steve Randy Waldman on market monetarism, and whether we can fix recessions by simply persuading people to change their economic expectations, or whether there are real constraints that can't be solved just by monetary easing. I could plausi…

What is "playing"?

In between work on some more serious posts (not to mention the day job), let me post a brief comment on Margaret Robertson's article on gamification, "Can't play, won't play". It was written a year ago, so I'm not expecting to provoke an intense debate, but the same argument could easily be made today and it's worth responding to.

In short, Margaret claims:
gamification isn’t gamification at all. What we’re currently terming gamification is in fact the process of taking the thing that is least essential to games and representing it as the core of the experience. Points and badges have no closer a relationship to games than they do to websites and fitness apps and loyalty cards.Her preferred vision of games is:
Games manage to produce [rich cognitive, emotional and social] drivers by being complex, responsive mechanisms. Games set their players goals and then make attaining those goals interestingly hard.My involvement and interest in games is much shallower…

A thought experiment: why the ECB should print money...

...and why the Bank of England and Fed are right to have done so already.

I'm not talking about whether the European Central Bank should directly buy eurozone government bonds. This causes a moral hazard problem - it might encourage governments to be profligate and reduce incentives for structural reform. It's, at the very least, debatable. I'm talking about a more general question: why should central banks print money in a recession?

This post won't have much new to say to macroeconomists, but it attempts to address a concern of many non-economists - won't printing money just cause more inflation?

First, let's run a thought experiment. Imagine that your national government has decided that profligate use of fossil fuels is a problem. Probably because of the risk of climate change. Instead of using a carbon tax, the government decides to restrict the supply of oil coming into the country. It could allow more oil in if necessary - in fact it has a large reserve …