Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

Someone very important was born on a Xmas day. (Sorry, this is a repeated post.)
Inspired by my friend Shikida, here goes my gift to the my pacient and generous readers:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

OECD Regional Statistics

Impressive. (HT Waldery Rodrigues Jr. and Patrícia Morita).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


They are talking about the book that contains, among many very interesting papers, the one that Shikida, Nogueról, and I have written on the stature of Brazilians.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This blog has been sleepy lately thanks to my limited time management skills. In order to keep it alive, just a few links:
- Slavery and inequality: what is the causal link?;
- R is what you need. Forbes says so. (HT, Urban Demographics);
- Republic of Letters. Please, click. (I forgot who sent me the link).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MapCrunch, the most addictive site. Ever.

Here. Select "Slideshow", choose a couple of countries and enjoy. (Via BoingBoing).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Walter Isard (1919-2010)

The founder of Regional Science has passed away. Here is his obituary.
Many thanks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Commodity Lottery, XXI edition

The idea of a commodity lottery is well known among the students of Latin American economic history. It goes like that: the path of development that each country took was related to the characteristics of its main (natural resource based product) natural product exports: income elasticity and price, the possibility of linkages and global competition ... Exporting bananas or rubber is very different from exporting meat or coffee.
Well, now the argument of bad luck comes back. The great "New Economic Geographer" Gordon Hanson writes (via MR) in Why Mexico is not Rich? that the reason behind Mexico's misfortune is that its specialization pattern lies in goods similar to those of China.
China’s size, high rate of growth, and increasing outward orientation mean that its emergence is surely changing international prices, improving the terms of trade for countries that produce its importables and deteriorating the terms of trade for countries that produce its exportables. Mexico fits squarely in the latter camp, whereas Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru fit in the former.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

XKCD brillant as ever

Luis Fernando Verissimo, a Brazilian writer, once proposed "voodoopuncture". Instead of going to the acupuncturist, you would be treated without leaving home. The voodoopuncturist would stick acupunture needles in the voodoo dolls of you! I add that voodoopuncture could be outsourced to Haiti and/or China. It is a win-win-win situation!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Services or Manufacturing. Which sector is the main driver of growth?

Bhagwati challenges the manufacturing fallacy. In addition, this article argues that the services sector played a major role in the revival of Indian manufacturing. (HT Escolhas e Conseqüências).
I am convinced that Colin Clark's division of the economy in three sectors is not that useful anymore. For instance, how much of a US$200 Nike shoe was produced in the services sector?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Regional policy in Europe

This article deals with an issue that has been on my mind for a long time: how to justify regional policies? The article is interesting, but I must say that it pays no attention to the Regional Science literature on the issue.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Living Standards in Latin American History: Height, Welfare, and Development, 1750-2000 "

The book -just published!- is part of the David Rockefeller Center Series on Latin American Studies, is distributed by Harvard University Press , and it is available at Amazon. One of its papers is Growth and Inequalities of Height in Brazil, 1939-1981, an anthropometrical study written by Nogueról, Shikida and myself. A previous version of the paper is available here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gambetta and Primo Levi

I visited Diego Gambetta's page looking for his papers on the low quality of Italian academia .
With much surprise I discovered that he investigated the death of the author of If This Is a Man, one of my ten favorite books. He argues - very convincingly- that the death of Primo Levi was an accident and not a suicide . Although the two possibilities are tragic, the former seems in tune with his work and life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Things that you learn at an Economics conference

One presenter closed his (excellent) presentation with this cartoon. Surely I am going to copy the idea.

Friday, September 10, 2010

10th and 11th of September : 3rd International Conference Migration & Development (Paris)

Yep, I am in Paris. I've just presented the paper "How Bodo became Brazilian" written by Irineu de Carvalho Filho and myself. (I must admit that his contribution to the paper was much larger than mine). Soon you will learn more about the paper.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Five Unrelated but Interesting Papers"

The program of AEA meeting is terrific. But this time it offers the best name of session ever:
Five Unrelated but Interesting Papers (??)
Presiding: ALLEN SANDERSON (University of Chicago)
Driving Under the (Cellular) Influence
SAURABH BHARGAVA (University of Chicago)
VIKRAM SINGH PATHANIA (Cornerstone Research)
Do Public Subsidies Change Private Vehicle Selections? Evidence from the U.S. Cash for Clunkers Program
EDWARD HUANG (Harvard University)
A History of Violence: The "Culture of Honor" as a Determinant of Homicide in the U.S. South
PAULINE A. GROSJEAN (University of San Francisco)
The Lion's Share: An Experimental Analysis of Polygamy in Northern Nigeria
ALISTAIR MUNRO (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan)
ARJAN VERSCHOOR (University of East Anglia)
MARCELA TARAZONA-GOMEZ (University of East Anglia)
CECILE JACKSON (University of East Anglia)
BEREKET KEBEDE (University of East Anglia)
White Men Can't Jump, But Would You Bet on It?
DENIZ IGAN (International Monetary Fund)
MARCELO PINHEIRO (George Mason University)
JOHN SMITH (Rutgers University-Camden)

The rumors of the death of this blog are greatly exaggerated

Friday, August 20, 2010

KFV reunion concert!

