scep1_corporatetower_1Read my article “The Human Cost Of Zoning” on FEE.org. I hope zoning in the third-world gets more attention with essays like this. I am glad that Financial Times, Bryan CaplanTyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok, ACI Scholarly Blog IndexOrange County Register, FreakonometricsUrbanomics and economist Ajay Shah blogged about this article. Government Of South AustraliaQuartz shared it, and NYU Stern School Of Business’ Urbanization Project, Marron Institute,  and Brandon Fuller tweeted it.  Continue Reading

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We should erect a wall.

The clock struck twelve, and she turned silent. After a long pause, she said that the new regulatory framework in the UK would make it almost impossible for her to stay there. I felt that this could be one of her usual pranks. I went to sleep while she said, “Shanu, Say something. Tell me that this is nothing—that there is nothing to worry. Please. Say something like that.” After turning in my bed for long, I woke up, wanting to know. What she said was true. A piece of legislation had made it very hard for her to realistically find a job in the UK after college. She did not know it for months.

We had studied in the same city once. Before going back to college she had worked with a reputed multinational corporation. The first time I had found her murderously angry was when she found that her dinner was stolen. When I told her that such things do not affect me much, she said, “Shanu, I am a student. I live on a limited budget. I will have to go to bed hungry tonight.” It happened often. After finishing college, she once told me that she wanted to work as a sales girl in a shop in London because she is keen on understanding many things. And I was silent.  Continue Reading

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No one like us!

“India was relatively unhurt in the global financial crisis. The developed countries have a lot to learn from our highly regulated financial system.”

This is a popular claim. And this is, of course, nonsense.

I also suspect that this is an extension of the philosophy of the people who are not-so-intelligent (Right wing people) by the people of so-called intelligence (Leftist people).

I recently read Ila Patnaik’s response to this claim:

“India is a very poor country. We know very little about how to establish institutions or regulate markets that can support a sophisticated economy where a billion people can enjoy high productivity. Nobody in the world wants Indian-style monetary or financial policy-making. Our path ahead lies in learning how fiscal, financial and monetary institutions work in countries where per capita GDP is many times bigger than what we have in India. Our hope for making progress lies in learning these things with an open mind, and demanding a pace of change in India so that we can become more like an OECD country. A villager with no roads may foolishly boast of having no accidents, but he cannot teach people how to regulate traffic on busy intersections. It is important for policy-makers to remember that India has no lessons to offer to regulators operating in the sophisticated world of finance, and proposals suggesting that they should learn our style of regulation only make us look foolish.” Continue Reading

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“News is irrelevant”-Rolf Dobelli

I like Rolf Dobelli’s essay against news. I too have long been arguing that news is irrelevant. But, read this excerpt:

A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. 

I can imagine this making sense to people who are not very smart. But, is this true? I think not. Why? So many reasons:

We live in a division of labor society. Every day, we consume countless products and services. It is humanly impossible to understand these products. When we use soap, we often do not know the chemical composition of the soap. It is wise to rely on some statistical generalizations when we use products that we do not understand. It might be important information to people involved in the production process. But, it makes little sense for a typical consumer to really understand the products he use. Continue Reading