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Mark Perry

Mark Perry

Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

Articles by Mark Perry

Markets in everything: Education where students pay tuition via an income-share agreement – Publications – AEI

2 days ago

AEI
Markets in everything: Education where students pay tuition via an income-share agreement
From the Lambda School website:
A Revolutionary New School That Invests in You: Lambda School is a 30 week, immersive program that gives you the tools and training you need to launch your new career—from the comfort of your own home.
Lambda School trains people online to be software engineers at no up-front cost. Instead of paying tuition, students can agree to pay a percentage of their income after they’re employed, and only if they’re making more than $50k per year. If you don’t find a job, or don’t reach that level of income, you’ll never pay a cent.
From TechCrunch:
The Lambda School currently offers students a six-month intensive course in computer science, with all its lectures and classes

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Sorry, feminists, men are better at Scrabble (and geography and math) – Publications – AEI

2 days ago

AEI
Sorry, feminists, men are better at Scrabble (and geography and math)

That’s the title (except for the parentheses) of Heather Mac Donald’s op-ed in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:
Since the World Scrabble Championship began in 1991, all winners have been male. The North American Scrabble Championship has had one female winner (in 1987) since its founding in 1978. All eight finalists in this year’s French World Scrabble Championships were men.
Competitive Scrabble constitutes a natural experiment for testing the feminist worldview. According to feminist dogma, males and females are identical in their aptitudes and interests. If men dominate certain data-based, abstract fields like engineering, physics and math, that imbalance must, by definition, be the result of sexism—whether a

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Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism, Canadian edition – Publications – AEI

3 days ago

AEI
Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism, Canadian edition

Case of woman ticketed and arrested for not holding escalator handrail in subway station to be heard by Supreme Court
Woman refuses to hold escalator handrail, case to be heard in Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear case of woman who sued police after she was arrested and fined for refusing to hold an escalator handrail
MP: Should the Supreme Court of Canada really be wasting its time on such a trivial case?
Related: High school seniors in New Zealand launch petition after being flummoxed by the word ‘trivial’ in the official secondary school qualification exam.
 
Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism, Canadian edition
Mark Perry

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Best sentence I read today II… on our cartoonish, Protectionist-in-Chief…. – Publications – AEI

4 days ago

AEI
Best sentence I read today II… on our cartoonish, Protectionist-in-Chief….
…. is from Don Boudreaux:
It’s distressing that we have a president whose one core, unshakable economic conviction is that we are impoverished by the abundance that comes our way when our tariffs are low, and that we are enriched by the deprivation we suffer when our tariffs are high.
Best sentence I read today II… on our cartoonish, Protectionist-in-Chief….
Mark Perry

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The best sentence I read today….. – Publications – AEI

4 days ago

AEI
The best sentence I read today…..
…. is on crony capitalism, from today’s Wall Street Journal editorial “Amazon’s Golden Fleecing“:
Amazon staged a year-long competition to find a second headquarters beyond its Seattle home, and politicians bid for it like millionaires at a Picasso auction.
Of course, the next sentence is critical:
Except they were bidding with other people’s money.
And here’s the first paragraph:
We rarely agree with socialist Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she’s right to call billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Amazon “extremely concerning.” These handouts to one of the richest companies in the history of the world, with an essentially zero cost of capital, is crony capitalism at its worst.
Related: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right

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Something to be thankful for: The real cost of a 2018 Thanksgiving dinner is lowest since 2010 and 26% lower than 1986 – Publications – AEI

4 days ago

AEI
Something to be thankful for: The real cost of a 2018 Thanksgiving dinner is lowest since 2010 and 26% lower than 1986

From today’s annual report and press release from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) on the cost of a classic holiday meal, “Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Down for Third Straight Year“:
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 33rd annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $48.90, or less than $5.00 per person. This is a 22-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.12. “Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton.
The featured food on most Thanksgiving tables –

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Another great moment in government overreach and nanny statism – Publications – AEI

