Archive for the ‘Blogs to Read’ Category

Are there any banks on New York’s Bank Street?

January 23, 2017

Amy Farber of NY Fed’s Liberty Street blog has an interesting post.

She points how NY’s Bank Street does not have any banks. Infact, it is not even the street where banks were originally localted. It is a street where banks relocated due to yellow fever in NY:

Bank Street in New York City is a quaint little six-block stretch in Greenwich Village (see this 48-second video) with a huge cultural legacy—but no banks. Many cities and towns have a Bank Street and often the street is so named because that’s where most of the banks were originally located. (It is not likely that any Bank Street got its name because of its proximity to a riverbank.) However, New York City’s Bank Street is not where the banks were originally located and it’s not even in the financial district—it’s in Greenwich Village. Why, then, is it called “Bank Street?”

Okay, we cheated in that last paragraph. Manhattan’s banks were not on Bank Street originally but they were indeed there at some point—they moved northward from Wall Street in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in an effort to escape yellow fever. A post on the Forgotten New York website explains how there were two main waves of the epidemic in the city and that Bank Street was essentially named for the first bank to relocate, not the set of banks that eventually moved there:

Though most neighboring streets are named for local personalities in the Village’s early days (one early burgess, Charles Christopher Amos, had three streets named for him), Bank Street is named for one of the oldest institutions in NYC, the Bank of New York, which opened an office “uptown” after a yellow fever epidemic downtown on Wall Street in 1798 prompted a relocation. Several other banks followed suit in 1822 after a second outbreak.

One can view this relocation of banks as an early form of corporate contingency (or business continuity) planning. Think about how important continuity is in banking and how advantageous it would have been to keep those early New York banks functioning. In his 1922 book A Century of Banking in New York, 1822-1922, author Henry Lanier describes, in the chapter “The Year the Banks Migrated,” the Bank of New York’s forethought:

Some bankers and others had been more foresighted. As noted, one of the first deaths in the scourge of 1798 was a book-keeper in the Bank of New York. “Fearing another visitation of the pestilence, the bank made arrangements with the branch Bank of the United States to purchase two plots of eight city lots each, in Greenwich Village, far away from the city proper, to which they could remove in case of being placed in danger of quarantine. Here two houses were erected in the spring of 1799, and here the banks were removed in September of that year, giving their name, Bank Street, to the little village lane that had been nameless before. The last removal was made in 1822, when the yellow fever raged with unusual virulence, and the plot which had been purchased for $500 was sold in 1843 for $30,000.”

In this 1842 map of lower Manhattan, you can see Bank Street just to the right of the large “E” of the “Hudson River” label. (Here is a 1933 street view.) Of course, Wall Street is in the bottom tip of the island. Bank Street is about 2.7 miles north of Wall Street. Yes, it takes a bit of time to walk from one to the other—but not that long. 

There is further discussion on how such a small distance relocation helped banks.

Interesting..

Financiers of Victorian England would marvel at our nativity about markets and economics

January 19, 2017

An old post written in Oct 2016 but really fascinating.

Andrew Odlyzko, Professor of Mathematics (?!) and an interdisciplinary researcher writes about Victorian Finance:

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Thinking about appropriate size of currency notes…

January 18, 2017

Wow. There is so much to learn and figure about monetary economics other than just inflation rates.

The Moneyness blog which has been a great source of education post 8 Nov 2016 has another post to think about. This one is on size of currency note. The blog says that India reducing size of the new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 note is in line with what practices elsewhere. He also points to this wonderful note which discusses various aspects of note design:

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Should we replace money with guns/bullets?

January 17, 2017

Elaine’s Idle Mind blog has an interesting piece on history of currency in New England/Massachusetts.

The post says as money is nothing but an instrument of persuasion, what better than having guns to persuade :-). It further points how we actually had musket balls  a currency!: (more…)

Would postal stamping the old notes have helped in cash crunch?

January 9, 2017

JP Koning’s blog is the goto blog for monetray history especially post demonetisation.

In his recent post, he highlights how the postal stamping of old notes could have helped the government tide the cash crunch.

He starts with how the government missed a monetary historian in the team:

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Is US becoming a banana republic?

December 19, 2016

Scott Sumner has an interesting piece titled as Banana Republic watch:

How do you know when your country is becoming a banana republic?  Let’s call our imaginary banana republic “Costaguava”.

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Mostly Economics ranked in top 100 economics blogs..

December 19, 2016

Feedspot, a blog aggregator has ranked Mostly Economics amidst the top 100 economics blogs. It is currently at 44!

The Best Economics blogs from thousands of top Economics blogs in our index using search and social metrics. Data will be refreshed once a week.

These blogs are ranked based on following criteria

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Hope it is a rigorous enough methodology! Along with Intelligent Economist badge, there is a badge from Feedspot on the blog page now.

It is amazing and humbling to feature in these rankings amidst the stalwarts of economics and economics blogging world. Thanks to all the visitors and supporters for making it happen.

