Tuesday , January 19 2021
Home / Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Articles by Miles Kimball

Peggy Noonan: Bring the Insurrectionists to Justice

3 days ago

Peggy Noonan is a Republican Wall Street Journal opinion columnist who has become more and more disgusted with Donald Trump. Like her, some other prominent Republicans have begun putting distance between themselves and Trump since his encouragement of the insurrection against the presidential vote counting in Congress. To me it is a very good thing for the nation if a large part of the Republican party distances itself from Donald Trump. I have certainly had other differences with Donald Trump (see for example “It Isn’t OK to Be Anti-Immigrant”), as well as some somewhat common views (particularly on the potential value of negative interest rate

Read More »

Chris Wetherell on the Trouble Caused by the Retweet Button

4 days ago

Developer Chris Wetherell built Twitter’s retweet button. And he regrets what he did to this day.“We might have just handed a 4-year-old a loaded weapon,” Wetherell recalled thinking as he watched the first Twitter mob use the tool he created. “That’s what I think we actually did.”Wetherell, a veteran tech developer, led the Twitter team that built the retweet button in 2009. The button is now a fundamental feature of the platform, and has been for a decade — to the point of innocuousness. But as Wetherell, now cofounder of a yet-unannounced startup, made clear in a candid interview, it’s time to fix it. Because social media is broken. And the retweet is a big reason why.He’s not the only one reexamining the retweet. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told BuzzFeed News he is too:

Read More »

The Optimal Rate of Inflation

6 days ago

Link to the Wikipedia article “Inflation”

The Bank of Finland asked me to respond to a survey about the optimal rate of inflation. (This was the sort of survey that is sent to those who might have a professional opinion about the optimal rate of inflation.) I thought I’d share my answers here. I give their questions in bold. I give my answers in italics. Should the central bank have an explicit inflation target? If so, what rate of inflation should it seek to achieve, given the current longer-term, structural economic trends?Yes. 0%.My answer of 0 inflation as the best target is assuming what I consider the appropriate strategy of being willing to

Read More »

Tiktok of Econolimerick #2

7 days ago

I hope you like the tiktok above. It is a duet with my former intermediate macro student Taylor McCoy, who devotes her tiktok channel to tiktoks about economics. Here are links to all of my econolimericks so far (not all of which have TikToks yet):

Read More »

Being of Normal Weight Seems to be More Protective against Cardiovascular and Heart Disease than against Cancer

8 days ago

In “Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity,” by Sadiya Khan, Hongyan Ning, John T. Wilkins, Norrina Allen, Mercedes Carnethon, Jarett D. Berry, Ranya N. Sweis, Donald M. Lloyd-Jones argue that the claim moderately overweight people have greater longevity gives the wrong idea. For one thing, people who are already sick can lose weight for two different reasons: the direct effect of their illness, and doctors telling them they need to lose weight. When people talk about the effect of weight on illness, what they would normally be thinking of is the effect of one’s weight when

Read More »

Tiktok of Econolimerick #1

9 days ago

I hope you like the tiktok above. (This will be a test of my understanding of the technology.) It is a duet with my former intermediate macro student Taylor McCoy, who devotes her Tiktok channel to Tiktoks about economics. Here are links to all of my econolimericks so far (not all of which have TikToks yet):

Read More »

The Federalist Papers #22 C: Pillars of Democracy—The Judicial System, Military Loyal to the Constitution, and Police Loyal to the Constitution

10 days ago

Recent events make it worth thinking about what it is that can keep our nation’s government from being overthrown. I want to point to two key elements. First, judges whose partisanship is tempered by caring about the law and the respect for the judicial system that leads many powerful people outside the judicial system to take decisions of the Supreme Court as final. Second, a powerful military loyal to the Constitution, including the role of the Supreme Court in that Constitution. Going beyond simply avoiding the overthrow of the government, in achieving social justice, a third element is key: police loyal to the Constitution—especially the 14th

Read More »

Matthew Sedacca: To a Cigarette Maker, Your Life Is Worth About $10,000

12 days ago

Since there is one death for every million cigarettes sold (or smoked), a tobacco manufacturer will make about $10,000 for every death caused by their products.Illustration by Raxon Rex / FlickrIf you had to put a price on your life, what cash amount do you think it would be? What about $100,000? That was the amount, last June, that a group of kidnappers in Atlanta demanded in exchange for a woman’s life. Not high enough? Well, in a statistical sense, certain government agencies value a human life significantly more. In 2010, for example, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration put a price on human life: $9.1 million (in proposing stricter air pollution regulations) and $7.9 million (in proposing new cigarette warning labels), respectively. On

Read More »

2020’s Most Popular Posts

13 days ago

The "Key Posts" link in navigation at the top of my blog lists all important posts through the end of 2016. Along with "2017’s Most Popular Posts," “2018’s Most Popular Posts” and “2019’s Most Popular Posts,” this is intended as a complement to that list. (Also, my most popular storified Twitter discussions are here, and you can see other recent posts by clicking on the Archive link at the top of my blog.) Continuing this tradition, I give links to the most popular posts in the 2020 below into six groups: popular new posts in 2020 on diet and health, popular new posts in 2020 on political philosophy, popular new posts in 2020 on other

Read More »

How Many Thousands of Americans Will the Sugar Lobby’s Latest Victory Kill?

