Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Undercover Economist in Action Again.

I am immersed into the second adventure of our undercover economist, Tim Harford, in his attempt to unravel The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of An Irrational World, using rational choice theory of mostly Gary Becker and Thomas Schelling.

He describes the tool as follows:
"In the hands of economists, "rational choice theory" produces an X-ray image of human life. Like any X-ray, rational choice theory does not show everything. Nor is the picture necessarily very pretty. But it shows you something important, and something you could not see before" --page xiii
My favorite is chapter six, The Danger of Rational Racism, that tells how you, out of your perfectly rational thought, can become a racist even before you realize it --assuming, ex ante, you are not a racist by heart and/or there is no such thing as racist culture or psyche.

Nevertheless, overall, the book is fun, very well written, and the reading enjoyable. Highly recommended for both economists and non economists, no Econ 101 prerequisite required.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blame it on the liberalization?

Following the recent soy bean and other food commodities price hike, some people blamed globalization and liberalization of agriculture market as the main culprit. This is the logic (the abridged version): low import tariff drove down domestic prices so local farmers had little incentives to produce more. This creates high dependency on imports, which is bad because we are very vulnerable to global price fluctuations, like what we are experiencing now.

If we are talking about soy bean, then this kind of argument is fallacious. We have been a net importer of soybean since mid ‘70s. Long before the agriculture sector is liberalized. In other words, we have been dependent on imports since long ago. The second line of argument said that if we protect our farmers, at least our domestic production could have been higher so we can have a buffer stock as a cushion against global price fluctuation.

Actually, that can be true only if we are a big enough player in the global market. If we are a small player, like the case of soybean, then at best buffer stock can only ensure that domestic prices do not exceed global prices. But the overall trend of price increase may not be altered.

Now move to the food commodity in general. The fact is straight: the productivity of our agriculture sector is lower than that in the ’80-90s. Again, the question is whether liberalization of agriculture sector to blame. Let’s say that liberalization has got something to do with that. Nevertheless, these other factors have also affected productivity, and they have nothing (or less) to do with liberalization:
  • Public investment in irrigation infrastructure is inadequate and has been declining. It needs about a third of the current central government budget to improve the irrigation infrastructure just to return to the mid-90s level.
  • Investment in roads, especially rural roads, has also been declining. In 1994, public expenditure by all levels of government was 1.4% of GDP. In 2002 it was less than 1%. More than 40% of roads are in damaged or severely damaged conditions. Without proper roads available, it is difficult for rural farmers to reach the market it nearby towns.
  • Real expenditure on agriculture research is only 0.1% of GDP (Bangladesh spends 1% of its GDP), and it is less than that in 1995. That explains the lack of invention in new, more productive crops or farming techniques.
  • Only around 20% of land plots are certified. This explains the lack of access to credits that is still a problem among poor farmers.
  • Domestic market failures resulting from imperfect or asymmetric information, bureaucracy, distribution chain etc. that creates a significant gap between the price consumers pay and farmers’ revenue.
Some of the problems are side effects of decentralization. There is still an unclear division of authority and responsibilities among central, provincial and district governments on infrastructure spending, farmer training or credit provision. But it’s sexier to be anti-liberalization than anti-decentralization, isn’t it?

RIP: Suharto

My feeling at the first time I heard about his sickness, death, and towards all the media coverages, is at best indifferent. Personally, I am tired of following the controversies surrounding his case since he stepped down in 1998. And I felt that this nation has missed the opportunity bring a closure to his case.

I was born when he was already the president. And he is the only president I knew until 1998. In my last days of the college years, I joined the movement calling him to step down. But when he did step down at May 21st that year, somehow I did not feel joy or relief. A bit, yes, but not as much as I thought when I decided to join the movement a few months earlier. I felt his stepping down -- the way he stepped down -- was an anticlimax for the movement.

And yes, ten years after, it was not wrong after all to consider the 1998 movement as an anticlimax. The failure to bring the criminal and civil charge against Suharto to and end was only reflecting the bigger picture of the reformasi movement. Worse, some fellow students who called for a change even swallowed their words and became the politicians they used to criticize.

But I am not saying that the country isn't progressing. After all, I still chose today than the yesterday. We enjoy more personal freedom and many more. On the other hand, credit should be given to where it deserves. Suharto brought many improvements in the country's economy. Under his reign, poverty declined significantly, health and education has improved compared to the situation he inherited in the late 1960s.