I've just attended the anniversary celebration of The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade by Fujita, Krugman and Venables. The room was packed and professor Thisse was the chair of the session. It was the Regional Science equivalent of The Beatles reunion to celebrate "Revolver". "How did you write the book?", "Did the book made you rich? ", "What have you been doing?", "What's next?"...
They told interesting stories but there was no major revelation. It was just great to see the highest agglomeration ever of NEG founding fathers on just one stage!

PS. Weirdest thing about Sweden: there is Vitamin C at the hotel breakfast. Maybe scurvy is endemic here...

"Education Performance: Was It All Determined 100 Years Ago? Evidence From São Paulo, Brazil"

de Carvalho Filho, Irineu and Colistete, Renato P. (2010): Education Performance: Was It All Determined 100 Years Ago? Evidence From São Paulo, Brazil. Unpublished.

"This paper deals with institutional persistence in long-term economic development. We investigate the historical record of education in one of the fastest growing and most unequal societies in the twentieth century – the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Based on historical data from an agricultural census and education statistics, we assess the role played by factors such as land concentration, immigration and type of economic activity in determining supply and demand of education during the early twentieth century, and to what degree these factors help explain current educational performance and income levels. We find a positive and enduring effect of the presence of foreign-born immigrants on the supply of public instruction, as well as a negative effect of land concentration. Immigrant farm-laborers established their own community schools, and pressured for public funding for those schools or for public schools. The effects of early adoption of public instruction can be detected more than one hundred years later in the form of better test scores and higher income per capita. These results are suggestive of an additional mechanism generating inequality across regions: the places that received immigration from countries with an established public education system benefited from an earlier adoption of the revolutionary idea of public education."

Thursday, August 19, 2010


- Economy of cities;
- Temin and Eichengreen on the current crisis;
- Ray Bradbury tribute (NSFW- via BoingBoing).

IpeaGeo - Spatial Econometrics Software

IpeaGeo is the new spatial econometrics software developed by the IPEA team. It is free (as in free beer), user friendly and it does spatial GMM, spatial clusters and much more. Strongly recommended. Unfortunately it is only available in Portuguese.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ERSA 2010

I am on my way to the 50th ERSA meeting ERSA in Sweden. The keynote speakers are amazing: Saxenian, Strange, Krugman, Fujita, Thisse, Venables e McCann.
I am going present my paper "Regional Inequality Frontier: Brazil (1872-2000)" and I hope to keep on posting here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

No more free parking

Tyler Cowen nails it. As a resident in Brasília, I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another good reason for using R

Penn World Tables are available as an R package. Further news on R and econometrics are available here.

"Don’t ask a Brazilian personal questions"

"Steer clear especially of such issues as age, salary, or marriage to someone from Brazil, Argentina’s fierce rival."
I do agree that age and salary are taboo issues. But, as far as I know, we have no problem with questions on marriage.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Nash equilibrium by himself

My former student Otário Damé sent this gem. According to him, his EPGE - FGV colleague, Pedro Olea, asked Nash to write the definition of the concept last week in São Paulo.

Monday, July 26, 2010


- An updated version of the Big Mac index;
- Stop the press! Psychologists have discovered the decreasing marginal utility of income !
- Historical Financial Statistics. The Brazilian data comes from IPEADATA;
- Solow contra DSGE. (I do not know if he is right. But what a terrific writer he is!)

Auctions are useful

Well... most of the time:

HT Urban Geography!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

World Bank Enterprise Surveys

Now you can download data on more than 100,000 firms in 123 countries.
(HT Lucas Mation)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New blog on Urban Demographics

Rafael Pereira,my friend and coleague at IPEA has created his own blog: Urban Demographics.
Long live to his blog!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A semiologist may write a thesis on this graph

Theft risk by color of the vehicle.

The color of the bars represent the same color of the cars! Amazing!
The paper is here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010


Sorry, but I've been too busy to blog. I was enjoying a pre-holiday burst of productivity.
I'll be back in two weeks.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hayek, the "socialist"

Has Glenn Beck actually read The Road to Serfdom? If so, I would like to know his take on this:
"There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision" Hayek (1944)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Markets in everything: Kaggle

Kaggle is a website to set up prediction competitions. What a great idea! Somebody uploads the data, and number crunchers all over the world will compete for the best predictions. The themes range from the mundane (Eurovision voting *) to the important (HIV progression).
(HT More or Less).

