Dec 21, 2011

Il Cervellone

In questi giorni trovo spesso rifugio su Chicago Blog... Oggi Manuel Seri:

  1. Infine gli effetti. Tutti i dati di tutti i cittadini immagazzinati nell’enorme memoria dell’Anagrafe Tributaria verranno aggregati, disaggregati, manipolati, selezionati, incrociati, … ed infine elaborati per ottenere un elenco di situazioni anomale agganciate a singoli specifici codici fiscali identificativi di ignari Contribuenti contro cui rivolgere l’azione di recupero da parte del Fisco; a quel punto i malcapitati (chiunque) dovranno spiegare e dimostrare documentalmente di essere stati fiscalmente leali a qualcuno che non avrà alcun interesse di capire (anzi, avrà l’interesse opposto di raggiungere un budget preventivamente assegnato e di partecipare ai vantaggi variamente derivanti dagli incentivi interni all’Amministrazione finanziaria) e dovranno obtorto collo lasciare sul campo una bella fetta dei loro risparmi (o addirittura indebitarsi per lo scopo) per pagare le tasse su ciò che non hanno guadagnato (ma il Fisco presume per legge che lo abbiano fatto) o per pagarsi un professionista che li dovrà difendere e per versare intanto una parte di quelle tasse (perché l’accertamento sarà immediatamente esecutivo per una parte dell’accertato) nella speranza sempre più labile che dopo uno, due o tre gradi di Giudizio avrà finalmente ragione (sic!).
Notizie sul Cervellone maxi-computer del Fisco qui.


Dec 18, 2011

Accumulazione e Crescita

Nel decennio 1960-1970 il PIL del Giappone quintuplicò. I leader dell’epoca avevano afferrato un principio empirico importante: l’incidenza fiscale non deve mai superare il 20% del PIL.
Gerardo Coco su Chicago Blog

Dec 3, 2011

Nota Etica e Passionale Sul Controllo Statale

Tassare o vietare l'uso del contante significa imporre ai cittadini onesti un obbligo illegittimo (forse incostituzionale - Thomas Tassani su lavoce.info in risposta a Milena Gabanelli). Il fatto di essere onesto non implica essere disposto a farsi controllare. Aggiungerei provocatoriamente: specialmente da uno Stato che ti tassa a sangue (abbiamo la più alta tassazione d'Europa e nonostante questo un debito pubblico enorme), spende male, presuppone la tua malafede e non è in grado di colpire i veri evasori...

Nov 23, 2011

Lost Graduate Students in Economics

Advices for Graduate students from Ariel Rubinstein (pdf)
(source Greg Mankiw)

And me? Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing here? What should I do?
...

Nov 8, 2011

Thoughts on the Ubuntu and Unity

Finally I tried it.

I must start by saying that I did not like Unity in Ubuntu 11.04, but I did not spend much time in it, so I did not have the time to really understand the idea behind it. However I was curious on the project and I could see some reasons for it. It looked weird and buggy anyway, so I just applied a "wait and see" policy...

Now I am on Ubuntu 11.10.
The design and the usability are much improved. It looks nice, it works smoothly. I had no problems, so after some general comments on Ubuntu as an OS, I will focus on the Unity desktop, which is quite a hot topic at the moment, and give my thoughts on it.

My conclusions? Ubuntu is getting better and better, and Unity can become a great unique interface.

Oct 20, 2011

Cuts on Education


Crime
Around the world, incarceration and conviction rates are high among the least educated. A number of recent studies find that this correlation reflects a causal relationship.
[...]

Health
Recent evidence suggests that educational attainment also improves health.
[...]

Democracy
More educated societies tend to be more democratic, but does education actually improve citizenship and political engagement? Three recent individual-based analyses suggest that it does.[...]
More generally, education appears to increase political interest and other forms of political participation, as well as the extent to which individuals are informed about politics.

