Speed blogging = copying a Zetland trope so I can clear these items off my “to blog” list:
Robert Rapier on the Renewable Fuels Association‘s wild efforts to hold onto all possible subsidy and policy advantages that it can grab. Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal reports the emergence of a left-right coalition in Congress against extension of ethanol subsidies. (via Environmental Economics and Market Power)
Also don’t miss Rapier’s “Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Begins to Set In.”
Matthew Lewis explains Steven Levitt’s premium pricing puzzle. A while back Levitt observed gasoline pricing data that showed the premium paid for premium (high octane) fuel became larger compared to the price of regular gasoline as the overall price of gasoline increased. Levitt was puzzled, his economics leading him to expect a fixed price difference. Lewis explains that the data Levitt observed (USA Today‘s “Weekend Gas Gauge”) was faulty. USA Today relies on AAA’s price data which accurately records regular gasoline prices and simply assumes a fixed percentage mark-up to estimate mid-grade and premium gasoline prices.
Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias points to an intriguing bit of experimental social science. Researchers manipulated the perceived status of leaders in a public good contributions game, players tended to mimic the contributions of high-status leaders but not low-status leaders. When punishment was an option in the experiments, low-status leaders punished more and were punished by other players more. (See “Cooperation and Status in Organizations” by Catherine Eckel, Enrique Fatas, and Rick Wilson in the Journal of Public Economic Theory).
Al Roth at Market Design, “College football teams are hard to rank” commenting on the New York Times, “Who’s No. 1?” I wonder, “Hard to rank compared to what?” Doesn’t some version of Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem apply to BCS or any other system of ranking football teams? Maybe some other ranking system would work better, but my guess is that ranking ranking systems is also hard, so how are we going to pick a better ranking system?
I guess if I’m copying one of David Zetland’s tropes I ought to offer a HT in the general direction of Aguanomics. Here is his “Gasland – The Review.” It is an inflammatory film, and Zetland is fired up.