Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (March 2020)


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | On “armchair epidemiology”


Comic: xkcd | Pathogen Resistance

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Oregon Closes Online Schools!!!

Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Beyond testing -- The central question for pandemic policy.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Who and what will rise and fall in status?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Sicken Thy Neighbor Trade Policy


Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Bailouts v Bankruptcy

Blog: Marginal Revolution | From the comments, more about Maurice Hilleman

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Minimum wage hikes are a much worse idea now


Blog: Scott Kominers @ Bloomberg View | Patent Protection Should Take a Backseat in a Crisis — Extremely misleading headline; the main proposal is a system of government patent buyouts.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Governor Cuomo: Libertarian

Blog: Marginal Revolution | German Federalism

Blog: Marginal Revolution | But when will you favor a shift in coronavirus strategy? (no Straussians in a pandemic)


Blog: Marginal Revolution | My Conversation with Ross Douthat

Blog: JeffTK | Price Gouging and Speculative Costs

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Wednesday assorted links

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Speed Premium in an exponentially growing pandemic world


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Lydia Laurenson interviews me

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Lessons from the “Spanish Flu” for the Coronavirus’s Potential Effects on Mortality and Economic Activity


Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Fed Bombshell

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Pooling to multiply SARS-CoV-2 testing throughput


Blog: Market Design | School choice without the assumption of full-information equilibrium by Kapor, Neilson and Zimmerman

Blog: Compass Rose | Can crimes be discussed literally?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Emergent Ventures prize winners for coronavirus work

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Angela Merkel’s German deficit spending

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Super spreader immunity vs. herd immunity, from Paul Seabright — "More generally if there is variance in systematic individual characteristics that affect R0 (and not just chance factors particular to the first wave), then stopping the epidemic requires only that enough of the high R0 individuals acquire immunity. That may happen naturally in the first wave, or it might be something that policy could influence. We may soon be able to test this by looking for a second wave in China as restrictions are relaxed."


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | The Coronavirus Killed the Progressive Left — (1) feels approximately like "a jump-scare in text form", apologies to Sam Hughes; (2) I seem to remember a SSC post proposing that most of "conservative" politial inclinations could be derived from a public-choice decision to prioritize infection avoidance over other good things, but I can't find it (this and this paper elsewhere is the best I can do. Maybe I'm imagining this, but still, the picture fits.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The coronavirus polity that is Australia — "And, despite not knowing what threat the SETREP-ID would be enacted for, the group had pre-emptive ethical clearance to immediately gather samples from patients – something which would take weeks or months in other countries."

Op-Ed: Adam Tooze @ NYT Opinion | This Is the One Thing That Might Save the World From Financial Collapse — "For the second time this century, the world is facing an acute shortage of dollar funding. This is a big problem: An enormous amount of global financial activity depends on the use of the dollar. If we are to contain the fallout from the crisis, America’s central bank must act as a lender of last resort not just to America’s financial system but also to the entire world’s."

Blog: What's New | 2019-2020 Novel Coronavirus outbreak: mathematics of epidemics, and what it can and cannot tell us (Nicolas Jewell)

Blog: askblog | Normal is not an option — "The challenges for other countries will be much more difficult. De-globalization is taking place, and that will produce losers and bigger losers (it won’t produce many winners). Become familiar with Peter Zeihan’s way of viewing the world. Don’t take the international order for granted..." h/t Tyler Cowen.

Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Needed: the reopening plan. Fast. — "I have kept public health and economics separate, but they no longer are. Shutting down the economy is a public health measure. The costs of this measure are astronomical -- at least a trillion dollars per month. As yourself what the government could have done with a trillion dollars to nip this in the bud. Please, next time, be ready. Massive testing, identifying cases, contact tracing, isolating areas with known cases, early and hard might have cost a lot of money and disruption. Even 100 billion dollars now looks like a very small sledgehammer."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Why such a large difference in fatality rates across European nations?