Lance Lochner

Oct 19, 2011

Avere un Blog (di Economia)

Interessante ricerca sull'economia dei blog di economia:
First, links from blogs cause a striking increase in the number of abstract views and downloads of economics papers. Second, blogging raises the profile of the blogger (and his or her institution) and boosts their reputation above economists with similar publication records. Finally, a blog can transform attitudes about some of the topics it covers.

e relativo commento sul blog di Paolo Manasse:
Dunque i blog di economia, almeno, quelli più diffusi, incidono sulla visibilità dei risultati scientifici presentati, sulla reputazione dei propri autori e sulle opinioni dei lettori: tre buone ragioni per perderci un po' di tempo. Ma c'è n'è una specifica per l'Italia, dove la concentrazione proprietaria nei media tradizionali, oltre ad abbassare visibilmente la qualità dell'informazione (economica e non), ne preclude l'accesso a quanti non facciano parte di una "elite" e/o non vogliano schierarsi con questo o quel partito/lobby: rompere gli oligopoli e liberare le idee.

Io aggiungo alcune delle mie motivazioni personali, motivazioni totalmente indipendenti dal fatto che il mio blog abbia dei lettori: tenermi un po' informato; raccogliere le mie stesse riflessioni, gli articoli e i link che ho di volta in volta ritenuto interessanti, per poterli ritrovare eventualmente in futuro; costringermi ad esprimere ed esplicitare in maniera vagamente ordinata i miei stessi pensieri che magari, se non dovessi fare lo sforzo di metterli in un post leggibile, rimarrebbero molto più confusi.

Insomma io trovo che il mio blog sia utile a me stesso, se poi qualcun altro lo troverà utile a qualcosa, ben venga.



If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein

Oct 10, 2011

Euro Tobin tax, FTT etc.

Years ago I used to find the idea appealing, and it is in some respects.
Now I am not so sure, even though I believe I have to think more about it.
I have the feeling it is not a good idea, not now, for Europe, not for Italy.
And I have two questions that I find crucial:
Who will ultimately pay it?
Isn't it just another tax, do we need more taxes?
Do we really need more taxes and a larger government in Italy?
Let's start getting an opinion...

Rogoff:
...while raising so much revenue with so low a tax rate sounds grand, the declining volume of trades would shrink the tax base precipitously. As a result, the ultimate revenue gains are likely to prove disappointing, as Sweden discovered when it attempted to tax financial transactions two decades ago. Worse still, over the long run, the tax burden would shift. Higher transactions taxes increase the cost of capital, ultimately lowering investment. With a lower capital stock, output would trend downward, reducing government revenues and substantially offsetting the direct gain from the tax. In the long run, wages would fall, and ordinary workers would end up bearing a significant share of the cost.

Oct 8, 2011

Stallman in Black and White


Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.
Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.

I do not think I can agree with this words.

Oct 5, 2011

Oscurantismo Web

Wikipedia Italia is closing in anticipation of the s.c. "legge ammazza-blog"...

Dear reader,
at this time, the Italian language Wikipedia may be no longer able to continue providing the service that over the years was useful to you, and that you expected to have right now. As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced to actually delete it. [...]

Continue at:
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Comunicato_4_ottobre_2011/en

At least Nonciclopedia is still there, even after the Vasco Rossi case...

Cartoons


Oct 3, 2011

SanCarloalleMortelle: Il vecchio terribile

Rimando con piacere ad un post su un mio parente.

SanCarloalleMortelle: Il vecchio terribile: Più di un amico (ma in particolare l'Avvocato Luciano Trimarco suo "simpatizzante"), mi ha chiesto di conoscere qualche dato in più sulla fi...

Sep 29, 2011

GDP, Happiness and the Easterlin paradox

Some words for non-economists (and for economists) about why GDP is a great measure. It correlates with many different things, and it even gives us hints about happiness even though it is not designed to do that. Afterall economists have some reasons to focus on it.

Sep 26, 2011

3 attacchi alla concorrenza e alla libertà

Io avrei altro da fare e vorrei anche scrivere di tematiche più strettamente economiche, ma è più forte di me...

Attacco 1 - Windows 8
Da un lato si discute del "secure boot" del prossimo Windows 8, basato su UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).
La Microsoft benevola sempre più attenta alla nostra sicurezza inserirà nei nostri PC un sistema di chiavi che autorizzeranno l'installazione solo di programmi (driver delle parti hardware, altri sistemi operativi e applicazioni varie) certificati (mi scuso per le imprecisioni, non sono un tecnico; rimando qui, qui, qui e qui per dettagli).