6 days ago

AEI
Another great moment in government overreach and nanny statism
From Lenore Skenazy’s article in Reason “Bureaucrats Consider Shutting Down Informal Play School for 2-Year-Olds Because It’s Too Safe”:
Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. may make it impossible for an informal parent group to meet. For 45 years, parents have brought their two-year-olds to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation as part of a cooperative play school endeavor. It’s a chance to socialize with other haggard moms and (presumably some) dads dealing with the terrible twos, and it’s volunteer run. But as Karin Lips, mom of a baby she hopes will join the club in two years, writes in The Washington Post:
On Sept. 7, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education investigators inspected a playgroup of toddlers to

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Quotation of the day on the shame of socialism… – Publications – AEI

6 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on the shame of socialism…
…. is from John Tamny’s Forbes article “Surging Wealth Inequality Is A Happy Sign That Life Is Becoming Much More Convenient“:
The shame of socialism is that the wildly talented are restrained from profitably improving the lives of the people around them, and perhaps continents away. Thinking about life two hundred years ago, distance was a severely limiting factor for the talented when it came to making things better for everyone. No doubt there were people with skills similar to those of the richest Americans today, and some became very well-to-do by early 19th century standards. But they didn’t become staggeringly rich simply because a lack of technology limited the ability of the ‘1 percenters’ of the early 19th century to touch the

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Video of the day: Why trade deficits, the most misunderstood economic statistic, don’t matter. At all! – Publications – AEI

6 days ago

AEI
Video of the day: Why trade deficits, the most misunderstood economic statistic, don’t matter. At all!

In the video above (and in the accompanying article), economist Dan Mitchell explains the simple, but frequently misunderstood, economic reality that trade deficits don’t matter. At. All.
Related: As economist Timothy Taylor (of the Conversable Economics blog) wrote back in 1999 for National Affairs (“Untangling the trade deficit“):
The competition for most misunderstood economic statistic is hard-fought, but there is a clear winner: the trade deficit. No other number is interpreted so differently by professional economists and the general public.  Common reactions to the U.S. trade deficit range from belligerence to dejectedness: It is thought that America’s trade deficit exists

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Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism – Publications – AEI

6 days ago

AEI
Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism
The Kansas City Health Department threw away and poured bleach on food meant for homeless people.
The food was going to be distributed by a group called Free Hot Soup KC. The Kansas City Star said that the food, which included home-cooked chili, foil wrapped sandwiches and vats of soup, was destroyed on Sunday, November 5, during a coordinated sting at several parks where volunteers had gathered. The Health Department said the group did not have a permit and was putting people at risk.
MP: Because you need a permission slip from the government to engage in charitable acts like providing food for the homeless.
Great moments in government overreach and nanny statism
Mark Perry

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Backfire economics/’winning’: Trump’s trade war may have helped Democrats win the House – Publications – AEI

7 days ago

AEI
Backfire economics/’winning’: Trump’s trade war may have helped Democrats win the House
From the Washington Post:

Democratic candidates across the country tried to leverage angst about Trump’s trade policies in their campaign pitches to voters. In Senate races, most Democrats who tried running on those sentiments lost. But in House races, such candidates fared much better and may have even helped swing control of the chamber to Democrats, underscoring the mixed political ramifications of one of the administration’s key economic policies.
“It’s very clear, based on how they lost seats in the Upper Midwest, that declining agricultural markets likely led to the overturning of the GOP majority in the House,” said Joe Brusuelas, an economist with RSM, an international accounting firm.

