Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Guess They Don't Want My Money

I can't believe the IU Foundation's website has a glitch disabling it from processing donations on this of all days. Was it designed by someone in the Obama Administration?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Newcastle 0 - Arsenal 1

"1-nil to the Arsenal." This was an old-school game. I didn't actually get to watch the first half - sounded like a pretty turgid affair in any case. In the second half, Arsenal had almost all the meaningful possession until the goal, scored in the 65th minute by Olivier Giroud, who split the Newcastle defense, and headed home from inside the six-year box. Theo Walcott (of all people) supplied Giroud with an excellently weighted free kick, lofted over the defense from the left channel outside the box. When was the last time you heard me compliment a pass by Walcott? Probably never. But credit where it is due.

After the goal, Arsenal did something disconcertingly pragmatic: they went into a defensive shell, even going so far as to play five across the defense, with Sagna joining Mertesacker (who was excellent, by the way) and Koscielny in central defense. Jenkinson and Flamini (the later replacing Gibbs, who hobbled off with an injury mid-way through the second half) were the fullbacks. I was concerned that Arsenal were adopting an unfamiliar formation in which players might not know how to react as a group to any particular attack. But the defense (especially the big German defender in the middle) successfully soaked up Newcastle's pressure throughout the final half-hour (including stoppage time). Although, they were nearly undone by a stupid error by the own goalie, who, taking too much time on the ball, proceeded to launch it firmly into the face of an onrushing Newcastle player. The rebounding ball came rolled us a few feet wide of the Arsenal net.

All in all, it was a gratifying Arsenal victory, which put them back to the top of the Barclay's Premier League at the end of the year and the midpoint of the season, just one slender point of surging Manchester City. With one game left of the busy holiday season, which will be Arsenal's fourth game in nine days, the Gunners seem almost to be running on fumes. A number of players have picked up niggling injuries, which require rest. In addition to losing Gibbs during today's match, Giroud and Wilshire both were seen to be hobbling at game's end. But the Gunners will have to suck it up and come out firing on New Year's Day, when they must pick up all three points against Cardiff City at home.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

West Ham 1 - Arsenal 3

Perhaps they were sleepy from staying up to late waiting for Santa to arrive, but Arsenal didn't really start playing until going down 1-0 early in the second half, after Szczesny spilled a save right in front of Carlton Cole, who said "Thanks" as he despached the ball into the net. Shortly thereafter, Aaron Ramsey picked up a thigh injury and had to be replaced by Lucas Podolski, who has just returned from injury. And that changed the match completely.

In the first half, a lethargic Arsenal couldn't get anything going, even while holding lots of possession. And Ramsey was among the least sharp of the Arsenal players. For several games in a row now, he's been off the boil, looking more like the weak and indecisive Ramsey of last season more than the brilliantly sharp Ramsey of the first two months of this season. Not that the other Gunners were playing well or anything, but once Ramsey was replaced, the whole team, including its shape, were transformed. Podolski went out to the left wing, and Cazorla took up Ramsey's position in the center, alongside Ozil, which is where he belongs. Arguably, that's Arsenal's strongest central midfield duo (with all due respect to Wilshire and Ramsey). The problem Wenger has is that Wilshire and Ramsey are crap on the wings, and Cazorla is at least better than that. But he has a tendency, when playing on the wing, to come inside, which simply clutters up the middle. Anyway, once Podolski entered the match and Cazorla was allowed to play in his most natural position, the Gunners were transformed offensively.

Theo Walcott, who had an otherwise indifferent game, scored Arsenal's first two goals. The first was a weak shot that most pro goalies would have stopped with ease. The second was on a fine cross from Podolski, who then chipped in with the third goal, which came from Arsenal's nicest offensive move of the game.

Podolski's return from injury at the busiest time of the season, when Arsenal are playing 4 games in 9 days, couldn't have been timed better. But losing Ramsey for any length of time would be problematic. Fortunately, Wilshire is available for the next game away to Newcastle on Sunday. This is where Arsenal's depth in midfield really should pay off. And Podolski's return creates another much-needed goal-scoring threat in addition to Giroud and Walcott.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Into the Winter Break

With grading already completed, I'm into winter "break" mode. The word "break" is in square quotes because it is a break only from classes and committee (and other) meetings. Other works continues, including prepping Spring classes, one article to finish (on Law & Economics approaches to Property), and two articles to draft. Not all of these projects will be completed during the break, but generally speaking winter "break" is a time for getting scholarly work done, interrupted by celebrations and short trips, rather than classes, meetings, and work travel.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Trust, Cooperation, and Polycentric Climate Negotiations"