Jul 29, 2011

Mobile Phones

In the USA, Android is the 1st OS, but Apple is the largest single seller (nielsenwire).
We have Apple with a share of 28%, followed by HTC and Blackberry both at 20%. So these 3 companies alone account for about 70% of the market (postpaid mobile subscribers).
I find this quite oligopolistic and I wonder if this depends on the monopoly power provided by excessive intellectual property...
Anyway the iphone for sure is a good product, it's cool, is well designed, the software is smooth and it just works (provided you use it exactly the way Apple wants you to use it - to make some criticism - which also tends to imply paying Apple to monopolize your technological life and lock you in...).
Yet I find this amazing considering the price of their products and Apple's policy of total closeness.
Is mobile phones dominated by the most expensive and supposedly one of the highest quality variety?
How do other verieties compare in terms of quality or perceived quality? Are people aware of companies policies in terms of openness and does that affects their choice and their perception of product quality?
I would be courious to have data on that and about marketing costs, R&D, patents and their costs also in terms of legal actions...
But let me forget about economics and take this news as an excuse to make some thoughts about how smartphones affect people's life, at least in my experience. Or more precisely how people tend to misuse their smartphones, which when properly used, are great tools.

Jul 24, 2011

I wanna be an Italian Parlamentarian

Parlamentarians income and GDP per capita. Guess where is Italy...
 (from lavoce.info)

Jul 23, 2011

Pessimismo e Fastidio

Riflessioni libere pessimistiche casuali, con particolare riferimento al mercato del lavoro, sul paese che amo e nel quale vorrei vivere se mi verrà consentito.

Ho trovato una lista interessante di cose che impediscono una vita dignitosa in Italia, cose che si dovrebbero imitare al più presto da altri paesi (la lista si riferisce all'Inghilterra), cose facili, a volte banali, ma che nel complesso hanno spinto e spingono molti italiani a lasciare la propria terra con l'amaro in bocca. Perché alla fine il tempo che abbiamo è limitato e non tutti sono disposti a fare i martiri. Qualcuno ci è costretto dagli eventi della vita, ma alcuni riescono cercarsi una vita migliore.

Jul 22, 2011

Evenett on Protectionism

Simon J Evenett on protectionism from voxeu.org. Here some thoughts on post crisis trade collapse.


Jul 16, 2011

Water: Meanwhile in the rest of the world...

Should water supply be national or private?
We Italians had a referendum abouth water. It became a hot topic, since it was sold as a matter of deciding whether water is a public good or not, and many people voted with this idea in mind. But actually that was not the matter at all. The question was quite more technical, but I am not going to talk about that here. You can find information elsewhere.
I did not have the possibility to vote and sincerily I do not really know what I would have voted.
Anyway, the debate in Italy was quite on the ethical side, contrasting freedom and efficiency of private markets on the one hand and the evils of private profits taking control over a public good and a human right on the other. Few serious analysis came into the public debate, maybe because they were too technical and not suited for the public, or maybe because only few people bothered looking at them.
I do not want to say that one should not vote on the ground of sentiments, ideals, rights, social and ethical beliefs. That's one of the highest moment in a democracy, a fundamental one, when the matter requires this kind of judgment. But this was not the case of our last referendum, at least not only.

Here an interesting article from Borraz-GonzalesPampillon-Olarreaga on water nationalization vs privatization. The case study is South America, Uruguay in particular.

Our results suggest that the nationalisation of water services had a positive and statistically significant impact on access to the sanitation network, in particular among the poorest households. [...]
Nationalisation seemed to have led to higher quality of water as well. Indeed, the impact of nationalisation on the detection of abnormal levels in microbiological and inorganic water tests is always negative and has a relatively large coefficient, suggesting that nationalisation led to an improvement in water quality. [...]
To summarise, it seems that in Uruguay the public operator provided a service of equal, if not better, quality than the one previously provided by private firms.

Jul 14, 2011

Ancora sulle ragioni dell'attacco e il resto


Nell'ultimo post mi chiedevo se "l'attacco" all'Italia fosse giustificabile o meno in base ai fondamentali economici. Non sono in grado di darmi una risposta. Da un lato la situazione Italiana economicamente e politicamente è disastrosa, dall'altro ci sono notevoli differenze con altri paesi che hanno avuto problemi.
Sono anni che leggo articoli che si aspettano un imminente crollo del paese o roba simile, e ho letto numerosi articoli che fanno notare alcuni punti di minor debolezza dell'Italia rispetto alla Grecia.
In altre parole, come spesso accade, molti dei commentatori cercano di razionalizzare e prevedere quello che potrebbe succedere, ognuno con i suoi ragionamenti più o meno sensati.

