Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Democracy & “Noxious” Markets, by Debra Satz

 The Winter 2023 issue of Daedalus is about Creating a New Moral Political Economy, edited by Margaret Levi & Henry Farrell.

The article by Debra Satz will strike a chord with market designers: she takes very seriously that markets are tools that need thoughtful design.

"my argument is not a lawyer’s brief against markets. No large democratic society can or should entirely dispense with markets. Not only are markets among the most powerful tools we have for generating growth in living standards and incentivizing innovation, but also Smith was right to see their democratic potential as ways of enabling cooperation among independent, free, and equal individuals. As tools, however, we should think carefully about where to use them and how to design them when we do. While a neoliberal worldview sees efficient markets enhancing freedom and well-being everywhere, the reality is more complex. Some markets foreclose options that would better support democratic institutions and culture. Sometimes, closing off market options makes everyone better off. Consider that if individuals are free not to purchase health insurance on the market, the cost of publicly provided insurance will increase: healthy individuals are more likely to opt out of health insurance, leaving sicker individuals in the pool to be insured and raising the costs of their insurance, leading more people to forgo holding such insurance, driving the prices up even higher."

Among the markets she is concerned about are school choice, and military service:

"some of the ways parents prioritize their own children can lead to worse outcomes for other children and to the furthering of educational inequities, as well as to other social ills like instability and conflict. Evidence indicates, for example, that choice schools in the United States are more homogenous than public schools with respect to social class and race. Researchers have also shown that when public school choice is available, educated parents are especially likely to factor child demographics in their school selections.11 This may be because school quality is very hard to judge and parents default to markers such as the reading and math levels of other students. These levels, in turn, are heavily influenced by social class. It is likely that some parents take race and class directly as proxies for school quality."


"Extending the reach of markets even more, war has been further outsourced to private military contractors: in 2009, there were more private military contractors in Afghanistan than U.S. military troops.17 Hiring private mercenaries and outsourcing national security to a subsection of our population might spare our citizens, but as political philosopher Michael Sandel has noted, it changes the meaning of citizenship.18 In what sense are we “all in this together” if most citizens never need to think hard about decisions to go to war? Whatever the efficiency pros and cons of the decision to outsource fighting and allocate military service through market means, doing so changes our relationships with one another and our sense of a common life."

"My argument so far suffers from treating the state and market as two stark alternatives for the allocation of goods and services in society. So I now want to consider ways in which the benefits of markets can be harnessed—through design—to better serve important democratic goals. "


"One important mechanism is providing greater roles for worker voice. This can be done through such reforms as changing labor laws to support forms of worker association, like trade unions, allowing worker representatives on company boards, and strengthening democracy at work through diverse forms of ownership including worker-managed and -owned firms. Empowering the associational organization of labor would also help redress the background social conditions that render workers vulnerable to the oligarchic power of their employers.

"There are other examples in which careful design and policy can limit the “noxiousness” of a particular market for democracy. Policies such as a negative income tax can strengthen the power of workers, and campaign finance laws can diminish the power of money in elections. Others have argued for reforms to our current system of commodified legal representation within an adversarial system, and for single-payer health care systems."

Here's her concluding paragraph:

"Beyond education, we need to pay special attention to particular markets that affect democratic functioning and stability. Such markets include but are not limited to markets in legal representation, media and news markets, markets relating to national defense, and markets governing political rights. Politicians and other commentators usually write unreflectively, as if all markets were the same. They are not. Markets affect not only the distribution of income and wealth, but also our capacities, and our views of each other. Their strengths but also their limits depend on the fact that they are radically individualizing. But in some contexts, that individualizing threatens the practice of democracy. Markets have moral and even “spiritual” consequences relevant to our shared public life, and our evaluations of them must also attend to those consequences. A new political economy needs to take this larger evaluative frame into account."


The next article in the issue is a thoughtful essay on markets for personal care of the young and the elderly, organized in various ways, including care within families, written as a commentary on the Satz article: 

Is There a Proper Scope for Markets?  by Marc Fleurbaey

Monday, February 27, 2023

AEA committee on the job market considers early and exploding offers

 John Cawley chairs the AEA committee on the job market, and recently tweeted the request for information below.  Feel free to communicate with him on twitter or directly, as I'll be glad to rely on him to compile and forward all the responses. (I'm one of the few economists not on most social media...but I really will try to read all responses:) (Click to enlarge...)

Judge shopping for abortion rulings

 Justice (like politics, sausage and econometrics) is constructed in complex ways. The Washington Post has a story on the case against an anti-abortion drug, now being heard by federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo Texas, which could result in a nationwide ban on that drug.  The case concerns medical issues about drug regulation, and isn't directly concerned with the legal controversy about abortion rights.