Blog: The ANOVA | you should mourn — "We have to acknowledge everything that we are losing, the things that make the human race human. We can’t do that if people treat acknowledging what we’ve lost as some betrayal of the need to look serious. And I’m so afraid that people are never going to come back, that they’ll get used to this new world and our last essential human connections with people we don’t know personally will be severed forever..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Mass Testing to Fix the Labor Market — "As with the financial crisis, there are some bad risks out there but no one knows where and so every borrower/worker is suspect and no one is lending/working. With more information we can separate out the bad risks and get the majority of people working again..."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Most Grand Princess passengers not tested

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Adam Smith: Libertarian in a Foxhole

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Stopping Time: An Approach to Pandemics?

Interview: Conversations with Tyler @ Medium | Russ Roberts and Tyler on COVID-19 — "I think what people seem to have missed in this testing conversation is that there appears to be an enormous number of false positives. So I’m encouraging people not to focus as closely on the caseload as more perhaps on the death count, unfortunately." / "And the private voluntary reaction to the crisis was quite strong. The NBA shut down very quickly. The NCAA shut down very quickly. Baseball shut down very quickly. Nobody had to order folks around. I think what’s been underestimated in this, in the demand for this sort of top down, fix it, solve it, make everybody hold. Don’t let anything bad ever happen. We’ve missed the role that we can play individually." / "I think the thing I’m recommending for a lot of people now is to find a sphere of activity, no matter how small or how local, that you feel you can control and you can do at home and you can contribute to. This feeling of powerlessness may set in, that will cause people to panic more or become too depressed or just make them much less productive, or spread to their families, or maybe cause them to go out and want to get drunk and become a spreader in some manner, so really to think long and hard. I’m not really counseling stoicism. I’m counseling a kind of action, something you can do. Even if it ends up only being a placebo, you will feel more in control. Of course, there’s a chance that will pay off and have some benefits. I think that’s an important idea to promote at this point." / "Buy the patent rights at auction, give them a huge prize, tens of billions of dollars, if they deserve it, I’m all for this. Even if you think it has no impact this time, this is not our last pandemic. It will matter for the next time around. I think those prizes should be large and credibly promised, and I would like to see us get on this."

Blog: Gates Notes | 31 questions and answers about COVID-19


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Love Letter has a P.S.

Blog: The Grumpy Economist | Airline bailouts and capital regulation

Blog: Marginal Revolution | “Herd immunity,” time consistency, and the epidemic yoyo


Blog: GiveWell | Allocation of discretionary funds from Q4 2019

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Book Review: Hoover

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Let My People Stay Home


Blog: Schneier on Security | TSA Admits Liquid Ban Is Security Theater


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What US Government should do regarding Covid-19

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Should we ration coronavirus testing by price?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is the inflation rate these days?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Quick and dirty data — underrated?

Blog: Market Design | The organ as a fictitious commodity, by Nicolas Brisset

Blog: The Grumpy Economist | pandemic and protection

Blog: Schneier on Security | The EARN-IT Act

Comic: xkcd | 2010 and 2020

Blog: Marginal Revolution | $1 million plus in Emergent Ventures Prizes for coronavirus work


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Massive US Government Failure

Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is the risk?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | My Conversation with John McWhorter

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Four puzzling coronavirus facts

Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is the proper fiscal response to the coronavirus?


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Common Useless Objections

Blog: Market Design | Paul Milgrom et al. on the incentive auction--two recent papers, and two pictures


Comic: xkcd | Scientific Briefing


Blog: Marginal Revolution | A simple proposal for boosting health care workers

Blog: Marginal Revolution | My avian flu blog days

Blog: Market Design | Interviews and matching--Echenique, González, Wilson, and Yariv


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Facts about Starbucks against free bathrooms charge them all


Blog: Marginal Revolution | How an economist thinks

Blog: Jeffrey.Zeldman | The Web We Lost: Luke Dorny Redesign


Blog: Overcoming Bias | For Fast Escaped Pandemic, Max Infection Date Variance, Not Average


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Social security and trends in inequality