Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Discussion: Food Security

Here is the detail.

“Krisis pangan” sedang melanda dunia, demikianlah banyak dilaporkan di media massa. Kenaikan harga pangan dunia telah mencapai 50% dalam kurun waktu setahun, menurut Food and Agriculture Organization pada sebuah laporan bulan Mei lalu. Dampak krisis digambarkan sebagai sangat mengkhawatirkan, mulai dari bahaya kelaparan massal hingga ke kerusuhan sosial. Menurut World Bank, kenaikan harga pangan tahun ini akan mendorong 100 juta orang ke jerat kemiskinan. Namun, dalam keadaan ini ada pula yang melihat sisi positifnya: harga tinggi pangan akan mendorong investasi di bidang ini, yang bisa berarti ketersediaan pangan dan harga akan kembali normal.


Monday, August 25, 2008

The economics of religious decision

Here is my first attempt to develop an economic model for religion and religious decision. Still far from finished, I only tried to construct the foundations.

This is the background. Several times I was asked these questions: "Do you believe in God?" or "Why do you perform rituals? Doesn't it contradict the rationality arguments?"

My typical answer to the first one is, "I believe for a certain probability that God (and afterlife) exists." For the second one, I usually replied, "In case God does exist, I need to hedge my risk by allocating some time for performing rituals."

A follow-up questions will, usually be, "There are different choices of religion. Will all or some of them provide you a good hedging mechanism (or return on investment), or only one of them will? If more than one do, then why don't you shop around different religions? If there is only one 'correct' religion, then how do you know that your choice is the correct one?"

Well, for sure, I never believe in any monopoly, including monopoly of truth. Hence, I believe that there are many pathways for salvation. However, switching cost is high that it will not be optimal for me to switch to, or shop around, different options.

The bottom line is, yes, religious decision is a rational one.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Linus' Take on Our Nation-state

The op-ed starts with these lines (liberally translated):
Toward the 63th of (Indonesia) anniversary, many things needs to be contemplated about. Clearly, this nation-state is not making any progress and prosperity, but moving backward and defeated.
Really? What about this, or this?

This reminds me a dialogue between Linus and Charlie Brown from an old Peanuts comic-strip:
Linus (hanging on to his famous security blanket): "I think the world is much better today than it was, say, five years ago..."
Charlie Brown (angry and shouting at Linus) : "How can you say that? Don't you ever read the papers? Don't you ever listen to the radio?" and, "How can you stand there and tell me this is a better world?"
Linus (releasing his thumb from his mouth): "I'm in it now!"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Refresh. Update.

I really am glad I came to this applied microeconometric workshop, folks. How I needed an update. The topics that were covered ranged from useful to very useful or very interesting. (Get the lecture notes here. In all likelihood the lectures will be published as a book in the future.) The presenters, Imbens and Wooldridge, are two of the best in the business and more importantly, very good teachers. Very well organized, timed like a clockwork. Burning questions? Talk individually with the presenters between sessions. The rumor has it they will also do this at the AEA meetings. Based on a similar workshop at NBER in 2007. Highly recommended.

Update: well, it is not a rumor. They have scheduled another workshop for the 2009 AEA meetings in SF. Registration starts August 23.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Dose of Richman (Will Bring Back the Child in You)

A Dose of Richman (Will Bring Back the Child in You)
by Pasha

Hello everyone! I’m back! I can hear the Manager rant, “Finally! He decides to show up!” (teehee). Well, I’m back to bring you musical pleasure so that you may achieve what I call “eargasm”. This time I would like to do something different. Usually I bring forward an assortment of music from different artists. Well now I would like to play songs from just one artist. He’s not just some artist, he’s a pioneer of punk rock but his version of punk is different from the likes of Sex Pistol, the Clash, or even Television, and the reason I really like his music is because it’s FUN! And I’m sure little Alfie, Rara, and Laksmi would also enjoy his music because it’s humorous, lively, naïve…and FUN! Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you Jonathan Richman!

Here’s a song to start of entitled “I’m A Little Airplane Now”, the kids will love this one. Exciting huh? Brings you back to the days when you were in kindergarten right? Now more on Richman, he’s a native of Natick, MA and was and is still an important element in the Boston music scene. Even though he now resides in California, He still finds the time to cheer the Redsox. Next up is another track the children would also enjoy, “I’m A Little Dinosaur”. Now, where’s that little dinosaur? In mid 70s Richman formed the Modern Lovers in Boston and released a milestone album “The Modern Lovers” with great songs such as “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso”, but I’m not going to play them. If you ask me, “The Modern Lovers” while it’s a great album but you don’t get the whole Richman persona, try “Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers Live 1977”, now THAT is a GREAT record. “Roadrunner” is then covered by the Sex Pistols and David Bowie then put out his own rendition of “Pablo Picasso”. Richman lyrical style is funny, honest, and philosophical and yet naïve and the same time. His song “Affection” is one example.

The Modern Lovers soon after broke up, keyboardist Jerry Harrison then left to join the legendary Talking Heads. Richman then assemble another formation of the Modern Lovers but soon after began switching to a solo act. Here’s another fun song, “Rollercoaster by the Sea”. Now after having a rollercoaster ride, wouldn’t be great to have an ice cream? But where’s the ice cream man? Oh here he is.

Have you ever seen the movie “There’s Something About Mary?” Of course all of you have or at least most of you. Remember there were two guys narrating the story in the movie, one guy with a guitar and the other with a drum kit? Well, the guy with the guitar is Richman. You know, the one who got shot at the end of the movie. Here’s an example of Richman’s comedic antics entitled “I Was Dancing in A Lesbian Bar”, This song is hilarious! Really! I really like the part where he sings “…in the first bar/things are stop and stare/in this bar/things are laissez-faire”, it’s a gag!

I save the best for last. This song is my favorite of all Richman’s catalog. This always help brings the best in you whenever you were down. It’s beautifully written, this one is truly a masterpiece. This is “Morning of Our Lives”. Goodnight…

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Too Good To Be True

Amidst an intense discussion on growth theories, a friend of mine exclaimed,
"I think I know the Solow model better than Solow himself."
Yeah, right.