One does not like these shameless self marketing posts but I guess it is fine sometimes…:-)

Issuing seperate currency in leper colonies…

December 12, 2016

Elaine’ s idle mind blog has a post which discusses another aspect of colonisation – leper colonies.

There was a belief that leprosy could spread via currency as well. This the masters issued a seperate leper currency in these colonies:

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Happy Diwali to Mostly Economics visitors

October 29, 2016

Wishing all Mostly Economics visitors a very happy and a prosperous Diwali. As this blog keeps saying and says it again. This blog is making Diwali (and other wishes) wishes for so many years mainly due to the several visitors. The lamp of the blog continues to be alive and all credit is to all of you.  May it continue for many years.

This Diwali one one is really confused about the appeal to ban/don’t use Chinese goods from several quarters. Economics obviously says such demands should be rejected but political economics considerations have some points to be considered. What do visitors think?

Anyways, have fun and be safe.

Renting a tractor the ola/uber way…

October 20, 2016

How lessons are transplanted from one industry to the other.

This bit is really interesting (HT: CB Blog). Mahindras have launched an app called trringo. The small farmers can just swipe and call a tractor. Just like we do for taxis using ola/uber:

Hailing a ride with your smartphone? That’s old news — ask any Uber, Lyft or Careem customer.

But how about hailing a tractor?

Just as urbanites may find it impractical to own a car but still need a ride once in a while, so, too, in the Indian countryside: To get the most from their land, small-scale farmers may need tractors and other machines from time to time, but they may not be able to afford their own.

Renting can be the answer, but the way it was done in India before was not very appealing to farmers. The process was usually informal and local, run by equipment owners who could be capricious or discriminatory, and prices tended to surge at the times of year every farmer in the area would be doing the same job and need the same equipment.

Mahindra & Mahindra, a major Indian vehicle manufacturer, thought there had to be a better way.

“One of the things that struck us was the toll it took on the self-esteem of the farmer,” said Rajesh Jejurikar, chief executive of the company’s farm-equipment division. “It was, literally, like having to beg for it. He didn’t feel like it was his right.”

So the company came up with a smartphone app, Trringo, which it rolled out in September in the state of Karnataka and will soon be available in other agrarian states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Right now, a farmer can use the app to specify what is needed and when, and the company will send the requested tractor and a driver from one of about 20 hubs across Karnataka. The machine might belong to Trringo or to a private owner using the service to book rentals.

There is one snag: By recent estimates, only about 9 percent of rural India has mobile internet access. So the company has also set up call centers for farmers to arrange rentals by telephone.

Will be interesting to see how this experiment fares…

Future of Library in next 100 years: A novel initiative to keep books in demand

October 17, 2016

Katie Bennett of Oxford University Press has a post on a very interesting initiative taking place in Oslo, Norway.

The idea is to make some efforts to ensure both libraries and books remain relevant even 100 years later:

I want to live to be 100 years old. Yes, that is a bold statement, and I’ll admit this goal may be a bit unrealistic and potentially impossible, but my curiosity pushes me to beat the laws of nature. As a 22-year-old avid reader working for a publishing company, I can’t help but wonder: what will be the future of the printed book? Since the creation of the world wide web by Tim Burners-Lee in 1989 and it’s continual expansion since then, this question has haunted the publishing industry, raising profound questions about the state of the industry and the printed book. After the debut of the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook, it seemed as if the days of print materials were numbered. Katie Paterson, founder of the Future Library of Norwa project, doesn’t seem to think so, and she’s got a plan to ensure their existence.

A renowned Scottish artist, Paterson is known for her grand-scale artistic ideas and endeavors. On 12 June 12 2014, Paterson began a century-long project as her way of preserving the future of the library and the printed book. Over 1,000 trees have been planted in the Nordmarka forest just outside of Oslo, Norway for the Future Library, called Framtidsbiblioteket in Swedish. These trees, only now just saplings, will grow to full maturity by 2114, ready to be harvested to print the most mysterious literary anthology ever compiled.

Each year, one prominent author submits an original manuscript of his or her writing—be it a poem, short story, novel, play, anything—and seals it in a box. For the next 100 years, that box will be kept in trust, unpublished, until 2114 when the future project leaders will publish the set of works submitted into printed anthologies available to the public. The New Deichmanske Public Library in Bjørvika, Oslo, opens in 2019 and will house the manuscripts in a specially designed room, lined with wood from the forest. Only the authors’ names and titles of their works will be displayed.

For the next 98 years, no one—not even Katie Paterson herself—will be able to read these submissions, and the authors of these works will most likely never experience the public’s reaction to their writings. In fact, most everyone who is currently working on this project with Paterson will never see the results of their efforts, and can only hope that the people to whom they entrust this project will continue their legacy in the ways directed. With hope, their grandchildren might be old enough to purchase a volume of the anthology, but even that’s no guarantee. In a world so consumed with providing a better existence for future generations, how selfless of an endeavor to work on a project the creator will knowingly never be able to enjoy.

Some authors have already begun to submit their anthologies. One can already buy a right to ensure delivery of the anthology when it opens to public in 2114.

