December 28, 2010
Many pregnant Taiwan women are trying to delay labour so that their births can coincide with a government bonus, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
According to the Liberty Times, two Taiwan cities - Taipei and New Taipei City - plan to give bonuses for babies born in 2011, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Republic of China (ROC), as Taiwan is formally known.
Under the programme, a baby born in 2011 can receive 20,000 Taiwan dollars (680 US dollars) if one parent is a citizen of Taipei or New Taipei City.
New Taipei City is a recently organized municipality with a 3.8 million population.
As the programme begins Saturday, the first day of 2011, many pregnant women in Taipei and New Taipei City want to delay their births until Saturday or later.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Posted by Yulie Foka at 6:31 PM
December 28, 2010
By dawn on Tuesday, the space savers were out in abundance on East Seventh Street in South Boston. Someone had staked out a neatly shoveled parking spot with a potted plant, its dead fronds trembling in the wind. Someone else had reserved a space with a hot-pink beach chair.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, the epicenter of the parking wars that erupt here after a snowstorm, the narrow streets were lined with bar stools and coolers, end tables and shopping carts, all meant as warnings: This shoveled-out space is mine until the snow melts. Occupy it at your own risk.
Marguerite Maguire, who had an orange parking cone ready to guard her spot, was hoping to avoid the kind of confrontation she got into after a 2009 snowfall, when someone tried taking her space the minute she finished clearing it.
“I told her, ‘Forget it, lady,’ and we yelled at each other for a few minutes until she pulled away,” Mrs. Maguire, 50, recalled. “I think she must have been new here.”
Though not unique to Boston — Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are among the other cities that embrace it — space-saving after snowstorms has an impassioned history here, especially in scrappy, densely populated South Boston. When snow puts parking spots at a premium, as the blizzard that just left 18 inches of snow here did, snatching someone’s marked space can lead to hurled insults, slashed tires or worse — in 2005, a man was arrested after smashing a car window with a plunger during an argument over a freshly shoveled spot.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 9:41 AM
December 29, 2010
Today, the great economist and Nobel laureate Ronald Coase will celebrate his 100th birthday. Coase’s work has revolutionized the way economists view resource conflicts. His paper “The Problem of Social Cost” challenged the widely-accepted work of Arthur C. Pigou on externalities and inspired a whole new way of thinking about environmental issues.
Unlike the Pigouvian approach, which claimed that market failure could be corrected by taxes, subsidies, and regulations, Coase taught us to view these issues in light of property rights and markets. In short, Coase taught against the use of the word “externality.”
For several years, I have been on a campaign to expunge the term “externality” from the vocabulary of economists, policy makers, and environmentalists. My campaign is not motivated by a belief that markets perfectly account for all costs and benefits. Rather it is driven by the lessons learned from entrepreneurs—the people with a passion for solving problems by finding win-win solutions. Entrepreneurs thrive in the space where there are impacts not accounted for in market transactions. It is in that space that they create gains from trade.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 8:52 AM
Sunday, December 26, 2010
November 29, 2006
In a previous article, I described the "social function" of stock speculators. In the present piece, we'll explore the role of healthy futures and forward markets in a modern economy. Of course, both parties to any voluntary exchange expect to benefit, at least ex ante — otherwise the exchange wouldn't be voluntary. But beyond this truism, it is at first unclear how anything is added when intelligent workers are sucked out of other occupations and devote their careers to trading "futures contracts." After all, these intangible financial instruments can't be eaten or used to build a house, so what good are they? The present article seeks to answer just this question.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 11:12 AM
November 22, 2006
Libertarian economists typically adopt a two-pronged approach in their advocacy of free markets. On the one hand, they stress that people have rights (whether God-given or self-evident from the exercise of reason) and therefore should be able to engage in any voluntary activities with each other, free from political interference. Unfortunately, this appeal to principle is never enough, since the type of person who votes for today's politicians doesn't care much about abstractions.
This leads to the second prong of the argument: The use of economic science to demonstrate unnoticed and often counterintuitive benefits from activities that the common man despises. For example, after pointing out that the government has no business sticking its nose into capitalist actions between consenting landlords and renters, the libertarian might use economic theory to illustrate the disastrous effects of rent control. After all, the right to property is (rightly or wrongly) easier to appreciate when populist violations of it lead to housing shortages.
