Links round-up

Hi all,

Yes, this is a morning edition of the Links round-up, a rare event that normally means that I’m on leave and have completely forgotten to warn you all, leading to a cobbled-together mishmash or random economic geekery and Taylor Swift gifs (what do you mean that’s what it’s like every week?). I’m in sunny, lovely Newcastle and don’t intend on sitting in front of the computer for long – so excuse the brevity!

 1.       First up, my favourite piece of the week came from FiveThirtyEight, gloriously confirming my priors. Ben Casselmen points out that firms often talk about ‘skills mismatch’ and a failure to fill skilled labour positions as a very specific form of labour market failure that they face. But the evidence that this problem is really acute is actually quite sketchy – he looks at a number of indicators that firms are actually constrained in skilled workers, and finds little evidence in any. This is for the US, but the logic and approach to evidence applies to developing countries too – we too often take the word of employers and firms without thinking about their incentives to misrepresent or the possibility that they themselves misdiagnose the problems.

2.       “The fundamental problem is a person trying to diagnose his own incompetence is — almost by necessity — likely to be missing the skills needed to make that diagnosis. Not knowing much grammar means you’re poorly placed to diagnose your ignorance of grammar.” Tim Harford on a new book suggesting that trivia, or knowing a little about a lot, is one of the best ways of being able to diagnose one’s own mistakes. It’s an interesting idea – even if it means that this scene was actually an intellectual exchange by two polymaths and not an irritating bit of Cameron Crowe cutesiness.

3.       Another bit of prior-affirmation: there is such a thing as too much transparency. I don’t agree with everything Matt Yglesias says here, but I do think there’s something to this.

4.       The Center for Global Development have finally announced their new President, and it’s a name that will be familiar to DFID – Masood Ahmed, who moves over from the IMF. Masood has a strong macro focus, and moves over to lead an organisation full of brilliant micro researchers. It will be interesting to see what new hires look like from here.

5.       GiveDirectly’s Basic Income experiment has had some unexpected issues with take-up – with some Kenyans simply sceptical that anyone would transfer them cash without an ulterior motive. It’s not going to stop them from assessing what impact it has on welfare, which is the most important thing, but I would be interested to see research looking at take up rates when the Government provides the transfer directly, too.

6.       I don’t have time to do this justice – but this is masterclass in Balanced Growth Theory by Dietz Vollrath. Part 1 and Part 2.

7.       And finally – the promised Taylor Swift gifs. Be honest – you scrolled straight down here, didn’t you?

 Have a great weekend, everyone!


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