(*BTW,the unexpected winner of Eurovision 2010 is the perfect guilty pleasure song).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Napoleon in Russia meets Google Maps

The famous Charles Minard graph: 1869 and 2010.
(HT Rafael Pereira)

Strange world: industrial tourism

The last French trend. has even a section on the subject. (But I'd rather visit the 300,000 workers Foxconn unit in Shenzen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Books on Brazil

Tyler Cowen's post on "The culture that is Brazil" reminded me of how important it is to read foreigners account on our home countries. ("Closing banks on soccer games"? What is wrong in that?"). I do appreciate reading guide books on Brazil and I have a few notes about them:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saludos Amigos (2011)

"Rio" (2011)

"Saludos Amigos" (1942)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sentences you will never read in a published paper

If I were sincere, I'd have written half of the sentences. HT NPTO

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I suspect...

...that physicists say the G-word just to get research funds from scientific illiterate politicians. (See the last line)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Taxation, Lobbies and Welfare in an Enclave Economy: Rubber in the Brazilian Amazon 1870-1910

I've met Felipe Tãmega in 2006. He was a graduate student in economic history at the LSE and Colin Lewis was his thesis supervisor. At first glance it was obvious that he was a really talented young man and a nice chap. Google led me to this very interesting paper from him (I guess it is part of his PhD thesis):
Taxation, Lobbies and Welfare in an Enclave Economy: Rubber in the Brazilian Amazon 1870-1910
This paper uses an enclave economy (Brazilian Amazon) to show that [export] taxes can be welfare enhancing and be used as instruments to move the economy away from the immiserizing growth path. Nonetheless, the results show that the government could have raised the Brazilian Amazon's welfare with a much higher export tax, and offers political-economic reasons why it did not.
Now he is at the Harvard Business School. Great! Congratulations!!!

Two Cliometric Links

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Colonial Institutions, Slavery, Inequality, and Development: Evidence from São Paulo, Brazil

- Everybody is talking about the new paper from William Summerhill. Abstract:

Brazil is frequently portrayed as exhibiting persistent and structural economic inequality that is rooted in the early colonial experience, and is believed to undermine development in the long run. I construct original measures of agricultural inequality for 1905 in what is today Brazil’s largest state, using farm-level micro data for some 50,000 farms. Using these measures of inequality, along with contemporary covariates and other historical variables I assess the impact of colonial institutions, slavery, farm inequality, and political inequality on long-term development in São Paulo. The principal findings are: (1) a potentially coercive colonial institution, the aldeamento, is positively correlated with income per capita at the end of the twentieth century; (2) measures of the intensity of slavery have little if any independent impact on income in 2000; (3) farm inequality was not persistent in São Paulo at the county level over the twentieth century; (4) in both OLS and IV estimates, no negative effect can be found for 1905 inequality on long-term development; (5) political inequality in the early twentieth century, measured by the extent of the franchise, is unrelated to contemporary farm inequality, and also unrelated to long-term economic growth; and (6) the provision of local public goods in the early twentieth century, measured by local public education outlays, has a positive impact on long-term development, but was not related to contemporary economic or political inequality. Overall, neither the intensity of slavery nor the pattern of inequality had any discernable negative economic impact in the long run.

Cool stuff.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Maps! Maps! Maps!

The Beauty of Maps:the dark side of the moon, XVI century Constantinopla, the Universe and beyond... (HT do Breno Baldrati)
Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession:
BBC docs are blocked outside the UK, so you have to find another way to download them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The first law of tourism

There is an inverse relationship between the reputation of hospitality of a country and its number of tourist attractions.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reboot of the European airspace

after the eruption of the I-dunno-how-to-spell-it volcano:

HT Caio Cardim.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The funniest paper ever published in "American Economic Review"

In fact, only cliometricians (and their enemies) will laugh:
"Shatter and Filth (1975) consider "what if Fogel had never written his article" and projected that economic historians would have turned to cocaine use instead of counterfactuals."

"The new economic geography, now middle-aged" by Krugman

Krugman's talk at the Association of American Geographers. (It happened two days ago. Oh boy, I do love the internet). Highly interesting, especially when he argues that NEG is still useful to understand contemporary issues:
"... new economic geography has a kind of steampunk feel, so that the stories it tells seem more suited to the U.S. economy of 1900 than that of 2010. Well, China is an economic powerhouse, but it’s still quite poor; .., China today appears to have roughly the same level of per capita GDP as the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.
And guess what? Chinese economic geography is highly reminiscent of the economic geography of advanced nations circa 1900 – and it fits gratifyingly well into the new economic geography framework."
(Via Brad Delong)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hydraulic Keynesianism

The Philips' machine (yes, himself ) at work. Amazing!

