Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
And unlike Holden Caulfield of Catcher in The Rye, they don't quit.
Yet, one finale of the drama is the following:
It was her mother, who had logged in Maria’s PIN at various top schools that day, knowing her daughter wouldn’t have easy access to a computer as she interviewed. It was the Thursday that so many students across the country were on tenterhooks, waiting to hear from many of the Ivies, but that had slipped to the back of Maria’s mind. “You got into Princeton!” her mother told her. “And Columbia and the University of Chicago!”If only they knew.
Maria was tired. She was hungry. She didn’t feel like talking about college. It was one of those moments when it was hard to imagine that she would actually “ever enjoy the product of all my work.” She told her mother she’d call her back and hung up the phone.
ps: Instead of Manager's (stupid) self-made quote on learning economics on the right sidebar, this is my line, "You can not learn economics without good coffee."
Saturday, September 22, 2007
So, the outgoing Jakarta's governor Sutiyoso who seems to think he is an environmentalist, again endorses a silly event that takes place today (Saturday). It is called Jakarta Car Free Day; it seems to be proposed by some environmental groups. The policy is to ban cars in Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin, the two most important streets in the heart of metro Jakarta. The idea is to be friendly to the environment. The event, I heard, is to be repeated every month. And in every event, they will hold activities like happy biking or things like that. They said this is in solidarity with the "same global movement", World Car Free Day.
I bet in most countries/cities that adopt this event the traffic management and public transportation facility is better than Jakarta. If not, things can be very nasty.
Just like Jakarta today. As of now, I have no idea what is going on in Thamrin and Sudirman, but Gatot Subroto, Slipi, Casablanca, and many other streets in the neighborhood are in total jam. I just came back from Senayan to Shangri-La and it took me one hour travel time. This is probably 'normal' in Jakarta's weekdays. But not in Saturday.
It turns out, people do not halt their activities because of the car-free day (who wants?). They just try to find ways around Sudirman and Thamrin to get to their destination or come back home. I think the numbers of cars not used in respect to the car-free day is negligible, compared to cars trying to make detours around the two main streets.
As I said, this resulted in annoying and tiring traffic jam in almost all streets adjacent to Sudirman and Thamrin. Furthermore -- and let me ask this to the environmentalists who campaign for this event -- which one pollutes more: a heavy traffic jam where cars run 3 kms/hour around car-free (but not bus-free) Sudirman/Thamrin or usual Saturdays in Jakarta when traffic is usually not as bad as weekdays?
Really, even the greens need to understand the power of incentives.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Dani Rodrik asked the audience: "who is the economist you would most want to see blogging?" That was after Shanta Devarajan of the World Bank and Princeton's Paul Krugman join the club.
I haven't made my comment to the post, but I'd certainly agree with two names: MIT's Daron Acemoglu and NYU's Bill Easterly. Robert Barro would also be great.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
dHani, a frequent visitor and commenter of the Café sent me this piece. The email subject reads "my own stupid analysis". So I read it, and I thought, why not sharing this with you all. I, however, won't give her the right to use my "my own stupid analysis" subject -- that one is reserved for my analysis. - ManagerDoing Business Indicators - Why Matters?
Sometime around the third week of September, IFC will have a global launch of Doing Business 2008, at exactly 00.00 Greenwich Time. At around the same time, you all can access the result from this website. About the same day, LPEM will report their findings on “Monitoring Investment Climate Indonesia 2007” in the so called ‘Investor Forum
The questions then, what’s with all the effort? People are getting frenzy over investment climate. Just a recap,
There have been so many efforts and initiative put to resolve this matter, some now ask the importance of improving Doing Business indicator. According to a famous Indonesian economist (he-who-shall-not-be-named),
Well, here’s what I think. “Doing Business” is not meant for foreign investment. It’s not even for large-size businesses. Doing Business actually deals with SME, small and medium enterprises (and I also mean the micro ones -- the assumption used by the surveys is limited liability with not more than 50 domestic workers, owned by at most 5 domestic shareholders). Investment climate i n Indonesia does not have anything to do with foreign investment which mostly done their business in large scale and scope. Doing Business is for SME.
