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Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “It’s Not the President, Stupid.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) The gist: it’s time to admit that the U.S. economy doesn’t have a commander-in-chief.
Over the years, we’ve regularly visited the question of how influential the president of the U.S. really is. This segment focuses on the president’s influence over the economy — which, if you believe polling data, will be the central concern for many voters as the 2012 election unfurls.
In this Marketplace segment, you’ll hear from Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago economist who has served President Obama as both campaign adviser and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers:
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GOOLSBEE: I think the world vests too much power, certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.
The Fed is now engaged in the game of “forward guidance”—they’ve announced that they anticipate keeping interest rates at zero, until late 2014—and hope that it will shape the recovery. But what effects will this announcement have? To figure this out, let’s visit two of the greatest ever Fed Chairmen: Eeyore and Tigger. Read More »
Yesterday’s NY Times contained a very flattering (and quite personal!) profile of Betsey Stevenson and me. For me, it was all worth it just to get a great family portrait. (Have you ever tried to get a dog and a toddler to look at the camera at the same time?)
I don’t really have a lot to add, other than to say that I thought the author, Motoko Rich, did a fabulous job. Hopefully it gives folks outside the ivory tower some sense of just what it is that animates the lives of economists. And yes, I admit that reading it, you’ll quickly conclude both that we are passionate about economics, and that we fit the usual stereotypes about academics. And if the article makes it sound like we are crazy about our kid, that’s because we are. Read More »
One of the most wonderful things about Twitter is the spontaneous conversations that start around almost anything. And so, inspired by the hilarious #HealthPolicyValentines, I began a new hashtag on Twitter this morning: #FedValentines. Folks are tweeting all sorts of Fed-themed valentine’s wishes. As I write, it’s the second-top trending hashtag in the U.S.
Season 2, Episode 3
In this episode we ask a simple, heretical question: How much does the President of the United States really matter? Stephen Dubner talks to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, economists Austan Goolsbee and Justin Wolfers, and constitutional scholar Bernadette Meyler about how the President’s actual influence can be measured. And Steve Levitt weighs in on how the President shapes the nation.
Also in this episode, we look at another supposed truism: hitchhiking is terribly dangerous. But is that really true? Read More »
This week the Census Bureau came out with revised statistics on the number of same-sex married couples. As of 2010, there were 131,729 same-sex married couples living in the U.S., and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households. These numbers are way below the previous estimates released last summer, which tabulated the number of same-sex married couples as 349,377, and same-sex unmarried partner households 552,620.
So, did 217,648 same-sex married couples simply vanish in the span of a couple months? No, the error seems to be due to a small number of people checking the wrong gender box on the door-to-door census form. Here’s the explanation: Read More »
Last spring, we posted on Phil Tetlock’s massive prediction tournament: Good Judgment. You might remember Tetlock from our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Folly of Prediction.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or read the transcript here.)
Tetlock is a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, well-known for his book Expert Political Judgment, in which he tracked 80,000 predictions over the course of 20 years. Turns out that humans are not great at predicting the future, and experts do just a bit better than a random guessing strategy. Read More »