Free the Hangers

I typed this from 10,000 feet, while on my way to the annual econ gabfest known as the ASSA meetings. I was lucky enough to score an upgrade to first class, and as I settled into my seat I was informed about the most astonishing cost-cutting measure: U.S. Airways has taken the coat hangers out of its planes.

An Unhappy Year

In a New York Times Op-Ed on Saturday, Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote that subjective well-being has remained high during the recession. But she’s dead wrong. Here’s the gist of her piece, titled “Why We’re Still Happy” : Research in psychology and economics suggests that when only your salary is cut, or when only you make a […]

Puzzling Over the Invisible Economy

Last week I did something that felt very 1990's: I purchased a compact disc. The CD wasn't for me; it was a Christmas present.

As I wrapped the CD, I pondered the silliness of the whole enterprise. After all, the recipient -- like most of us these days -- listens almost exclusively to MP3 files. In fact, I'm not even sure if he has a CD player beyond his laptop, which he will use to convert his disc-shaped gift into a more useful set of MP3 files.


Color me confused, but I’ve never really understood the difference between a bet and “financial trade.” And if there ever really was a line, it’s definitely becoming blurrier. In recent months, there have been millions of dollars bet in options markets, as traders seek a big payday in the event that the economy heads south […]

Is Happiness Contagious?

If those riding intellectual fads are sometimes guilty of sloppy reasoning, imagine what happens when two fads collide. That’s what happened when the British Medical Journal elected to publish a study analyzing 1) happiness in 2) social networks. The study, by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, concludes that happiness is contagious within social networks. According […]

Roland Fryer on The Colbert Report

I’m a bit late getting to this, but I just saw that my friend Roland Fryer appeared on The Colbert Report on Monday. He was — officially — talking about his current experiments with providing incentives for kids to get better grades. While it is pretty hard to look good next to Colbert, Roland pulled […]

The Recession Hits Home

Ronald Reagan famously described the distinction between a recession and a depression as follows: “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours.” Right now, a few more economists might be willing to use the D-word. The “help wanted” publication for Ph.D. economists is sporting a brand new […]

Assessing Your Divorce Risk

What are the odds of your marriage ending in divorce? This is a risk with some pretty important consequences, but chances are, you don’t have the foggiest idea on how to quantify it. Until now. My favorite economist (and my significant other), Betsey Stevenson, has put together a neat online widget for the folks at […]

What Krugman Was Really Thinking

What was Paul Krugman thinking when he met President Bush last week? Here’s a list of over 300 photo captions from readers of this blog, and another couple hundred from Marginal Revolution here (with others here and Tyler Cowen‘s favorites here). Krugman, who graciously agreed to judge our Freako-versus-MR caption-that-photo contest, has spoken: Actually, I […]

TiVo Economics

I love my TiVo. And like a good economist, I’ve been trying to quantify this love. Here’s what I came up with. I watch about six hours of television programming per week. The miracle of the “30-second skip” button means that I haven’t watched an advertisement in years. Consequently, six hours of programming only takes […]