The Texas judge who could take down the abortion pill. A devout Christian, Matthew Kacsmaryk has been shaped by his deep antiabortion beliefs. By Caroline Kitchener and  Ann E. Marimow  February 25, 2023 

"The abortion pills lawsuit, which Kacsmaryk could rule on any day, is the latest in a long line of politically explosive cases to appear on the judge’s docket. In a practice known as “forum shopping,” conservative groups have zeroed in on the Amarillo division of the Northern District of Texas as a go-to place to challenge a wide range of Biden administration policies. Because Amarillo is a federal district with a single judge, plaintiffs know their arguments will be heard by Kacsmaryk — who, like any federal judge, is positioned to issue rulings with nationwide implications.

"Appeals from Kacsmaryk’s district follow a path that has regularly yielded favorable outcomes for conservatives — reviewed first by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which upheld a strict Texas abortion ban long before Roe v. Wade was overturned, then ultimately by the conservative-controlled Supreme Court."


Here's a related story from Medpage Today:

A Ban on the Abortion Drug Mifepristone Is Looming— A Texas lawsuit may be disastrous for effective abortion access and FDA's authority by Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, LLD, and Sarah Wetter, JD, MPH, February 23, 2023

"In the most consequential and controversial attack on reproductive rights since the overturning of Roe v. Wadea Texas judge could ban the safest, most effective, and most common method for abortion in all 50 states. The hyper-conservative anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom  (ADF) is seeking to overturn the FDA's approval of mifepristone (Mifeprex), a medication in a two-pill regimen used to terminate pregnancies through the first 10 weeks gestation. The lawsuit does not target the other medication, misoprostol (Cytotec)which FDA approved to treat stomach ulcers, and can be prescribed off-label for abortion.


"Given the FDA's rigorous risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for mifepristone and its safe use for 23 years, the case is utterly frivolous and political, but due to "judge shopping" the repercussions for reproductive health and equity are real. Perversely, a single federal trial judge has the power to block a federal law, rule, or action on a national scale. The case could make its way to the Supreme Court, with potentially disastrous consequences for safe, effective abortion access and the authority of the FDA."

opens in a new tab or windowfor mifepristone and its safe use for 23 years, the case is utterly frivolous and political, but due to "judge shopping" the repercussions for reproductive health and equity are real. Perversely, a single federal trial judge has the power to block a federal law, rule, or action on a national scale. The case could make its way to the Supreme Court, with potentially disastrous consequences for safe, effective abortion access and the authority of the FDA.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Judd Kessler on Market Rules

 Judd Kessler is writing a book (that I'm looking forward to reading):

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Harm reduction at work in NYC's opioid crisis

 The NY Times follows some harm reduction workers through their work in New York City, including a city-sponsored safe injection facility.  Not so easy to do, and not so easy to read.

One Year Inside a Radical New Approach to America’s Overdose Crisis. By Jeneen Interlandi

"Since its official opening on Nov. 30, 2021, OnPoint has met with both praise and protest. Shopkeepers and school principals routinely thank Mr. Jones and his colleagues for their daily rounds of needle collection. But local civic groups have been furious about yet another substance abuse program in a neighborhood dense with them and have argued that, however well intentioned, the organization’s approach will only make a bad problem worse. People who are addicted to drugs need tough love and harsh consequences, they insist, not coddling. Community outreach’s mission was therefore twofold: Convince skeptics that programs like these can be a net positive for the community and persuade those with substance use disorders to accept the lifeline that OnPoint was offering."

Friday, February 24, 2023

Incarceration isn't always the best treatment for drug addiction

 Here's a NY Times editorial:

America Has Lost the War on Drugs. Here’s What Needs to Happen Next.  Feb. 22, 2023

It begins with this bit of history, and ends with a call for evidence-based solutions:

"For a forgotten moment, at the very start of the United States’ half-century long war on drugs, public health was the weapon of choice. In the 1970s, when soldiers returning from Vietnam were grappling with heroin addiction, the nation’s first drug czar — appointed by President Richard Nixon — developed a national system of clinics that offered not only methadone but also counseling, 12-step programs and social services. Roughly 70 percent of the nation’s drug control budget was devoted to this initiative; only the remaining 30 percent went to law enforcement.

"The moment was short-lived, of course. Mired in controversy and wanting to appear tough on crime, Nixon tacked right just months before resigning from office, and nearly every president after him — from Reagan to Clinton to Bush — followed the course he set. Before long, the funding ratio between public health and criminal justice measures flipped. Police and prison budgets soared, and anything related to health, medicine or social services was left to dangle by its own shoestring.


"Study the solutions. Leading public health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, failed to prevent or even adequately respond to the opioid epidemic that has engulfed the nation. But health officials can still step up. As opioid settlement funds are deployed (along with federal dollars) and harm reduction programs are begun, the C.D.C. especially should impartially study what is working and what is not. The response to this crisis should finally be based on evidence.

