Category Archives: applied price theory

Book Review

A Blog on Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was famously ignored by his mother and father during his childhood, although perhaps no more so than any other aristocratic parents ignored their children in the Victorian age. They would diligently rush to his side on the occasions when he fell terribly ill, but neither parent spent nearly any time with their son and they seemed particularly disinterested in him. Lord Randolph rarely saw Winston and, perhaps attributed to the effects of his fatal illness, subjected him by letter to cruel rebukes and smashing broadsides. Lady Randolph was bored by both by Winston and his brother Jack and did not bother much to see them, as Andrew Roberts notes she saw her sons a mere 13 times in the first seven months of 1882 (for comparison, she had tea with her friend Lady Blanche Hozier 26 times in that span). Parental affection and attention was delegated to the…

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Coup-Proofing, Military Defection, and the Arab Spring: (Tullock Vindicated!)


Note to a jetlagged @jamespeshaw from William Nordhous

Thomas Szasz vs Albert Ellis: Is Mental Illness a Myth?

Existential Stoic

In a debate, recorded in 1977, Thomas Szasz and Albert Ellis argue over the concept of mental illness. Szasz argues forcefully and humorously for his position that mental illness is a sort of metaphor for problems in life. Albert Ellis maintains that mental illness is a useful concept that should not be dismissed.

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The Economics of Szasz: Preferences, Constraints, and Mental Illness

Existential Stoic

In the paper, The Economics of Szasz: Preferences, Constraints, and Mental Illness, Bryan Caplan summarizes Thomas Szasz’s views on mental illness and translates them into the language of economics. Caplan is an economist with a wide variety of interests. He is an interesting writer, thinker, and regularly provokes conversation on Twitter and his blog. Caplan won the Thomas Szasz Award in 2005 for the above-mentioned article. Caplan mentions on his blog that having a conversation with Szasz was a “highlight of my intellectual life“.

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Forging ahead, falling behind and fighting back: British economic growth from the industrial revolution to the financial crisis (

Notes On Liberty

Nick Crafts can be viewed as the doyen of British economic history. His major publications date back to the 1970s – a favorite of mine is this piece from 1977 on the role played by chance in determining whether the Industrial Revolution would occur in England or France.  He is also the joint author of the Crafts-Harley interpretation of the Industrial Revolution.  But, perhaps because the majority of his research focuses on British economic history, he remains highly underrated outside of the UK.  His new book Forging ahead, falling behind and fighting back: British economic growth from the industrial revolution to the financial crisis summarizes much of his research.

I’ve reviewed it for the Economic History Review. But given the whims of academic publishing, it may be a long time until my review appears in print so I’ve decided to post a preview of my draft below.


Why was…

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The Best Biographies of Ronald Reagan

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

CarterCoinA good rule-of-thumb suggests that 25-30 years are required before sufficient time and historical distance have passed to take the true measure of a presidency. By that standard, Ronald Reagan may be the most recent president whose tenure we can currently hope to objectively assess.

And while I’ve enjoyed almost every moment of this 2,180 day (and counting!) biographical journey, Ronald Reagan is the president whose biographies I’ve most looked forward to reading. After all, he’s the first president whose time in the White House I distinctly remember.

Over the past 2½ months I read a dozen biographies of Reagan including three traditional biographies, one “character study”, a two-volume series by Lou Cannon, a two-volume series by Steven Hayward and a four-volume “biographical coalition” by Craig Shirley.

It was a fascinating undertaking, to say the least…

* * *

* “Reagan: The Life” (2015) by H. W. Brands…

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Gender Ideology and Science

if you draw a random man and a random woman from the population, and you bet that the woman is more aggressive/less agreeable, you’d be correct about 40% of the time. But if you walked into a roomful of people everyone of whom had been selected to be the most aggressive person out of a 100, almost every one of them would be male.

Science Matters

A fresh report from the front lines comes from (who else) Jordan Peterson: The gender scandal – in Scandinavia and Canada   Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Men and women are similar. But importantly different. No matter what Sweden’s feminist foreign minister says.

Part One (Scandinavia)

Over the past few weeks, I have been in Oslo, twice; Helsinki, twice; Stockholm, twice; and Copenhagen, once. One of the trips to Stockholm was only for press interviews and television. The other six trips were part of my 12 Rules for Life tour, which has now covered 100 cities. The reason for the dual visits? We arranged relatively smaller venues for the lectures in those Scandinavian towns and they sold out immediately. Scandinavians are interested in what I am saying. They are radically over-represented among those who view my YouTube lectures.

In the last lecture, in Helsinki, it was Finland’s Father’s Day…

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RIP: Prof Douglass North

Mostly Economics

The blog was on a break which got longer than planned. There has been no blogging for a while and it is quite a sad post to start off with.

Prof Douglass North  passed away this week. No words can do justice to the contribution made by Prof North to institutional economics.  There is a collection of tributes on MR and another one at his Univ website.

I only have couple of things to add. I was once reading his interview where he said he learnt most of his economics after his PhD! Moreover, he mugged and cleared his written comprehensive exams (a set of exams in a Phd program one has to clear before writing the dissertation). But the people on his oral viva figured he knew very little about economics. They could not fail him as his written scores were really good! Sometimes inefficiency in the system…

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