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My fifth and final quarterly rant of 2018 on the misuse of it’s for its – Publications – AEI

8 days ago

AEI
My fifth and final quarterly rant of 2018 on the misuse of it’s for its

It’s time for my fifth and hopefully final “quarterly” spelling/punctuation/grammar rant of 2018 (see first rant here, second rant here, third rant here and fourth rant here) on what has to be the most common spelling/punctuation/grammar/orthographic mistake in the English language — the misuse of it’s (or its’) for its (or vice-versa). Here are 10 new examples below (and one graphic above) of that misuse collected from CD comments and other sources on the Web over the last quarter. You can review the rules for the correct usage of its here and here.
1. Vermont finally gets it’s first Target (an actual newspaper headline).
2. Harvard has considered going tuition free (they can easily pay tuition from interest on

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We hear about US jobs outsourced overseas (‘stolen’) but what about the 7.1M insourced jobs we ‘steal’ from abroad? – Publications – AEI

10 days ago

AEI
We hear about US jobs outsourced overseas (‘stolen’) but what about the 7.1M insourced jobs we ‘steal’ from abroad?

We’ve heard a lot of criticism over the last several years, especially from President Trump and many of his economic advisers and supporters, about US firms outsourcing factory jobs overseas, along with accusations that countries like Mexico, China, and Japan are “stealing US jobs” (see more than 20,000 Google search results for “Trump” + “stealing jobs”). Further, Trump warned after he was elected that his administration would punish US companies seeking to move operations and jobs overseas with “consequences.”
What we don’t hear very much about from Team Trump are the jobs that are “insourced” into every US state by foreign companies, even though those insourced

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On this date in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, 2 years after Reagan famously said ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall’ – Publications – AEI

10 days ago

AEI
On this date in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, 2 years after Reagan famously said ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall’
 
Perhaps President’s Ronald Reagan’s most famous and influential speeches was his “Berlin Wall speech” at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987. It was in this speech (at about 11:45 in the video above) that Reagan made his famous and history-changing demand “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That statement and speech helped changed the course of history, and there’s even an entire Wikipedia entry for “Tear down this wall” (in addition to an extensive page for Berlin Wall). According to the Wikipedia entry, “The speech was also a source of considerable controversy within the Reagan administration itself, with several senior staffers and aides

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Backfire economics: BMW edition – Publications – AEI

11 days ago

AEI
Backfire economics: BMW edition

Ongoing trade war could push some South Carolina car production to China

BMW is considering building more SUVs in China as tariffs between the United States and China are expected to cut the company’s earnings this year by $344 million. The company’s net profit fell 24 percent in the third quarter.
“We will make a final decision in the coming weeks about which model to localize next in China,” Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter said during a conference call. In 2017, BMW exported 81,186 vehicles from its plant in Greer to China with an export value of $2.37 billion. But on July 6, China increased its import tax on American-made automobiles from 25 percent to 40 percent. This came in retaliation to $34 billion in tariffs the Trump administration

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Dynamic chart: World’s ten largest economies, 1961 to 2017 – Publications – AEI

14 days ago

AEI
Dynamic chart: World’s ten largest economies, 1961 to 2017

Watch the top ten largest economies in the world based on GDP, year-by-year from 1961 to 2017. A few interesting observations:
1. The global slowdown in the early 1980s.
2. China’s ranking in the world’s ten largest economies has sure bounced around a lot. It was the world’s fifth largest economy in 1962 and remained in the top ten economies until it dropped out in 1978 and 1979, before returning in 1980, dropping out again for a few years and returning to the top ten in 1982. In 1987, China fell out for a year, came back in 1988, dropped out again in 1989 before returning to the top ten for good in 1992. By 2000, China rose to the No. 6 position by passing Italy, then to No. 5 in 2005 when it surpassed France, to No. 4 in

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Backfire economics: With soybeans piling up, farmers hope Trump’s trade war ends before their beans rot – Publications – AEI

14 days ago

AEI
Backfire economics: With soybeans piling up, farmers hope Trump’s trade war ends before their beans rot

The New York Times reports today that while North Dakota’s soybean crops are flourishing China has stopped buying, putting many American grain farmers at great risk:

This is harvest season in the rich farmlands of the eastern Dakotas, the time of year Kevin Karel checks his computer first thing in the morning to see how many of his soybeans Chinese companies have purchased while he was sleeping. Farmers here in Cass County have prospered over the last two decades by growing more soybeans than any other county in the United States, and by shipping most of those beans across the Pacific Ocean to feed Chinese pigs and chickens.
But this year, the Chinese have all but stopped buying.

