10 Toys That Were Banned For Ridiculous Reasons

UK High Commissioner Morrice James on the Whitlam Dismissal 1975

Hatful of History

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I have blogged in the past about the files at the National Archives in London revealing the British attitudes towards the ‘constitutional crisis’ of 1975, when Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr after the Liberals, under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser, refused to pass supply bills in the Senate. When I was last in the UK, I photographed the three files that I had previously mentioned and am finally getting the chance to have a look at the documents, which seems timely with the recent death of Whitlam and the 39th anniversary of ‘The Dismissal’. The document I have decided to blog about is a report for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the crisis by the UK High Commissioner in Australia at the time, Morrice James. Written in late November 1975 under the title, ‘The Australian Constitutional Crisis, 1975’, James outlined the events…

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Sunk Costs, Market Structure and Football Clubs

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Over the holidays I read Stefan Szymanski’s book “Money and Football – A Soccernomics Guide”. Szymanski also co-authored “Soccernomics” with Simon Kuper. There were various references to economic theory through the book which I will refer to on this blog.

Market Dominance

Dominance in a market is often associated with the lack of competition whether it be due to monopoly power, predatory pricing, the scale of investment etc. However this is not the case when it comes to football. Szymanski mentions the fact that there are 27 professional teams withn a 50 mile radius of Manchester Utd. If fans don’t like United, there are plenty of alternatives as there are in Madrid which has 5 professional clubs. In some countries football rivals play in the same stadium:

  • In Germany: Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich,
  • In Italy: Inter Milan and AC Milan,
  • In Switzerland: FC Zurich and FC Grasshopper

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“The Burden of Knowledge and the ‘Death of the Renaissance Man’: Is Innovation Getting Harder?,” Benjamin Jones (2009)

There is a far better literature arguing that innovation is getting harder rather than the robots are coming for all our jobs.

A Fine Theorem

I do love a good piece of applied theory. I think of applied theory as the following. Gather some set of stylized facts about the world. Make zero attempt whatsoever to identify causal arguments from the data itself; no IV estimation, no discontinuity design, no random assignment, no natural experiments, etc. Rather, write a model of economic behavior which can simultaneously generate all of the above facts. To the extent that the model also implies some other facts about the world, don’t worry about it; the model is a metaphor, as I’ve discussed on this site in the past. I don’t mean to imply that a model is good iff it can explain some limited sphere we care about, as Friedman argued. I mean a model is good if it can provide a plausible guide to our thinking about an inherently messy social science problem: that is what is meant…

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