Home » Search Results
A few years ago, we wrote a column (related material here) about the unintended consequences of Jane Fonda — that is, how anti-nuclear-power activism as epitomized by Fonda’s character in the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome helped halt the growth of nuclear power in the U.S. The timing of the film couldn’t have been better: 12 days after its release, an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania spooked the nation into Fonda’s arms — even though, in retrospect, that accident was far less serious than initially thought.
Many other countries, in the meantime, embraced nuclear power. But if you thought the China Syndrome/Three Mile Island combo was devastating to a nuclear future, consider the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. On May 11, Japan announced that it was shelving plans to scale up its nuclear energy capacity. Two weeks later, Germany announced plans to end all nuclear power generation by 2022. The Swiss have vowed to end nuclear power by 2034; and the Italians voted down plans to restart the country’s nuclear power program. Read More »
Ever since writing a post last fall asking what Derek Jeter is worth to the Yankees, I’ve been sent a number of requests asking how to best forecast the date when Jeter would get his 3,000th hit so as to be present for that special game.
Sorry, but I put very little thought into this problem. Why? Mostly out of self-interest: for me, this problem wasn’t much of a problem. I live in New York so if I wanted to try to see that game, I’d just wait until Jeter got fairly close and then buy tickets for an upcoming game. I had no travel or other issues to work around. Read More »
The FBI recently announced that the number of violent crimes fell 5.5 percent in 2010, with property crimes falling 2.8 percent. This extends the dramatic reduction in crime that began in the 1990s. The Times declared that criminologists were baffled by the news, and Levitt was baffled by their bafflement:
Apparently, everyone expected crime to rise because of the weak economy, which I find strange, because there is zero evidence of any relationship between violent crime and the economy, and a relatively weak one between property crime and the economy. Plus, relative to 2009, the economy in 2010 was substantially improved.
We spent an entire chapter in Freakonomics exploring the factors that do and do not seem to have brought down the rate of violent crime in the U.S. In short, factors that matter include: number of police; number of prisoners; changes in drug markets; and the availability of abortion. And those that don’t seem to much matter: the economy; innovative policing strategies; most gun laws; capital punishment; and demographics.
There is of course no reason for anyone to have complete confidence in the arguments we presented, even if they were more empirical than most arguments about crime. Still, as Levitt said in the excerpt above, it is surprising that so many people seem wedded to the view that the economy drives violent crime even when the evidence supports the contrary.
It’s funny — when we ran a quorum recently asking what should be done about insider trading, no one mentioned cracking down on Congress. Maybe they should have?
I investigate whether politicians take advantage of their privileged information that comes with their positions in power. Analyzing the trading records of Congressional members, I find that informed trades beat the market by 8.2%. As these gains accrue over the short term, my findings are suggestive of informed trading based on time-sensitive information.
And a couple of choice paragraphs:
Read More »
Despite the potential for exploitation, Congressional members are generally free to invest in companies they help oversee. In addition, existing insider-trading laws do not apply to lawmakers. Probably to no one’s surprise, proposed bills to eliminate insider trading among Congressional members garnered little support on Capitol Hill.
As I type these words, the biggest insider-trading trial in years, that of Raj Rajaratnam, has just gone to the jury. I haven’t followed the trial too closely, but the gist is evident: the line between “insider trading” and the legitimate, if sharp-elbowed, acquisition of useful trading information is extremely blurry. This is hardly the only insider case at the moment. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, famously said last fall that “illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise.” So it seemed a good time to put together a Freakonomics Quorum and ask a couple of straightforward questions. Read More »
Diehard baseball fans know that the season doesn’t really end with the World Series. It just downshifts a bit, as J.C. Bradbury explains in his new book Hot Stove Economics: “The final out of the World Series marks the beginning of baseball’s second season, when teams court free agents and orchestrate trades with the hope of building a championship contender. The real and anticipated transactions generate excitement among fans who discuss the merit of moves in the arena informally known as the ‘hot stove league.’” Read More »
It’s shaping up to be a most interesting year on the tax front. A recent Freakonomics quorum focused on potential tax-policy mistakes that might be made this year, with so many issues up in the air. It brought up concerns about everything from expiring tax cuts to the federal deficit to the lack of clarity surrounding even this year’s tax code. Read More »
This year’s midterm elections promise to be a bit more eventful than usual, with predictions of seismic change in Congress and in many statehouses, most of it in a blue-to-red direction. But predictions aren’t elections; and even if the predictions hold true, what happens next? Read More »