I don't want to be trapped in any sides of overpraising or overloathing him. I believe the government should continue the civil charge against his foundations, as a symbol that this nation is moving forward. Suharto has died without being proven innocent or being prosecuted. But we should continue finalizing the human rights abuse cases happened during his reign. Including, among other things, the kidnappings of prodemocratic activists and student shootings in 1998-99.

Good bye, old man. We should let you rest in peace now. But the country should move on in dealing with the dark past you inherited.

On economic freedom

The Manager questioned my loyalty. She sounded disappointed that I posted this there. So here, I repost it here. Hopefully it can save me from a cut in the paycheck.
On economic freedom

On the first day of 2007, local newspapers in Indonesia brought a bad news, breaking the Happy New Year celebrations across the country. They ran a headline about a Boeing 737 jetliner that never reached its destination. With it, one hundred people were missing. After two weeks of searching with no avail, families started to loose hope. What they were left with was prayer, to at least see the bodies of their loved ones. Especially when later one fisherman found part of the plane’s tail floating in the Makassar Strait close to the western coast of Sulawesi island.

Winds and storms aside, many people started to blame the accident on competition. Some fifteen years ago Indonesia’s domestic flights meant expensive tickets. Most people traveling across islands in the archipelago opted for sea transportation as they could not afford flying with air planes. Today, nearly everybody can get cheap air ticket. It is so cheap, sea vessels’ customers are shifting from people to big-size containers. Even long distance in-land buses are competing with airlines.

In the wake of the missing air plane, grieves led many to reflect, albeit with misunderstanding, on how they had been enjoying cheap tickets. Thanks to liberalization in the Indonesian airline industry, private airlines started to mushroom. Next was a race to providing the least expensive tickets to win a sizable market share. The carriers, they cut on meals, they printed tickets online, and so forth. But apparently some went even further. Realizing the fact that the safety standards enforcement was rather lame, they started to get loose on safety. Why not use old fleets? Why bother with regular maintenance? Why hire the most qualified pilots? In short, cheap air tickets were made possible not only by some cut on decent meals or some boost in fly frequency, but also by less safety. Enter the premature accusation: competition has caused this entire race to the cheapest tickets. With that, safety is sacrificed. And all they get is accident. (They do not
even bother to look at the ratio of accidents over the fly frequency. It is likely that the ratio gets smaller, given the far busiest air traffic today then ten years ago). In conclusion, competition is evil. Better get the government to fly us, because private simply can not do.

Accidents are saddening. But so is the misunderstanding. It mixes up competition issue and the issue of law enforcement. In the story above, it puts blame on the liberalization of airline industry instead of on the government alleged failure to enforce safety standards regulation. While the two are closely related, they lead to very different policy implications. Solving the competition issue might lead to giving airline business back to the government. Tackling the law enforcement issue will lead to stricter monitoring of how the business is run. True, if effective, both will possibly result in more expensive air ticket, but the causes are different: in the first case it is because the private airlines are no longer able to cut the costs by risking on safety; while in the second case it is due to the monopoly power of the government. History has taught us, the latter case might increase the price higher than the former. Nonetheless the second case is more attractive. Who denies that curbing competition is easier than monitoring it?

Maximizing profits is a form of economic freedom. Given opportunities to raise revenues or to cut costs (or both), a firm would be stupid not to use them. Ethics aside, this includes an opportunity to play around rules, should there be a room. In the absence of competition, the incentive to find all opportunities to maximize profits is rare. Rather, it is the monopolistic power that is used to do the task. But (non-natural) monopoly denies the freedom of others to engage in business. Worse yet, it denies the freedom of consumers to access more choices and lower prices. Competition therefore has a lot to do with freedom.

