Longer, Healthier, Happier: Why Working Longer Improves Almost Everything

Laurence Articles

Why do most people stop working for pay somewhere between age 62 and 67? Is this optimal? Would people benefit from arrangements that provide more flexibility, allowing those who want to work longer to do so more easily? We believe they would. Relative to our history as human beings, life has gotten unimaginably long. It is not uncommon to live …

Is the “Long Boom” of Technological Advancements Over?

Laurence Articles

Few would disagree that the period from 1870-2010 saw immense technological advancements that improved our quality of life. But, according to Bradford DeLong, far fewer advances lie ahead, and societies should adapt by “slouching” away from a free-market system. He’s wrong on both counts. There are two kinds of economists: those who labor in the fields trying to understand the …

Why Brad DeLong Thinks the Long Boom Is Over

Laurence Articles

There are two kinds of economists: those who labor in the fields trying to understand the economy better, and those who propose bold sweeping solutions to universally acknowledged problems. (I oversimplify, but not much.) I usually find the first kind fascinating and the latter kind annoying — except when a lively writer and polemicist like Brad DeLong tries to be …

The Price of Time

Laurence Articles

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”  –Koheleth My favorite of the many brilliant verses in the Wisdom …

Artificial Intelligence is Less Than It Seems, and Will Not Save or Destroy Us

Laurence Articles

Will artificial general intelligence (AGI) transform the experience of being human, opening up possibilities of knowledge, achievement, and prosperity that we can now barely conceive? Or is AGI an existential threat to humanity, something to be feared and restrictively confined? Erik J. Larson, in a fascinating book entitled The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, says “neither.” I agree. AGI, if it …

The Destruction Wreaked by Ultra-Low Interest Rates

Laurence Articles

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding,nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” –Koheleth Super-bubbles in the asset markets, the rise of populism, and inequality are …

How Venture Capital Thrives by Betting on Weirdness

Laurence Articles

Vinod Khosla is the venture capitalist who backed the startup company, Impossible Foods, that makes the Impossible Burger. (It’s a plant-based burger that has become wildly successful because, unlike earlier veggie burgers, it tastes good.) Although each venture-capital success story is different, Mallaby — the author of The Man Who Knew, a biography of Alan Greenspan that I reviewed here …

The Sobering Limitations of Artificial Intelligence

Laurence Articles

Will artificial general intelligence (AGI) transform the experience of being human, opening up possibilities of knowledge, achievement, and prosperity that we can now barely conceive? Or is AGI an existential threat to humanity, something to be feared and restrictively confined? Erik J. Larson, in a fascinating book entitled The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, says “neither.” I agree. AGI, if it …

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Laurence Articles

Einstein’s theory of relativity advanced Newtonian physics. That did not mean Newton was wrong — only that his theories could be improved upon. In an ambitious new book, the economist Andrew Smithers rejects core “Newtonian” principles of economics, replacing them with radical departures from conventional wisdom. But as I will explain, unlike Einstein, some of Smithers’ theories fail meet the …

Where’s Tobin? Protecting Intergenerational Equity for Endowments – A New Benchmarking Approach

Laurence Articles

with M. Barton Waring Abstract “The trustees of an endowed institution are the guardians of the future against the claims of the present.” –James Tobin, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Economics. Tobin’s thoughtful admonition that endowment trustees should protect the spending power of the endowment for all time can’t be implemented in practice given today’s aggressive investment policies. …

Cloudy with a Chance of Technological Breakthrough

Laurence Articles

Will the cloud drive massive increases in productivity and wealth — as the internet did before it? That is the central question asked by Mark Mills in his stunning new book, The Cloud Revolution. Little changes sometimes morph into very big ones by stealth: you don’t see the big change coming until it has enveloped you. This is how ARPANET, …

How To Think: Steven Pinker’s Instruction Manual For Your Brain

Laurence Articles

An urban legend has Amos Tversky, the late cofounder (along with Daniel Kahneman) of behavioral economics, asking a computer scientist what he was working on. The computer man responded, “I study artificial intelligence.” Tversky, a notorious smart aleck, responded, “I study natural stupidity.” Steven Pinker has studied natural stupidity more carefully than almost any other living writer. Trained as a …

Is a Rejection of Classical Finance Justified?

Laurence Articles

Einstein’s theory of relativity advanced Newtonian physics. That did not mean Newton was wrong – only that his theories could be improved upon. In an ambitious new book, the economist Andrew Smithers rejects core “Newtonian” principles of economics, replacing them with radical departures from conventional wisdom. But as I will explain, unlike Einstein, some of Smithers’ theories fail meet the …

Generational Differences Are Less Important Than You Think

Laurence Articles

We shouldn’t read too much into pop sociology, especially when investing other people’s money. William Strauss and Neil Howe built a following by perpetuating a scholarship that embraces substantive differences among generations: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen-X and so forth. But that view is mistaken, according to Bobby Duffy. Duffy asks whether our lives are largely shaped by when we were …

Friedman’s Bulldog? Edward Yardeni Presents a Brief for Capitalism

Laurence Articles

A Personal Reflection At some level you carry what you learned in school with you for the rest of your life. I went to the University of Chicago out of high school, hoping to study with Milton Friedman, who had published Capitalism and Freedom a decade earlier. I didn’t wind up studying directly with Friedman but I got to know …

Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman: The Epic Battle that Wasn’t

Laurence Articles

The British journalist Nicholas Wapshott’s Samuelson Friedman, a sequel to his earlier Keynes Hayek, promises an exciting Shootout at the OK Corral but doesn’t deliver. (The silly book titles don’t help either.) Nobel laureates Paul Samuelson, left of center, and Milton Friedman, firmly on the right, had much more in common than not — they were both passionate believers in …