Take a gamble on “The Bet”: It is a balanced history of the Simon-Ehrlich conflict on population and scarcity

Paul Sabin’s The Bet offers perhaps the best-researched, best-written and most thorough account of the history and meaning of the famous 1980 bet between population pessimist Paul Ehrlich and resource optimist Julian Simon. Sabin is unceasingly fair in his treatment of the antagonists, a tough trick to pull off when working with such charged material. … More Take a gamble on “The Bet”: It is a balanced history of the Simon-Ehrlich conflict on population and scarcity

Anti-price gouging laws can increase economic welfare

An article by Robert Fleck of Clemson, forthcoming in the International Review of Law and Economics, presented a theoretical case that price gouging restrictions can be value-enhancing under certain conditions. I was skeptical, but Fleck is careful in building his case. The key qualifier above is under certain conditions. In “Can Prohibitions on ‘Price Gouging’ … More Anti-price gouging laws can increase economic welfare

Colorado merchants have pricing freedom

Flooding in Colorado has caused damage across nearly 2,000 square miles of the state. While many businesses are chipping in to help people affected, some people are concerned that lack of a state anti-price gouging law leaves consumers exposed to unjust price increases. A Denver Post story begins: Flood-ravaged Colorado is one of only 15 … More Colorado merchants have pricing freedom

Perverse outcomes of water subsidies

I’m intruding on David Zetland’s turf, but in this 2012 Guardian article from 2012 Roger Cowe makes some compelling arguments about why agricultural water subsidies lead to perverse outcomes, do not help the poor, and waste a precious, scarce resource. Water is the only industry in which regulation more perversely stifles self-organizing processes for managing scarcity … More Perverse outcomes of water subsidies

Course video 8: Joseph Schumpeter, economic growth, and creative destruction

Another video from my history of economic thought course — this time it’s Joseph Schumpeter, famous for his work on economic growth and innovation. Schumpeter was an inconoclastic economist who was influential well beyond his reputation. From his education and original academic and civil service work in Austria, Schumpeter went on to a long, productive career … More Course video 8: Joseph Schumpeter, economic growth, and creative destruction

Continuing debate over the economic origins of electric utility regulation

State regulation of electric utilities began in earnest about 1907 and by around 1920 almost all states had begun state regulation. Prior to state regulation, most electric utilities were regulated through city-issued franchise agreements. Was state regulation of privately-owned electric utilities efficiency enhancing relative to the municipal franchise regulation of electric utilities that preceded it? … More Continuing debate over the economic origins of electric utility regulation

No population bomb

From the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Erle C. Ellis explains, “Overpopulation Is Not the Problem“: MANY scientists believe that by transforming the earth’s natural landscapes, we are undermining the very life support systems that sustain us. Like bacteria in a petri dish, our exploding numbers are reaching the limits of a finite … More No population bomb