Economics is…

posted by Stal on 2010.01.18, under Stal

Economics Is

A follow-up from prior discussion of AutocompleteMe and Why are [ethnic group]?

Research Job Vacancy

posted by Stal on 2010.01.14, under Stal

Following up on the debate over demand for escort services…economists take note–the University of Leeds has a job for you.

You will work on an ESRC funded study on the rise and regulation of lap dancing and the place of sexual labour and consumption in the night time economy. The post will involve qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. It is based in Leeds, although some travel to other cities may be necessary.

Who said economics was boring?

[ Research Officer Job Vacancy / HT: KM] ]

Panhandling Economics

posted by Stal on 2009.10.14, under Stal

Having always been curious about what would happen if I started busking at the Jackson L stop, this article on professional panhandlers was pretty interesting:

People’s generosity encourages the begging. About four out of ten Denver residents gave to panhandlers, city officials determined several years ago, anteing up an estimated $4.6 million a year. Anecdotal surveys by journalists and police, and even testimony by panhandlers themselves, suggest that begging can yield anywhere from $20 to $100 a day—though police in Coos Bay, Oregon, found that local panhandlers were taking in as much as $300 a day in a Wal-Mart parking lot. “A panhandler could make thirty to forty thousand dollars a year, tax-free money,” Baker says. In Memphis, a local FOX News reporter, Jason Carter, donned old clothes and hit the streets earlier this year, earning about $10 an hour. “Just the quasi-appearance of being homeless filled my cup,” Carter observed. That all the money is beyond the tax man’s clutches adds to the allure of professional panhandling.

Carter prepared for his stint on the street by surfing the Internet, where a variety of websites dispense panhandling advice. NeedCom, for example—subtitled “Market Research for Panhandlers”—offers tips from Baker and other pros on how to hustle. The website’s developer, Cathy Davies, wants it to get people “thinking about panhandling as a realistic economic activity, rather than thinking that panhandlers are lazy or don’t work very hard.”

The rise of online panhandling advice helps explain why panhandlers and “sign flyers”—beggars who use signs to solicit donations—exhibit remarkably similar methods around the country. Currently, the direct, humorous approach is in vogue. That’s why in many cities today you’ll hear some version of: “I won’t lie to you, I need a drink.” Panhandlers also report that asking for specific amounts of money lends credibility to pitches. “I need 43 more cents to get a cup of coffee,” a panhandler will declare; some people will give exactly that much, while others will simply hand over a buck.

If it seems unlikely that a homeless person would surf the Web for advice on how to panhandle, that’s exactly the point: many aren’t homeless and are lying about their circumstances. A reporter for KUTV in Salt Lake City followed and filmed panhandlers for several months, documenting their scams. One twentysomething woman wielded a sign informing people that she was homeless and needed a bus ticket back to Seattle. The reporter followed her one day, however, and discovered that she lived in a nearby suburb. Confronted by the reporter, the woman explained away her deception: “I don’t say anything to anybody. I hold this sign. I don’t make anybody give me money.” Her story isn’t unique: homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson told KUTV that some 70 percent of panhandlers in Salt Lake City aren’t describing their situations accurately.

[ The Professional Panhandling Plague / City Journal ]

Bernanke’s Successor

posted by Vitamin-T on 2009.08.05, under Vitamin-T

The current recession has forced many economists to reevaluate their theories.  Amid this confusion, a relatively unknown philosopher has appeared and revolutionized the way we think about the capitalist system:

Hot Waitress Economic Index

posted by Stal on 2009.08.04, under Stal

In the Department of Leading Employment Indicators:

In New York, we have our own economic indicators, often based on the degree to which people are being thwarted by the lack of opportunity. An old standby is the Overeducated Cabbie Index. The Squeegee Man Apparition Index is another good one. There’s also the Speed at Which Contractors Return Calls Index: within 24 hours, you’re in a recession; if they call you without prompting, that’s a depression.

The indicator I prefer is the Hot Waitress Index: The hotter the waitresses, the weaker the economy. In flush times, there is a robust market for hotness. Selling everything from condos to premium vodka is enhanced by proximity to pretty young people (of both sexes) who get paid for providing this service. That leaves more-punishing work, like waiting tables, to those with less striking genetic gifts. But not anymore.

For the less-genetically blessed out there, the article does go on to say that many managers would prefer to see high levels of say, competence, rather than pulchritude among their server staff.

[ What the Hotness of Your Waitress Says About the Economy / NY Mag]

Chuck Norris, Investment Banker

posted by Stal on 2009.05.01, under Stal

Chuck Norris Facts, Finance edition:

Chuck Norris does not mark to market. The market marks to Chuck.

Chuck Norris does not go bankrupt. Chuck Norris ruptures banks.

Source of hedge fund survivorship bias? Funds that pay Chuck Norris 2 and 20 survive; others don’t.

Private equity: Chuck Norris does not believe in leverage. Chuck Norris believes in crowbars.

Investment banking: No one defers Chuck Norris’s compensation.

Capital structure: No one subordinates Chuck Norris. All his equity is preferred.

If Chuck Norris devised the bank stress tests, not even the Treasury Department would survive.

[ via Felix Salmon ]

Paying for Hugs

posted by Stal on 2009.04.29, under Stal

Free $2 Hugs: This is one of the best pranks I’ve seen in a while.

[ via Marginal Revolution ]