I keep trying and failing to blog here today. Seems the best I’ll be able to do for you is a links post. Links!

Paul Romer’s Many Hong Kongs:

Something I find interesting — economic growth relies on a sound institutional environment, which often requires governments to make difficult institutional changes. It’s extremely hard to do this, since governments are populated by the very interests who stand to lose power by changing the rules. Normally we think about political change as involving the painstaking process of establishing viable coalitions to overturn previous ruling coalitions, replacing one set of institutions with another. Another option, however, is to create new levels of government above and/or below the existing government — like a European Union or a Special Economic Zone — to either commit the government to certain changes or create a space in which it can allow itself to get out of the way. In many cases, the right answer to the question, “What is the proper scope of government,” the answer is simply, “different.”

More Trains, More Jobs:

Building and maintaining them, sure, but also operating them. There could be large gains to a shift to greater transit use. Most folks work both a full-time job — their official profession — and a part-time job — piloting themselves to and from work. Why not outsource the latter?

Math, Cities, and Living Creatures:

I love this post, but it makes me wonder — how does one apply Zipf’s law such that it works? I would assume that we’d want to use metropolitan populations, but even if you try to massage the boundaries, using smaller divisions where possible, to try and get this distribution, it doesn’t work. Washington is the country’s ninth largest metropolitan area, but has a population of about 5 million people — way more than one-ninth that of the New York area. Maybe Zipf’s law works elsewhere, but it sure doesn’t work in America.


  1. Karl Smith says:

    Ryan –

    When you get back online, it would be nice to hear your response to Jim Manzi’s call for a Cost-Benefit analysis on Waxman-Markey.

    While his numbers strike me as a little off on the benefit side, he still has my concern in mind – cap-n-trade will wind up being too expensive for US consumers.

    Now I understand that the Making Work Pay credit is essentially a lump-sum transfer back from expected Cap-N-Trade revenues.

    However, over time I expect the cost of Cap-N-Trade to grow as permits become more scarce relative to the size of the economy. Yet, it seems unlikely that there will be further relief at the bottom end of the wage spectrum.

    I would like to see a lot more assurances that Cap-N-Trade will be a net benefit to the American lower class, especially rural America.

  2. Kiran says:

    The united states is too big of a country. Look at the Union States of the Civil War (just the eastern part, sorry California and Oregon)

    NY: 19 million
    2. Chicago: 9.5 million (50% of NY)
    3. Philadelphia: 5.8 million (31%)
    4. Boston: 4.5 (24%)
    5. Detroit: 4.4 (23%)
    6. Minny 3.2 (16%)
    7. STL: 2.8 (15%)
    8. DC(no virginia): 2.8 million (15%)
    9. Baltimore : 2.7 (14%)
    10. Pitt: 2.3 (12%)

    It breaks down after that.