That's the title of my new working paper, now posted on SSRN (here). Here is the abstract:
The lack of progress in global climate negotiations has caused scholars to refocus on prospects for lower-level agreements that might substitute for, supplement, or motivate a global mitigation agreement. This paper contributes to the emerging literature on polycentric approaches to climate change mitigation by arguing that: (1) the global climate is a common-pool resource, rather than a public good; (2) climate change negotiations are not a prisoner’s dilemma but an “assurance game,” the outcome of which depends on subjectively perceived probabilities of cooperation, which in turn depend on levels of mutual trust developed over time in multiple and diverse face-to-face interactions; (3) the UN’s massive, stilted, and brightly spotlighted climate change meetings clearly have failed to build the mutual trust needed for effective collective action on climate change; and (4) the greater number and frequency of communications afforded by polycentric approaches, including informal as well as formal, bilateral as well as multilateral, negotiations are more likely to inculcate mutual trust over time. Of particular interest among ongoing, sub-global negotiations is the recently established “US-China Climate Change Working Group.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

Judge Slams NSA

Judge Richard J. Leon of the DC District Court (my new hero) issued a preliminary injunction today against the NSA's massive and indiscriminate collection of Americans' telephone data, ruling that the program violated the Fourth Amendment's right to privacy. He referred to the program as "Orwellian," "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary." However, he stayed his injunction while the NSA appealed his decision, in light of national security concerns. You can read the full 68-page opinion here; and you can read a New York Times story about the opinion here.

I have no idea whether Judge Leon's decision will survive appeal, or whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits. Today's decision only allows them their day in court to have their claims heard; although, as Judge Leon pointed out, a preliminary injunction is only justified if the court finds the plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. I also express no opinion about the quality of Judge Leon's arguments. I'm not, generally speaking, a constitutional law scholar; my expertise on matters constitutional is limited to the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. I'll leave the parsing of Judge Leon's constitutional arguments to Fourth Amendment scholars.

Regardless, I applaud Judge Leon's willingness to stand up against the blatant overreaching of "national insecurity" apparatchiks and defend our individual liberties, as guaranteed by our constitution.

We Have a New Dean at Maurer

I'm delighted to report that the IU Maurer School of Law has a new Dean. Austen Parrish is currently a Professor at Southwestern Law School, where he has previously served as Vice Dean. Austen is a highly reputed scholar in the field of Transnational Law. I'm confident he will be a great successor to Lauren Robel (now Provost of IU), and our terrific interim dean, Hannah Buxbaum. He takes office on January 1st.

RIP Peter O'Toole

The word "great" is thrown around far too loosely these days, but Peter O'Toole was truly a great actor. It may be due to an availability heuristic, but among all his great performances I am remembering a recent one in a small but wonderful film in which O'Toole was at one brilliant, caustic, hilarious, and very touching. In Dean Spanley, O'Toole portrayed Lord Fisk (Senior), a cynical, somewhat nasty, and emotionally stunted father and, importantly, dog-owner. The performance seemed to contain everything O'Toole had learned during a lifetime of acting.

Dan Farber Explains How Environmental Regulations are Not Like Taxes

Here at Legal Planet. The key point is that taxes reallocate funds from some private parties to some public entity (which may use the funds for various purposes); environmental regulations, by contrast, impose costs on certain private parties to create mainly health benefits for other private parties. Thus, they are very different from taxes, which is not to say they are necessarily better or worse (a circumstantial/empirical question).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Arsenal Fail Toughest Test, Falling 6-3 at Manchester City

Having lost their previous toughest test - a loss to Man U at Old Trafford, today's match away to Man City, who score buckets of goals and never lose at home, was even more important, especially coming at the end of a very difficult week, when Arsenal were tied at home by an admittedly strong Everton side and lost in the Champions League to Napoli 0-2 (but still managed to back into the next round of the Champion's League). It was not exactly a make-or-break week for Arsenal's title ambitions, but it wasn't far off of that.

Arsenal put in a strong effort from start to finish (albeit with tiring legs), but they were found wanting in comparison to a Man City side that still has stronger players at nearly every position, save Ozil and Szczesny. However profligate Man City's defense may be  - they seem not to worry much about giving up the occasional goal, at least at home, knowing that however many they let in, they will score twice that number. Every time Arsenal scored to bring the game back to a one goal difference, Man City had a quick response that reestablished a two-goal lead. The sad fact of the matter is that Man City are on paper, and at least on their home pitch, a superior squad. That became particularly evident when Niklas Bendtner came on in the 76th minute to replace the hard-working but ineffective Olivier Giroud.