It is in this spirit that I offer the present essay, an examination of the social benefits of stock speculators. Now when it comes to different ways of making a living, stock speculation certainly wouldn't make the Top Ten Most Altruistic among Oprah Winfrey viewers. Indeed, even among people who think that middlemen perform vital services in tangible commodities — such as buying oranges low in Florida, and selling them high in Alaska — there seems to be something artificial about transactions involving nothing more than electronic swapping of shares to corporations. Even among people who ought to know better, there is a presumption that stock speculation is a zero-sum game, and that if one person buys low and sells high, his gain only comes at the expense of someone else, leaving society on net exactly the same.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 11:10 AM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
December 23, 2010
Elena Panaritis at TEDxAthens 2010, in Athens, Greece, gives a great talk on property rights.
December 23, 2010
Elena Panaritis at TEDxAthens 2010, in Athens, Greece, gives a great talk on property rights.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
December 21, 2010
As the nation continued to struggle in the recession in 2009, the rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall, pushing the teen birth rate to a record low, federal officials reported Tuesday.
The birth rate among U.S. girls aged 15 to 19 fell to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That's a 6 percent drop from 2008 and the lowest rate ever recorded in the nearly 70 years that the federal government has been collecting reliable data, according to a preliminary analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
"The decline in teen births is really quite amazing," said Brady E. Hamilton, who helped perform the analysis.
The drop marked the second year in a row the birth rate among teens fell, meaning it has dropped for 16 out of the past 18 years. The 8 percent two-year decline strengthens the belief that a two-year increase during the preceding two years was an aberration.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 3:29 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
December 20, 2010
In California, where foreclosures are more abundant than in any other state, homeowners trying to win a loan modification have always had a tough time.
Now they face yet another obstacle: hiring a lawyer.
Sharon Bell, a retiree who lives in Laguna Niguel, southeast of Los Angeles, needs a modification to keep her home. She says she is scared of her bank and its plentiful resources, so much so that she cannot even open its certified letters inquiring where her mortgage payments may be. Yet the half-dozen lawyers she has called have refused to represent her.
“They said they couldn’t help,” said Ms. Bell, 63. “But I’ve got to find help, because I’m dying every day.”
Lawyers throughout California say they have no choice but to reject clients like Ms. Bell because of a new state law that sharply restricts how they can be paid. Under the measure, passed overwhelmingly by the State Legislature and backed by the state bar association, lawyers who work on loan modifications cannot receive any money until the work is complete. The bar association says that under the law, clients cannot put retainers in trust accounts.
The law, which has few parallels in other states, was devised to eliminate swindles in which modification firms made promises about what their lawyers could do, charged hefty fees and then disappeared. But foreclosure specialists say there has been an unintended consequence: the honest lawyers can no longer afford to assist Ms. Bell and all the others who feel helpless before lenders that they see as elusive, unyielding and skilled at losing paperwork.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 3:22 AM
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Macey tells how heightened government oversight has put a stranglehold on what is the best protection against malfeasance by self-serving management: the market itself. Corporate governance, he shows, is about keeping promises to shareholders; failure to do so results in diminished investor confidence, which leads to capital flight and other dire economic consequences. Macey explains the relationship between corporate governance and the various market and nonmarket institutions and mechanisms used to control public corporations; he discusses how nonmarket corporate governance devices such as boards and whistle-blowers are highly susceptible to being co-opted by management and are generally guided more by self-interest and personal greed than by investor interests. In contrast, market-driven mechanisms such as trading and takeovers represent more reliable solutions to the problem of corporate governance. Inefficient regulations are increasingly hampering these important and truly effective corporate controls. Macey examines a variety of possible means of corporate governance, including shareholder voting, hedge funds, and private equity funds.
Corporate Governance reveals why the market is the best guardian of shareholder interests.
Jonathan R. Macey is the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law at Yale Law School. He is the author of a number of books, including Macey on Corporation Laws.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 1:42 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
December 15, 2010
We human beings sure are gullible. Polls report that 27 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, and 25 percent in astrology. Others believe mediums, fortunetellers, faith healers and assorted magical phenomena.
I'd think the astrologers or the psychics or the ghost hunters would be eager to prove they were for real. Not only would they convince skeptics, they'd make a million dollars.
That's what James Randi, the magician, author and debunker of bogus claims, will pay anyone who can prove he or she actually has an ability that can't be explained by science.