What’s next in history of economics? A wish list

October 17, 2016

Beatrice Cherrier an upcoming economic hisotrian has a wishlist:

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How 2016 economics prize was inspired by Sholay (After all Salim/Javed were masters of contract writing..)

October 13, 2016

Manasi Phadke is back after a long break.

Her recent tweakonomics piece links the 2016 economics prize to the epic Bollywood film – Sholay:

The modern world rests on the foundations built by contracts. Contracts, when completed, when partially honoured, when inefficiently designed, lead to different scenarios that can be used to describe situations in the world of economics and sociology. It is for “launching contract theory as a fertile field of basic research” that the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2016 has been awarded to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström.

Year 1975. As fate would have it, Holmström, then a professor at Kellog’s Graduate School of Management, was bored. Life had become but a bowl of cereal. Paul Samuelson had already received his Nobel for unifying static and dynamic analysis. There was Kuznets who had had the last word in growth, and Kenneth Arrow who took the system from growth to welfare. In the process, if there were any fluctuations at all, Myrdal and Hayek had already explained them. Milton Friedman had had the last word on most of stabilisation theory and Ohlin broke the trade barriers. Aaaarrrrgh! Was there anything at all left to be analysed?

Frustrated, Holmström went home and idly flipped channels on TV. Lady Luck was watching. Had Holmström decided to watch the many antics of Lucille Ball, she would not have helped him. The world would then be a different place.

……

An Indian movie was being aired. There were people dancing to a song. And then suddenly came dacoits. The villagers ran helter-skelter and two good-looking young men shot at the dacoits, who were forced to return to their lair to face the wrath of the Sardar. “Kitne aadmi thhey?” asked the Sardar spitefully. How interesting! This guy, who is the principal dacoit, does not really know what his agents face in the field. The main fella has an objective function of dominating the local area with the help of Kalia et al., whose main objective is to bully and snatch food from villagers. How non-optimal! A breach of contract is imminent. Hmmm. How will the principal control his little gang of agents? “Jo darr gaya, samjho marr gaya.” Ouch!

But see how the coin flips (ahem, quite literally too, in the film). There’s this cop, who too is a principal working with the agents. He is not only armless, but also pretty much blind to field issues. But he is smart. He has the objective function spelt out: “Mujhe Gabbar chahiye. Zinda.” He keeps the money part of the contract simple. Half the amount to be paid at the beginning, half once the job is completed. This thakur tests his agents’ capabilities, gives them information over a spiffing cabaret performance to complete the contract, and in the end also uses the verbal promise made by one friend to emotionally fortify the terms of the contract.

“Brilliant!” thought Holmström feverishly. Every situation is basically an outcome of a contract, wisely or unwisely written. Let me put this down into an academic paper. As the thakur would have said, “Loha garam hain. Maar do hathauda.” The rest is history.

SEBI’s Social-Media Regulatory Overreach

October 10, 2016

Prof Jayant Varma points how SEBI is overdoing its regulation mandate. It has recently asked all stock advisers/tippers using all possible social mediums (whatsapp, Twitter, FB etc) to be first registered with SEBI before getting into advisory mode.

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Mostly Economics on a short break

October 6, 2016

This blog is on a short break. Blogging to resume by Monday hopefully. Till then cheers.

Struggles to open a bank in UK..

September 28, 2016

I had just posted on how an app based bank got a licence to open a limited bank in India. One might be tempted to think it is easier to open a bank in UK.

However, this is hardly the case. Kevin Dowd posts about struggles of Dave Fishwick to open a bank in the country:

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Short history of how Central Park in New York was built..

September 15, 2016

David Shulyer has a nice short history of the project that led to iconic Central Park.

He says it was one of the best investment NY has ever made:

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Where Do Monetary Rules Come From and How Do They Work?

September 14, 2016

David Glasner has an interesting post on thinking about mon policy rules.

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Why economics should be concerned with disappearance of teaching of economic history and history of thought?

September 8, 2016

It is all so ironical really. Post-2008, there has been a rise in interest in economic history and economic thought.

This is because of two reasons. One, people are beginning to understand that much of economics today is a result of series of events in the past. So, to understand today or forecast future, you need alteast some understanding of past matters. Two, as economics profession has lost a lot of credibility, it is increasingly looking at past for some credibility, This is especially the case for central bankers who are increasingly trying to justify their decisions bringing some connections with the past.

Ideally, the rise in interest should be based on first but even second is fine as atleast there is some discussion on these issues.

So what is the irony bit? Well, economic historians are not getting their due. Worse is that few remaining departments which encourage historical work are struggling to remain open.

David Warsh of economicprincipals.com laments the issues:

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Robot Macroeconomics: What can theory and several centuries of economic history teach us?

September 6, 2016

Bank of England may be clueless on what next, but its blog Bank Underground keeps giving us food for thought via its posts.

In the recent one, John Lewis looks at this question of how robotics will impact macroeconomics. Will it lead to lower jobs as said and so on. For this, he draws upon years of history where some new technology has replaced an existing one.

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