Planet Money buys oil, loses about $800 on the deal, and makes some great podcast journalism

The NPR economics podcast Planet Money offers a great five-part introduction to the oil business and the place it plays in our economy. Along the way they offer insights into prices and market processes, innovation and industry change, and the many uses of fossil energy. The five part series does not go deep, but the reporters do cover the… More Planet Money buys oil, loses about $800 on the deal, and makes some great podcast journalism

Elasticity of supply reduces hotel price spikes

Major sporting events can substantially boost demand for hotel rooms and, given the difficulty of building new hotels on short notice, lead to price hikes and consumer complaints about price gouging. As I wrote four years ago, “Super Bowls usually produce price gouging complaints,” but the complaints were especially high that year given the selection… More Elasticity of supply reduces hotel price spikes

Frank Knight’s footnote on wise social policy

Footnote 16 in Frank Knight’s article, “Cost of production and price over long and short periods,” concluded with a sentence that ought likely to be added at the end of every expert’s policy proposal: Of course this does not mean that they should be required to change quickly to such a basis from the present… More Frank Knight’s footnote on wise social policy

Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency

Analysis of a randomised-controlled trial on a sample of almost 2500 Irish households revealed one surprising result: compared to the control group, households provided with a smart meter, detailed feedback on usage, and time-of-use pricing reduced investment in energy efficiency projects. While this unexpected development appears treated by the researchers as an embarrassment to be overcome, the result should… More Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency

Jonathan Rauch on the uncomfortable necessity of middlemen in transactional politics

In his recent work Jonathan Rauch has been writing about what I’ve unwillingly concluded are some uncomfortable home truths about politics. In a lot of places, especially the U.S., politics is more counterproductively fraught and fractious than it has been in the past century. This is true despite a near century of Progressive and populist… More Jonathan Rauch on the uncomfortable necessity of middlemen in transactional politics

The Economist on adverse selection and moral hazard

The Economist is running a series on classic articles that have transformed economics, starting with George Akerlof’s 1970 “Market for Lemons” paper. Akerlof catalyzed the field of information economics by pointing out possible consequences of asymmetric information in the case where one party to a transaction has more complete information about product quality than the… More The Economist on adverse selection and moral hazard

Can regulated rates be designed to mimic competition?

Rather than attempting to “mimic competition,” Giberson suggested simply “to allow competition.” Cost-of-service rate regulation cannot be designed to mimic competition. If you want competitive results, then allow competition. At least that was my claim reported in a Megawatt Daily story, “Texas wires rate study draws mixed reactions.” (From Monday, June 27, 2106; articles are not… More Can regulated rates be designed to mimic competition?