The Gunners did suffer from a few bad offside calls on dangerous moves; the referees' assistants need more instruction about giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacking side to avoid taking away goal-scoring opportunities as a result of bad line calls. Who knows whether Arsenal would have taken advantage of those changes; Bendtner did in fact have a goal disallowed by a dubious offside call. Even if his goal had stood and Arsenal had capitalized on other opportunities cancelled out by poor offside decisions, Man City would likely have cancelled it out by scoring more goals of their own. They seemed almost to be able to choose their number of goals.

Arsenal can take some consolation from the match. No one has beat Man City at the Etihad this season, and they've given up all of seven goals on their home pitch, three of which Arsenal converted today. Most importantly, Arsenal remain in first place on the table, with Man City looking up from second place, two points behind. But the disparity in goal differentials is a bit frightening. Arsenal have scored a healthy 16 goals more than they've conceded, but Man City have an amazing differential of plus 29, after only 16 games.

Today's outcome hardly means that Man City should be favored over Arsenal to win the title. Despite the obvious superiority of their squad, City's away form has been crap. That is mainly a problem of mental attitude, which often sounds easier to fix than it actually is.

The bottom line is that no clear favorite has yet appeared for the Premier League title. And Arsenal are still very much in the mix. Today's result, however, should convince Arsene Wenger (if he wasn't already convinced) to seek big name January signings to buttress his strike force.

Finally, a brief note about Theo Walcott who reentered the starting line-up for the Gunners today. He scored both of Arsenal's goals, the second of which was particularly pretty. So, it might seem churlish  to say a word against him. But why oh why does he insist on taking free kicks, when Mesut Ozil is on the pitch? I've belabored this point before: Theo is simply too inconsistent (though sometimes consistently bad) with his free kicks. At most there are a handful of better passers of the ball than Ozil in world football; Theo isn't even one of the handful of best passers of the ball on Arsenal Football Club.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cause and Effect? China's Position on Haloflourocarbons

In case you haven't seen it yet, a terrific article appeared earlier this week in the New York Times (here) about the role of the Montreal Protocol in cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Montreal Protocol, negotiated by the Reagan Administration (note to Republicans), was designed to phase out substances that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. It so happens that several of those substances were also significant GHGs. Thus, while the Kyoto Protocol has done virtually nothing to reduce GHG emissions, the Montreal Protocol has prevented the global climate problem from being even worse than it already is.

Climate negotiators are now seeking to use the Montreal Protocol to regulate newer classes of refrigerants that do not deplete the ozone layer but do contribute to climate change. The New York Times article reports that China recently came on board this effort, and the US is now trying to get India to agree.

What I find interesting is China's decision to promote the use of the Montreal Protocol to control emissions of refrigerants that cause climate change; or, rather, the timing of China's decision. China has been a leading emitter of HFC-23, a very powerful GHG, which is a byproduct of production of the refrigerant HCFC-22. For many years, China was planning to build more and more new plants to produce HCFC-22, not so much because it needed the refrigerant, but in order to game the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). European countries would pay China not to build plants that would emit HFC-23. Those countries would receive credits toward Kyoto and European emissions-reduction requirements. China would get lots of money - more money than it would get from selling more HCFC-22 refrigerant; more, even, than it cost to actually dispose of HFC-23. Once European regulators cottoned on to China's game, they promulgated a directive that banned CDM offsets based on reducing HFC-23 emissions in China as of 2013.

As European countries were virtually the only buyers of HFC-23 CDM offsets, once that market was closed to China, the game was up. Is it any wonder that China has subsequently agreed to use the Montreal Protocol to phase out the pollutant? Or that China is now in bilateral negotiations with the United States over phasing out HFC-23 and other high-potency GHGs?

Interestingly, the EU ban on HFC offsets also applies to projects in India, which has yet to agree to the plan to extend the Montreal Protocol to cover them. According to the New York Times story, the US is trying to cajole India into coming on board. But it's worth wondering why India requires cajoling at this point. Perhaps it's just seeking some side-payments; but, if so, it doesn't seem to have much leverage.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Back to NYC

This time for Dick Stewart's "Workshop on Building Block Strategies for Global Climate Action" at NYU Law School. The participant list is quite impressive, so I'm looking forward to some good discussion, contestation, and learning.