"All people have to do is make a claim, come to us, fill out the form, arrange a protocol, and then we have somebody else do the test," Randi says. He won't do the test himself, he says, because when psychics failed in the past, they claimed that Randi put out "evil vibrations" to thwart their powers.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 1:26 PM
January - February 2011
Does growing wealth and income inequality in the United States presage the downfall of the American republic? Will we evolve into a new Gilded Age plutocracy, irrevocably split between the competing interests of rich and poor? Or is growing inequality a mere bump in the road, a statistical blip along the path to greater wealth for virtually every American? Or is income inequality partially desirable, reflecting the greater productivity of society’s stars?
There is plenty of speculation on these possibilities, but a lot of it has been aimed at elevating one political agenda over another rather than elevating our understanding. As a result, there’s more confusion about this issue than just about any other in contemporary American political discourse. The reality is that most of the worries about income inequality are bogus, but some are probably better grounded and even more serious than even many of their heralds realize. If our economic churn is bound to throw off political sparks, whether alarums about plutocracy or something else, we owe it to ourselves to seek out an accurate picture of what is really going on. Let’s start with the subset of worries about inequality that are significantly overblown.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 1:20 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Building on the work of James Mirrlees, Anthony Atkinson and Joseph Stiglitz, and subsequent researchers, and in the spirit of classics by A. C. Pigou, William Vickrey, and Richard Musgrave, this book steps back from particular lines of inquiry to consider the field as a whole, including the relationships among different fiscal instruments. Louis Kaplow puts forward a framework that makes it possible to rigorously examine both distributive and distortionary effects of particular policies despite their complex interactions with others. To do so, various reforms--ranging from commodity or estate and gift taxation to regulation and public goods provision--are combined with a distributively offsetting adjustment to the income tax. The resulting distribution-neutral reform package holds much constant while leaving in play the distinctive effects of the policy instrument under consideration. By applying this common methodology to disparate subjects, The Theory of Taxation and Public Economics produces significant cross-fertilization and yields solutions to previously intractable problems.
Louis Kaplow is the Finn M. W. Caspersen and Household International Professor of Law and Economics at Harvard, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published widely on the theory of taxation and public economics.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 1:54 PM
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Timur Kuran argues that what slowed the economic development of the Middle East was not colonialism or geography, still less Muslim attitudes or some incompatibility between Islam and capitalism. Rather, starting around the tenth century, Islamic legal institutions, which had benefitted the Middle Eastern economy in the early centuries of Islam, began to act as a drag on development by slowing or blocking the emergence of central features of modern economic life--including private capital accumulation, corporations, large-scale production, and impersonal exchange. By the nineteenth century, modern economic institutions began to be transplanted to the Middle East, but its economy has not caught up. And there is no quick fix today. Low trust, rampant corruption, and weak civil societies--all characteristic of the region's economies today and all legacies of its economic history--will take generations to overcome.
The Long Divergence opens up a frank and honest debate on a crucial issue that even some of the most ardent secularists in the Muslim world have hesitated to discuss.
Timur Kuran is professor of economics and political science and the Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism (Princeton).
Posted by Yulie Foka at 2:11 PM
Sunday, December 5, 2010
December 4, 2010
Michelle Pont and her husband amassed millions of dollars in properties and investments from a freight-hauling business that they started with a single stake-bed truck in 1991. They bought a four-bedroom home, then a second home, a vacation home, a motor home and half a dozen cars.
But when Ms. Pont decided to seek a divorce last year, she quickly ran out of money. She had no job. Her husband controlled the family’s investments. A few months of legal bills maxed out her credit cards and drained her retirement account.
She wrestled with accepting a smaller settlement than she considered fair. Then a lawyer referred her to Balance Point Divorce Funding, a new Beverly Hills lender that offers to cover the cost of breaking up — paying a lawyer, searching for hidden assets, maintaining a lifestyle — in exchange for a share of the winnings.
In October, Balance Point agreed to invest more than $200,000 in Ms. Pont’s case.
“It’s given me hope,” Ms. Pont said. “I don’t view it as a loan; I view it as an investment in my future. They are helping me to get what is rightfully mine.”
|Stacey Napp is the founder of Balance Point Divorce Funding|
Posted by Yulie Foka at 11:12 AM