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Who’d a-thunk it? Gender earnings differences explained by gender preferences, not discrimination? – Publications – AEI

16 days ago

AEI
Who’d a-thunk it? Gender earnings differences explained by gender preferences, not discrimination?
This is the abstract of the job market paper “Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators” by Valentin Bolotnyy, Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard:
Even in a unionized environment, where work tasks are similar, hourly wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions, female workers earn $0.89 on the male-worker dollar (weekly earnings). We use confidential administrative data on bus and train operators from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to show that the weekly earnings gap can be explained entirely by the workplace choices that women and men make. Women value time and flexibility more than men. Women take more unpaid time off using the

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Protectionism and trade barriers aren’t just bad economics — they’re also immoral – Publications – AEI

17 days ago

AEI
Protectionism and trade barriers aren’t just bad economics — they’re also immoral
That’s what we learn from Cato’s Dan Ikenson’s May 2018 article in City A.M. and the Cato website:
There is near consensus among economists that free trade generates more wealth than any system that restricts cross-border exchange. Even more compelling is the morality of free trade: free people should be entitled to the fruits of their labor, and those fruits include the right to exchange with whomever and on whatever terms they choose.
To oppose free trade is to favor not only sub-optimal economic outcomes, but coercive, aggressive, and immoral actions by governments.
….
Trade barriers at home raise the costs and reduce the amount of imports that can be purchased. Free trade reduces those costs and

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Change my mind: Hectoring others to vote is like hectoring others to recycle – Publications – AEI

17 days ago

AEI
Change my mind: Hectoring others to vote is like hectoring others to recycle

Proposal: There are no major differences between:
Statement A: I think everybody has an obligation to vote, because it’s your obligation as a member of society to participate in preserving, advancing, and promoting our democracy and our society for future generations. Low voter turnout dooms our political future.
and
Statement B: I think everybody has an obligation to recycle, because it’s your obligation as a member of society to participate in preserving, advancing, and promoting our environment and scarce resources for future generations. Low rates of recycling doom our environmental future.
I think one thing both statements have in common is the assignment of a value of zero on the opportunity cost of

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Putting Apple’s $1 trillion valuation into perspective — as a separate stock market it would be the world’s 15th largest! – Publications – AEI

17 days ago

AEI
Putting Apple’s $1 trillion valuation into perspective — as a separate stock market it would be the world’s 15th largest!

The market value of Apple’s stock has been in the news lately, first in early August for being the first US company to reach a valuation of $1 trillion, see reports of that important financial milestone from the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and USA Today. Today Apple has been in the news because its shares have dropped by 7% in today’s trading, “after the smartphone manufacturer… delivered a disappointing forecast and announced that it will no longer provide unit-sales figures for the iPhone and other hardware products.” That drop in share price lowered Apple’s market capitalization by about $70 billion to slightly below $1 trillion this afternoon ($996.8 billion at

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Economist Gordon Tullock makes the case for not voting next Tuesday….. or ever….. – Publications – AEI

18 days ago

AEI
Economist Gordon Tullock makes the case for not voting next Tuesday….. or ever…..
We’re now five days away from Election Day next Tuesday (November 6) so it’s time for my semi-annual post of economist Gordon Tullock making the case for not voting next week ….. or ever!
In an unconventional, heretical, and irreverent look at voting, economist Gordon Tullock explains in the PBS video above (“Voting Schmoting”) from 2008 why he doesn’t vote, and why he believes you’d be better off avoiding the polls on Election Day next Tuesday… and every national election….
According to Professor Tullock:
People think they should vote because they’ve been told that in school, and there’s a large volume of propaganda at any point in time. Many people are under great delusions as to the importance of their