Jul 12, 2011

Italy, with or without reasons?

It looks like Italian markets are under attack.
There may be good reasons for that, like general structural weakness. But Italy is not Greece and there are also good reasons why many people would not expect an Italian default.

Of course, whether markets will continue to provide Italy with sufficient financing depends not only on macroeconomic and fiscal fundamentals, but also on factors that are outside of Italy’s control (such as investors’ appetite for European debt).
Edward Hugh

So, much of Italy’s interest burden is paid to Italians, and some of it is paid back to the government as taxes. As a result, Italy’s public debt dynamics are better than those of the PIGS.
The PIGS' external debt problem (May 8, 2010)

L’Italia ha un alto debito pubblico (come i greci) ma un deficit pubblico che è diventato relativamente basso rispetto alla media euro. Ha un’ottima capacità di penetrare nei mercati esteri, con l’export di prodotti della meccanica, del tessile, abbigliamento, cuoio e calzature (erano in tutto 140 miliardi di euro nel 2008).
[...] Con questi fondamentali, se gli speculatori vorranno attaccare Italia, Spagna e Irlanda si bruceranno le dita.
Perché i PIGS no esistono (May 4, 2010)


Jul 5, 2011

Diretta "La Notte della Rete"

 
UPDATE: ecco la registrazione dell'evento

Sotto l'email inviata dai promotori dell'iniziativa.

Jun 27, 2011

Censura Agcom?

Sembra che l'argomento della proprietà intellettuale sia molto caldo al momento, o forse sono io che mi sto interessando alla questione. In ogni caso visti gli ultimi miei post, mi sembra doveroso segnalare questa campagna su Sito non raggiungibile, promossa da Adiconsum, Agorà Digitale, Altroconsumo, Assonet-Confesercenti, Assoprovider-Confcommercio e Studio Legale Sarzana.
(l'audio è un po' fastidioso, consiglio di abbasare il volume)

Jun 23, 2011

Rio View

A pic from my brother (click to enlarge)

Jun 20, 2011

Buone Notizie, Cattivi Pirati, Fini e Mezzi

Buone notizie che però vengono spacciate per atti criminosi e nocivi per il "sistema" in base a ragionamenti deboli (o almeno non provati in alcun modo) e leggi sbagliate che hanno perso di vista il loro fine sociale.
Per me sono buone notizie e cercherò di spegare brevemente le mie ragioni.

La notizia, che ho letto qui, è che in Italia la "pirateria" è relativamente alta.

Il quasi monopolista Microsoft presenta un rapporto sulla "pirateria" in cui l'Italia viene inserita nel libro nero delle nazioni con tasso di contraffazione più elevato.

Jun 2, 2011

Festival dell'Economia di Trento 2011

Qui il link allo streaming in diretta!
Da non perdere dal 2 al 5 giugno.

Il link dell'evento: 2011.festivaleconomia.eu

May 31, 2011

Teaching and Learning

An interesting post from Mark Thoma and Frances Woolley about young students not being good in math and being quite dependant on calculators.
I think there is nothing wrong in using calculators as a tool, but surely people should have a sound understanding of things before using them. And this applies to many others things as well.
The point is why do young students seem to be so bad at math and so dependant on calculators even for elementary operations? And of course this leads to the question of how should we teach math and everything else.
My idea is that sometimes the way things are thaught makes student more prone to memorizing or learning how to apply some rules, without deeply understanding them. Sometimes a superficial understanding and a good memory are enough for a good grade, while perhaps the opposite would be more desirable (altough clearly not the first best). Exams should try to test understanding, more than knowledge. Moreover I believe that a deep understanding helps memory as well.

Quoting Eric Mazur:
You can forget facts, but you cannot forget understanding.


Here a debate from the last days about Education in Italy and about the Invalsi test in particular.
Articles: Tito Boeri 1 e 2 su Repubblica.
Analysis: Erich Battistin e Antonio Schizzerotto su lavoce.info.