"The nation’s leaders are not the only ones with work to do. To fully replace the war on drugs with something more humane or more effective, the public will have to come to terms with the prejudices that war helped instill. That means accepting that people who use drugs are still members of our communities and are still worthy of compassion and care. It also means acknowledging the needs and wishes of people who don’t use drugs, including streets free of syringe litter and neighborhoods free of drug-related crime. These goals are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand. But to make them a reality, lawmakers and other officials will have to lead the way."

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Money Laundering

 Financial regulation plays a big role in law enforcement, by helping investigators to follow the money, which is often easier than following the crimes that generate the money. So, for example, drug dealers and others have trouble turning their income (which is often in cash) into bank accounts that can be used to buy the things that legal money can buy.  Money laundering involves turning ill got gains into reportable income.  Gambling, it turns out, offers some possibilities: if I come into the casino with some cash, and come out with some cash, it's hard to prove that I'm paying tax on more than my winnings.

Here's a story that touches on that, from the WSJ:

Cantor Fitzgerald Gambling Affiliate to Pay $22.5 Million to Settle Probes. CG Technology is said to have admitted aiding and abetting illegal gambling and money laundering   By Kate O’Keeffe and Alexandra Berzon

"Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s sports-betting affiliate has agreed to pay $22.5 million in penalties and forfeiture to the U.S. government in conjunction with its involvement in illegal gambling and money laundering, according to people familiar with the matter.


"The agreement comes as the U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments have been increasingly focused in recent years on potential money-laundering violations at casinos. The probes generally center on how the gambling companies allegedly help to facilitate money laundering or fail to report suspicious activities.


"Two people who were running their own illegal bookmaking operations elsewhere laundered money through Cantor as part of this system, the people said."

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The market for (and marketing of) baby formula

 The Lancet has a series of articles on baby formula.  It begins with this editorial, and is followed by three articles:

Unveiling the predatory tactics of the formula milk industry, The Lancet, Published: February 07, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)00118-6

"For decades, the commercial milk formula (CMF) industry has used underhand marketing strategies, designed to prey on parents' fears and concerns at a vulnerable time, to turn the feeding of young children into a multibillion-dollar business. The immense economic power accrued by CMF manufacturers is deployed politically to ensure the industry is under-regulated and services supporting breastfeeding are under-resourced. These are the stark findings of the 2023 Breastfeeding Series, published in The Lancet today."


VOLUME 401, ISSUE 10375, P472-485, FEBRUARY 11, 2023 Breastfeeding: crucially important, but increasingly challenged in a market-driven world, by Prof Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD  Cecília Tomori, PhD Sonia Hernández-Cordero, PhD Phillip Baker, PhD Aluisio J D Barros, PhD MD France Bégin, PhD Donna J Chapman, PhD Laurence M Grummer-Strawn, PhD Prof David McCoy, PhD Purnima Menon, PhD Paulo Augusto Ribeiro Neves, PhD Ellen Piwoz, PhD Prof Nigel Rollins, MD Prof Cesar G Victora, PhD MD Prof Linda Richter, PhD on behalf of the 2023 Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group†  Open Access Published: February 07, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)01932-8

"When possible, exclusively breastfeeding is recommended by WHO for the first 6 months of life, and continued breastfeeding for at least the first 2 years of life, with complementary foods being introduced at 6 months postpartum.9 Yet globally, many mothers who can and wish to breastfeed face barriers at all levels of the socioecological model proposed in The Lancet's 2016 breastfeeding Series."

 VOLUME 401, ISSUE 10375, P486-502, FEBRUARY 11, 2023 Marketing of commercial milk formula: a system to capture parents, communities, science, and policy by Prof Nigel Rollins, MD  Ellen Piwoz, ScD Phillip Baker, PhD Gillian Kingston, PhD Kopano Matlwa Mabaso, PhD Prof David McCoy, DrPH  Paulo Augusto Ribeiro Neves, PhD  Prof Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD  Prof Linda Richter, PhD  Prof Katheryn Russ, PhD  Prof Gita Sen, PhD  Cecília Tomori, PhD  Prof Cesar G Victora, MD  Paul Zambrano, MD  Prof Gerard Hastings, PhD  on behalf of the 2023 Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group  Open Access Published:  February 07, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)01931-6

"Despite proven benefits, less than half of infants and young children globally are breastfed in accordance with the recommendations of WHO. In comparison, commercial milk formula (CMF) sales have increased to about US$55 billion annually, with more infants and young children receiving formula products than ever. "

