eldavojohn writes: On September 14th a PDF report titled "Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945" penned by the Library of Congress' nonpartisan Congressional Research Service was released to little fanfare. However the following conclusion of the report has since roiled the GOP enough to have the report removed from the Library of Congress: 'The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.' From the New York Times article: 'The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.' It appears to no longer be found on the Library of Congress' website.
eldavojohn writes: As the political rhetoric heats up, there's something puzzling about drilling inside the United States. Essentially, it doesn't reduce what we pay at the pump. From the article, 'A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.' If the promises that politicians made when they opened US drilling were true, then we should be paying about $2 a gallon now. Instead it's $4 a gallon. Minnesota Public Radio pulls some choice quotes from both parties and wonders why this decades old empirical observation goes seemingly completely unnoticed.
eldavojohn writes: It has been recently presented that Germany's rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century was due at least in part because of a lack of copyright law'. This lead to the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, which in turn 'laid the foundation for the country's industrial might' during the Gründerzeit. Certain to be a controversial statement, Ars notes of and weighs in on an article from Spiegel of at least one historian who thinks so. As is popular in some circles today, the argument is that intellectual property law inhibits the flow of information which, if left freely open, would put knowledge in the hands of everyone and eventually charge the economy. Eckhard Höffner cites plagiarizers in 19th century Germany as an example of the opposite where in London at the same time, knowledge was literally chained to the shelves at libraries and restricted to the affluent in rare cases of ownership.
eldavojohn writes: Oh if only we could identify the bubble markets as they appear but with all the random variables, it would take some sort of econophysicist to build predictions for that! Well, a team has released a definition of a 'bubble index' that lead them to make predictions of bubbles sixth months ago that would pop between then and now. The four bubbles they selected were the IBOVESPA Index of 50 Brazillian stocks, a Merrill Lynch Corporate Bond Index, the spot price of gold and cotton futures. Two out of the four were bubbles with Merrill Lynch being a bubble already popping and cotton continues to soar into even bubblier status. Still, for your first try, fifty percent isn't bad. The team learned a lot of new things from this first run, revised their method, selected their predictions for the next sixth months and sealed them. Only time will tell if they are truly on to predicting crashes.
eldavojohn writes: "Crispy Gamer is running a very interesting article on why games cost $60. Many games start out at this retail price but why? Did the makers of The Beatles Rock Band game just happen upon $59.99 as did — by coincidence — the makers of Batman Arkham asylum? After all those two titles surely took different amounts of man hours to develop and result in different averages of entertainment time enjoyed by the consumer. They interview a director at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research who breaks down the pie as $12 to retailer, $5 to discounts/returns/retail marketing, $10 toward manufacturing costs and shipping. That leaves $30 to $35 in the hands of the publishers. Though lengthy, the article looks at three forces of economics on why game publishers continuously end up in lockstep for pricing: sensible greed, consumer stupidity or evil conspiracy. David Thomas collects several interesting quotes in this article from organization leaders to lawyers. When asked about the next step up to $70 or $80, Hal Halpin (president and founder of the Entertainment Consumers Association) says, 'I'm not sure that we'll see a standard $70 price point at all. To my mind, emerging technologies, subscriptions and episodic and downloadable content should all enable price drops — increasing accessibility to a much wider audience. Free-to-play, ad-supported models, too, diversify the price landscape.' For those of you PC gamers that catch deals on Steam, you may be all too familiar with the change that Mr. Halpin is forecasting — will we see this on consoles?"