Broken Incentives in Medical Innovation

I recently listened to Mark Zuckerberg interviewing Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison concerning their thesis that the process of using scientific research to advance major development goals (e.g. extending the average human lifespan) has stagnated. It is a fascinating discussion that fundamentally questions the practice of scientific research as it is currently completed. Their conversation … Continue reading Broken Incentives in Medical Innovation

Three Lessons on Institutions and Incentives (Part 3): Innovation means creative destruction

The concept of creative destruction was popularised by Joseph Schumpeter and assumes that the economy is in a equilibrium. The “entrepreneur,” therefore, is an unbalancing factor that, through innovation, displaces the winners of the prevailing situation until then, generating a new equilibrium. This notion was criticized by other economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Israel … Continue reading Three Lessons on Institutions and Incentives (Part 3): Innovation means creative destruction

Innovation and the Failure of the Great Man Theory

We tend to think about innovation as inventions and particularly about the inventors associated with them: Newton, Edison, Jobs, Archimedes, Watt, Arkwright.  This Great Man Theory of incredible technical innovation is mostly implicitly held by quite a few of us, celebrating these great men and their deeds. Matt Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist and The … Continue reading Innovation and the Failure of the Great Man Theory

The minimum wage induced spur of technological innovation ought not be praised

In a recent article at Reason.com, Christian Britschgi argues that “Government-mandated price hikes do a lot of things. Spurring technological innovation is not one of them”. This is in response to the self-serve kiosks in fast-food restaurants that seem to have appeared everywhere following increases in the minimum wage. In essence, his argument is that minimum wages … Continue reading The minimum wage induced spur of technological innovation ought not be praised

Political Decentralization and Innovation in early modern Europe

My full review of Joel Mokyr’s A Culture of Growth is forthcoming in the Independent Review. Unfortunately, it won’t be out until the Winter 2017 issue is released so here is a preview. Specifically, I want to discuss one of the main themes of the book and my review: the role of political decentralization in … Continue reading Political Decentralization and Innovation in early modern Europe

Irrationality, Self-indulgence, Childishness, Bizarre Beliefs, and Innovation: From the Belly of the Beast

I have lived for many years the People’s Socialist Green Republic of Santa Cruz in California, right in the Belly of the Beast. That’s not its real name actually, just the name it deserves. It’s a university town of about 50,000. A large campus of the University of California sits on the hills overlooking the … Continue reading Irrationality, Self-indulgence, Childishness, Bizarre Beliefs, and Innovation: From the Belly of the Beast

Criminalizing Innovation

By Fred Foldvary The U.S. government has attacked an entrepreneur and his new product, as another episode of the federal government’s war on enterprise. In this case, the entrepreneur CEO is Craig Zucker, the company was Maxfield & Oberton, and the product was Buckyballs. Buckyballs were small magnetic spheres made of neodymium, a rare-earth element … Continue reading Criminalizing Innovation

“Internet villages and algorithmic-speech” (from my inbox)

[Note: this is from Vishnu Modur, and he has been gracious enough to let me share his thoughts with you. – BC] We find ourselves in an overlap of classical free-speech abstractions, editorialized-media discourse, and algorithmic-social media diatribe. Each of these is a product that cannot reproduce the stability of the system that produced them. … Continue reading “Internet villages and algorithmic-speech” (from my inbox)

Efficient markets as normative systems

Recently, I came across this outstanding interview with Eugene Fama published by The Market / NZZ. Besides the main subject discussed -the inability of central banks to control inflation-, the interview is intertwined with gripping assertions about the limits of knowledge, such as the following ones: Bubbles are things people see in hindsight. They don’t … Continue reading Efficient markets as normative systems

Why snipers have spotters

Imagine two highly skilled snipers choosing and eliminating targets in tandem. Now imagine I take away one of their rifles, but leave him his scope. How much do you expect their abilities to be decreased? Surprisingly, there is a strong case that this will actually increase their combined sniping competence. As an economist would point … Continue reading Why snipers have spotters

Why the US is behind in FinTech, in two charts

The US is frankly terrible at innovation in banking. When Kenya (and its neighbors) has faster adoption of mobile banking–as they have since at least 2012–it is time to reconsider our approach. Here is the problem: we made new ideas in banking de facto illegal. Especially since the 2008 financial crisis, regulatory bodies (especially the … Continue reading Why the US is behind in FinTech, in two charts

In memory of Gerald Gaus (1952-2020)

I was saddened to hear that Gerald Gaus, the world-renowned liberal philosopher, died yesterday. Gaus was a critical developer of a public reason approach to classical liberalism, and powerful exponent of the interdisciplinary research agenda of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. While we met in person only occasionally, he was a significant influence on my approach … Continue reading In memory of Gerald Gaus (1952-2020)

Broken incentives in medical research

Last week, I sat down with Scott Johnson of the Device Alliance to discuss how medical research is communicated only through archaic and disorganized methods, and how the root of this is the “economy” of Impact Factor, citations, and tenure-seeking as opposed to an exercise in scientific communication. We also discussed a vision of the … Continue reading Broken incentives in medical research