I've written a short paper for the workshop on climate change as a common-pool resource problem/assurance game, the outcome of which depends on levels of mutual trust. A key benefit of polycentric approaches to climate policy, in this context, is to increase the frequency of communications and the variety of interactions (bilateral as well as multilateral) among major emitting parties so as to build (over time) the mutual trust required to generate higher levels of cooperation on greenhouse gas mitigation. An example of a potentially useful new forum that could result in higher levels of mutual trust is the recently established "US-China Climate Change Working Group" (see here).

If all goes (reasonably) well at the workshop, I plan to post the paper on SSRN sometime soon.

Arsenal Lose But Advance to Champion's League Knock-Out Stage

Arsenal played like a team not sure of what  it was trying to accomplish. All they needed to go through to the knock-out round of the Champion's League (for a record 14th consecutive year) was not lose to Napoli by 3-0. A win obviously would have been the best way to make sure that didn't happen, but Arsenal looked more like a team playing to avoid defeat than to win the match. And, as often happens when a offensively powerful side play defense first, they lost. Of course, Napoli's energetic pressing had something to do with it; but the Gunners played with almost no sense of alacrity, even after they went down 1-0 with only about 15 minutes left in the half. Then, when Mikel Arteta was sent off after committing, stupidly, a second bookable offense, Arsenal had no choice but to play defense first. Fortunately, Napoli appeared to tire. Or perhaps it was the information that Dortmund were being tied by Marseilles. If that result remained, then Napoli and Arsenal would both go through with a Napoli victory of 1-0. But then, in the 88th minute, news came through that Dortmund had taken the lead against Marseilles, which meant that Napoli had to score 2 more goals, so as to beat Arsenal 3-0, in order to qualify for the next round. Napoli scored a second goal late in the last minute of stoppage time. But it was too little too late.

Arsenal's performance was poor but barely sufficient to get through to the next round of Champion's League play. It was not the kind of convincing performance that would lead anyone to believe that the Gunners will survive the first knock-out stage, especially as Arsenal's loss and Dortmund's victory means that Arsenal will go in as the second placed team from their group, which means they could face one of the top teams in the competition in the next round.

Hopefully, the loss won't affect Arsenal's confidence going into a tough match this Saturday in the Premier League against Man City.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Once More with Feeling: "Coasian Bargaining" Is Simply Bargaining

My "Coasian bargaining" button has been pushed twice in one day. First, Tyler Cowen has it in a blog post (here) this morning. The vacuous, if not pernicious, phrase also appears in the title of a paper being presented at today's Workshop colloquium. So, let me try one more time to make clear why Coase himself would never have used a phrase like "Coasian bargaining."

Since the phrase "Coasian bargain" is often ill-defined, let's start with a couple plausible definitions (I don't think others are plausible):

1. A "Coasian bargain" is one that occurs in the world of "the Coase theorem."

2. A "Coasian bargain" is one that allocates entitlements and  liabilities so as to improve allocative efficiency despite the presence of transaction costs.

Under the first definition, a "Coasian bargain" is impossible because in the real world all bargaining is subject to positive transaction costs. No bargaining is ever costless.

Under the second definition, the modifier  "Coasian" adds nothing to noun "bargain" because, under expected utility theory, all voluntary market exchanges (including, for example, court settlements) meet the definition. Consequently all bargains are Coasian, which is to say that the phrase "Coasian bargains" collapses into the larger category of "bargains."

I am under no illusion that this explanation will stop economists and other social scientists from attributing to Coase all successful, efficiency-enhancing exchanges of entitlements. But if I could convince just one or two people to use the word "bargain" rather than "Coasian bargain," I would be satisfied.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Arsenal 1 - Everton 1

The first 35-40 minutes of the first half were just about the worst Arsenal's midfield have played this season, particularly Ramsey and Wilshire, neither of whom could manage to either keep or pass the ball. Fortunately, Arsenal's defensive duo of Mertesacker and Koscielny were on top of their games and prevented Everton, which had the ball nearly the entire time, from creating a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Finally, in the last five minutes of the half, some niggling fouls by Everton seemed to light a fire under the Arsenal players, who mounted more and more pressure (albeit without a goal) as the half came to a close.