The Future of Regional Economics

A special issue of the Journal of Regional Science. Everybody is there: Duranton, Overman, Puga, Glaeser, Storper, Thisse...
I haven't read the papers, but the best title is: " The data avalanche is here: shouldn't we be digging?".
(HT Bruno Cruz)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Red Water Ordeal

Nathan Nunn on the many ways to produce slaves in Guinea-Bissau
The chief of the Cassanga used the “red water ordeal” to procure slaves and their possessions. Those accused of a crime were forced to drink a poisonous red liquid. If they vomited, then they were judged to be guilty. If they did not vomit, they were deemed not guilty. However, for those that did not vomit this usually brought death by poisoning. Their possessions were then seized and their family members were sold into slavery.
"The Long Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trade" Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 123, No. 1, February 2008, pp. 139-176.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

North Korea, the worst place on Earth

(Via boingboing)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Google Public Data Explorer

Here. World Development Indicators are available!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Natural Experiments of History - Diamond and Robinson (ed.)

Jared Diamond ("Guns Germs and Steel") and James Robinson ("Reversal of Fortune" with Acemoglu and Johnson) have edited the book. The table of contents is impressive!:
1. Controlled Comparison and Polynesian Cultural Evolution
Patrick V. Kirch
2. Exploding Wests: Boom and Bust in Nineteenth-Century Settler Societies
James Belich
3. Politics, Banking, and Economic Development: Evidence from New World Economies
Stephen Haber
4. Intra-Island and Inter-Island Comparisons
Jared Diamond
5. Shackled to the Past: The Causes and Consequences of Africa's Slave Trades
Nathan Nunn
6. Colonial Land Tenure, Electoral Competition, and Public Goods in India
Abhijit Banerjee and Lakshmi Iyer
7. From Ancien Régime to Capitalism: The Spread of the French Revolution as a Natural Experiment
Daron Acemoglu, Davide Cantoni, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson
* Afterword: Using Comparative Methods in Studies of Human History
Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Physics envy

"Any scientist who doesn’t have physics envy is an idiot."


Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The first law of development

There is no street children where tap water is safe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New movies

  • Moon (2009)-a retro sci-fi movie. Kevin Spacey is the voice of the computer Hal Sam.
  • The invention of lying - At first glance, it is another feel-good movie from Hollywood. It is not. Thanks, Ricky Gervais.
  • Flood with love for the kid. A one man remake of do Rambo First Blood (!?!?!?). The critics say it is great.
Bonus track: how to watch Daily Show and the Office outside the US.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Netbook and Windows 7

Surprisingly, Windows 7 runs quite well in my new Lenovo S10-3t with only 1G of RAM.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States

Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States
John Landon-Lane, Hugh Rockoff, Richard H. Steckel
NBER Working Paper No. 15596*
Issued in December 2009
NBER Program(s): DAE
The relationships among the weather, agricultural markets, and financial markets have long been of interest to economic historians, but relatively little empirical work has been done. We push this literature forward by using modern drought indexes, which are available in detail over a wide area and for long periods of time to perform a battery of tests on the relationship between these indexes and sensitive indicators of financial stress. The drought indexes were devised by climate historians from instrument records and tree rings, and because they are unfamiliar to most economic historians and economists, we briefly describe the methodology. The financial literature in the area can be traced to William Stanley Jevons, who connected his sun spot theory to rainfall patterns. The Dust bowl of the 1930s brought the climate-finance link to the attention of the general public. Here we assemble new evidence to test various hypotheses involving the impact of extreme swings in moisture on financial stress.
I would like to test Mike Davis' thesis that severe droughts in the end of the XIX century put the Brazilian Northeast in a poverty trap.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ramsey and Kant

Dixit writes about a tale that Samuelson told him:

"On his first day as an undergraduate at Cambridge, Ramsey went to his philosophy tutor Ogden, to discuss some ideas he had about essence and being. After listening, Ogden said, “These notions are rather like those of Kant.” “Kant? Who is he?” “Immanuel Kant was the author of this book I’ll lend you, Kritik der reinen Vernunft.” “But it’s in German, sir, and I don’t know any German.” “That’s all right, I’ll lend you this dictionary.” A couple of weeks later Ramsey came back to Ogden saying “Kant has it almost right, but …” "

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Google toolbar in firefox allows you to browse Chinese Amazon . Take care. The "Flirting apparatus" section is NSFW.

Saturday, January 9, 2010



Creativity: here and here. (via boing boing)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Two quotes that I will repeat as mine

"I started this blog because my wife wanted me to stop telling her all my ideas, and this was a cheap way to communicate with all my friends in academia." (So did I!)
"I think it's important to know what you don't know. When you know that you don't know something, the answer is to experiment!"
From the interview of Matthew Kahn's, the urban and environmental economist (via Marginal Revolution).
(BTW, he is married to Dora Costa, the brilliant economic historian.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010