Econoblog roundup

Some good stuff out there today. Steve Levitt answers questions on a wide variety of subjects:

Q: An acquaintance of mine failed his entrance interview to Oxford University’s economics program because he was asked to talk about an economics book he’d read and enjoyed. He chose Freakonomics, and the interviewers at Oxford didn’t consider it to be a “genuine economics book.” What is your reaction to this?

A: First of all, to ask a student to talk about an economics book that he read and enjoyed is basically asking him to lie…

Good point. Although the story, which I’ve heard a few times before, is probably an urban myth. (Even if someone failed an Oxford interview after talking about Freakonomics, he certainly wouldn’t be told the reason.)

Meanwhile, Tyler Cowen offers his views on prostitution:

I am sufficiently Paretian that I don’t find the exchange aspect of the relationship, or the passing of money, objectionable per se.  (Assuming, of course, that neither age nor coercion is a concern, and often both are.)  But it is still better, on the buying side, not to do it.  Once you are aware of the kind of human stories behind the other side of the market, I would think it is hard to maintain an unflagging interest in the proceedings at hand.  Nor do I think it would improve what happens in your life next.  Yes the transaction does benefit the seller in many cases, but apply the Modigliani-Miller theorem and rebundle your action into a different blend of charity and erotic self-satisfaction, all toward The Greater Good.

That’s not jargon, for those who are wondering. It is a series of technical terms.

The Undercover Economist: a guide

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