Speed Blogging

Michael Giberson

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.

4 thoughts on “Speed Blogging

  1. Regarding the BCS system:

    No playoff system can guarantee the best team will always rise to the top and be crowned champion. Even the notion that one team is “the best” can be a matter of debate. But every championship system should be designed to allow teams with a legitimate claim on being the best a chance to “settle it on the field”.

    The more subjective the determination of who is worthy to play for the championship, the more need there is for a playoff among more teams. As has been noted, with teams playing only 13 or so games and not a lot of interaction among the best teams (except those within the same conference/division) it become VERY subjective when it comes to ranking the teams nationwide.

  2. “…so how are we going to pick a better ranking system?”

    Uh, playoffs, like all the grownup sports do? Or we could start by taking all that subjective coaches’ and sportswriters’ crap out of the BCS, and rate on performance.

    BCS seems to be the best argument for the old saying that “football is for people smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it matters.”

  3. I like the playoffs idea. It is a process that yields an answer. It may not stop all discussion about who should have won – there is no end to “any given Saturday” arguments – but at least a few brute facts are placed in evidence.

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