Category Archives: Economics

Corporate Tax Avoidance and Inversions

After a discussion about corporate tax avoidance, I made an interesting discovery that equating corporate inversions with moving profits overseas to avoid tax burdens is a common misconception.  In case anyone was wondering, that’s clearly untrue. Inversions are a uniquely American phenomenon since the US is the only developed country to force its home-based corporations to pay not only taxes in a foreign country, but also American taxes on profits earned abroad.  This is one of the more bizarre elements of the tax code and also results in Americans living overseas being forced to renounce their citizenship to avoid back taxes. Moreover, the State Department has tried to make it far more difficult to renounce your citizenship in order to keep people paying taxes.  Yes really. Continue reading

Analyzing the Minimum Wage: The Data

Today, we will look at the vast amount of data and see what conclusions we can draw from them, first looking at more seemingly partisan data on the Right and Left and working up from there (see my previous posts on Rights-based arguments and the importance of empiricism in economics).

The Right

This is one of the meta-analyses of Neumark and Wascher (the economists most cited in opposition to the minimum wage increases).  On page 115 we find the great line: “What is likely most striking to the reader who has managed to wade through our lengthy review is the wide range of estimates of the effects of the minimum wage on employment, especially when compared to the review by Brown et al. in 1982.”  That’s for sure. Continue reading

Analyzing the Minimum Wage: Economics and Empericism

Yesterday, I posted my first piece on this series exploring the minimum wage and demonstrating why utilitarian arguments are so powerful. Today, I will delve into the utilitarian idea surrounding the minimum wage, and consequently an economic analysis of this policy.  Economic theory is an excellent way to understand the consequentialist impacts of a policy in marketplace, but this post will also cover the limitations of theory vs data (for the data analysis, see my subsequent post).

The Economics of the Minimum Wage

Economics allows us to understand how market actors and institutions impact the distribution and exchange of resources.  Continue reading

Analyzing the minimum wage: Rights based arguments are meh

The minimum wage debate has reentered the political stage with special promotion by President Obama, starting with his State of the Union Address this past January.  The political huffing and moral rhetoric surrounding the topic may give the impression that it is a straightforward issue; on one side are the corporate employers who are watching out only for their bottom lines and their profit margins, while on the other stand the working poor who could use a  helping hand from legislators.

As is often the case in politics, the actual issues at hand are far more complex and interesting than the rhetoric would have you believe, and I think debate about the minimum wage misses not only a great deal of understanding of the other side, but also a great deal of research done on this topic.  This series of posts (next and final posts) will construct a thorough picture of the motivations behind the minimum wage through an analysis of both the politics surrounding the minimum wage as well as the extensive economic research done in the past 20 years. Continue reading

What doesn’t kill you makes you…colder

Recently, it has become fashionable to douse yourself in freezing cold ice water. Since the Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral these past few weeks, I’ve wondered about the economic efficiency of the phenomenon.  The marketing method has been highly successful; the ALS Association has raised over $15 million, obliterating the $1.8 million from the same period last year.

Source: www.stockphotosforfree.com. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

People are pretty excited to participate in a big cultural movement, especially if it’s as easy as shooting a 30 second video.  Partaking in a cultural movement where not participating means not donating or raising awareness for charity pushes even more people to do it.  It’s also easy (and important) for PR conscious celebrities (and also celebrities who care) to get in on the action. Continue reading

A Libertarian Foreign Policy

An important criticism of both libertarian political ideology and practical policy is the lack of positive goals in international relations.  Libertarians are often derided as isolationists, and even Ron Paul’s self-classification as a “non-interventionist” perpetuates the perception that libertarians can only talk about foreign policy in terms of “doing less”. But this criticism can be broadly rebutted on two fronts.  The first is that the libertarian opposition to military engagement and advocacy for military reduction is not only a healthy and needed reality check, but ultimately better for our national security.  The second is that there are other paths besides military power which should be emphasized, notably free trade, which policy in the past decade has largely ignored.  I should note that my goals in this post are pretty modest.  It is my belief that any foreign policy position labelled as libertarian would have difficulty finding mainstream acceptance, yet given these two moderate positions, I believe I can construct a foreign policy platform most ideological libertarians (and actually most Americans) would agree with. Continue reading

Links for Tuesday, February 11

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:
We have really dumb protections on sugar imports in the US because those 4500 sugar growers know their politics http://t.co/41yim0W0Ra
RT @emmakelly93: http://t.co/bXS7AB8c1u Why buying likes on Facebook not only costs you money but costs you likes from your target audience!
The Economist is all over this. You can be deported for pot violations 20 years ago. Makes no sense. http://t.co/JXHLQdoTdo
US Deportation and Border Patrol costs more than all other federal law enforcement combined http://t.co/ZyOQ61WEgq
Bill Nye did an excellent job critiquing creationism, but should he have stooped so low as to debate at all? http://t.co/yoJIDtWgS7
Not so much an LGBT rights issue as a public schools issue @emmakelly93 http://t.co/UFpo2ehIbf
RT @emmakelly93: http://t.co/dcgP8GIKqa 8 US states limit speech about homosexuality. Not quite as much as Russia, but still. #HomeOfTheFre…
Worst of the Month—January 2014, police shot a 90 pound, mentally-ill teen being held down by 2 officers http://t.co/Zch880YcCA via @NPMRP

Copyright needs Reform

You are reading an article whose copyright will expire in over a century.  Given the life expectancy of an American male born in 1992, I’m scheduled to exit the scene sometime around 2070-2075.  70 years after that, my copyrights will expire, meaning you will be free to incorporate this article into a movie or perhaps a 3D hologram, sometime around 2140.  Of course, that assumes copyright law won’t change in the intervening 130 years.  History seems to indicate otherwise, as 130 years ago, my copyright would have only lasted 56 years, which suggests my copyright might not expire until 2170, or maybe even 2200!

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Links for Tuesday, January 28

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:

RT @danielfstrunk: Response to “Think twice about 40 percent” | The Chronicle http://t.co/wpCmocgxdU via @dukechronicle

RT @EFF: The Republican National Committee formally rejects NSA mass spying. https://t.co/1sUJuoTQcF Civil liberties transcend partisan loy…

If you agree with the editorial board, sign the petition! http://t.co/JeRYAZebVs The Chronicle endorses the 40% plan! http://t.co/StYun01Un6

RT @MargRev: How well does a minimum wage boost target the poor?: There has been a recent kerfluffle over the Sabia and Bur… http://t.co/…

Selling Your Organs

In 1996, Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh, knocking out power and trees. Duke Political Science Professor Michael Munger describes the response of several citizens from a neighboring town who decided to exploit the situation.  These budding opportunist entrepreneurs rented some refrigerated trucks, filled them with ice and drove to Raleigh, where they sold the bags of ice for about $8 each.  Raleigh police eventually arrived, arrested them for price gouging, and allowed the ice to melt with virtually none distributed to the locals.

Source: ND National Guard. Click for link. Used and licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

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