FREAK-est Links

1. Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy on the failed war on drugs.

2. Selling beer at college football games worked out pretty well for the University of Minnesota this season: $907,000 in alcohol sales and fewer incidents.

3. The Economist's 2012 in charts.

4. Hedging hackers: firms create fake data to defend against data thieves.

Are Corporate Fines High Enough to Make a Difference?

The last three months have seen several large corporate fines levied in response to various high-profile financial scandals, but an article in The Economist asks if fines are still not high enough to actually deter crime:

The economics of crime prevention starts with a depressing assumption: executives simply weigh up all their options, including the illegal ones. Given a risk-free opportunity to mis-sell a product, or form a cartel, they will grab it. Most businesspeople are not this calculating, of course, but the assumption of harsh rationality is a useful way to work out how to deter rule-breakers.

Extremely high and extremely low fines both carry costs, so The Economist suggests a middle ground: fines that offset the benefits of the crime itself.

Can Mobile Phones Change the World?

The Economist has a special section this week on mobile phone technology in emerging markets. The section includes articles on trends in mobile phone ownership, the role mobile phones are playing in economic development, and new uses for the technology.

Why There's Only One Economist

With the magazine industry in bad shape, newsweeklies are trying to imitate the one freakishly successful exception: The Economist. In a Vanity Fair article, Matt Pressman outlines four reasons why they can’t, using analogies like this one to explain: “The Economist is like that exotic coffee that comes from beans that have been eaten and […]

N.B.E.R. Economists on the Candidates’ Economic Plans

Apparently, The Economist magazine doesn’t think a survey of economists by Dilbert creator Scott Adams is sufficient, so they’ve done their own. Via e-mail, The Economist contacted all the economists in the National Bureau of Economic Research (N.B.E.R.) — a sample that would include just about every top economist in the United States — and […]

Debating the Future of Water

Photo: r-z If you’re looking to get your mind off the financial disaster and instead focus on another potential disaster — the worldwide water supply — you might want to check out The Economist‘s online debate on the subject. From The Economist: It’ll be a two-week long, Oxford-style online debate on the topic of the […]

Pasties, Pasties Everywhere

Last week, I learned two important things. They both happened as the result of a post I wrote about various errors, typographical and otherwise. I noted that the excellent Economist magazine dropped an “r” from the word “pastries,” inadvertently rendering it “pasties.” Well, The Economist was not wrong but I sure was. Many readers informed […]