 VOLUME 401, ISSUE 10375, P503-524, FEBRUARY 11, 2023 The political economy of infant and young child feeding: confronting corporate power, overcoming structural barriers, and accelerating progress by Phillip Baker, PhD Julie P Smith, PhD Prof Amandine Garde, PhD Laurence M Grummer-Strawn, PhD Benjamin Wood, MD Prof Gita Sen, PhD Prof Gerard Hastings, PhD  Prof Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD  Chee Yoke Ling, LLB  Prof Nigel Rollins, MD Prof David McCoy, DrPH  on behalf of the 2023 Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group†  Open Access Published: February 07, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)01933-X

"The first and second papers in this Series8,  9 present several reasons for the global rise of CMF in human diets, including the CMF industry's exploitation of parental anxieties; ubiquitous marketing; and absent or inadequate protection and support for breastfeeding within health-care systems, work settings, and households. In this Series paper, we look further upstream and examine the root causes of low worldwide breastfeeding rates10 to understand why so many women and families are prevented from making and implementing informed decisions about feeding and caring for infants and young children; why so many policy makers and health-care professionals are co-opted by CMF marketing and other commercial forces; and why so many countries have not prioritised and implemented policies to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. It is important to note that we use the terms women and breastfeeding throughout this Series for brevity, and because most people who breastfeed identify as women; we recognise that not all people who breastfeed or chestfeed identify as women."


Among my previous posts on milk are some noting that there are shortages of human breast milk, and that in many places the sale of breast milk is banned (in some places out of concern that poor mothers would sell their milk instead of feeding their children, and in some places out of concerns that the sale of breast milk is repugnant even from mothers who produce milk in excess to their children's needs.)  

Thus (in different times, places, and circumstances) there is repugnance both to the sale of mothers' milk and to the sale of substitutes for it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

It's hard to navigate the Ophthalmology and Urology labor market without a couples match

The Ophthalmology and Urology matches are earlier than the NRMP resident match, and do not offer a couples match. Based on a survey of Ophthalmology and Urology match participants, the authors outline the need for a couples match.

Navigating the Ophthalmology & Urology Match with a Significant Other by lSamantha S. Massenzio MD *, Tara A. Uhler MD †, Erik M. Massenzio MD †, Emily Sun BS *, Divya Srikumaran MD *, Marisa M. Clifton MD ‡, Laura K. Green MD §, Grace Sun MD ║, Jiangxia Wang MS ¶, Fasika A. Woreta MD, MPH *  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsurg.2022.07.026  Journal of Surgical Education, Volume 80, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 135-142


• There is an increasing number of couples applying for residency

• Ophthalmology and urology applicants cannot utilize the NRMP Couples Match system

• A Couples Match is highly desired by applicants to these two specialties

• The lack of a Couples Match is a deterrent to these specialties for some applicants

• Systems to aid applicants to these specialties with significant others are needed"

Monday, February 20, 2023

Will Italy criminalize foreign surrogacy?

 It's hard to ban something that people want and need and is legally available in other jurisdictions, but it looks like Italy might try it regarding surrogacy.  Here's a story from Britain's Sunday Times:

Italian families seeking surrogates abroad could face jail or €1 million fines by Tom Kington

"Italians travelling abroad to seek surrogate mothers to start families could face jail time and a million euro fine thanks to a new bill introduced by senators close to Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister.

"The proposed law, which must be approved by the Italian parliament, describes surrogacy as “an execrable example of the commercialisation of the female body and the treatment of babies as merchandise”.


"An Italian law passed in 2004 banned surrogate pregnancies in Italy, forcing couples to travel to countries such as the United States and Canada to find surrogate mothers."

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Computational and Experimental Economics Summer School June 11-16, 2023, Barcelona

 Rosemarie Nagel sends me the following announcement:

We invite graduate students and young faculty to the
2nd Computational and Experimental Economics Summer School
June 11-16, 2023, BESLAB, UPF, Barcelona, Spain

The goal of the summer school is to develop a foundation for using computational models
and simulations to complement and/or explain results from human subject experiments.
In particular, throughout the curriculum, students will learn how to implement a variety of agent-based models
that have successfully captured regularities observed in the experimental and field data.
They will participate in experiments and develop an original project in groups of 3-4 participants.

In addition, the summer school will include a two-day workshop on computational and experimental economics (June 14-15)
with presentations by leading researchers who are interested in experimental and computational economics.

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2023.

You can find how to participate here:

Herbert Dawid (Bielefeld University)
John Ledyard (Caltech)
Rosemarie Nagel (ICREA-UPF, and BSE)

Yaroslav Rosokha  (Purdue University)

Guest lecturers

Mikhail Anufriev (University of Technology Sydney)
Cars Hommes (University of Amsterdam and Bank of Canada)
Annie Liang (Northwestern. University)
Valentyn Panchenko (University of New South Wales)


Saturday, February 18, 2023

Compensation for participating in clinical trials

 Here's an opinion piece from Medpage Today:

It's Time to Pay Clinical Trial Participants More — Accelerating trial enrollment can catalyze access to much-needed medications  by Gunnar Esiason 

He writes:

"Most people I know with cystic fibrosis have participated in at least one, if not several clinical trials. 


