September 7, 2013

Will US Media Take Note of Growing Values-Driven Spanish-Latin American Coca-Cola Boycott?

Catholic News Agency is ahead of the curve on a likely major development affecting a U.S. household name.

The Coca-Cola Company’s sponsorship of a “controversial Spanish reality (TV) show” (“disgusting” would appear to be a better word) in Spain is blowing up in its face, and not only because of the content of the program itself. The caustic reaction of a Coke executive to those who have criticized his company’s support of the program has sparked calls for a boycott of the company’s products which seems to have the potential to cut into the company’s sales volume. Excerpts from CNA’s Friday coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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AP’s Wiseman Tries to Explain Away Clear Trend Towards Part-Time Employment as Merely ‘Volatile’

In a Saturday afternoon dispatch, the Associated Press marred a mostly decent presentation of the August employment situation reported by the government yesterday in three ways.

The first is the story’s misleading headline: “The Job Market Fed Faces: Healing But Still Ailing.” Whether there’s genuine healing going on is highly debatable, given that the labor force participation rate fell to 63.2 percent, its lowest level since 1978, and the clear trend towards part-time work. AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman’s treatment of that trend and another related one represent the report’s other three weaknesses, as seen in the following three paragraphs (bolds are mine):

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Live Blogging West Chester Immigration (Anti-Amnesty) Rally

Filed under: Activism,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:03 pm

I went to West Chester for the first hour or so of a Saturday afternoon anti-illegal immigration amnesty rally:
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When You’ve Lost Jon Stewart …

This is from May. But, especially given the events of the past four months, the presentation shows that Obama had lost Stewart (HT to commenter dscott):

Has Stewart gone after Obama’s contradictory “red line” statements?

Whitewashing the ‘Red Line,’ Part 2: PolitiFact’s Excuse Is That Obama ‘Never Denied Using the Phrase’

In Part 1 of this pair of posts on the press whitewash of President Barack Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, I looked at the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, who excused President Barack Obama’s contradictory “red line” remarks as “offhand” statements” which shouldn’t count for much compared to official statements and press releases by diplomats and the White House. (Who knew?)

PolitiFact’s Jon Greenberg has also predictably weighed in with the excuse-makers. The web site didn’t even bother applying a “Truth-o-meter” rating, claiming that Obama “never denied using the phrase or giving it the significance it has today.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Whitewashing the ‘Red Line,’ Part 1: WaPo ‘Fact-Checker’ Kessler Discounts Obama’s ‘Offhand Statements’

As expected, the establishment press’s excuse-makers have come out to defend the indefensible, claiming that President Barack Obama’s Wednesday assertion in Stockholm that “I did not set a red line” with Syria and chemical weapons doesn’t contradict his oft-quoted August 2012 “red line” statement.

I didn’t think that the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler to be among those trying to explain it all away; (meanwhiile, PolitiFact has predictably weighed in; its post is the subject of Part 2). While he has been a bit heavier in handing out the “Pinocchios” in situations involving Republicans and conservatives than to Democrats and liberals, Kessler has rarely tried to convince readers that they didn’t see or hear what the really saw and heard. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what he did in this instance by giving the obvious contradiction “no rating.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine; HT Hot Air):

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘Obama’s Extra-Constitutional Abdication’) Went Up Thursday Evening

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090713)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

If you are on the front page, click “more” to see today’s items (updated sporadically; items time-stamped 6:05 a.m., if any, were posted earlier and held).
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Positivity: RIP, Ronald Coase

Filed under: Economy,Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

One of the greatest economists almost no one ever heard of has passed away at 102 years of age.

The following is from his bio at EconLib.org — make sure to catch the italicized paragraph near the end:

Ronald Coase received the Nobel Prize in 1991 “for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy.” Coase is an unusual economist for the twentieth century, and a highly unusual Nobel Prize winner. First, his writings are sparse. In a sixty-year career he wrote only about a dozen significant papers—and very few insignificant ones. Second, he uses little or no mathematics, disdaining what he calls “blackboard economics.” Yet his impact on economics has been profound. That impact stems almost entirely from two of his articles, one published when he was twenty-seven and the other published twenty-three years later.

Coase conceived of the first article, “The Nature of the Firm,” while he was an undergraduate on a trip to the United States from his native Britain. At the time he was a socialist, and he dropped in on perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas. He also visited Ford and General Motors and came up with a puzzle: how could economists say that Lenin was wrong in thinking that the Russian economy could be run like one big factory, when some big firms in the United States seemed to be run very well? In answering his own question, Coase came up with a fundamental insight about why firms exist. Firms are like centrally planned economies, he wrote, but unlike the latter they are formed because of people’s voluntary choices. But why do people make these choices? The answer, wrote Coase, is “marketing costs.” (Economists now use the term “transaction costs.”) If markets were costless to use, firms would not exist. Instead, people would make arm’s-length transactions. But because markets are costly to use, the most efficient production process often takes place in a firm. His explanation of why firms exist is now the accepted one and has given rise to a whole literature on the issue. Coase’s article was cited 169 times in academic journals between 1966 and 1980.

“The Problem of Social Cost,” Coase’s other widely cited article (661 citations between 1966 and 1980), was even more pathbreaking; indeed, it gave rise to the field called law and economics. Economists before Coase of virtually all political persuasions had accepted British economist Arthur Pigou’s idea that if, say, a cattle rancher’s cows destroy his neighboring farmer’s crops, the government should stop the rancher from letting his cattle roam free or should at least tax him for doing so. Otherwise, believed economists, the cattle would continue to destroy crops because the rancher would have no incentive to stop them.

But Coase challenged the accepted view. He pointed out that if the rancher had no legal liability for destroying the farmer’s crops, and if transaction costs were zero, the farmer could come to a mutually beneficial agreement with the rancher under which the farmer paid the rancher to cut back on his herd of cattle. This would happen, argued Coase, if the damage from additional cattle exceeded the rancher’s net returns on these cattle. If, for example, the rancher’s net return on a steer was two dollars, then the rancher would accept some amount over two dollars to give up the additional steer. If the steer was doing three dollars’ worth of harm to the crops, then the farmer would be willing to pay the rancher up to three dollars to get rid of the steer. A mutually beneficial bargain would be struck.

Coase considered what would happen if the courts made the rancher liable for the damage caused by his steers. Economists had thought that the number of steers raised by the rancher would be affected. But Coase showed that the only thing affected would be the wealth of the rancher and the farmer; the number of cattle and the amount of crop damage, he showed, would be the same. In the above example, the farmer would insist that the rancher pay at least three dollars for the right to have the extra steer roaming free. But because the extra steer was worth only two dollars to the rancher, he would be willing to pay only up to two dollars. Therefore, the steer would not be raised, the same outcome as when the rancher was not liable.

This insight was stunning. It meant that the case for government intervention was weaker than economists had thought. Yet Coase’s soulmates at the free-market-oriented University of Chicago wondered, according to George Stigler, “how so fine an economist could make such an obvious mistake.” So they invited Coase, who was then at the University of Virginia, to come to Chicago to discuss it. They had dinner at the home of Aaron Director, the economist who had founded the Journal of Law and Economics.

Stigler recalled:

We strongly objected to this heresy. Milton Friedman did most of the talking, as usual. He also did much of the thinking, as usual. In the course of two hours of argument the vote went from twenty against and one for Coase to twenty-one for Coase. What an exhilarating event! I lamented afterward that we had not had the clairvoyance to tape it.

Stigler himself labeled Coase’s insight the Coase theorem.

Go here for the rest of the post.