However, freedom does not mean anarchy. They are starkly different. The former requires rules of the game, the latter not. This is where people tend to mix things up, as illustrated above. When problem arises, is it a problem of competition i.e. freedom or is it a problem of law enforcement? You can not really put and enforce standards on ethics, but you can put and enforce standards on safety. This is why and where we need the government. That is, to make sure that rules are in order. Alas, many times inability to enforce rules leads the government to do other things, including running the business itself and/or curbing competition. Authority to guard rules also brings another problem: the incentive to over-regulate. Sometime governments establish rules only as a vehicle to abuse their power. Another time, they simply put (good) rules in a wrong place. Requiring seat belt in cars and setting age standard for air carriers might sound similar as far as policy objectives are considered. But they are different: you can see if the car you are about to get in has a seat belt attached or not. But you can not know the condition of the air plane you are about to board in. In the former case, there is no need for the government to step in, but in the second case, there is: to make sure that the plane is safe for you and other passengers. In the first case both you and the car owner/seller know that the car is seat-belt-less. Here the market can work well, as indicated by the resulting price. In the second case, the information is asymmetric. The airline knows exactly how old its plane is; you, most likely, do not. The government helps to ensure that the information reaches you, so the market can work as properly.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reply to Tirta (Aco)

At the risk of being incomplete and less elaborated, let me respond to Tirta.

I always think what economists and psychologists do are two different things -- that can in times work complementary. I myself am not very interested in knowing how the mind works, albeit it is very important thing. It's enough for me to understand at the outset why people do a particular, interesting thing (that is to say: not everything interests me) without having to know his/her state of mind. Yes, it (this approach) might be more powerful to explain ex post situation, but it might as well be useful to help predict similar behavior in the future given similar condition, more or less. What the second Daniel says i think is also true, at least in my case: I trust (more on) what people do, not what they say or feel. In some cases though, I have to rely on what people say -- that is, when I lack the observation of what they do. So, I think it's extremely useful that psychologists teach us how the mind works -- but at least for me, it is useful only to make us know how the mind works.

(To be continued -- probably).

What say you, economists? (Tirta)

Triggered by a series of discussions here and there, Tirta posed the following 'challenge'. -- Manager
What Say You, Economists?

by Tirta

Following our interesting -- and at times heated -- discussion on the limits of economic analyses in explaning human decision making (e.g. this, this, this, this, and this), here are two Daniels:

Economists often criticize psychological research for its propensity to generate lists of errors and biases, and for its failure to offer a coherent alternative to the rational-agent model. This complaint is only partly justified: psychological theories of intuitive thinking cannot match the elegance and precision of formal normative models of belief and choice, but this is just another way of saying that rational models are psychologically unrealistic. - Daniel Kahneman (2003), "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics", The American Economic Review, 93(5), p.1449.
Most modern economists would disagree with this statement [Wealth may be measured by counting dollars, but utility must be measured by counting how much goodness those dollars buy.] because economics is currently committed to an assumption that psychology abandoned a half-century ago, namely, that a science of human behavior can ignore what people feel and say and rely solely on what people do. - Daniel Gilbert (2006), Afterword, "Stumbling on Happiness".
So what say you, economists?

(Subsidized) Blueberry and Raisin Ice Cream

Suppose Rizal likes ice cream. So far he can always buy it from AP, the seller, at an inexpensive price. AP usually gets his ice cream material, --blueberries and raisins--, from mostly Aco and, for smaller amount, Ujang. Why Aco? Because he offers lower price than Ujang.

It turns out that Sjamsu, by taking, say, Hillary and Barack's money, subsidizes Aco's soybean blueberries and raisins that allows him to become major supplier.

Of course Ujang dislikes the idea, but the question is: Should Rizal and AP condemn Aco and Sjamsu for taking Hillary and Barack's money for lower price of blueberries, raisins, and henceforth, inexpensive ice cream?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Why is it, when I read a letter to editor in a magazine or newspaper signed by its author in the following form
DR (KANDIDAT) HJ [first name] [father's last name] [husband's last name] S.H. M.HUM , advokat
I immediately remember Spence? Or, wait, is it Baby Bop? (BB: Look at me me me // I'm three three three // I'm as happy as can be be be // Can you tell can you see? // I'm a very happy me me me...)

Try it yourself. Tempo magazine, this week's edition.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ben, The Decider

I like this Godfather-like picture of Ben Bernanke in the front cover of this week's New York Times Magazine. So cool, as if the whole US economy depends on his words.

The article is also very educating. It gives you a glimpse on how a central banker has to deal with unemployment-inflation tradeoff, and beat the market expectation. Hopefully, amidst the now enormous pressure from US public and media, he would not get mental breakdown like Britney Spears --a very sorry of her.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Law 239

With this kind of reading list, how could you not to think to at least try to sit in the class? And Tyler gives you no exam.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If On A Winter's Night An Economist

I too am intrigued by this question from Diskusi Ekonomi: Is there any case in which standard economic cost-benefit/incentive framework can not be applied into?

