Free Markets, Free People


Economic Statistics for 27 Nov 13

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.3% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and re-fis up 0.1%.

Durable goods orders dropped -2.0% in October, with ex-transportation orders also down -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 5.3%, while orders ex-transportation are up 4.3%.

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 316,000. The 4-week average fell 7,500 to 331,750, while continuing claims fell 91,000 to 2.776 million.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell from 0.14 to -0.18 for October.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell -2.9 points in November to 63.0.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose a point to -33.7 in the latest week.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 3.1 points to 75.1 in November.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.2% in October.


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4 Responses to Economic Statistics for 27 Nov 13

  • Initial jobless claims … can we believe any of these numbers out of BLS  .. what was the “L” for any way ?

  • An Academic Cartel?
    The question that Levitt and Dubner answer is why street dealers and mules—or, in Afonso’s telling, grad students and postdocs—accept miserable pay and working conditions when they could be earning more in less annoying and dangerous, more secure endeavors. How is a tenured professor like a drug lord? How is a new Ph.D. researcher like a street-level drug dealer?
    These are not riddles intended to amuse. Rather, they present the gist of an essay by Alexandre Afonso, who teaches political economy at King’s College London where he holds the rank of lecturer. Taking off from a chapter entitled “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?” in the bestselling-book Freakonomics, by economist Steven D. Levitt and writer Stephen J. Dubner, Afonso argues that academic departments have a lot in common with drug cartels: A few highly paid, permanent top dogs enjoy power and comfort while farming out the dirty work to large numbers of low-paid, mostly temporary underlings.
    The question that Levitt and Dubner answer is why street dealers and mules—or, in Afonso’s retelling, grad students and postdocs—accept miserable pay and working conditions when they could be earning more in less annoying and dangerous, more secure endeavors. “Yet,” Afonso writes, “gangs have no real difficulty in recruiting new members”—and neither do academic departments. “The reason for this is that the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, is the main driver for people to stay in the business: low-level drug sellers forego current income for (uncertain) future wealth. Rank-and file members are ready to face this risk to try to make it to the top, where life is good and money is flowing. It is very unlikely that they will make it (their mortality rate is insanely high, by the way) but they’re ready to ‘get rich or die trying.’”
    The same goes for academe—minus, of course, the firepower and risk of arrest, he continues. “The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics.”

    I wonder where in the food chain our visiting professor ranks.

    • Well he has no grad students so I would guess he is selling booze to stupid teenagers outside school social functions.