Question is then, why do we need to focus on SME? Aco often points out to me that dealing with the smallies (it’s not English, I know, but I use it) is tricky. You don’t want the small vendors grow in number larger and larger, because it's just not a characteristic of what a developed country is, if you want to become one . Further, it is not easy to deal with them, because they are mostly informal. They are, well, the smallies. Here’s the Catch-22; they’re informal because they cannot afford to be formal. They cannot contribute more because they are mostly in the form of sole ownership rather than limited liabilities. They become small because they cannot ask for credit because they are informal. That’s why dealing with business indicator matters.
Starting Business and Dealing with business licenses in
OK, I’ll just stop here. Otherwise, this will become my proposal.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
But then I learn from New York Times that Alan Greenspan, whose latest book everyone in econ blogsphere are talking about, is also Ms. Rand's big fan. So I changed my mind: perhaps it is worth to reading the philosophy that has shaped the mighty Alan Greenspan's view, the legend of US monetary policy.
Here I am now reading the book in my spare time at snail pace despite the delight of Ms. Rand's storytelling. One of the warm glows comes from my finding of a tagline that I kept remembering from a good German film, The Edukator, that I can't find its source anywhere. It says, "Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei", or "Your Days of Plenty Are Numbered".
I thought it was quoted from a leftist book since in the film the words were to express an anti-capitalist sentiment. What I got from Ms. Rand's otherwise capitalist manifesto is a dialogue between an old chief clerk, Pop Harper, and Eddie Willers,
"You're ready for the junk file, old pal. Your days are numbered."Not a precise quote, but I think it says similar thing. Or do you have any better source?
And do you know whose days are numbered?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Good God I’m not a police officer (in
No, it’s not just the police, of course. I’m sure you have heard tastipikor, setwapres, jampidsus, musrembang, or back then, sesdalopbang (google-up yourself, I've made my point). I don’t know if it’s just me, but dikdasmen (pendidikan dasar dan menengah – basic and mid-level education) reminds me of basement and budpar (budaya dan pariwisata – culture and tourism) really sounds like a thunder.
Wonder now. Why is it SBY rather than Susbamyo? JK rather than Juskal?
Is this yet another market-gone-wild thing? Because I thought you can’t even force something that sounds too funny. So, I guess it’s a matter of time, kompol will die out. Wanna bet?
Shoot, I still prefer the SMS way.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Imagine this. Yesterday you bought chicken meat in your usual street vendor --you know, the mighty tukang sayur--, for, say, IDR 10,000. This morning, you find out that he sells similar chicken to your neighbor for IDR 4,000. Would you be enraged and ask him to pay the difference?
You might get a bit annoyed, but unless you are insane, you wouldn't ask for compensation. Moreover, you can not blame the tukang sayur for discriminating the price. He never forces you to buy his chicken meat, doesn't he?
Sounds terribly simple? Well, tell that to these outraged Apple buyers upon finding that Steve Jobs has reduced the iPhone price by USD 200 after two months of first sale.
Friday, September 07, 2007
I know this might irritate some people and it shows my own ignorance. But, I can't stand it -- I was once told by economists here that there's nothing you could do with other people's taste; well I don't care. . . I just happened to be in a long ride with this damn bus, and all I could hear was that continuing weird noise called Indonesian rap.
I said "weird" and "noise" because of the following.
Rap music, I gather, is a part of hip-hop culture that uses rhyme and rhythm spitted mostly in a very fast beat. I'm no phonologist or morphologist, but I believe human tongue (and mouth) has its limit when it comes to spitting words quickly. It is then easier to spit one-syllable words than two-syllable words. English (and I believe African, too) words are dominated by one-syllables. At least for words you want to rap with. Fine, two-syllables are also used. But not much. Try this (from Usher feat Ludacris and Lil Jon):
I'm (1) in (1) the (1) club (1) with (1) my (1) homies (2), tryna (2) get (1) a (1) lil (1) V-I (2),See, there are only 5 two-syllables and 1 three-syllable (even so, you can spit "decided" as "decid'd" -- so it sounds like a 2.5 only; like "ear" to "e'r", a 1.5). The rest are one-syllables. Imagine if this is to be adapted in Indonesian (forget about rhyme for now):
keep (1) it (1) down (1) on (1) the (1) low (1) key (1),
cause (1) you (1) know (1) how (1) it (1) feels (1).