Arsenal started the second half as they finished the first, in the ascendancy. But Everton are a very good team (having lost all of one game on the season before today) and they were not going to go down easily. Both teams finally got  some decent shots on goal, but as the game reached  the final 20 minutes neither team had managed to breakthrough. 

Finally, in the 80th minute, Arsenal went up 1-0 as one substitute, Thomas Rosicky, fed a deep cross, which another sub, Theo Walcott, headed down to the feet of Olivier Giroud, who completely missed it. Fortunately, Mesut Ozil was there to clean up after him by lifting the ball into the roof of the net. In all fairness, it was pretty soft goal for Everton to concede. But all credit to Rosicky for picking out the long pass, and to Walcott for heading the ball into a dangerous area. 

Three minutes later, Everton were right back in the match, scoring on a very well taken strike by the poorly marked Gerard Deulofeu from the right side of the penalty box. The Arsenal team and fans were stunned. 

From that point on, the game was wide open with both teams looking to collect all three points. But the game ended, fittingly in my view, in a draw.

Arsenal could not take advantage full of the good fortune handed them by Man U, Man City, and Chelsea the day before. But they increased their lead in the Premiership to 5 points.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Already a Great Weekend of Arsenal, and They Haven't Even Played Yet

Arsenal play tomorrow. Today, Chelsea lost to Stoke, Man U lost (at home) to Newcastle, and Man City could only muster a draw at Southhampton. Among the title contenders, only Liverpool won, and if Arsenal win tomorrow, their lead in the Barclay's Premier League will be a full 7 points over Liverpool in second (on goal difference over Chelsea). The only thing that would make this day even better for Gunners fans is for Tottenham to lose at Sunderland.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Dustin Hoffman to Star in Armstrong Movie"

So says the headline at Cyclingnews.com, here. This will top Hoffman's transformation in Tootsie, and should guarantee an Oscar.*

*No, I don't actually believe Hoffman will be playing the role of Lance Armstrong

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another Good Day for the Gunners

Arsenal won comfortably at home against Hull City, 2-0. The two goals came within the first two minutes of the first and second half, respectively. In the first, it was the not gone but largely forgotten Nicklas Bendtner who scored on a solid header from a cross by Carl Jenkinson. In the second half, Mesut Ozil scored following a neat passing maneuver with Aaron Ramsey. With a heavy schedule of tough matches coming up, including meetings with Man City and Chelsea, in addition to a trip to Napoli in the Champion's League, not only was this a must-win match, but Arsenal took the occasion to give some much-needed rest to Olivier Giroud and Bacary Sagna.

Arsenal's good news was compounded by Man United's loss at Everton. Unfortunately, Chelsea managed to hold off a game Sunderland side at home to eek out a 4-3 win. Nevertheless, Arsenal keep their 4-point lead at the top of the table, and Man U fall to 12 points off the pace.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What We Learned from Today's Colts Victory Over the Titans

1. Today's game matched two pretty mediocre-looking teams against each other. For most of the game, the Colts offense looked not just mediocre but poor (and that includes Andrew Luck, who was taking sacks when he should have been getting rid of the ball).

2. Darrius Heyward-Bey still hasn't learned how to catch a pass (and probably never will). He was a bad free-agent signing.

3. Because Heyward-Bey is so bad (and no one's scared of LaVon Brazil, who dropped the first pass of the game), it's too easy for opponents' defenses to take T.Y. Hilton out of the game. I think he had maybe one catch today, and Luck hardly even tried to get him the ball.

4. The Colts finally made the right move starting Donald Brown over Trent Richardson. For most of the game, it didn't seem to make much difference, but it sure did on the final, long drive of the game.

5. From week to week it is becoming increasingly evident that Trent Richardson is a bust; the Colts made a bad mistake trading a first-round draft pick for him. When he gets the ball, he's slow and indecisive. Either of those qualities alone is virtually fatal for running backs in the NFL.

6. Adam Vinatieri still has it (in case anyone doubted the fact).

Good Weekend for the Gunners

I didn't post after yesterday's Arsenal 3-0 victory at Cardiff City, a very tough team to beat at home (just ask the Manchester clubs). Arsenal completely dominated the first half, and should have had more than a 1-0 lead a halftime. The second half was more even, but Arsenal made Cardiff City pay on a couple of counterattacks. Local hero Aaron Ramsey starred (yet again) for the Gunners with two goals. Not only do the Gunners look to have (by far) the best midfield in the league, but the defense is also getting tougher and tougher to score against. Wojciech Szczesny had yet another excellent game in what is proving to be a break-out year for the young Polish net-minder.

