More Collateral Damage From the 9/11 Attacks

In SuperFreakonomics, we catalogued some of the collateral costs of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including roughly 1,000 extra traffic deaths in the U.S. in the three months after 9/11, the result of so many people driving instead of flying:

Such trickle-down effects are nearly endless. Thousands of foreign-born university students and professors were kept out of the United States because of new visa restrictions after the September 11 attacks. At least 140 U.S. corporations exploited the ensuing stock market decline by illegally backdating stock options. In New York City, so many police resources were shifted to terrorism that other areas — the Cold Case Squad, for one, as well as anti-Mafia units — were neglected. A similar pattern was repeated on the national level. Money and manpower that otherwise would have been spent chasing financial scoundrels were instead diverted to chasing terrorists— perhaps contributing to, or at least exacerbating, the recent financial meltdown.

The Wall Street Journal now reports on a most unlikely unintended consequence of the attacks and the ensuing hunt for Osama bin Laden:

The Osama Spike on Obama's Re-Election Chances, Per InTrade

Here it is:

These things don't last long, do they? Meanwhile, Rick Perry has a better chance of winning the GOP's nomination (29%) than Rupert Murdoch has of being booted by year's end (20%).

Disney's Stealthy "Seal Team Six" Trademark Move

On May 1st, Seal Team Six killed Osama bin Laden. On May 3rd, the Walt Disney Company—usually known for animated films about princesses and singing bears--applied for a trademark on the term “Seal Team Six.”

The standard economic rationale for trademark law is that trademarks reduce search costs for consumers. Think about a trip to buy new running sneakers. There may be dozens of pairs on the shelves of your local store. And many hundreds more online. How do you choose?

Smart Kids in Abbottabad

Life is all about incentives, as this paragraph from a New York Times article about Bin Laden makes clear:

"When children playing in the fields let a ball fly into the [Bin Laden] compound by mistake, the owners never let them retrieve it but gave them 50 rupees to buy a new one, said one of the neighbors, a woman with a small boy on her hip who gave her name only as Bibi. When the children began to throw balls into the compound on purpose to get more money, the owners kept paying, she said, laughing."

(HT Jim Covington)

How Big Will the Osama Halo Effect Be for Obama?

Think back to high school. The quarterback on the football team had a legendary game over the weekend, and made everyone associated with the school so proud they could split their pants. On Monday, he's treated like a hero.

But, interestingly, people find themselves thinking better of him not only for his athletic exploits. Suddenly, everything about him seems a cut above.