Monday, September 17, 2012

Seen In the Parking Lot

It didn’t occur to me to take pictures until it was too late. But … I spotted more than one vehicle in the parking lot at Saturday’s football game with a dealer plate from Williston, North Dakota.

The game was between Southern Utah and New Mexico Highlands U. Both schools are over a thousand miles from the oil fields of the Bakken Shale.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Obama’s Letter Grades

Way back in 2005 I started pushing the idea here at vX that we ought to grade economic growth on a letter grade scale.

I proposed two scales: an “old school” letter grade based on the normal distribution, and a “new school” letter grade scale based on a contemporary distribution across majors from my school.

Here’s collected in one place, are Obama’s letter grades:

Quarter “Old School” “New School”
2012 II C B
2012 I C B
2011 IV B A
2011 III D C
2011 II C B
2011 I D C
2010 IV C B
2010 III C B
2010 II C B
2010 I C B
2009 IV B A
2009 III D C
2009 II F D
2009 I F F

Of course, some claim “it’s all Bush’s fault”. Fair enough.

The table below shows the GPA for Obama using a cumulative sum. This means that entries at the top of the table include only the most recent quarters, while those towards the bottom include progressively more quarters in Obama’s average:

Quarters Included “Old School” “New School”
2012 II Only 2.0 3.0
2012 I to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 IV to 2012 II 2.3 3.3
2011 III to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 II to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2011 I to 2012 II 1.8 2.8
2010 IV to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 III to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 II to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2010 I to 2012 II 1.9 2.6
2009 IV to 2012 II 2.0 3.0
2009 III to 2012 II 1.9 2.9
2009 II to 2012 II 1.8 2.8
2009 I to 2012 II 1.6 2.6

For the period from 1947-2005, the “old school” GPA for America is 2.5. Obama never reaches that level. Brian Gongol has a graphic showing this.

The “new school” GPA for the same period is 3.25. That matches the average for all matriculated students in all graded classes at my school in 2004-5. In short, it’s what’s normal for today’s student given the grade inflation of the last few decades.

Obama beats that only if your reference set is exceptionally selective, and includes only the last 3 quarters. No more, no less.

I don’t know about hope, but we did get change.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Is Macro So Hard: Students May Be Biased About the Data

Why would students be biased about macroeconomic data?

Students are probably biased about the data because it really is worse for them in their local area of knowledge.

When a college student learns about something like the unemployment rate, their reference set is probably their family’s household. But, there are 3 reasons why that family is likely to be worse off than the typical American household.

  • he families of students often include younger people who are more likely to be unemployed because they have less stable employment histories, fewer skills, less interest in actively participating in the labor force, and perhaps even unrealistic expectations of their own worth.
  • If a student has a sibling that’s unemployed, it’s likely that they may have moved back home.
  • If you’re unemployed yourself, it’s likely that you may have gone back to school.

I’ve actually calculated the unemployment rate for the families of students in my principles classes, and it is often several points higher than the local average.

And why might this make a macroeconomics class harder? Well … it can’t be easy to take a class in which you are taught something that is not representative of your personal experience.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How It Was Supposed to Go

The Obama forecast with stimulus, the Obama forecast without stimulus, and the actual performance:

I’d like my stimulus funds back please.

Via Cold Spring Shops via James Pethothoukis.