Even better for the Gunners is that none of their rivals, excepting Chelsea, won this weekend. Consequently, Arsenal currently have a 4-point lead over Chelsea, with Man City a further two point in arrears. Speaking of Man City, how can a club averaging more than 3 goals per game have lost 4 of their first 13 matches? That's a remarkable stat.

Nice Way to Start the Month of December

A 25-mile ride up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest and back. Beautiful, beautiful day for a ride. High 40s and bright sunshine.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NIce Way to End the Month of November

What do you do on a 50 degree day, with a strong south wind, at the end of November, and you don't have a lot of time? If you're me, you do hill repeats on hills bordering Griffy Lake. Six times up the south side, and once up the north side in 42 minutes. 1200 feet of climbing with normalized power of 237 Watts and a training stress score of 71. That's a pretty efficient training session. It's supposed to be nice out tomorrow as well, though not quite so warm. But Coach Bob is opening the gym in Indy; so I'll head up there for indoor training.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I've Been Writing

As noted in the last post, most of the reading I've been doing lately is in service of papers I'm in the process of writing. Those projects are like obstacles on a path - I've got to knock down each one in turn to get to or polish off the next.

Since the start of the semester (late August), I've written (or co-authored):

"The Problem of Shared Irresponsibility in International Climate Law," a chapter in a forthcoming, multi-volume collection on the concept of shared responsibility in international law (to be published by Cambridge University Press). The paper is available here. And here is the abstract:
States have treaty-based and customary international law-based responsibilities to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions emanating from their territory do not cause transboundary harm. However, those international legal responsibilities conflict with the observed behavior of states, which suggests a general rule of irresponsible treatment of the global commons. This paper, written for a conference (and eventual book) on shared responsibility in international law, examines that conflict and two potential mechanisms for resolving it: (1) international litigation and (2) various types of polycentric approaches to climate governance. 
Several international legal scholars have been advocating litigation as a means of compensating victims and creating incentives to mitigate emissions and negotiate more forceful international agreements. But they are like lawyers in search of clients. To date, no climate cases have been brought before the International Court of Justice (or any other international tribunal). The reason is that obstacles to successful international litigation are even more formidable than those that have caused all domestic (US) climate-related tort claims to fail. Even if international climate litigation could be successful, it could well have perverse impacts on international climate (and other) negotiations. Instead of inculcating shared responsibility, states might become more reluctant to enter into international agreements in the first place.
Contrary to the facile notion that "global problems require global solutions," this paper suggests that shared responsibility for greenhouse gas mitigation is likely to be spurred by linkable actions taken at national and sub-national levels. This argument is supported by an emerging literature on polycentric climate governance using various (compatible, rather than mutually-exclusive) approaches, including "regime complexes," "building blocks," and "tipping sets."
 "The Tragedy of Maladpated Institutions" or "Digging Deeper into Hardin's Pasture: The Complex Institutional Structure of 'The Tragedy of the Commons'" (we haven't settled on a title yet), co-authored with my Workshop colleagues Mike McGinnis and Graham Epstein. We will likely be posting the paper shortly on SSRN. The paper is now posted (here) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The institutional and ecological structure of Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” appears deceptively simple: the open-access pasture eventually will be overexploited and degraded unless (i) it is privatized, (ii) the government regulates access and use, or (iii) the users themselves impose a common-property regime to regulate their own access and use. In this paper, we argue that the institutional structure of the “Herder Problem” (as it is known to game theorists) is far more complicated than it is usually portrayed. Specifically, it is not just about the pasture. It is equally about the grass that grows on the pasture and the cattle that consume the grass. Even Elinor Ostrom—a scholar known for embracing complexity—presented an overly simplistic portrayal of Hardin’s open-access pasture when she described its governance system as a null set of institutions. A more careful assessment of the situation, employing Ostrom’s Social-Ecological System (SES) framework, broadens the focus from the res communes omnium pasture to incorporate the res nullius grass that grows upon it and the res privatæ cattle grazing there. The “tragedy” arises from the combination and interactions of the resources and their governing institutions, not just from the absence of property in the pasture. If the grass was not subject to appropriation, the cattle were not privately owned, or if property- and contract-enforcement institutions supporting market exchange were absent, the “tragedy of the commons” probably would not arise regardless of the pasture’s open-access status.