For a non economics student, this query might sound annoyingly stupid. But after you read economics,--Freakonomics, for instance--, it may not be that foolish anyway.

Today I think I find a case in which such framework might not work, that is, the problem of writing/reading/interpreting a literary work.

From Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, an excellent novel I fetched from the library to balance my other winter-break reading of, well, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, I read this passage:
"...She explained to me that a suitably programmed computer can read a novel in a few minutes and record list all of the words contained in the text, in order of frequency. "That way I can have an already completed reading at hand," Lotaria says, "with an incalculable saving of time. What is the reading of a text, in fact, except the recording of certain thematic recurrences, certain insistence of forms and meanings? An electronic reading supplies me with a list of the frequencies, which I have only to glance at to form an idea of the problems the book suggests to my critical study. Naturally, at the highest frequencies the list records countless articles, pronouns, particles, but I don't pay them any attention. I head straight for the words richest in meaning; they can give me a fairly precise notion of the book"..." --page 182.
For me, that is a futile attempt to decipher a literary work or text. I know next to nothing of linguistic or literary criticism, but it seems to me that Calvino mocked the use of content analysis.

OK, I digress. My point is that in interpreting a novel, economics does not help, too. And that's perfectly fine.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why people support a team?

At Diskusi Ekonomi, I use voter's behavior analysis to discuss how far incentives can explain the behavior of an agent. From my very short reading list of political science literature, there are some models to explain one's decision to vote for a specific party or candidate:
  • Proximity of class, demographic, religion, ideas or other characteristics.
  • Psychology -- if one grew up in a Muhammadiyyah, NU, Sukarnoist or Peronist family or neighborhood, then most likely I will vote for PAN, PKB, Megawati or Kischner.
  • Rational choice -- a voter calculates the cost vs. (expected) benefit of giving his/her vote, and use the act of voting as a strategic behavior (reward or punishment).
I wonder if this framework can also be applied to explain why someone becomes a devoted supporter of a football team. Even if the team is, well, a low-achiever. Yes, yes, I admit, I am talking about myself and why I still support Liverpool, despite they are close to two decades without winning the league (two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA and one Champion's League trophy may be consolation prize).

Clearly, the rational choice model doesn't apply very well here. I don't know what I could gain by sticking to them, except for pure satisfaction.

Nor does the proximity model. I am not from Merseyside, so I don' support them based on regional identity (unlike my support for Persib Bandung). And the team doesn't resemble any class, religion or any identities. Some teams may still do -- look at the rivalry between Lazio and AS Roma; Glasgow Celtic vs. Rangers; Napoli or any Sicilian teams vs. the Northern Italian teams.

That leaves me with only the second explanation: psychology. It may be true. I started watching football when I was a kid, they were the strongest English team, and one of the strongest in Europe. Being a new comer, naturally I picked the current champion at that time (my family was not really a football lover, so I didn't inherit the choice from my dad or anyone). And the choice remains the same until now.

Hey, that's the different between fans and supporters, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Goodbye Pak Sadli (2)

Like AP, I remember Pak Sadli, despite his Mafia Berkeley label, as a friendly and approachable person. He was also one among very few seniors who were very active in intellectual events of the day and kept updating his knowledge on current issues.

Several years ago, when I managed to have my first op-ed published in The Jakarta Post, Dede Basri told me that Pak Sadli liked my writing --presumably he asked Dede who I am, since I put LPEM as my home institution. I was surprised. Perhaps more than Pak Sadli realized, that kind of compliment to the first-timer is actually very encouraging.

The second encounter with Pak Sadli was in an economic conference in Batam. There was a rather chaotic hotel arrangement, so I, the Sadlis, and Joao Saldanha of East Timor were stranded in the lobby. We chatted about various things. He told us, among others, that he had asked Widjojo to write his experience in managing the economy. It seems to me that Pak Sadli did care about the transfer of knowledge to the younger generation of economists in the country.

He also told us that he wanted to see the Barelang Bridge, also known as Jembatan Habibie. Recalling the old debate on Habibienomics vs Widjojonomics, I can't help but grin.

