Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Emmanuel Saez

On the recent French-born John Bates Clark Medalist, Emmanuel Saez: here and here.

Program of "Réinventer la démocratie"

Here is the program of the colloquium for which I will be in Grenoble May 8-10. And here is Pierre Rosanvallon's introductory essay.

Lagarde on "Daily Show"

Christine Lagarde made an appearance on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" last night. She handled herself well, even if she (understandably) allowed Stewart's mistaken impression that France is doing a better job at stimulating the economy than the US to stand. French speakers may have a little difficulty with some of Stewart's more esoteric references. Even Lagarde missed one or two cues. But remember that Stewart is our "Guignols de l'info," Nicolas Canteloup, Laurent Gerra, and Stéphane Guillon rolled into one (which is to say that, although he's sometimes adolescent or trite or vulgar or ill-informed, at his best he's indispensable).


The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Intro - French Finance Minister
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But They Could Read "French Politics" for Free!

Via Polly-Vous Français, word of a new English-language newspaper in France.

Ethnic Stats on Ethnic Stats

65% of the French favor the collection of ethnic statistics, according to a CSA poll. Among members of "visible minorities," 74% are in favor. And there you have an "ethnic statistic."

Paradoxically, some opponents of collection claim to do so on the grounds that collection poses a potential threat to the security of minority groups. Minorities appear not to share this fear to the same degree as those who would protect them.

A Ph.D. Thesis for Sure

I can see a few Ph.D. theses ahead. The proposed reduction of the VAT on restaurant meals from 19.6 to 5.5 percent will take effect on July 1. This provides what economists like to call a "natural experiment," even though it's entirely Menschenwerk.* Statistical ingenuity will be required to determine the price elasticity of restaurant food consumption (especially given the decline in disposable income of households due to the crisis); restaurateurs will be scrutinized to see if they keep their pledge to reduce the final price to consumers by 11.8 percentage points (after a tax reduction of 14.1 points, thus increasing their own margins by 2.3 points) and to hire 40,000 additional employees (which may eat into that increased margin). And what will be the revenue loss to the state, and the cost per job created? How many tourists who would not otherwise have come to France will be attracted by the reduced cost of restaurant meals? You can see why the problem will be worthy of a Ph.D., and why the impact of tax policy is not always easy to gauge.


* "Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk." -- Kronecker

Geithner le Bourdivin

James Kwak thinks Pierre Bourdieu provides the key to understanding the behavior of Tim Geithner.