Here is an Epidemiologist

In a comment I can’t find quickly, a few days ago I posed the question “Where are the epidemiologists” and asked why there has been no epidemiologically-sound random sampling to get a handle on the number of asymptomatic carriers. Only then can the draconian measures in place be rationalized.

Here is an excellent overview by a Stanford epidemiologist, which is the single most cogent thing I have read. Please consider reading it. It points out that, without that information, we have no idea if the effective shut-down of the country is rational and it indirectly suggests to us that we ought to ask a pertinent question: what is the economic cost to society in the long run of a statistical live saved. There are various methods used by epidemiologists for this estimation, including something called QUALY -quality adjusted life year and other methods which attempt to get a handle on health care costs and costs of regulation aimed at health and safety, generally. I am not conversant with these methods.... [Read More]

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Blind Economic Faith

Barak Obama has more faith in the American economy than I do. This faith is shared by all the announced Democrat candidates for the 2020 nomination. They have greater faith in the American economy than President Trump or Andrew Klavan or Steven Mnuchin. It may seem counterintuitive to say that the Anti-American Party has greater faith in the American economy than conservative patriots, but there it is.

I saw an interview of Amy Klobuchar over the weekend that illustrates the point. She refused to grant any credit to President Trump for the economic boom that has brought us record-low unemployment and strong GDP growth. She insisted that the policies of Team Obama were what brought about our strong economy. She implied that President Trump was just a lucky chump who inherited an improving economy from President Obama.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-02-07: Experts

Ever since the 19th century, the largest industry in Zambia has been copper mining, which today accounts for 85% of the country’s exports.  The economy of the nation and the prosperity of its people rise and fall with the price of copper on the world market, so nothing is so important to industry and government planners as the expectation for the price of this commodity in the future.  Since the 1970s, the World Bank has issued regular forecasts for the price of copper and other important commodities, and the government of Zambia and other resource-based economies often base their economic policy upon these pronouncements by high-powered experts with masses of data at their fingertips.  Let’s see how they’ve done.
World Bank forecasts of copper price vs. actual price, 1970–1995

The above chart, from a paper [PDF] by Angus Deaton in the Summer 1999 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives shows, for the years 1970 through 1995, the actual price of copper (solid heavy line) and successive forecasts (light dashed lines) by the august seers of the World Bank.  Each forecast departs from the actual price line on the date at which it was issued.... [Read More]

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TOTD 1/2: Small Business

Mine, that is.  Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the startup of my LLC, and also marks the year my total of independent employment exceeds my years as an employee of others.  Although the legal details were prepared and registered (quietly) in December of ’02, fifteen years ago today, three of my peers and I simultaneously resigned from the industrial systems integration firm of which we were senior employees.

We each had discussed our frustrations with the 51% owner’s management style, and his apparent intention to never yield any more ownership to future partners.  Gaining ownership was a five-year goal I had stated outright when I interviewed for that job, with that owner, four years before.  Or more precisely, when asked for my five year goal, I answered “Ownership of or partnership in a company like yours.”... [Read More]

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