When I was in high school, we read I Can Jump Puddles (1955 ) –  an autobiography by Alan Marshall. He contracted polio in 1908 at the age of 6. At the time, I didn’t really notice how recent the threat of polio was.

Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned.

Soon after Dr Jonas Salk’s vaccine was licensed in 1955, children’s vaccination campaigns were launched. In the U.S, following a mass immunization campaign promoted by the March of Dimes, the annual number of polio cases fell from 35,000 in 1953 to 5,600 by 1957. By 1961 only 161 cases were recorded in the United States.

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Until the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world:

Jonas Salk made scientists and journalists alike go goofy.

As one of the only living scientists whose face was known the world over, Salk, in the public’s eye, had a superstar aura.

Airplane pilots would announce that he was on board and passengers would burst into applause. Hotels routinely would upgrade him into their penthouse suites.

A meal at a restaurant inevitably meant an interruption from an admirer, and scientists approached him with drop-jawed wonder as though some of the stardust might rub off

Image  —  Posted: November 1, 2014 by Jim Rose in applied price theory, applied welfare economics, entrepreneurship, industrial organisation
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Photo: Oh noooo, not the blueberries as well, is any fruit safe???

HT: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

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Image  —  Posted: November 1, 2014 by Jim Rose in energy economics, environmental economics, global warming
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Image  —  Posted: November 1, 2014 by Jim Rose in environmental economics
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Identifying financial crises after the fact is problematic: researchers will disagree on what their characteristics were, when they started and ended, and what actually counts as a crisis. This is particularly true of crises before World War II or involving developing economies, for which accurate data are harder to come by.

So the Romers created a measure of financial distress based on real-time accounts of developed-economy conditions prepared semiannually by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development between 1967 and 2007. And to check that the OECD wasn’t for some reason off-base on conditions, they crosschecked it with central bank annual reports and articles in The Wall Street Journal.

They then scored the severity of financial conditions from zero to 15, thus avoiding quibbles over what is and isn’t a crisis and allowing for more precise readings of economic effects.

Their finding: Declines in economic output, as measured by gross domestic product and industrial production, following crises were on average moderate and often short-lived. There was a lot of variation in outcomes, so there was nothing cut and dried about how economies respond to crises…

via Romer and Romer vs. Reinhart and Rogoff – MoneyBeat – WSJ.

Romers’ work suggests the poor performance of economies around the world in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis shouldn’t be cast as inevitable. In The Current Financial Crisis: What Should We Learn From the Great Depressions of the 20th Century? de Cordoba and Kehoe note that:

 Kehoe and Prescott [2007] conclude that bad government policies are responsible for causing great depressions. In particular, they hypothesize that, while different sorts of shocks can lead to ordinary business cycle downturns, overreaction by the government can prolong and deepen the downturn, turning it into a depression.

Originally posted on Uneasy Money:

There’s been a lot of comment recently about the infamous 2010 open letter to Ben Bernanke penned by an assorted group of economists, journalists, and financiers warning that the Fed’s quantitative easing policy would cause inflation and currency debasement.

Critics of that letter (e.g., Paul Krugman and Brad Delong) have been having fun with the signatories, ridiculing them for what now seems like a chicken-little forecast of disaster. Those signatories who have responded to inquiries about how they now feel about that letter, notably Cliff Asness and Nial Ferguson, have made two arguments: 1) the letter was just a warning that QE was creating a risk of inflation, and 2) despite the historically low levels of inflation since the letter was written, the risk that inflation could increase as a result of QE still exists.

For the most part, critics of the open letter have focused on the…

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On their website, Van der Zee now urges supporters of homeopathy to sign the Change.org petition started in Australia, calling on WHO “to test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks”.

Among the signatories is Steffan Browning, a Green Party MP in New Zealand.

He was publicly dismissed by the prime minister John Key as “barking mad”.

“Let’s be honest, this is a serious global issue, and if he really thinks that’s the answer I’d love to see the medical research,” said Key.

Browning admitted “it was probably a bit unwise” to sign the petition, which he also shared on his Facebook page encouraging other people to sign it. He said he had signed it “pretty late at night”, although he hoped WHO would keep an open mind on potential treatment options, since there was currently no cure.

New Zealand’s health minister, Jonathan Coleman, however, said treating Ebola patients with homeopathic remedies was “a wacko idea”, adding: “I don’t know what he’s thinking, it’s very, very dangerous. I think he really needs to engage his brain, it’s a really and stupid dangerous idea.”

via Homeopaths offer services ‘to help fight’ Ebola epidemic in west Africa | World news | The Guardian.

via An Open Letter to Paul Krugman | David K. Levine.