Pro Wrestling and Intellectual Property with Kyle Coates

Today’s guest is Kyle Coates and our topic is pro wrestling and the intellectual property problems that arise from it. So prepare to be amazed as we BODY SLAM this topic, or something.

Who owns a wrestler’s name, gimmick, and persona? Kyle was inspired to do research in this area when he heard about a legal dispute between the wrestlers Jeff and Matt Hardy and the wrestling network TNA. The Hardys changed networks and wanted to continue using a gimmick they had developed while performing for TNA. Continue reading Pro Wrestling and Intellectual Property with Kyle Coates

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Legal Systems Very Different From Ours with David Friedman

Today’s guest is David Friedman of Santa Clara University. Our discussion centers around his upcoming book, Legal Systems Very Different From Ours, which you can read in draft form at his website.

David became interested in this topic when he became interested in the decentralized legal system of saga-period Iceland. This interest has since expanded into a full book covering everything from Imperial Chinese Law to the customary legal system of Somaliland in northern Somalia. We discuss some of these chapters, with a focus on Somalian, Jewish, Icelandic, and 18th-century British law. We also discuss some of the major themes of the book, such as feud law and embedded or polylegal systems.


Related links:

I. M. Lewis’ book on the modern history of Somalia

The Invisible Hook by Peter Leeson (He contributed a chapter on pirate law to Legal Systems Very Different From Ours). He was also a recent guest of this show.

Download this episode.

Scott Alexander recently reviewed this book and wrote a follow-up on specific interesting passages.

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Unintended Consequences and Systemically Important Real Sectors with Frank Milne

My guest today is Frank Milne of Queen’s University.

Our topic for today will be unintended consequences. Frank has written a paper directed at policymakers to help them understand some of the pitfalls that economists have identified. The paper is directed at Australian policymakers, so some of the examples are Australia specific, though they generalize quite well to other countries.

We start where the paper starts, with a discussion of Australia’s heavy investment in commodity exports to China in the wake of the 2008 crisis. Many people mistook the temporary increase in demand for Australian mineral exports for a permanent change, leading them to over-invest in developing the Australian mining industry.

We go on to discuss many topics, with a particular focus on housing. We also touch on Frank’s work on Systemically Important Real Sectors (SIRS), which he is working on with co-author John F. Crean. SIRS are sectors with the potential to cause systemic problems in the banking sector. They feature high volatility of costs and revenues, which create the potential for large losses to lenders.


Related links:

The Diamond-Dybvig model (Wikipedia) and the original paper.

The Arrow-Debreu model (Wikipedia).

House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again by Mian and Sufi.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Infrastructure, Privatization, and Autonomous Vehicles with Clifford Winston

Today’s guest is Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution. We discuss infrastructure, particularly roads and airports, and the incentives faced by their users. Bad incentives create congestion problems that can’t be solved by simply throwing more money into infrastructure; you need to fix the incentives! Clifford’s work on privatization shows how it could improve incentives and reduce the costs of congestion.

Clifford argues that self-driving cars will fix some of the problems created by bad policy. We also discuss the letter grades issued for infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers and what they do and don’t tell us about the quality of American infrastructure.


Download this episode.

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

The Economics of the Weird with Peter Leeson

Peter Leeson of George Mason University joins the podcast today to discuss his latest book, WTF?!: An Economic Tour of the Weird.

We discuss the economic reasoning behind some of history’s strangest practices: ordeals that were used to determine innocence or guilt in medieval Europe, trials by battle that were used to settle land disputes in Norman England, wife auctions that happened during the Industrial Revolution, and the criminal prosecution of insects and rodents by ecclesiastical courts in Renaissance Italy. Continue reading The Economics of the Weird with Peter Leeson

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Religion, Political Power, and Economic Growth with Jared Rubin

My guest today is Jared Rubin of Chapman University. He is the author of Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not, which is our topic for today.

The book deals with the question of why Western Europe became wealthier than the Middle East after centuries of being poorer. The book is part game theoretic model of society, part historical narrative through the lens of that model. Continue reading Religion, Political Power, and Economic Growth with Jared Rubin

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Technology, Mechanism Design, and Ugandan Agricultural Markets with Kevin Leyton-Brown

My guest today is Kevin Leyton-Brown, he is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia.

Kevin’s work involves not only computer science topics such as artificial intelligence, but also game theory, and the intersection between the two. Our topic for today is an app that Kevin co-founded called Kudu, which uses double auctions to help Ugandan farmers trade more effectively. Continue reading Technology, Mechanism Design, and Ugandan Agricultural Markets with Kevin Leyton-Brown

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

The German Economic Miracle with David Henderson

Returning to the podcast is David Henderson of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California.

Our topic for today is the German Economic Miracle. David wrote an article on it for the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. The article begins as follows:

“After World War II the German economy lay in shambles. The war, along with Hitler’s scorched-earth policy, had destroyed 20 percent of all housing. Food production per capita in 1947 was only 51 percent of its level in 1938, and the official food ration set by the occupying powers varied between 1,040 and 1,550 calories per day. Industrial output in 1947 was only one-third its 1938 level. Moreover, a large percentage of Germany’s working-age men were dead. At the time, observers thought that West Germany would have to be the biggest client of the U.S. welfare state; yet, twenty years later its economy was envied by most of the world. And less than ten years after the war people already were talking about the German economic miracle.What caused the so-called miracle? The two main factors were currency reform and the elimination of price controls, both of which happened over a period of weeks in 1948. A further factor was the reduction of marginal tax rates later in 1948 and in 1949.”

Continue reading The German Economic Miracle with David Henderson

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Corruption and Spatial Econometrics with Jamie Pavlik

My guest today is Jamie Pavlik of Texas Tech University.

Jamie has done a ton of research on corruption and development. She has examined corruption in the developing world, with multiple papers examining corruption in Brazil. She has also looked at international comparisons of corruption, and corruption in the United States specifically. Continue reading Corruption and Spatial Econometrics with Jamie Pavlik

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Brexit, Its Economic Impact, and International Disintegration with Thomas Sampson

My guest today is Thomas Sampson of the London School of Economics.

Our topic for today is the economic impact of Brexit. Long-time listeners will recall that I did an interview with Sam Bowman on Brexit immediately after the vote occurred. Think of this as a follow-up to that episode now that the dust has settled and we have a better idea of what Brexit is going to look like. Thomas has written multiple papers on the subject, including Brexit: The Economics of International Disintegration, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Its abstract follows: Continue reading Brexit, Its Economic Impact, and International Disintegration with Thomas Sampson

Subscribe to Economics Detective Radio on iTunes, Android, or Stitcher.

Garrett M. Petersen's blog about markets, institutions, and ideas.