Monday, 4 May 2020

Publications, April

Premier at Institute for Energy Research, a consistently brilliant outlet that I use a lot in my environmental writing. I'm really happy about this addition and looking forward to hopefully working with the IER staff in the future.

Apart from that, it's been a month of heavily concentrated writing: AIER and some brief comment on my own Medium page - but a ton of mentions everywhere. The coolest must be that Princeton University Press, publisher of Case and Deaton's Deaths of Despair, added me to their official Reviews page. Holy. Moly.

  • [1] '10,000 Swipes Later', a numerical/personal experience of Tindering in the last few weeks. Not great numbers, but not as awful as I thought either. Still, this app ranks close to the most miserable useless things I've ever encountered (yes, bitterness). 
  • [2] 'The Coronavirus Pandemic is Not Exponential', where I make the commonsensical math claim that the growth of this disease is S-shaped, not exponential. And discuss how rare and how astonishing truly exponential phenomena are in our world. 
  • [3] 'No, Capitalism Did Not Fail', a neat and floridly-written piece laying out how resilient and impressive private enterprise has been during the corona crisis. 
  • [4] 'Prices Should Change in a Pandemic Shutdown', where I argued that as prices contain information about available supply and production capacities and consumer wants, forcing prices not to change when massive things like pandemic shutdowns happen is stupid. Update prices, please, so we can operate on today's information instead of yesterday's. 
    • Republished at WallStreetWindow
    • Shared on News Break, a site I've never heard of. 
    • Picked up by Don Boudreaux's Café Hayek and even got a little paragraph of mine there. I did finish that piece by citing him, so I guess a little reciprocity is OK.  
  • [5] 'Mortality Rates Were Already Rising in America. Why?', where I tried to combine a recount of Anne Case and Angus Deaton's Deaths of Despair with the on-going coronavirus shutdown. There is an economic/social/community connection that I fear: that the sacrifices we do to contain the spread have large unintended consequences, some part of them being Deaths of Despair. That future won't be bright. 
    • Listed on Princeton University PressReview section for Case and Deaton's book. Ye, I'm absolutely stunned:

  • [6] 'The Scandinavian Experiment: Open vs Close', a trade-off piece with lots of provocative heat. I updated my arguments from What Has Sweden Done Right On Coronavirus? by comparing the almost perfect natural experiment of Denmark/Norway vs Sweden along two dimensions. In the media debate right now, the only dimension that matter is NUMBER OF DEAD (only occasionally as a share of population) and once in a while total spread. I placed that analysis in a more economic perspective by adding number of job losses/furloughed workers. As we don't yet have GDP numbers or increases of gov debt, that's the best I can do. When looking at two dimensions instead of one (death matters - but so do losing your job and all the financial and social ills they proxy for), the knee-jerk reaction of most policy-makers of closing their society looks like an exaggeration. As in many things, we should probably be more like Sweden. 
  • [7] 'It's Not Capitalism Bringing Us Deaths of Despair', a follow-up to the Mortality piece above, where I criticized Case and Deaton's surprisingly conspiratorial explanation for why working class Americans have been killing themselves in troves. Health care capitalism did it, the authors claim, in an explanation that makes very little sense. Really, now...
  • [8] 'Individual Freedom Works for Disease Mitigation, says WHO', a short piece where I noted the comment by Michael Ryan at the WHO that Sweden is a model for how to deal with pandemics. For illustration, then, I showed how the Swedish daily deaths had long since peaked, and that apples-to-apples comparison between the U.S. and Sweden (not country-level, but epicenter/metropolitan comparison) should be between New York City and Stockholm. In that light, NYC fares worse.  
Institute for Energy Research (IER)

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