May 29, 2011

Italy in Stop Motion

There is a weird debate in Italy about our income and how many people are poor, are becoming poor or are at risk of becoming poor...
Istat presented its last annual report, which of course is not so entusiastic about Italian position. Then the minister Giulio Tremonti said he doesn't trust those data and that Italian economy is not that bad (apparently he has a private secret data source), the media reported wrong statistics etc.
In this post I am trying to gather some material and look at some facts.

May 20, 2011

A Tale of Freedom and the Right to Read

I already posted something about copyright and intellectual monopoly here.
I think the tale titled "The Right to Read" by Richard Stallman is quite nice and relevant.
It is not just about software, but about intellectual monopoly in general.
Here however I want to talk about books...
(UPDATE: and of course ebooks and DRM - Digital Rights Management - ita)

From “The Road To Tycho,” a collection of articles about the antecedents of the Lunarian Revolution, published in Luna City in 2096

For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college—when Lissa Lenz asked to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow another, she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except Dan.
This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her—but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first.

May 17, 2011

The Pin Factory

Without any specific reason, I decided to post some stuff that I find worth being on my blog.


In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.

Apr 2, 2011

Rich Uneducated Parlamentarians

Here a graph from lavoce.info. There is no comment to add.
Source: V. Galasso, M. Landi, A. Mattozzi, A. Merlo, in "Classe dirigente" (Egea, 2010)

Apr 1, 2011

Cargo Cult Economics?

I've read this article, which is quite famous, but I didn't know it. And it's never too late to read good stuff.
What I found in the speech of Richard Feynman just expresses, much better than I could, some of the doubts sometimes I have on the way economics is going on. Are we sometimes close to Cargo Cult?

Cargo Cult Science (R. Feynman, 1974)

Mar 17, 2011

Will the Crisis Break the Dogma? (if there is one)

And will more heterodox approaches to economic thinking receive more attention?

Compared to today, suggested Blanchard, macroeconomics pre-1940 looks like “a period where confusion reigned, for lack of an integrated framework”.

According to his account, the inter-temporal general equilibrium model provided that missing framework. Now, ten years later, we can see that framework in a different light, as the origin of the “beauty” that economists mistook for truth, and apparently still do, if only by force of intellectual habit. The important takeaway is that the crisis has opened the ground for alternative frameworks as well as tweaks of the existing one.
Mark Thoma

Mar 14, 2011

Japan, Before and After

I am quite off-line these days. But this is worth posting, just to have an idea of how devastating the earthquake was.

(source: NYT)
  

[UPDATE] Other pics
(source: LaRepubblica)

Feb 25, 2011

My GNU/Linux experience

A couple of years ago, maybe more, I started getting curious about GNU/Linux. Now I mostly use Ubuntu as my only operative system. That's my story...

Feb 16, 2011

Disuguaglianza e concentrazione della ricchezza

Nel post del 4 febbraio "Il rimpallo del debito, i sudditi e le tasse" ho citato un dato, ovvero che il 10% più ricco degli italiani detiene il 45% della ricchezza del paese. Ora vediamo se questo è un livello di concentrazione della ricchezza alto o basso e se ci dice qualcosa sulla disuguaglianza.

Feb 9, 2011

Trade, exchange rates, budget and interest rates

A nice table from The Economist. Trade balance, exchange rates, budget balance and interest rates.

Feb 8, 2011

Wine, Quality and Trade Facts

I enjoyed the wine tasting at Roma VinoExcellence. I tried several wines, from sparkling, white and rosé, to white, red and sweet. I had a tasting of Austrian sweet wines, Eiswine etc. (try them with cheese!) Very hard job indeed...

I had the feeling that producers were actually doing their job with passion, but I am not writing to judge the quality or to tell you my impressions. You find that elsewhere, for instance here.

I want to take an economic perspective instead.
So here some data about the wine industry, with a focus on Italian wine.

Feb 5, 2011

100 tasse 100

Ecco una bella lista di tasse da pagare. Tra "paleo tasse", "tasse esoteriche", "tasse in maschera", "tasse macabre" e "tasse fantasma" c'è l'imbarazzo della scelta...
Anzi no: dovete pagarle tutte!

