Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States

Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States
John Landon-Lane, Hugh Rockoff, Richard H. Steckel
NBER Working Paper No. 15596*
Issued in December 2009
NBER Program(s): DAE
The relationships among the weather, agricultural markets, and financial markets have long been of interest to economic historians, but relatively little empirical work has been done. We push this literature forward by using modern drought indexes, which are available in detail over a wide area and for long periods of time to perform a battery of tests on the relationship between these indexes and sensitive indicators of financial stress. The drought indexes were devised by climate historians from instrument records and tree rings, and because they are unfamiliar to most economic historians and economists, we briefly describe the methodology. The financial literature in the area can be traced to William Stanley Jevons, who connected his sun spot theory to rainfall patterns. The Dust bowl of the 1930s brought the climate-finance link to the attention of the general public. Here we assemble new evidence to test various hypotheses involving the impact of extreme swings in moisture on financial stress.
I would like to test Mike Davis' thesis that severe droughts in the end of the XIX century put the Brazilian Northeast in a poverty trap.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ramsey and Kant

Dixit writes about a tale that Samuelson told him:

"On his first day as an undergraduate at Cambridge, Ramsey went to his philosophy tutor Ogden, to discuss some ideas he had about essence and being. After listening, Ogden said, “These notions are rather like those of Kant.” “Kant? Who is he?” “Immanuel Kant was the author of this book I’ll lend you, Kritik der reinen Vernunft.” “But it’s in German, sir, and I don’t know any German.” “That’s all right, I’ll lend you this dictionary.” A couple of weeks later Ramsey came back to Ogden saying “Kant has it almost right, but …” "

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Google toolbar in firefox allows you to browse Chinese Amazon . Take care. The "Flirting apparatus" section is NSFW.

Saturday, January 9, 2010



Creativity: here and here. (via boing boing)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Two quotes that I will repeat as mine

"I started this blog because my wife wanted me to stop telling her all my ideas, and this was a cheap way to communicate with all my friends in academia." (So did I!)
"I think it's important to know what you don't know. When you know that you don't know something, the answer is to experiment!"
From the interview of Matthew Kahn's, the urban and environmental economist (via Marginal Revolution).
(BTW, he is married to Dora Costa, the brilliant economic historian.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010