Friday, June 29, 2007

Spatial Econometrics Association Conference

The programme of the SEA 2007 (Cambridge UK) and several papers are on-line. I'll be there!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Efficiency of the Flush Toilet

I've already written about the amazing William Nordhaus' papers on the technical progress in light emission and computation power. I have another another (crude) example: have you notice the improvements on the flush toilets? The newer ones do their jobs with much less water than the older models.
(Am I the only one who pays attention to this kind of stuff?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

London for Economists 2

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has a series of walks for economists through London available for download. The walks have an Econometrics bias, so you will see the place where Reverend Bayes is buried and the birthplace of Prof Pearson. Nevertheless the guides are a must for Economics obsessed minds.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The most expensive cities in the world

Tell me about it.


Centrepiece is the magazine of the LSE's Centre of Economic Performance . It translates to the normal human being the research that the economists of the Centre have been doing. All articles are available for free. Stop reading this blog and download the articles! Now!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stewart Brand: Why squatter cities are a good thing

Stewart Brand was the first human being to use the term "personal computer" and has a amazing bio. In this 2-minute presentation he shows his views on world poverty and how the cities are the best way to get people out of poverty.
It is true that the poorest of the poor still live in "Jeffrey Sachs" rural villages, but the large share of poor has already moved to squatter cities. Urbanization is not the problem, it is part of the solution to the social issues. Remember what Jane Jacobs and Hernando De Soto taught us: slums have their own vitality and a huge potential to improve the lives of their dwellers.
Click here for a fantastic one hour lecture.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Safari for Windows

Yes, it is beautiful and fast, but I am sticking with Firefox. I want to be a keyboard ninja and I am addicted to Firefox Quick Search.
BTW, Steven Jobs keynote is always a lesson on how to give an fantastic presentation.

Friday, June 15, 2007

US states renamed for countries with similar life expectancies

Davi Zell and I had a few problems with this one. The differences in life expectancies at birth among US states were quite small and we had to repeat countries and even include the USA in the map.
This is really addictive, but this is the last (strange)map spin off that I will ever do. (Ok, maybe just one more :-)).

Brazilian States Renamed for Life Expectancy

(Click to enlarge)
Bad news. The worst case is Maranhão (Bangladesh) and the best is Santa Catarina (Argentina). Actually, life expectancy in Brazil has improved since 2000, but - as the other countries have improved as well - he relative situation of the Brazilian states is far from acceptable. The map is a joint production Zell & Monasterio.

Paul Krugman at LSE

You can me whatever you want, but I must confess that I enjoy economist-celebrity spotting. Yesterday, Krugman went to the LSE to give the James Meade Memorial Lecture. Yes, he has lost his faith on the power of free-trade to foster growth in the III World, but he has not become a protectionist:
"My case for free trade rests more in the wish that Bangladesh keeps its head above the water, than in the hope of a new South Korea"
His main point is that a large share of the recent rise in inequality in the I and III Worlds is due to globalisation. (During question time, Danny Quah remembered that, although inequality has risen within countries, the world became more equal. Krugman did not reply to this point).
I would prefer to listen to him talking about economic geography, nevertheless I will keep my ticket to the lecture as memorabilia.

UPDATE: this article summarizes the main points of his lecture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Brazilian States Renamed for Countries with Similar GDPs

(Click to enlarge)

Davi Zell and I decided to copy the idea of this map. This is to be taken with a pinch of salt, not only due to possible bias in GDP measurement, but also because we had to make a few approximations in order to have interesting countries' names on the figure.
Tomorrow we will post a similar map, but with data on life expectancy at birth. You will see that it is much more meaningful than this one. Stay tuned.

International Workshop StatGIS 2007 - Interfacing Spatial statistics and

Here. Prof Kelejian is the organizer and the deadline is August 1, 2007.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Coolest Map Ever

US states renamed for countries with similar GDP.
Via Marginal Revolution.

The Brazilian Economy 1928-1980

Marcelo Passos, now back to the blogosphere, send me the link to Marcelo de Paiva Abreu's "The Brazilian Economy 1928-1980". In fact, it is a 150 pages draft prepared to the Cambridge History of Latin America (Leslie Bethell ed).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dog-bites-man Journalism

Newspapers all over the world and even top econ bloggers published that Muhammad was the number #2 name for babies in the UK. "Oh my God, soon Muslims will control the nation!" some may have thought.
What does this piece of news actually say? Almost nothing. The numbers: there were 5,991 babies called Muhammad last year, but 669,531 births. So, less than 0.9% of the 2006' babies are called Muhammad. The "Muhammad #2 name" headline just says that Muslims are not really creative when the choose the name of their kids.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Engel's Law in Pictures

Everybody knows that the income elasticity of the demand for food is lower than one (except if do your grocery shopping here). There is nothing exciting in that empirical law. This book , however, is really cool: it shows the actual diet of 30 families around the world. It is amazing that the diet of families from average income countries look more appealing than the one from poor or rich countries. I guess that Colombians and Egyptians have the resources and the time necessary prepare yummy food.

Via boingboing.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Natural Resource Curse

I am a true believer in the "Natural Resource Curse" thesis. That is: countries with huge endowments of nature resources tend to grow slowly due to institutional reasons.
Last Wednesday, however, I attended a seminar at Cambridge that has shaken my beliefs. Erwin Bulte, from Tilburg, has shown that the econometric results that support the curse thesis are reversed when resource abundance is correctly measured. I am still not convinced because he has just 10 African countries in his sample and maybe there is selection bias. Nevertheless, I think it is a very interesting paper.

Update: Shikida sent me the link to a new book on the Resource Curse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thirty years ago

...the revolution started.

Regional Economics Textbooks

Roberta Capello's brand new book is quite good, but Philip McCann's still is - without any doubt - the best Urban and Regional Economics textbook available.
However if you are short of money, there is a free web book: An Introduction to Regional Economics. It is out-of-date, but anyway you can get the basics of the field.

Monday, June 4, 2007

334 pages of Economic Wisdom

William Baumol, the polymath, co-authored the book Good capitalism, Bad capitalism, and the economics of growth and prosperity. Download it for free here!!!
By the way, the Nobel Prize is long overdue for Baumol.

via Gustibus.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


The Vista DVD arrived about 2 weeks ago and I've installed it right away. Why have I done this? Just because I am a stupid neophyte. Yes, it looks much better than XP, but Geoda, Arcview 8.2 do not run under Vista. Furthermore Gadgets and the new Start menu are not as effective as Google Desktop plus Launchy.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The roots of regional inequalities in Brazil(1872-1920)

Quite a busy week. Fixing merged files, debugging R code and preparing the yesterday's presentation at the LSE cliometrics seminar. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the preliminary results are stimulating.