Put Your Money Where Your B-Tush Is

Thanks to The Times‘s nice writeup (“Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is”), an Internet company that I helped found, www.stickK.com, has been getting a spike in commitment contracts. As readers of this blog know, stickK (shameless plug) is a commitment store that helps you stick to your goals. We’ll elicit support from your […]

I Pay Them to Leave

A business exec told me that he thinks of consulting firms a bit like Charlie Sheen thinks about prostitutes. When I asked him to explain, he said that when Sheen was being sentenced for using a prostitute, the judge asked him why a man like him would have to pay for sex. And Sheen reportedly […]

Comment, Comment on the Wall, Are You Community or Not at All

One of the coolest things about posting at Freakonomics is the chance to be educated by your high-quality comments, which add to our posts and sometimes correct our mistakes. But to be honest, every once in a while I have been depressed by the harsh general tone of criticism. (For example, the comments here got […]

Investment Tips for Retirees Worried About Inflation

As I was getting coffee in the faculty lounge, I started talking to a senior colleague who is nearing retirement. He said that he avoided a lot of the market pain of the last year because he had only about 25 percent of his savings in stock. (Now with the market drop, he has an […]

Good Economic News for the Holidays: Volatility Is Down

One of the most important but underreported financial indicators is the CBOE‘s Volatility Index (^VIX), which measures the market’s expectation of future volatility in stock prices. (The CBOE has written a nice technical white paper describing how it is calculated, here.) Traditionally, the annualized volatility of the S&P 500 has been 20 percent, but last […]

The Art of SATergy

My son took the SSAT exam this past Saturday. And while I was sitting in the Choate athletic facility waiting for him to finish, I remembered that Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff‘s new book, The Art of Strategy, has a great example concerning standardized testing. Game theory is so powerful it can help you figure […]

Dubai, Shanghai, Mumbai, or the Highway

In early December, I spoke at a Yale Law School breakfast on the current financial crisis — focusing on Robert Shiller‘s book, The Subprime Solution. (Several of my earlier posts — here and here — were actually preparation for my presentation.) The first question to Shiller from the audience began: “Lots of my investment-banker friends […]

An All-Pay Auction

Martin Shubik invented a famous game-theory exercise, sometimes called “the dollar auction,” where a teacher auctions off a $20 bill to the highest bidder. Bids have to be in round dollar amounts, but the twist is that both the highest and the second-highest bidder have to pay. When uninitiated students start to play this game, […]

What Do Neil Patrick Harris and Jennifer Gerarda Brown Have in Common?

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die. In “Proposition 8 — The Musical,” Neil Patrick Harris argues “there’s money to be made” — from weddings (and subsequent divorces) if California legalizes same-sex marriage. But my coauthor Jennifer Gerard Brown beat him to the punch. In “Competitive Federalism and the Legislative Incentives to Recognize […]

Who Killed Jdimytai Damour?

Like many others, I’ve had a difficult time during this Thanksgiving weekend to get my mind around the tragic trampling of Wal-Mart employee Jdimytai Damour. Did people keep shopping? Did the Valley Stream store make any sales before the police closed it down? Who put up the sign outside the store saying “Blitz Line Starts […]