Saturday , January 25 2020
Home / Tag Archives: Information Goods, Intellectual Property

Tag Archives: Information Goods, Intellectual Property

Advice on Writing

In my post on favorite books yesterday, one book I highlighted was Albert Ellis’s A Guide to Rational Living. I pointed out that it, and Roger Callahan, the psychotherapist who recommended it, helped me with my extreme case of writer’s block. In response, a regular reader of this blog who is a graduate economics student wrote me. I offered to give advice on writer’s block and he wanted it. So here’s my advice. I’ve edited it a little since emailing him. The basic...

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Is the “War on Tech” just around the corner?

The media says yes. I say no. Before explaining why, I’ll use a couple of analogies. In the 1980s, I recall reading that all the recent innovations in macro, especially “micro foundations”, would eventually lead to lots of Great New Models.  The great new models never arrived and macroeconomics circa 2019 is complete mess. A few years later, behavioral economics was the new fad.  Again we were told that these behavioral insights would revolutionize the field.  If you...

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Bill Gates and Ohio auto parts factory workers

China recently announced that it will beef up its intellectual property rights enforcement: China said on Sunday it would seek to improve protections for intellectual property rights, including raising the upper limits for compensation for rights infringements. . . . The document said that by 2022, China should be making progress in issues that have affected intellectual property rights enforcement, such as low compensation, high costs, and the difficulty of proof. By...

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Monopolize the Pretty Lies

Why do dictators deny people the right to speak freely?  The obvious response is, “The truth hurts.”  Dictators are bad, so if people can freely speak the truth, they will say bad things about the dictator.  This simultaneously wounds dictators’ pride and threatens their power, so dictators declare war on the truth. But is this story right?  Consider: If you want to bring an incumbent dictator down, do you really want to be hamstrung by the truth?  It’s far easier –...

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My Ah Hah Moment About Academia

I was telling a friend the following true story last week and we both think it’s relevant to people who are hesitant about approaching famous academics. In the spring of 1979, when I was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Management (now called the Simon School), I applied for, and was offered, a job as senior policy analyst at the Cato Institute in San Francisco. I accepted the job. When I announced it to my...

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When the shoe was on the other foot (A suggestion for Chinese trade negotiators)

US trade negotiators complain that China is stealing or borrowing Western inventions without sufficient compensation. How might the Chinese negotiators respond? Here’s my suggestion. The Chinese might want to ask how much China has been compensated for its inventions. How much did the West pay China for the secret to making gunpowder? How much did the West pay China for the compass? How much did the West pay for the secret to making silk? How much did the West pay for...

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The US and China—more alike than you think

Here’s the Financial Times: Caught in the middle is Silicon Valley. Many US technology companies are concerned that China is using unfair and even illicit tactics to get ahead. But there are also rampant fears that the Trump administration’s approach could backfire. When the export controls notice was released, US technology lobbyists in Washington were at pains to explain that they were at risk of losing access to a big market for their new products, and of losing...

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What should be regarded as property?

I was originally going to entitle this post “What is property?” But that’s not really the question, is it? Tangible products such as bicycles and haircuts and food are considered by economists to be rival goods, consumption of the good by one person prevents its use by another.  Non-rival goods include things like broadcast TV.  If I tune in to Seinfeld, it doesn’t prevent another person from tuning in to the same show.  For that reasons, private broadcast TV...

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Parmesan cheese and Sunbucks Coffee

What are we to make of firms that sell products under name that misleads consumers? Consider an American firm selling “Parmesan” cheese that is actually made is Wisconsin, or a Chinese firm selling “Sunbucks Coffee” using a non-Starbucks recipe? I see good arguments both ways.  On the one hand, actual Parmesan cheese and actual Starbucks coffee are likely (albeit not certainly) better than the counterfeit version.  On the other hand, how much harm does counterfeiting...

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A Problem with Information Mandates

Even many very pro-free-market economists, noting that there is imperfect information in the marketplace, advocate that government provide information or require private firms to provide information. Even they often tend to regard government as an entity that will somehow provide the right kind of information or mandate that firms provide the right kind of information. In the real world, though, it is not that simple. Governments may provide irrelevant information or mandate irrelevant...

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