Monday Links Do The Twist

Enough links to keep anybody happy for at least an hour:

Personal Finance: Sonya

Smith-Valentine says that auto loans are a better idea than home-equity

lines of credit if you want to buy a car, even if they carry a higher interest

rate. It’s a question of discipline, you see. I’m not convinced: the

important thing is how much interest you pay in aggregate, on all your debts,

rather than how much interest you pay on your car payments specifically. And

the extra money you make in car payments could be better used to pay down more

debt at a lower interest rate.

Development: Marc

Andreessen finds an old

Q&A with Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, who

wants we in the West to stop sending aid to Africa. I’d be interested to know

whether there’s much of a difference between Shikwati’s views and those

of Andrew Mwenda.

Economics I: These two arguments follow a similar argument:

sometimes cheaper (or free) isn’t always a good thing. Steve Waldman,

with an assist

from Dani Rodrik, teases

out the argument further:

If the best thing a teenager could do with a couple hundred thousand dollars

is to turn it into a four-year annuity for college, the utility maximizing

teenager will do that. If she chooses to do something else, by revealed preference,

that must be the better choice. Right? No.

Economics II: Alex

Tabarrok, riffing on a proposal

from John Edwards, likes the idea of prizes for healthcare

research, but says that "in fact, optimal prizes must increase

the profits of US drug companies". Why is it that whenever an economist

uses the phrase "in fact," one must always be on one’s guard against

crazy and baseless assertions?

Economics III: Tabarrok’s co-blogger Tyler Cowen,

blogfather at GMU, uses

the incentive of a prize to get people to buy his book

at Amazon and propel it up the sales charts there. The trick seems to be working:

it’s #236 in books, and it doesn’t even come out until August! The prize is

very bloggy indeed, and quite clever in the way Cowen trusts his readers.

Economics IV: Brad

DeLong vs Paul Krugman,

who’s moonlighting at the essential-for-highbrows new website Vox


Cities: The falling dollar means New

York is cheap! Or cheaper than 14 other world cities, anyway.

Banking: Can US Trust’s Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa

maintain her brand’s reputation now that it’s being

renamed U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management? Or USTBOAPWM

for not-very short, I guess.

Technology: John

Heilemann on Steve Jobs. It’s long, I haven’t read it.

But Paul Kedrosky is unimpressed.

Media: The Wall Street Journal’s cover price is going

up by 50% to $1.50. Subscribers are not affected, except that now the Journal

gets to trumpet Even! Bigger! Savings! for people who take out a subscription.

Private Equity: The Epicurean Dealmaker has a onetwo

punch on tax rates in the private equity industry. Well worth reading.

Closures: Andrew

Leonard bemoans the fact that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has moved from twist-off

to pry-off caps. Apparently this is better for the beer and more environmentally

friendly to boot. But it’s less convenient. Not to worry, Andrew, sooner or

later the entire wine industry will move to twist-off caps, which are similarly

better for the wine and more environmentally friendly to boot. The loss of beer

convenience will then be made up for with the gain of wine convenience.

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