I (1) said (1) shorty (2) she (1) was (1) checkin (2) up (1) on (1) me (1),
from (1) the (1) game (1) she (1) was (1) spittin (2) my (1) ear ( 2 or 1.5) you'd (1) think (1) that (1) she (1) knew (1) me (1).
So (1) we (1) decided (3 or 2.5) to (1) chill (1).
Aku (2) dalam (2) klab (1) dengan (2) teman-teman (4),Look how many twos and threes (and even fours) we got, just in the beginning! Now try visualize a rapper wannabe who raps with Indonesian words like that. Either he or she can be damn good with extremely fast tongue (Iwa K was fast!) or you would experience a torture.
coba (2) dapatkan (3) sedikit (3) kesenangan (4!)
Jangan (2) berisik (3), kar'na (2) kau (1.5) tau (2) aku (2) s'dang (2) asik (2)....
.... and so on
Not that there's anything wrong with Indonesian words. They just don't go with rap, trust me. You may as well end up funny: you move your hip and wave your hands up and down. But your phonetic tools can't follow.
Even in singing, efficiency matters -- as the economist would say.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
This is actually a weird arrangement, that is, limiting your users coverage, but it turns out that:
...Apple gets $3 a month for every existing AT&T subscriber who has bought an iPhone and $11 a month for every new customer. That looks like about $150 per user for Apple, on top of the margin on the phone itself. So although Apple can make money selling iPhones to anyone, the company gets considerably more if it drives those users to AT&T. Which is what it is doing...(from John Naughton of the Guardian website)I dislike the idea for a personal motive: AT&T's is not the cheapest plan. But I can not blame Apple to sign the contract with them. Apple has the right to do so.
So does the consumer to unlock the machine and use cheaper network, I must say.
But, alas, AT&T lawyer seems ready to bring you to the court, preventing that unlocking business. The law, so far, doesn't say anything yet on this matter. But if the law rules against unlocking iPhone, as Naughton wrote in that column, the law is an ass.
By the way, unlocking iPhone would not be a problem in Mangga Dua, would it? Has anyone tried it?
Monday, September 03, 2007
Whoever you are, you can't run a populace alone. You would need support, cheer, organization, funding and all that. And that my friend, is called, 'party'.To begin with, modern democracy is representative democracy. Political parties are, supposedly, the bridge between the people (constituents) with representatives. A simple way (well, not too simple perhaps) to explain the situation is using the principal-agent setting. Parties act on behalf of their constituents, who have a set of objectives. But parties have also their own objectives to maximize. To align both sets of objectives, a certain incentive-punishment mechanism needs to be developed, which we call 'election.'
Another way to look at the role of parties is to draw an analogy with real estate agents. Like realtors, parties help minimizing the search cost for a candidate, as well as help marketing a candidate to the potential buyers.
However, in any principal-agent settings there are potential drawbacks. Due to a broken incentive structure, agent may not maximize principal's objectives. In a worse situation, agent may fully ignore the principal. Of course, we can fire sack or realtors, company executives or football managers. That can happen if the market of realtors, executives or managers is competitive enough.
What if it is not? What if parties become, or establish, a cartel-like political structure? Like any cartels, political cartel extracts consumer's (voter's) surplus and limiting choices by creating a barriers to entry for newcomers (or for new ideas). What can be done? In any economic textbook, the solutions for cartels are: a) issue regulation that dissolves cartels; b) create competitive pressure, by promoting domestic competition and/or free trade.
This is the situation in which, I shall argue,
Yes, there may be endogeneity. The economic, social and political situation in a region may lead to independent candidate winning (or losing, or even not bothering to run) the election. But there are some empirical strategies can be considered, like what Benjamin Jones and Ben Oken did in their forthcoming paper on leadership and economic growth (by way of Dani Rodrik).
As my concluding note: let's not making this
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