"Participating in a trial can be like working for a company that hasn't invested in its employees in a long time. In this case, the employees are clinical trial participants. The pay is low despite the time required to participate in research and the growing number of trials that need participants.

"From 2019-2022, the number of registered clinical trials grew by 25%opens in a new tab or window globally -- yet participant pay remains arbitrary and inconsistentopens in a new tab or window between studies. It's almost like mismatched supply and demand curves, where participants are in high demand but unwilling to participate.

"Increasing trial participant pay might be a path toward alleviating the participant supply crunch in trials hungry for patients. One key benefit of increasing pay for patients could be substantial: namely, speeding up clinical trials through a more competitive enrollment process.


"More than 80% of clinical trials fail to enroll on time, leading to costs of anywhere from $600,000 to $8 million per dayopens in a new tab or window and making trials take up to twice as longopens in a new tab or window.

"And yet it has been shownopens in a new tab or window that moderately increasing pay can motivate participation without being an "unjust inducement." In other words, patients are encouraged to participate -- but not coerced to do so.

"If increasing participant pay can accelerate trial enrollment, then a safe and effective drug can reach the market faster and therefore reduce the amount of time products remain in the pre-revenue stage. The return on investment for study sponsors who increase participant pay should be clear from a business perspective.

"From a patient perspective, even a marginal improvement in time to accessing new drugs is something worth celebrating. For patients, we pay the cost of delays with our health."


Some earlier related posts:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Paying participants in challenge trials of Covid-19 vaccines, by Ambuehl, Ockenfels, and Roth

"we note that increasing hourly pay by a risk-compensation percentage as proposed in the target article provides compensation proportional to risk only if the risk increases proportionally with the number of hours worked. (Some risky tasks take little time; imagine challenge trials to test bulletproof vests.) "

Friday, February 17, 2023

A tale of two Organ Procurement Organizations, in JAMA Surgery

 Here's a report of two Organ Procurement Organizations with very different rates of recovery of organs:

Variability in Organ Procurement Organization Performance by Individual Hospital in the United States, by Wali Johnson, MD1; Kathryn Kraft, MD2; Pranit Chotai, MD3; Raymond Lynch, MD4; Robert S. Dittus, MD5; David Goldberg, MD6; Fei Ye, PhD7; Brianna Doby, BA8; Douglas E. Schaubel, PhD9; Malay B. Shah, MD2; Seth J. Karp, MD1, JAMA Surg. Published online February 8, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2022.7853

"Design, Setting, and Participants  A retrospective cross-sectional analysis was performed of organ donation across 13 different hospitals in 2 donor service areas covered by 2 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in 2017 and 2018 to compare donor potential to actual donors. More than 2000 complete medical records for decedents were reviewed as a sample of nearly 9000 deaths. Data were analyzed from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2018.

"Exposure  Deaths of causes consistent with donation according to medical record review, ventilated patient referrals, center acceptance practices, and actual deceased donors.

"Main Outcomes and Measures  Potential donors by medical record review vs actual donors and OPO performance at specific hospitals.

"Results  Compared with 242 actual donors, 931 potential donors were identified at these hospitals. This suggests a deceased donor potential of 3.85 times (95% CI, 4.23-5.32) the actual number of donors recovered. There was a surprisingly wide variability in conversion of potential donor patients into actual donors among the hospitals studied, from 0% to 51.0%. One OPO recovered 18.8% of the potential donors, whereas the second recovered 48.2%. The performance of the OPOs was moderately related to referrals of ventilated patients and not related to center acceptance practices.

"Conclusions and Relevance  In this cross-sectional study of hospitals served by 2 OPOs, wide variation was found in the performance of the OPOs, especially at individual hospitals. Addressing this opportunity could greatly increase the organ supply, affirming the importance of recent efforts from the federal government to increase OPO accountability and transparency.


And here's an accompanying editorial:

It Is Time for the Light to Shine on Organ Procurement Organizations by Robert M. Cannon, MD, MS1; Jayme E. Locke, MD, MPH1 JAMA Surg. Published online February 8, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2022.7857

"Many explanations have been put forth as to why some OPOs carry out their mandate more effectively than others. One argument is that mechanisms of death in some parts of the country are more conducive to organ donations than in others. We have refuted this phenomenon as a significant factor in OPO performance variability in our previous work.3 Others have even tried to place the blame for poorly performing OPOs at the feet of “risk-averse” transplant centers, a factor that the data presented in this current study also refute. The cold truth is that we have no good understanding of why some OPOs are better than others, or even what an acceptable level of OPO performance should be, because the environment in which OPOs operate is so completely obscure."