Most importantly, Pak Sadli had great contribution in fighting the public economic illiteracy. If you read his writings in the media, you can see that while being aware of the political economy at play, far from being die-hard ideological as he was at times sympathetic to the opposite view, he stayed with economic theories or intuition in his analysis. For sure, he was not just another economic populist observer.

His death is a great loss. May he rest in peace.

Good bye, Pak Sadli

Pak Sadli and I are three generations apart. I am unlucky to never had him as a lecturer, mentor or a colleague when he was still active. So, there are not so many personal memories about him. But most friends would agree that he is a great man.

Among the not-so-many things I remember about him was at his early 80s, he still drives his own car. I heard that his friends and family had to forbid him to drive. Other things I can recall, whenever I bumped into him several times, in seminars or other occasions, he was always friendly, informal, and approachable.

Five years ago I was asked to contribute to a fetschrift for his 80th birthday. Here's the opening I wrote for the article (I won't translate it to English, so sorry for the non-Indonesian speakers):
Satu momen yang saya ingat mengenai Pak Sadli adalah acara peluncuran buku kumpulan tulisan beliau berjudul Landscape Ekonomi Politik dalam Krisis dan Transisi, tahun 2001 di CSIS. Dalam sesi komentar dari forum, Dr. Mayling Oey-Gardiner mengajukan pertanyaan yang ia sebut sebagai ‘titipan sponsor’. “Pak Sadli,” katanya, “dari hampir enam ratus halaman buku ini, adakah sekali saja anda menyebut kata ‘gender’?” Melihat siapa yang duduk di dekat Bu Mayling, barulah saya menyadari siapa yang disebut sebagai ‘sponsor’ tersebut. Ia tak lain adalah Dr. Saparinah Sadli. Istri Pak Sadli yang juga pengajar dan tokoh senior Studi Perempuan di UI. Secara berseloroh, Pak Sadli menjawab bahwa memang ia tidak pernah menulis tentang gender atas dasar ‘pembagian kerja’ dengan sang istri. Tetapi satu bulan setelah itu, di sebuah harian ibukota muncul artikel Pak Sadli mengenai gender dalam ekonomi.
That shows, not only Pak Sadli can teach or write. He can also 'listen.' May you rest in peace, Pak.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My current dæmon is 0.8(F+B+S)+0.2K -- what's yours?

Has anybody seen The Golden Compass or read His Dark Materials? I have just seen the movie. I like it: it got me thinking. What would be my dæmon if it ever existed? Is is settled already like the dæmons of adults, Miss Coulter's or Lord Asriel's? Or is it still changing like that of Lyra Belacqua's, the kid? I'm not sure if mine is still trying to find its final form. But I guess I would love it if my current dæmon is some sort of a creature made of eighty percent of Friedman, Becker, and Stigler combined and twenty percent of Keynes. That is, 0.8(F+B+S)+0.2K. I'm not sure how it looks like (I sure hope it's not ugly like Coulter's golden monkey).

How about yours?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tax Incentive or Pertamina Reform?

Now we know that our oil production capacity has declined (Op-ed, Kompas, 01/07/08) and it prevents us to reap the benefit of recent high oil price. Ministry of Finance wants to use tax incentive to attract more, presumably, foreign investment in oil mining industry.

Umar Juoro of CIDES, that op-ed author, disagrees. He argues that it would take long time before such new investment result in more production --three years at least, he wrote. Instead, he proposes to reform Pertamina, the state owned oil company, --notorious for, well, its inefficiency--, to be as good as Petronas or Aramco, to take the lead in our effort to increase oil production.

Now, in your opinion, which one is more feasible --within period of three years?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happiness and wealth, again

On an earlier post on life satisfaction and wealth, Rizal -- by way of Kahneman -- argued that the two are positively, and quite strongly, correlated. I recalled the Economist wrote two articles on the related issue their 2006 end-year edition. According to those articles, the positive correlation between happiness and affluence is true, but the relationship seems to be non-linear, with a negative second derivative.