Anche queste:
53. Manomorta sui lumini. Si tratta del cosiddetto business dell'elettroilluminazione votiva. Il costo effettivo dell'illuminazione di un lumino, trattandosi di una lampadina in bassa tensione, anche considerando la sua sostituzione periodica, è inferiore ad un euro all'anno. Eppure le società che gestiscono il servizio grazie ad appalti spesso ventennali, incassano mediamente 15 euro all'anno (16,58 a Milano, 24,24 euro per la Acea di Roma). Per aggiunta, sulle bollette si deve pagare l'Iva!

72. Benzina d'Abissinia. Dal 1935 al prelievo sulla benzina vengono annesse imposizioni fiscali per far fronte ad un impegno militare o ad un disastro civile. Troviamo la prima accisa sulla benzina di 1,90 lire nel 1935 per finanziare la guerra di Abissinia, quella di 14 lire per la crisi di Suez nel 1956, quella di 10 lire per il disastro del Vajont nel 1963, 10 lire per far fronte all'alluvione di Firenze nel 1966, le 10 lire per il terremoto nel Belice nel 1968, 99 lire per il terremoto del Friuli nel 1976, 75 lire per il terremoto in Irpinia nel 1980, 205 lire per la missione in Libano (1983), 22 lire per la missione in Bosnia nel 1996. La penultima accisa la ritroviamo nel 2003 per trovare i fondi necessari al rinnovo del contratto degli autoferrotranvieri, circa 0,02 euro di accise addizionale sui carburanti. L'ultima accisa, decisa nel febbraio 2005, per finanziare il rinnovo degli autobus inquinanti nel trasporto pubblico. Ancora oggi nel fare benzina ben 0,25 euro sono pagate per questi motivi.

E ricordatevi che in Italia nei confronti del Fisco c'è l'inversione dell'onere della prova. Ovvero siete colpevoli fino a prova contraria. L'onere della prova è a carico dell'accusato... Prendete una persona a caso, la accusate di aver evaso 1 milione di euro 10 anni prima e gli dite: ora dimostrami che non è vero?

Feb 4, 2011

Il rimpallo del debito, i sudditi e le tasse

Con la crisi abbiamo visto di tutto. Salvataggi arbitrari, fallimenti arbitrari. Governi che mentono. L'esplosione dei debiti pubblici. Crisi valutarie. Crisi di fiducia. Fallimento di Stati. Governi che si accusano l'un l'altro. Ritorni di fiamma protezionistici. L'euro che barcolla. Abbiamo visto il debito privato trasformarsi magicamente in debito pubblico. Le colpe di pochi ricadere su molti perchè il rischio è sistemico: to big to fail. Ora che i debiti pubblici sono gonfi, ecco le nuove proposte, tutte italiane, per ritrasformare il debito pubblico in debito privato... tasse, tasse, tasse.


Jan 25, 2011

Fiscal stimulus and Investments

Is public spending going to crowd-out private investments?
That sounds like a Macro 1 question, something like IS-LM textbook model...

Eugene Fama argues that "The added debt absorbs savings that would otherwise go to private investment. In the end, despite the existence of idle resources, bailouts and stimulus plans do not add to current resources in use. They just move resources from one use to another." and "The new government debt absorbs private and corporate savings, which means private investment goes down by the same amount." 

John Cochrane says "If the government borrows a dollar from you, that is a dollar that you do not spend, or that you do not lend to a company to spend on new investment. Every dollar of increased government spending must correspond to one less dollar of private spending."

Basically they start from the national accounting identity S+T=I+G (let's omit open economy for simplicity) and claim that one more dollar to G is one less dollar to I, like if all the rest of the economy, in particular S, were super-fixed.

Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman do not agree. You may say they are keynesians, but still saying that so many things in the economy are fixed seems quite a strong assertion to me. They make two different points one about the money market and one about the goods market.

Jan 23, 2011

The same old story

Since I see nothing really new, looking back is often a good idea. So I did a very brief search and I found just a few quotes without any comment (I think is unnecessary) which I believe can be usefully related to some things you hear from people about the Italian situation, with the hope of a structural change...

"Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear"
Adolf Hitler

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged"
Cardinal Richelieu

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first"
Thomas Jefferson

"It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one"
Voltaire

Jan 21, 2011

Freedom and Innovation: Against Copyright

Finally this morning I got this book by prof.s Boldrin and Levine!
A book against intellectual monopoly, i.e. copyright.
I bought the printed version, but you can find the entire book in pdf here, while here you have each chapter into a single pdf. There is also a website: you find it in my links.
Why a copyright could be good for innovation is quite clear and you hear arguments for that everywhere, but sound economic reasoning about why it is not is harder to find.
Moreover if you like free software, you probably can find in the book an economic justification for that.
What a good incentive to think about the subject.

Here some related videos...

Jan 18, 2011

The Browsers' Risk: Firefox takes Europe

Mozilla Firefox overcomes MS Explorer in Europe. That's good news. Not just because you might dislike proprietary software and like open source. But more fundamentally because it disrupts a quasi-monopoly or a dominant position and helps freedom of choice and information. Not that we were not technically free to choose our preferred browser, but in practice many people lack the necessary info to make that choice. I've even known people that mixed up "internet" and "explorer", so long they have been accustomed to the blue "e" icon. How can you even know that there is a choice?
Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

Jan 15, 2011

The Exchange Rates-Global Imbalances Disconnect (November 2009)

That's what i was writing in November 2009...
Quello degli squilibri commerciali, principalmente di USA e Cina, è uno dei temi più dibattuti nell'ultimo periodo. In molti si domandano se tali squilibri siano sostenibili o se siano tra le cause dell'attuale crisi.
In effetti, secondo la teoria economica standard gli squilibri commerciali semplicemente non dovrebbero esistere nel lungo periodo, dato che prima o poi i debiti vanno pagati. E il meccanismo riequilibratore passa principalmente dal tasso di cambio.
In teoria, il legame tra tasso di cambio e conto corrente è abbastanza chiaro: un deprezzamento tenderà a migliorare il disavanzo commerciale (se le domande di import/export sono abbastanza elastiche - condizione di Marshall-Lerner).
Un legame chiaro ed intuitivo, che l'attuale crisi, con il deprezzamento del dollaro e la riduzione degli squilibri, sembra confermare.
Dobbiamo perciò pensare che la crisi porterà al riequilibrio dei saldi commerciali, proprio come previsto dalla teoria e come del resto si sta osservando?
Per rispondere, proviamo a fare il seguente ragionamento.

Jan 10, 2011

Crisis and the Trade Collapse (July 2009)

That's what I was writing in July 2009...
Gli effetti della crisi finanziaria sul commercio internazionale sono stati finora di una intensità senza precedenti. I flussi di commercio sono collassati pesantemente, improvvisamente e in maniera simultanea in quasi tutti i paesi del mondo (figura). Questo fenomeno per ampiezza e per sincronismo risulta nuovo e pertanto suscita alcune domande, tra le quali: perché il commercio sta collassando in questo modo? In che misura questo è una conseguenza della crisi e in che misura ne aggrava gli effetti? Hanno senso le misure protezionistiche invocate a difesa da più parti?
 
Senza alcuna pretesa di rispondere in maniera esaustiva a questi interrogativi, penso sia utile riportare alcuni spunti che mi sembrano interessanti e che sono frequentemente citati.

Jan 7, 2011

Si Saldi chi può

Sono iniziati ieri a Roma i saldi. Come ogni anno consigli ai consumatori, proteste, qualche affare e soprattutto caos e traffico. Io per fortuna anche quest'anno conto di rimanerne fuori. E anche quest'anno come ogni anno mi chiedo: ma perché ci sono i saldi? Senza ottenere risposte decenti dalle persone che mi stanno intorno.
Quest'anno però ho un blog e allora la questione la pongo a tutti: che senso hanno i saldi?
Sul sito della Guardia di Finanza trovate un po' di normativa. Su Radio Vaticana invece ho trovato un'intervista a Paolo Landi, segretario nazionale di Adiconsum, il quale mi pare esprimere un pensiero condivisibile e corretto dal punto di vista economico. Ecco l'audio:
E qualche mia riflessione di seguito.

Jan 3, 2011

Solar Eclipse Live

There will be a solar eclipse tomorrow in Europe between 8 and 9.30am approximatively (Italian time).
Watch it here live in streaming.
Enjoy.

Update -January 4, 2011-
Here a computer simulation using the software Stellarium, which I suggest you to download: it's open source, free and runs on GNU/Linux, Windows and Mac.

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