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Arms for children but not women in Missouri

 The Washington Post has the story:

Missouri Republicans block proposed ban on kids carrying guns in public By Timothy Bella

"The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have banned children from being able to openly carry firearms on public land without adult supervision.

"The proposal, which was part of a long debate in the chamber on how to fight crime in St. Louis, was soundly defeated by a vote of 104-39, with just one Republican voting in support of the ban.


"Since 2017, Missouri residents have not been required to have a permit for concealed carry, after lawmakers in the Missouri House voted to override a veto by then-Gov. Jay Nixon (D) of a broad gun-rights bill. The law does not require gun owners to take safety training or have a criminal-background check to carry concealed firearms in most public places. The move was celebrated by Republicans, but law enforcement officials warned that the law was “going to make officers a lot more apprehensive,” St. Louis Public Radio reported at the time.

"The proposal’s defeat this week comes almost a month after Missouri Republicans in the state House made news for a voting to tighten the dress code for women legislators, while leaving the men’s dress code alone. Missouri House Republicans sought to require women to wear a blazer when in the chamber. The state House eventually approved a modified version of the proposal, which allows for cardigans as well as jackets but still requires women’s arms to be concealed."

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Domestic abusers have the right to bear arms--5th Circuit Court of Appeals

 In the U.S., the right to bear arms is a protected transaction. That can lead to some controversial decisions. 

Here's the story from Bloomberg:

Gun Ruling Giving Domestic Abusers Rights Prompts Garland Rebuke By Erik Larson

"The decades-old US law barring domestic abusers from possessing firearms contradicts the nation’s “historical tradition” of access to guns even for people who may not be “model citizens,” an appeals court said in a ruling that prompted a Justice Department rebuke.

"The statute is unconstitutional because it gives too much power to Congress to determine who qualifies as “law-abiding, responsible citizens” when it comes to gun ownership, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday.


"The ruling vacated the conviction of a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who pleaded guilty to violating the law by keeping a pistol at home despite being subject to a civil domestic-violence restraining order for assaulting his former girlfriend. It’s the latest fallout from a US Supreme Court ruling in June that paved the way for courts to reconsider a wide variety of gun restrictions.


“Rahimi, while hardly a model citizen, is nonetheless part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees, all other things equal,” said the appellate panel, comprised of two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump and one by Ronald Reagan.

"Rahimi’s home was searched after he was involved in five shootings in a two-month span, including firing at a law enforcement vehicle in December 2020, firing at a driver after getting in a car accident and shooting multiple rounds in the air in January 2021 “after his friend’s credit card was declined at a Whataburger restaurant,” the appeals court said."


Here's the Supreme Court decision, NRA v. Bruen on which the 5th Circuit relied:


No. 20–843. Argued November 3, 2021—Decided June 23, 2022 


"New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense."

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Canada experiments with decriminalization of opioids and other drugs in British Columbia

 From the CBC:

What you need to know about the decriminalization of possessing illicit drugs in B.C.  B.C. granted exemption by federal government in November 2022; pilot will run until 2026  by Akshay Kulkarni ·

"it is no longer a criminal offence to possess small amounts of certain illicit drugs in B.C. for people aged 18 or above.

"It's part of a three-year pilot by the federal government, which granted B.C. an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) on May 31, 2022. 


"Under the exemption, up to 2.5 grams of the following four drug types can be legally possessed:

"Cocaine (crack and powder). Methamphetamine. MDMA. Opioids (including heroin, fentanyl and morphine).

"Fentanyl and its analogues were detected in nearly 86 per cent of drug toxicity deaths from 2019 until 2022, according to the latest report from the B.C. Coroners Service."

Monday, February 13, 2023

Support for an independent judiciary in Israel

 Democratic institution are under threat in many parts of the world, involving elections, insurrections, and the courts.  Israel is no exception these days.  Yesterday's Jerusalem Post featured several stories about expressions of concern from friends of Israel, including an open letter from economists:

Biden calls for Israeli judicial reform consensus in first comment. US Secretary of State Blinken made a similar comment during his visit to Israel a few weeks ago. By TOVAH LAZAROFF,  FEBRUARY 12, 2023 

Seven Israeli Nobel laureates warn against judicial overhaul. In their letter, the Nobel Prize winners said that scientific excellence can only thrive in democratic nations with full freedom. By TOVAH LAZAROFF Published: FEBRUARY 12, 2023 

56 US economists sign letter opposing Israeli judicial reform By JERUSALEM POST STAFF FEBRUARY 12, 2023

Here's the open letter in full, organized by Professor Lucian Bebchuk at Harvard:

Statement By Leading U.S. Economists Regarding Proposed Israeli Reforms

February 8, 2023​ 

"The governing coalition in Israel is considering an array of legislative acts that would weaken the independence of the judiciary and its power to constrain governmental actions. Numerous Israeli economists, in an open letter that some of us joined, expressed concerns that such a reform would adversely affect the Israeli economy by weakening the rule of law and thereby moving Israel in the direction of Hungary and Poland. Although we significantly vary in our views on public policy and on the challenges facing Israeli society, we all share these concerns. A strong and independent judiciary is a critical part of a system of checks and balances. Undermining it would be detrimental not only to democracy but also to economic prosperity and growth.