"Building Mutual Trust by Building Blocks," a short essay I've just drafted for a conference next month at NYU Law School on Building Blocks and Climate Governance. In the essay, I argue that the main impediment to progress on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, in what is essentially an "assurance game," is lack of mutual trust among major emitting parties. I posit that more frequent interactions and communications at a variety of levels and in a variety of fora, beyond the stilted, annual global UN-sponsored meetings, could over time facilitate trust-building, and thereby increased the subjectively perceived probabilities of mutual cooperation, increasing the payoffs to cooperation. Simply put, a chief value in polycentric approaches to climate change mitigation, including the "building blocks" approach advocated (here) by Dick Stewart and his co-authors, is to increase and diversify levels and fora of communication.

"The Program in Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems," another paper co-authored with Workshop colleagues Mike McGinnis and Graham Epstein, in which we attempt to refine and combine Lin Ostrom's two landmark frameworks for analyzing social-ecological systems - the Institutional Analysis and Development framework and the Social-Ecological Systems framework. The paper surveys the strengths and weakness of each framework, and attempts to maximize the utility of both by combining them into a single framework, which provides the paper's title (or "PIASES"). That title was actually the working label for a similar project Lin and Mike were engaged on prior to her death in 2012. Although the current approach differs substantially from the path she and Mike were on at the time, we have kept the title in honor of her memory and the legacy she left us. I don't expect a working-paper version of this project to be completed before spring.

"Structural Impediments to Successful Use of Price-Based Environmental Controls in China," a paper I'm writing with Zhu Yukun, a PhD student in public finance in China. In essence, this paper provides a note of caution about China's efforts to control domestic pollution using environmental fees, taxes, or cap-and-trade mechanisms, based on lessons from similar efforts at environmental protection in Eastern Europe under socialism (about which I wrote in my 1998 book, Institutional Environmental Protection: From Red to Green in Poland). Despite the big push towards economic liberalization in China over the past two decades (or longer), the Chinese economy still remains dominated by state-owned enterprises, which are subject to soft-budget constraints (on which see here) and regulatory conflicts of interest (where the state's interest in regulating for environmental protection is likely to be compromised by its ownership stake in the regulated enterprises). A working-paper version of this project will probably not be complete before late spring or summer.

I have some other projects in the pipeline as well, but they are not even at the drafting stage yet, and I have no idea when I'll find time to start writing them.

What I've Been Reading

Lately, I've mostly been reading for my writing (see the next post). But here are a few books I've been reading lately for fun:

Lauren Benton and Richard J. Ross, Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-1850 (NYU Press 2013). A collection chock full interesting historical and legal analyses of inevitably polycentric imperial legal systems. I found particularly interesting contributions that provided insights into overlapping conceptions of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and property (I've recently established a Working Group in the Ostrom Workshop on those three concepts).

Albert O. Hirschman, The Essential Hirschman (edited by Jeremy Adelman, with an Afterword by Emma Rothschild & Amartya Sen) (Princeton 2013). I read this new collection as part of my self-imposed obligation to read or re-read all of Hirschman's major works this year (in honor of his passing). Particularly enjoyable were his essays on "Political Economics and Possibilism," "The Search for Paradigms as a Hindrance to Understanding," and "Against Parsimony: Three Ways of Complicating Some Categories of Economic Discourse."

Ian McEwan, Amsterdam (Anchor Press 1999). I had been trying in vain to find good fiction to read lately, and happened across this book in the kitchen (I think my wife read it for her reading group). A really sharp. taut, and engrossing story of human fear, behavior, mistakes, and betrayal, told with a sharply dark comic wit.

This is the first, Pulitzer Prize-winning volume in Rick Atkinson's acclaimed "Liberation Trilogy," which I've been meaning to read for a long time. As it happens, I'm not reading it but listening to it on CDs in my car. The idea was that as long as I was driving up to Indy twice a week this winter for indoor cycling training, I could make the drives more productive and enjoyable by listening to some good history. And this is as good as history gets. It's so engrossing that I find myself listening to the book even for short commutes back and forth to school or to the market. The way Atkinson structures the story, and the quality of his writing, put this volume (and presumably the others) head and shoulders above other popular history volumes I've read in recent years.

