Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Theo Made It!

One year! Woohoo! It has been so much fun and we have gotten to be real good friends.

Happy Birthday Kid!

I hope the song choice is found to be sufficiently cheesy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Brief History of Macroeconomics by a Microeconomist

Although I'm not sure exactly what my career will focus on, one thing is pretty clear at this point. I'm a Microeconomist.

For those of you looking in from outside the profession, I'm about to let you in on something you probably do that annoys 90% of the economists you meet (hyperbole). It goes something like this:
You: So Corbin, what do you do?
Corbin: I'm an economist.
You: Oh, I see...How about that recession...what a doozy!
(I apologize if you would never actually use the word doozy)
Corbin: Actually, I'm not that kind of economist.
Asking a microeconomist about the economy is like asking your mechanic about travel plans for an exotic getaway. He might know something about it, but chances are it's not his forte.

OK, it's really not that big of a deal, and not your fault, since most of your experience with economics probably comes from the news and politics. But, as a microeconomist, I honestly don't know much more than you do about the economy as a whole. Then again, after studying economics for the next 5 years I might pick up a thing or two.

I didn't get into economics because I love studying money or how society distributes scare resources. As it turns out, there is more to it than that. In the broadest sense, I see economics as a study of how people make choices. If you want to know more about the kinds of questions I want to answer with the tools of economics, ask me sometime.

With that said, here's a quick history of Macroeconomic Theory we went through on my first day of Macro class this semester. It's pretty brief, and I'm not attesting to its accuracy (see previous section about my lack of macro knowledge), but I thought it was a nice overview. I also thought that Irving Fisher was quite a dashing looking man.

    • Key Players: Adam Smith, Irving Fisher
    • Main Idea: Free markets regulate themselves, when free of any intervention.
    Irving Fisher
    • Key Players: John Maynard Keynes, John Hicks, Paul Samuelson
    • Main Idea: Private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes which require active policy responses by the public sector, particularly monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government to stabilize output over the business cycle.
John Maynard Keynes
    • Key Players: Milton Friedman
    • Main Idea: Variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over longer periods and objectives of monetary policy are best met by targeting the growth rate of the money supply.
    Milton Friedman
    • Key Players: Robert Lucas, Tom Sargent, Ed Prescott
    • Main Idea: We can determine prices, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand, by solving the utility maximization problem of income-constrained individuals in accordance with rational choice theory.
    Tom Sargent
    • Key Players: Greg Mankiw, Dan Romer, Ben Bernanke
    • Main Idea: Due to imperfect competition in price and wage setting, prices and wages can become "sticky" and not adjust instantaneously to changes in economic conditions.
Ben Bernanke
    • Key Players: Who knows?
    • Main Idea: Thanks to the Great Recession we have a great natural experiment that we'll be analyzing and drawing conclusions from for probably the next 20 years.
If you're still reading by now, I hope you found this as interesting as I did. 

Here's to a new semester of new things to learn!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

NoiseTrade Took My Idea

For those of you who don't know, NoiseTrade is a website, which allows musicians to make their music  available for "free" download. Now, I say "free" because you don't have to pay any money in order to download, but there are some strings attached.

You have to provide your email address and are encouraged to make a donation and spread the word through your social network. Your email address isn't sent out into the seedy underbelly of the net so you can get shady spam emails for the rest of your life. It goes to the artist whose music you downloaded so they can connect with you and keep you updated on their musical exploits.

I think this is fantastic. In fact, I thought it was fantastic before I ever heard of NoiseTrade.

I keep a list of ideas that I would like to research or look into further. Most are related to academic research that hope to publish someday, but some are a bit more in the hobby realm.

One of the ideas on my list is called "Re-Patronizing the Music Industry". The idea is, way back in the day (b.s. alert! This may not be historically accurate, but based on my extensive reading of fantasy novels, it seems about right) musicians either made their living by traveling around playing music and sharing news,

Minstrel Style (Two points for guessing the movie this is from)
or they were essentially kept on retainer by some rich guy who wanted them around for whenever he wanted music. The closest thing the old school iPod, I guess.

The rich guy was called the musician's Patron, and by necessity a Patron would have an exclusive set of musicians available (his human media library). If you played well, someone would want to hire you and you would make a living.

Fast forward to the past few decades and we see a much different beast. Now, we have bands and artists selling their music to millions of people at a time. This is great because many more people can all enjoy the same great music if they choose to.

However, a lot of times the music industry types put more emphasis on the industry and less on the music, and we end up with a huge chunk of music that is mediocre, yet makes heaps of money.

Now, I'm not saying that the music industry is pure evil and that it doesn't produce the best music around. I'm just excited to see something like NoiseTrade, which is kind of like going back to the Patron days. Instead of one rich guy who likes your music and keeps you around, musicians can be supported a little here and a little there by their fans.

This just requires a little shift in the music consumer's mindset. Instead of, "I like this music so I'll pay for the songs I want to have around whenever I want to listen to it," we need more, "I like this music, so I'll support the musician so they can keep making music I like."

Radiohead had a similar idea when they released In Rainbows in 2007 as a download customers could set their own price for. Their fans liked their music and thought it was good music and about 40% of people who downloaded the album paid for it at an average of $2.26 (averaged across those who paid and those who didn't. That is, people who were willing to pay, paid a lot.

That's my Re-Patronizing the Music Industry idea, and I think things like NoiseTrade and the surge in popularity and feasibility of Indie music are good indicators that the music scene is moving in the right direction.

This brings hope to someone like me who likes to make music and is learning how to record it well. If I can make enough money with my music to keep upgrading my gear and making better music I'll be quite happy.

So, check out NoiseTrade and be happy with good music.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Latest Theo Vids

So he almost crawls...
and evidently loves beat-boxing.