"The 56 signatories to this statement are all economists who are current or former professors at leading U.S. universities and who also are:

(A) Recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (11);

(B) Winners of the John Bates Clark, Fischer Black, and/or BBVA Foundation prizes (10); 

(C) Current or former Presidents of the American Economic Association, American Finance Association, and/or the American Law and Economics Association (16);

(D) Individuals who formerly served as U.S. Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, the World Bank Chief Economist, or the International Monetary Fund Chief Economist (5); and/or 

(E) Elected members of the National Academy of Sciences and/or the American Academy of  Arts and Sciences (50).


Each signatory joined solely in their individual capacity, and the universities/organizations with which they are associated are noted for identification purposes. The superscripts next to each individual’s name indicate as stated below the list.

Daron Acemoglu (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) B, E

Alan Auerbach (University of California, Berkeley) E

David Autor (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) E

Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard University) C, E

Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago) E

Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia University) E

Nicholas Bloom (Stanford University) E

Samuel Bowles (Santa Fe Institute) E

Timothy Bresnahan (Stanford University) B, E

Jeremy Bulow (Stanford University) E

John Campbell (Harvard University) C, E

Janet Currie (Princeton University) C, E 

David Cutler (Harvard University) E

Stefano DellaVigna (University of California, Berkeley) E

Peter Diamond (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) A, C, E

Barry Eichengreen (University of California, Berkeley) E

Drew Fudenberg (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) E

Mark Gertler (New York University) B, E

Claudia Goldin (Harvard University) B, C, E

Roger Gordon (University of California, San Diego) E

Gene Grossman (Princeton University) E

Oliver Hart (Harvard University) A, C, E

R. Glenn Hubbard (Columbia University) D

Matthew Jackson (Stanford University) B, E

Paul Joskow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) E

Kenneth Judd (Stanford University) E

Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University) A, E

Lewis Kornhauser (New York University) C

Laurence Kotlikoff (Boston University) E

Anne Krueger (Johns Hopkins University) C, D, E

David Laibson (Harvard University) E

W. Bentley MacLeod (Columbia University) C

Ulrike Malmendier (University of California, Berkeley) B, C, E

Charles Manski (Northwestern University) E

Eric Maskin (Harvard University) A, E

Marc Melitz (Harvard University) E

Paul Milgrom (Stanford University) A, B, E

Joel Mokyr (Northwestern University) E

Maurice Obstfeld (University of California, Berkeley) D, E

Edmund Phelps (Columbia University) A, C, E

Andrew Postlewaite (University of Pennsylvania) E

Matthew Rabin (Harvard University) B, E

Kenneth Rogoff (Harvard University) D, E

Paul Romer (New York University) A, D, E

Alvin Roth (Stanford University) A, C, E

Daniel Rubinfeld (University of California, Berkeley) C, E

José Scheinkman (Columbia University) E

Ilya Segal (Stanford University) E

Robert Solow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) A, B, E

A. Michael Spence (Stanford University) A, B, E

Richard Thaler (University of Chicago) A, C, E

Michael Whinston (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) E

Michelle White (University of California, San Diego) C

Michael Woodford (Columbia University) E

Richard Zeckhauser (Harvard University) E

Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago) C

 "Any inquiries or communications may be sent to the Statement’s coordinator Professor Lucian Bebchuk at info@Statement-By-Leading-US-Economists.net."

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Super (bowl) markets

 There's also a football game, but here are some other, related markets (gambling, advertising, deal making...).


WSJ: Watching the Super Bowl? Bettor Beware. It’s easier than ever for the average fan to bet on sports, even mid-game. But when it comes to winning, the odds are stacked. by Danny Funt

"Thanks to the profusion of online betting, sportsbooks are encouraging customers to bet during games—a category that is “growing exponentially,” Mr. Scott said. Chris Grove, partner emeritus at Eilers & Krejcik, said in the near future, in-game betting should account for the “overwhelming majority” of U.S. sportsbook revenue.

"Roughly half of bets on NFL games this season were placed after the opening kickoff. Customers can wager on lines that move with every play, as well as on short-term “prop” bets like, “Will this possession end in a touchdown?” 