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Update on my efforts to advance civil rights and gender equity in higher education – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
Update on my efforts to advance civil rights and gender equity in higher education
In late June, I sent this email to the University of Minnesota Title IX Coordinator:
According to this UM website: “The University of Minnesota is committed to the safety, dignity, and respect of all of its students, staff, faculty, volunteers and visitors. The University prohibits all forms of sex or gender based discrimination (Title IX violations).”
According to this UM website: “The University of Minnesota shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
According to Title IX: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be

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Don Boudreaux shines on trade …. once again, and just in time! – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
Don Boudreaux shines on trade …. once again, and just in time!
It’s a claim we hear frequently from protectionists and Trump supporters, including regularly in the comments section of this blog, that China (a “band of thieves posing as a nation” according to a comment from a protectionist on this CD post) engages in the routine theft of America’s intellectual property (IP). And that alleged criminal behavior by the nefarious Chinese thereby justifies Trump’s insane trade war against China American firms and consumers buying Chinese goods to teach bad China a lesson for being a bad actor. One protectionist commented today on CD that he was willing to personally sacrifice by paying higher prices for consumer goods from China if they “send a signal to the Communist Party of China.”

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Quotation of the day on the social costs of the racial-preference regime… – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on the social costs of the racial-preference regime…
…. is from Roger Clegg’s article in Inside Higher Ed “Why Racial Preferences Remain Wrongheaded.”
So here’s my usual list of the costs of using racial preferences in university admissions.

It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students and sets a disturbing legal, political and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination.
It creates resentment and is otherwise and inevitably divisive.
It stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers and themselves, as well as future employers, clients and patients.
It mismatches African-Americans and Latinos with institutions, setting them up for failure, so that not only are those discriminated against hurt but also

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Tuesday afternoon links – Publications – AEI

20 days ago

AEI
Tuesday afternoon links

1. Chart of the Day I (above) shows that in 2016, Jews were 3 times more likely than blacks and 1.5 times more likely than Muslims to be a victim of a hate crime based on FBI Hate Crime data, see CD post here for more details. New hate crime data for 2017 will be released by the FBI in the next few weeks, and I’ll update the chart and previous post then.

2. Chart of the Day II (above) shows that the US (“Saudi America”), thanks to the shale revolution that started about a decade ago, rose to become the world’s No. oil producer in June of this year when domestic crude oil production surpassed Russia’s production, having previously out-produced Saudi Arabia in February. In July, the “Saudi America” produced nearly 11 million barrels/day (bpd) of crude oil,

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Thomas Sowell quotations: a baker’s dozen – Publications – AEI

20 days ago

AEI
Thomas Sowell quotations: a baker’s dozen

More pithy, perspicacious, and insightful wisdom from the “master of idea density” — Thomas Sowell, collected on Twitter from Daily Quotes from Thomas Sowell (not the real Thomas Sowell, but somebody who posts daily quotations from Sowell’s books and articles):

No matter how much people on the left talk about compassion, they have no compassion for the taxpayers.
If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?
In its pursuit of justice for a segment of society, in disregard of the consequences for society as a whole, what is called “social justice” might more accurately be called

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Quotation of the day on legalizing weeds….. – Publications – AEI

22 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on legalizing weeds…..
…. is from a New York Times interview with travel writer and public radio and television host Rick Steeves, an outspoken activist for the legalization of recreational marijuana:
I am not pro-marijuana. I don’t believe it is good for you. It can be abused. It’s a drug, like alcohol or tobacco. What I promote is civil liberties, and taking a thriving black market and being honest about it.
I am a taxpaying, churchgoing, kid-raising American citizen. If I work hard all day and want to smoke a joint and stare at the fireplace for three hours, that’s my civil liberty.
This is a law that is enforced inconsistently. It’s a racist law and it is not rich white guys like me who are getting arrested. It is poor people and people of color. It’s the new

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