Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Impacts of climate change

A few papers recently published in the journal Nature are raising awareness of a potentially devastating impact of climate change. The slowing of ocean currents could lead to big temperature changes around the world... and a devastation of world fisheries. That would be bad. This short post sums up that research: hat tip to Prof. Sarah Jacobson at Williams College for pointing it out.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The price of pollution

More great work by one of my heroes, Princeton's Janet Currie. In this latest piece she and her coauthors were able to deduce the effect of a congestion pricing scheme on asthma among local children. It turns out that if you make people pay the costs of what they are doing (i.e. contributing to traffic and making pollution) then they will do it less, and things will move in the right direction. Who knew?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Uber increases traffic

Pretty biting editorial in the NYT about Uber: Steven Hill contends that Uber's model, which involves subsidizing rides in order to undercut competition not just from Lyft but from public transit, has hurt the environment and created excess traffic. Earlier studies I'd seen said had ambivalent conclusions, in part because Uber might be substituting for private vehicles, which would be good since private vehicles take up extra space as they search for parking. However, Hill cites studies saying, "ridesharing has resulted in a significant rise in the number of trips made and miles driven in an auto." Take a look at the article for four very on-point suggestions about how to limit Uber's impact on the roads.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Building roads has no effect on traffic

So says this insightful article in Wired, summing up research by Turner & Duranton. If a city builds more roads, people travel more, and you quickly end up in the same situation that you started with. How do you make things better? Even amateur economists might remember a theme on this blog: PRICES! If the roads are free and gas is cheap, people will take advantage of that. If you pay to drive at peak times or pay to park at peak hours, people might think twice about adding themselves to traffic. A few policy recommendations are in the article too... take a look!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Human rights and fishing

A few years ago some great reporting identified a series of human rights abuses on fishing boats in southeast Asia. This recent followup found that conditions have improved somewhat, though there is still a long way to go....

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Job-killing regulations

A report from the nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget just released a report showing how EPA and other protective regulations save taxpayers money. I suppose what's surprising about that is that the report came out just the other day, under the Trump administration. And yet I'm pretty sure that this won't keep them from continuing to come under attack....

Monday, March 5, 2018

Down with quotas

Economists hail the ITQ- individual transferable quota- as a success story, limiting catch to protect a fishery while also improving safety. What economists are blind to is the distributional impacts.

Economists argue that free trade is a great thing, improving the "size of the pie" rather than just moving money from one person's hand to another. Although economists acknowledge that trade always has winners and losers, our mantra has always been, "If the winners compensate the losers, then everyone can end up better off." That may be true, but how often do the winners compensate the losers?

The same idea is happening in fisheries. As more and more ITQs fall into the same hands- and, importantly, in most cases these aren't the hands of the people doing the fishing- some negative consequences emerge. I don't want to spoil it for you: take a look at the complaints of the fishers in this article. Hat tip to Ngaio Hotte, @nhotte, a great Twitter follow for Resource Econ issues.