Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In today's Calgary Herald there is a report that the medical officer for the Canadian Olympic Committee is calling for Canada's Olympic Athletes to be at the front of the line for H1N1 vaccination.
"Dr. Bob McCormack, chief medical officer for Canadian Olympic Committee, said Tuesday that, although the policy may seem unfair to other at-risk groups for the flu, including pregnant women, the elderly and aboriginals, the country’s elite athletes should be safeguarded from sickness during their time on the international stage. ..
The example that will make most sense to Canadians is, what if the men’s hockey team got swine flu and were unable to achieve their goal of a gold medal? Canadians would be very disappointed,” said McCormack. "
I am not a fan of having public monies spent to host the Olympic Games at the best of times but to me, this story highlights how out of whack social values seem to be when it comes to the Olympics. This goes beyond the displacement of vulnerable low income groups during the construction period, the diversion of public money away from other less sexy spending categories like education, and the legacy of public debt that all Canadians will inevitably be saddled with after Vancouver. It goes beyond the affront to social justice encountered by female ski jumpers who are legally appealing their exclusion from the Vancouver games.
I guess what I am left wondering is exactly what value do Canadians put on Olympic medals. Is a gold medal in Men's hockey at the Olympics really a higher priority than preventing deaths amongst vulnerable members of our society?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Economist John Quiggin has a new book (in progress) entitled Zombie Economics. Now, don't think its about a microeconomic analysis of the undead's behavior or the costs and benefits of eating brains. Rather,
Its worth reading. His analysis and the resulting implications of the efficient market hypothesis (and other theories) are insightful and well-written.
Before the global financial crisis ideas like the Efficient Markets Hypothesis and the Great Moderation were very much alive. Their advocates dominated mainstream economics and their influence, acknowledged or not, guided the thinking of the practical men and women whose decisions created a financial system in which tens of trillions of dollars of interlinked obligations were built on a foundation of speculative, or entirely spurious investments, and a global economy in which both households and nations lived far beyond their means.
Today these ideas appear to be defunct. Commentators who were proclaiming, a year or two ago, that the business cycle had been tamed, and replaced by a Great Moderation in economic activity, have admitted their error or, more commonly, moved on to talk of other things. The claim that financial markets make the best possible use of economic information, and can never be subject to irrational bubbles, is rarely made, and usually hedged with all kinds of qualifications and escape clauses.
But habits of mind and thought are hard to change, especially when there is no ready-made alternative. The ideas that brought the global financial system to the brink of meltdown, and have already caused thousands of firms to fail and cost millions of workers their jobs, still underlie the thinking of those who are trying to respond to the crisis and, to a large extent, of the commentators and analysts who assess those responses. These ideas are neither alive nor dead; rather, they are undead, or zombie ideas. Hence the title of this book.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Below is a recent piece by Narayana Kocherlakota documenting his thoughts on macroeconomics. I thought the last point he makes is particularly germane to the discussion I had with my student.