15 days ago

Here is the news from Andrea Petersen’s December 29, 2020 Wall Street Journal article “New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Reject Recommendation to Cut Sugar, Alcohol Intake Limit”: The federal government on Tuesday issued new dietary guidelines that keep current allowances for sugar and alcohol consumption unchanged, rejecting recommendations by its scientific advisory committee to make significant cuts.The scientific committee, which was composed of 20 academics and doctors, had recommended cutting the limit for added sugars in the diet to 6% of daily calories from 10% in the current guidelines, citing rising rates of obesity and the link between

Read More »

Only What is in Our Power is Our Duty

17 days ago

Too often, we act as if we have control over external things we can’t control—and as if we can’t control our own attitudes, which are well within our control. Seeing the truth of what we control and what we don’t control is a big part of wisdom. Here is how Ryan Holiday puts it in The Obstacle is the Way:… recovering addicts learn the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. This is how

Read More »

How Perfectionism Has Made the Pandemic Worse

20 days ago

The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated the news in 2020. I’ve noticed one regularity in how the US (and many other countries) have handled the pandemic: perfectionism has been getting in the way of a quick and powerful response. Every little bit would have helped reduce the reproduction ratio of the coronavirus, but only things that were big bits were allowed. Let me list some instances of this perfectionism:Early on, not yet having clear evidence of the benefits of masks was described to the public in a way that made it sound as if masks wouldn’t help much. Highly accurate tests whose results take many days to arrive are next to useless. But the US

Read More »

Daniel Jacobson on Freedom of Speech at Universities in the Age of Cancel Culture

21 days ago

Daniel Jacobson began work as the first endowed director of the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization in August 2020, following a national search. Jacobson came to CU Boulder from the University of Michigan, where he was professor of philosophy. In addition to serving as the Benson Center director, Jacobson is the newly appointed Bruce D. Benson Endowed Professor of Philosophy.
Jacobson, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s from Yale University, works on a range of topics in ethics, moral psychology, aesthetics, and the moral and political philosophy of John Stuart Mill. His paper “Utilitarianism Without Consequentialism: The Case of John Stuart Mill” was selected by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the 10 best papers published in

Read More »

Nicole Rura: Close to Half of US Population Projected to Have Obesity by 2030

22 days ago

A big part of my motivation for blogging about diet and health (along with all the other subjects I blog about) is my awareness of how bad the trendlines are for obesity and other avoidable health problems. Because we are affected by the behavior of those around us, anything visible that you do that is good or bad for your health also has spillovers for those around you. If you go off sugar, or pursue a more ambitious program of eating right, or exercise, you are benefitting not only yourself, but all the people who (possibly unconsciously) are inspired by your example. Conversely, if you eat scores of different foods with substantial sugar

Read More »

The Federalist Papers #22 B: Supermajority Rules Aren’t an Adequate Fix for Departures from One-Person One-Vote—Alexander Hamilton

24 days ago

How to make the wishes of each person count equally in a social choice problem is a very difficult problem. But sometimes things are skewed far enough in a certain direction that it is clear the opposite direction leads to greater equality in public decision-making. One way to tell might be to think of the hypothetical experiment asking the individuals in two groups in a society whether they would be willing to exchange the political rights and influence they have for the political rights and influence of the other group. But if two groups are unequal in numbers, then one must specify whether it is the political rights and influence per person in

Read More »

Forgive Yourself

26 days ago

Tomorrow is the traditional date to celebrate the birth of a man who went around telling quite a few people that their sins were forgiven. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those to whom he told that still couldn’t forgive themselves for things they had done. It can be remarkably hard to forgive yourself for your mistakes and badnesses. Many of us believe that it would be dangerous to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes and badnesses. But I think there is a difference between taking responsibility for what you have done and trying to make things right and beating yourself up about what you have done in the past. Energy spent on beating

Read More »

A Goldbug Notices ‘Breaking Through the Zero Lower Bound’ and ‘Enabling Deep Negative Rates to Fight Recessions: A Guide’

28 days ago

It is a good sign when one’s proposals are noticed, even if by someone who opposes them. Much of the video above is the standard set of ideas that sells gold and silver. In particular, in the video, Lynette Zang makes a prediction of very high inflation in the future that I think is quite unlikely. As far as modest inflation goes, Lynette neglects to note that moderate inflation tends to raise nominal wage growth. Another thing to note is that the erosion of principal that Lynette so laments as a consequence of possible future negative interest rates is the other side of debt relief for debtors—something the Bible has a different system for, but talks about as a good thing. The welfare of debtors is important. It would be foolish to focus only on the unpleasant consequences of low interest

Read More »

Contrasted Faults Through All Their Manners Reign

December 20, 2020

By modern standards, Oliver Goldsmith’s 18th century poem “The Traveler—Or, a Prospect of Society” is political incorrect four times over: it is not gender neutral; it has at least one sentence that seems racist, it includes a noncondemning mention of slave-holding as a sign of wealth; and it offends national pride in its treatment of various nations. Nevertheless, it has some profound passages. Let me repurpose the following passage as a criticism of our discipline of economics:Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain,Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;The first contrast, “Though poor, luxurious” fits least well. But it can

Read More »

Lisa Marshall: Who Should Get the First COVID-19 Vaccines? Modeling the Options

December 18, 2020

Should people who already had COVID-19 step aside and give their place in the vaccine line to someone else? In some cases, yes, suggests new University of Colorado Boulder research.
“Our research suggests that prioritizing people who have not yet had COVID could allow hard-hit communities to stretch those first doses farther and get to some of the herd immunity effects sooner,” said Dan Larremore, a computational biologist at the BioFrontiers Institute whose team used mathematical modeling to determine how different distribution strategies could play out in cities around the globe.
He and lead author Kate Bubar, a graduate student in the Department of Applied Mathematics, teamed up with colleagues at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Chicago, to do the

Read More »