Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Decriminalization of narcotics in Portugal, an update

Kristof in the NYT on narcotics policy and outcomes in Portugal:
How to Win a War on Drugs: Portugal treats addiction as a disease, not a

"Decades ago, the United States and Portugal both struggled with illicit drugs and took decisive action — in diametrically opposite directions. The U.S. cracked down vigorously, spending billions of dollars incarcerating drug users. In contrast, Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.

"After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.
...
"The number of Portuguese dying from overdoses plunged more than 85 percent before rising a bit in the aftermath of the European economic crisis of recent years. Even so, Portugal’s drug mortality rate is the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark — and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S."


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kidney exchange in Aussie TV

Pablo Guillen watches TV in Sydney, and sent me this link to a show featuring kidney exchange:
http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/pulse/DR1629H008S00


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tributes to Ken Arrow


 
September 22, 2017

In Remembrance of Kenneth Arrow

Tributes in remembrance of Kenneth Arrow have been posted .
Kenneth J. Arrow, Elected 1951, President 1956

Kenneth Arrow's Contributions to Social Choice Theory by Eric Maskin

Kenneth Arrow's Contributions to General Equilibrium by John Geanakoplos

Kenneth Arrow's Work on Coping with Risk and Uncertainty by Menahem Yaari

Kenneth Arrow on Public Goods, Public Policy, and Environmental Economics by Partha Dasgupta

Friday, September 22, 2017

Broken Chains and Reneging: rare and not very consequential


By:Cowan, N ; Gritsch, HA; Nassiri, N; Sinacore, J; Veale, J
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TRANSPLANTATION
Volume: 17   
Issue: 9   
Pages: 2451-2457
DOI: 10.1111/ajt.14343  Published: SEP 2017
Abstract
Concerns regarding the potential for broken chains and "reneges" within kidney paired donation (KPD) and its effect on chain length have been raised previously. Although these concerns have been tested in simulation studies, real- world data have yet to be evaluated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the actual rate and causes of broken chains within a large KPD program. All patients undergoing renal transplantation through the National Kidney Registry from 2008 through May 2016 were included for analysis. Broken chains and loops were identified. A total of 344 chains and 78 loops were completed during the study period, yielding a total of 1748 transplants. Twenty broken chains and one broken loop were identified. The mean chain length (number of transplants) within broken chains was 4.8 compared with 4.6 of completed chains (p = 0.78). The most common causes of a broken chain were donor medical issues incurred while acting as a bridge donor (n = 8), donors electing not to proceed (n = 6), and kidneys being declined by the recipient surgeon (n = 4). All recipients involved in a broken chain subsequently received a transplant. Based on the results, broken chains are infrequent, are rarely due to lack of donor motivation, and have no significant impact on chain length.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The private equity junior labor market continues to unravel

Eric Budish points me to the annual story, which seems to be published earlier each year, about the race for young talent in private equity:

Private Equity Prowls for Young Bankers Early in Frenetic Ritual
Job offers can ‘explode’ at midnight as buyout firms compete

"Junior analysts a few weeks on the job can now expect a flurry of emails from headhunters for some of the most prestigious private equity firms in the world. The jobs they’re being recruited for can pay more than $200,000 a year and won’t start until 2019. The battle to hire the best of them is fiercer, and more urgent, than ever.

"Buyout firms are tapping junior bankers earlier -- advancing the annual recruiting cycle, the industry’s biggest window of hiring, for the fifth consecutive year after an agreement to hold back fell apart.
...
"During the most recent cycle, formal interviews started in January...

"That was the earliest recruiting start ever -- about two weeks sooner than the previous year, and a full three months sooner than in 2013, when the major private equity firms stopped cooperating on timing after some broke out to recruit early.
...
"The majority of the mega-funds fill up their spots within 96 hours...
...
"Going forward, there’s no telling how much sooner the recruitment schedule will creep. But one effect is becoming permanent, said Grauer: candidates don’t have much work experience to discuss in their interviews anymore.

“I’d like to think we’ve gotten to a point where it doesn’t get earlier,” Grauer said, adding that interviewees today don’t often know what they want professionally in the long term. “The days when they were able to talk about all their transactions are gone.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hurricanes and price gouging (and watermelon)

Accusations of price gouging don't just concern food and water and plywood and gasoline: nowadays we evacuate by airplane as well. But last minute bookings are always expensive...

Airlines Face Criticism Amid Irma Price-Gouging Complaints
"Florida residents have been logging their compaints about unfair pricing of items like water and gasoline, along with airfares, with the office of Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida. There have been more than 7,000 since Monday, the attorney general said on Friday.
In their letter to Transportation Secretary Chao, Senators Blumenthal and Markey wrote:
“Airlines certainly have a right to a reasonable return for services rendered and vagaries in pricing are to be expected; but airlines have no right to impose exorbitant, unfair prices on Americans simply trying to get out of harm’s way.”
Florida Representative Charlie Crist also wrote a letter to Ms. Chao, calling for an investigation of United Airlines after receiving several complaints over airfare increases.
...
"“If there’s any gouge, it’s just the last minute walk-up airfares that are designed for desperate business fliers,” Mr. Hobica said. “It’s just the computer programs doing what they do when it’s last minute and seats are scarce.”
Delta, the target of the initial viral complaint, has denied changing its pricing structure leading up to Irma’s arrival and has capped its one-way fares out of South Florida at $399 through Sept. 13 (other airlines like JetBlue lowered one-way fares to as low as $99.) "
***********
I've never been able to track down if it's a true story, but I've heard over the years of some hurricane in which people both lined up to buy some essential good at a very high price, and then clapped when the police showed up to arrest the purveyors for price gouging and confiscate the goods.
Stephanie Wang points me to this second or third hand account, where the good in question is ice.

They Clapped: Can Price-Gouging Laws Prohibit Scarcity?

*********
Here are two recent articles, con and pro on raising prices in an emergency (they both have a picture of empty shelves...)

Memo to economists defending price gouging in a disaster: It's still wrong, morally and economically  by 

Price Gouging Can Be a Type of Hurricane Aid
Higher prices can help resources get to the people who need them most.
by Tyler Cowen

**********
Of course, not all accusations of price gouging arise from emergencies. Consider the watermelon. The Jordan Times has the story:
Petra diner closed temporarily for ‘overpricing melon’  Photo of fat bill goes viral, triggers anger, mockery

"AMMAN — The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) on Wednesday decided to extend the closure of a tourist restaurant over an over-priced bill of a watermelon.

"A photo of the bill went viral on social media sites, triggering both angry reactions and mockery.

"PDTRA President Mohammad Nawafleh told The Jordan Times on Thursday that the restaurant, whose rent contract had already expired on July 15, will be closed for two months for selling a water melon for an unreasonably high price and serving food items that are not listed on its menu.
...
"Commenting on the issue, Tourism Expert Sami Hasanat said that such overpricing would harm the “already deteriorating” sector in the Kingdom.

"Authorities have to ensure that prices are always within the “reasonable” levels, as prices would affect the turnout of tourists, added Hasanat, a former MP."