That sound you can hear faintly in the background is faraway crowds mispronouncing the word ‘defence’ at great volume and repeatedly. That is correct: the NBA season has started again, and while Zion Williamson has injured himself (it turns out being built like a container ship and jumping like Super Mario is bad for the knees), the rest of it has been gripping. LeBron may finally be slowing from his Thanos-like peak! Markelle Fultz has remembered how to play basketball! Luka Doncic is still an extraterrestrial wearing a chubby Slovenian teenager suit! And my productivity is about to make like Wile E. Coyote!
- Having said all that, I’m never too busy for economics. There’s still a Nobel hangover on the econoweb (and a literal hangover if, like me, you celebrated with a little too much wine), but rather than link to all of it – there’s too much good writing to do justice to – let me mention two pieces. Firstly, Abhijeet Banerjee and Esther Duflo have apparently celebrated by uploading another paper to RePec, a follow up on their much earlier work on microfinance that identifies the small group for whom microfinance does turn out to be very effective for. They call them ‘Gung Ho Entrepreneurs’, and they do very well indeed when they get access to credit; whether we can tell who they are early on, though, is the real kicker. And David Evans has done one of his unbelievable 100-paper summaries dedicated entirely to the output of Michael Kremer, who was his DPhil supervisor. Like supervisor, like student: David is a marvel, one of the best and most concise communicators of ideas I have ever had the privilege to meet.
- This requires a bit of attention and patience, but has outsize rewards. Brad Larsen at Stanford summarises an extremely cool new paper which looks at how often potentially viable trading negotiations (i.e. those where the buyer and seller have a shared price on which they can agree to mutual benefit) fail. He has some amazing data, and the finding is also kind of amazing; between a fifth and quarter of potentially beneficial negotiations fail. This should make us much less sanguine about… well, everything.
- When a paper digs into how humans interact with one another, you can bet there will be at least one result that proves that humans are the worst. Case 1,204,291,91: a recent analysis of tipping behaviour on Uber finds that men are more likely to tip female drivers… and that this effect is almost entirely explained by heavy tipping of young women with almost zero effect on older women. Men: transparently one-track minds since recorded history begins. For Uber drivers looking to get their own back: work in the small hours. Tips are highest between 3:00 and 5:00am; presumably to make up for the drunken ‘banter’.
- It’s always reassuring when Tim Harford likes ideas I ascribe to. Here he discusses how to think about worst case scenarios and sings the praises of pre-mortems.
- By the way, speaking of people being the worst: this fantastic piece by Berk Ozler looks at how hopelessly biased samples in early medical studies (almost exclusively conducted on white males) have led to (some) systematically worse health outcomes for minorities, and how algorithmic diagnosis can – sometimes – help rectify these inequalities.
- CGD continue to bang the drum for sensible migration policy, for which we can only applaud them. A first piece sets out how the new EU Commissioners for migration can use legal pathways to achieve their policy objectives; and another looks at how regularised migration can be a development tool for Nigeria. Both push the Global Skills Partnership idea, which I’ve pitched more than once, too. Are we getting any closer to it having a moment?
- Lastly, may I quietly and calmly point out that THE LAST TRAILER FOR STAR WARS: RISE OF SKYWALKER IS OUT AND IT I’M VERY SCARED THAT SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO C-3PO. Sorry. I’m not sure what came over me. It is going to be a long wait for this movie. While we’re waiting, we can check out these ultra-creepy author photographs from LitHub. While no-one should be surprised that Angela Carter’s makes her look like a ghost, what is up with Patricia Highsmith and HP Lovecraft? Why does she look like she’s planning my murder? Why is Lovecraft eating his own face? And is it time for Star Wars yet?
Have a great weekend, everyone!