Said the first article:
Happiness, as measured by national surveys, has hardly changed over 50 years. The rich are generally happier than the poor, but rich countries do not get happier as they get richer. The Japanese are much better off now than in 1950, but the proportion who say they are "very happy" has not budged. Americans too have remained much as Alexis de Tocqueville found them in the 19th century: So many lucky men, restless in the midst of abundance."
And why is that so? Here's the explanation in the second article:

The science of happiness offers two explanations for the paradox. Capitalism, it notes, is adept at turning luxuries into necessities—bringing to the masses what the elites have always enjoyed. But the flip side of this genius is that people come to take for granted things they once coveted from afar. Frills they never thought they could have become essentials that they cannot do without. People are stuck on a treadmill: as they achieve a better standard of living, they become inured to its pleasures.

Capitalism's ability to take things downmarket also has its limits. Many of the things people most prize—such as the top jobs, the best education, or an exclusive home address—are luxuries by necessity. An elite schooling, for example, ceases to be so if it is provided to everyone. These "positional goods", as they are called, are in fixed supply: you can enjoy them only if others do not. The amount of money and effort required to grab them depends on how much your rivals are putting in.

I remember an old friend used to say, "The rich may not necessarily be happy. But the poor are definitely not." Well, apparently he's not wrong.

That may explain why some people still seems to think that we Indonesians are not better off than 20-30 years ago, while the truth is we are better off in absolute term. In relative terms, i.e. how do one compare with the others, well, of course it's relative.

P.S. This is interesting. Bre Redana of Kompas praised today's Hanoi, which he described as the portrait of Jakarta in the early eighties, as much better than today's Jakarta (also today's Indonesia). The reason, he implied, was the "spirit of socialism." Read here and here. Ironically, Kompas is the most obvious product of capitalism, of course.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wealth is Good

This is from Daniel Kahneman, quoting Gallup World Poll (HT: Marginal Revolution)
In a sample of over 130,000 people from 126 countries, the correlation between the life satisfaction of individuals and the GDP of the country in which they live was over .40 – an exceptionally high value in social science. Humans everywhere, from Norway to Sierra Leone, apparently evaluate their life by a common standard of material prosperity, which changes as GDP increases. The implied conclusion, that citizens of different countries do not adapt to their level of prosperity, flies against everything we thought we knew ten years ago. We have been wrong and now we know it. I suppose this means that there is a science of well-being, even if we are not doing it very well.
Not so good news for GDP-economics-bias haters, I believe.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Beatles, they never die

Just bought and listened to the latest Beatles project: Love. Well, actually, it's George Martin and Giles Martin's project, compiling and remixing the music from a fabulous show by the Cirque du Soleil, which co-founded by the late George Harrison. I must say, the album was a brilliant works by the Martins. The Beatles songs are all masterpiece. So it requires some skills and guts to experiment with the songs. But they did it, brilliantly.

The album begins with the vocal part of 'Because.' The second track starts with the opening chord of 'A Hard Days Night,' followed by Ringo's drum solo from 'The End' to pave the way for 'Get Back,' which is the main song, then ends with a piece from 'Glass Onion.' All the transitions go very smoothly.

In another track when the Martins play 'Drive My Car,' then, while keeping the rhythm part, suddenly the song goes to 'Say the Word' and 'Look What You're Doing,' then goes back to "Beep beep em beep beep, yeah..." part of 'Drive My Car.' Another brilliant part is when 'Strawberry Fields Forever' starts with the Antholgy version of the song. Then, during outro, the suddenly turns to 'Hello Goodbye' -- the "Hella, hey hello-ah" part.

But the most challenging one is, I think, when the Martins play 'Within You Without You' (written and sung by Ravi Shankar-influenced George Harrison) using the rhythm part of the psychedelic 'Tomorrow Never Knows.' Just awesome!

The other tracks seem to be just their original versions. But when we listen carefully, they are not. There's a glimpse of Paul's riff of 'Blackbird' in 'Yesterday.' George Martin also introduced the orchestra part for George's 'Still My Guitar Gently Weeps.'

Ah yes, besides 'Yesterday,' there are two tracks from the dishmop era: 'From Me To You' and 'Help!' And my adrenaline still gets increased when listening to 'Back in the USSR' and 'Revolution.' The shortcoming, if any, is that they don't play with 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band' as much as the they did with the other tracks.

I happened to watch a glimpse on Cirque's play on TV. It's a sheer brilliant performance as well. Especially they way they interpret and visualize Ringo's 'Octopus's Garden' and 'Lady Madonna' for a stage performance.