"An even bigger source of growth for sportsbooks has been parlays, in which bettors string together multiple bets for the chance at a larger payout, but lose if any of the components fails to transpire. Bettors can now place same-game parlays, bundling wagers on, say, the winning team, the total points scored and a quarterback’s passing yards. (Naturally, sportsbooks offer in-game same-game parlays, too.)

"FanDuel, which controls about half of the national online betting market, according to Eilers & Krejcik, leads the industry due in part to its success capitalizing on parlays. Last October in Illinois, for example, seven out of every 10 bets placed at FanDuel was a parlay, according to data published by the state’s gaming board. FanDuel made about $29.60 for every $100 bet on parlays, compared with $4.80 for every $100 in non-parlay bets."


Record 50 Million Americans to Wager $16B on Super Bowl LVII Press Release 

"A record 50.4 million American adults (20%) are expected to bet on Super Bowl LVII, a 61 percent increase from the record set in 2022, according to a new American Gaming Association (AGA) survey. Bettors plan to wager an estimated $16 billion on this year’s championship game, more than double last year’s estimates.

"With the expansion of legal sports betting, traditional Super Bowl wagers are expected to pass casual wagers for the first time ever:

"30 million American adults plan to place a traditional sports wager online, at a retail sportsbook or with a bookie, up 66 percent from 2022.

"28 million plan to bet casually with friends or as part of a pool or squares contest, up 50 percent from 2022."



The 2023 Super Bowl Ads Will Feature Booze, Betting and Jesus. Alcohol is an open field after Anheuser-Busch InBev gave up category exclusivity, while cryptocurrency is set to be a no-show. By Megan Graham

"The Super Bowl still regularly draws an audience of around 100 million people, making it TV’s biggest event of the year and advertising’s biggest night.

"Fox this week said it has sold out of advertising for its Super Bowl broadcast, with some 30-second slots selling for more than $7 million"


The Backstory to the Jesus Ad Coming to the Super Bowl. The political underpinnings of this campaign are hiding beneath the surface. BY MOLLY OLMSTEAD

"The campaign is being run by something called The Signatry, a Kansas-based Christian foundation that exists, essentially, to connect donors (and their financial advisors) with causes in order to “inspire and facilitate revolutionary, biblical generosity.” According to Ministry Watch, an evangelical watchdog organization that scrutinizes the finances of Christian charities, in 2018, the foundation reported more than $1 billion in contributions. "



"For most of America, the Super Bowl starts on Sunday evening. But for the deal makers who use the event as a backdrop for doing business, the real game starts days before kickoff.

"It’s not uncommon to attend exclusive dinners and parties during the week, and then jet out of town before the opening kickoff. “Once the game starts, it’s just a game,” said George Foster, a professor at Stanford Business School who directs the school’s sports management initiative. “It’s much more effective to get extended time fairly focused on the business relationship on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”


Sex work (same link as Dealmaking):

"In December, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, like many government officials preparing to host the Super Bowl before him, announced a statewide campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, ahead of the big game. Though the claim that increased sex trafficking and sex work occurs during major sporting events like the Super Bowl has been debunked over and over and over and over and over again, anti-human trafficking campaigns often target these events.

"Campaigns by cities have been criticized by advocates for sex workers, who say such efforts often rely on law enforcement “raids.” More patrolling can lead to more arrests of sex workers who are not being trafficked, they say, as well as the possibility that victims of trafficking will be arrested.

"It’s also unclear whether campaigns to raise awareness about sex trafficking are effective at addressing it. “If we want to protect people who are being trafficked, we need to protect sex workers because they are the most vulnerable for that happening to them next,” Kristen DiAngelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Sacramento, told The Washington Post ahead of last year’s Super Bowl."

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Friday, February 10, 2023

Human evolution in the last 12,000 years, in PNAS

My loose impression is that, not so long ago, scholars of human evolution discounted recent changes in the human genome, pointing out that maybe the frequency of lactose intolerance had been altered by the domestication of cattle, goats, and sheep, but suggesting that recent changes (i.e. since the invention of agriculture) were rare. This may have been an anti-racism perspective, or it may be that new data have changed this view, but indeed it seems to have changed.

Gene changes in recent milennia offer a window on how human patterns of interaction, regarding food acquisition and preparation, and communal living, may even cause changes in human biology.  

Here's a special feature on the subject, at the PNAS:

Special Feature: The Past 12,000 Years of Behavior, Adaptation, and Evolution Shaped Who We Are Today

"The authors of this Special Feature focus on challenges pertaining to dietary and nutritional quality and adequacy, resource inequality, interpersonal conflict and warfare, climate change, population trends, demographic transitions, migration, mobility, infectious disease and the rise of novel pathogens, and the transformative circumstances of human biology over the last 12,000 years.