Paolo Grossi, An Alternative to Private Property (Chicago 1981). The great Italian historian and legal scholar endeavors to correct the highly distorted, if not downright incorrect, view that individual private property is either natural or the evolutionary end of all land and resource governance. Grossi writes about "the emergence of alternative forms of ownership - substantially, of forms of collective apropriation - in the consciousness of men who affected the culture of a century dominated by extremely rigid canons of possessive individualism." The book is a translation of Grossi's 1977 'Un altro modo di possedere': L'emersione di forme alternative di proprietà alla conscienza giuridica postunitaria

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

A cosmic (really, just institutional) coincidence of inestimable insignificance. But Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday; and I can still recite the prayers for lighting the Chanukah candles (even if I don't possess a religious bone in my body).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Guess We Don't Have to Worry About Climate Change Anymore

Here's the headline from the UNFCCC's official website (here): "The Warsaw Climate Change Conference 2013 concluded successfully!"

It's amazing what counts as "success" for the international climatocrats these days.

Kind of reminds me of this:

My Visit to the UDP Faculty of Law in Santiago

Many thanks to the Rector of the University Diego Portales (UDP) in Santiago, Carlos Peña González, as well as Matias Guilof and Dominique Herve of the UDP Faculty of Law, for organizing and hosting a conference around my work relating to property systems and environmental protection last Friday. In addition to the Rector's thoughtful and erudite opening remarks, the interdisciplinary groups of panelists were all excellent (as were the contemporaneous translators). I learned a lot about issues relating to Chile's various systems of property.

Dominique and Matias also went above and beyond the call of duty in taking great care of my wife and me during the visit. The took us to a few of Santiago's many great restaurants (including Rivoli, which is highly recommended), and made sure we sampled a number of great Chilean wines, including, most notably a particularly fine Carmenere from the von Stiebenthal winery (located to the north of Santiago). On Saturday, they drove us out to Valparaiso on the coast for some sight-seeing and another fine meal, before our plane left late Saturday night.

Santiago is a fun and lively city, full of joggers, cyclists, walkers, shoppers, and diners. Filled with cafes bordering tree-lined streets, museums, many nice parks, and lots of shopping, it's well worth a visit.

The Law Faculty at UDP

Friday, November 22, 2013

Globalization and Quality: A Casual Observation of Cafes in One Santiago Neighborhood

This morning, following a mediocre cup of coffee at my (small, locally-owned, non-chain) hotel, I walked down the block to Starbucks, which was far more crowded than several other cafes in the neighborhood. Apparently, many of the residents of this particular (mixed) neighborhood consider Starbucks coffee superior.

It does not surprise me that Starbucks provides superior coffee in places like the US and the UK. But I'm very surprised that it does so (according to the very limited evidence at hand) in Chile.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ezra Klein on Today's Partial Demolition of the Senate Filibuster

Here in the New York Times. The take-home point:
Today, the political system changed its rules to work more smoothly in an age of sharply polarized parties. If American politics is to avoid collapsing into complete dysfunction in the years to come, more changes like this one will likely be needed.
And here's a neat graph from the piece showing how abuse of the filibuster is a relatively recent phenomenon:

killing filibuster

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First Trip to Chile

I'm flying to Santiago later today to give an invited lecture Friday at the Faculty of Law of Diego Portales University. My talk is called "Property 2.0," and it combines and adapts elements of my 2002 book Pollution and Property (see here) and a more recent book chapter I co-authored with Lin Ostrom on "The Varieties of Property Systems and Rights in Resources" (see here). Dominique Herve, Director of UPD's Program in Environmental Law and Policy, will comment on my presentation, and two panels will address various issues at the intersection of property and environmental law.

In addition to the conference, I'm looking forward to sightseeing around Santiago, and perhaps a side trip to Valparaiso, and especially sampling some fine Chilean wines.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Record Turnout at Brooks Integrative Training

Coach Bob had record attendance at this evening's training session - 36 cyclists lined up in two long rows. And he put us through our paces. Word's getting around about BIT.

Feeling ready for a long flight to Chile tomorrow.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What's the Difference Between a Tax and a Regulatory Charge?

Functionally, there may be no difference at all. But legally, the difference can be acute. Last week, the California Superior Court for the County of Sacramento upheld (here) a regulation of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requiring auctioning (rather than free allocation) of emissions allowances to regulated carbon emitters under AB32, California's "Global Warming Solutions Act" of 2006. The auctions are expected to raise $12 billion to $70 billion in revenues for the State over the life of the program, which (pursuant to other legislation) will be earmarked for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state.

The California Chamber of Commerce and other plaintiffs claimed that the auctioning rules exceeded CARB's scope of authority under AB32 and violated California's Proposition 13, which requires a 2/3 supermajority vote of the legislature to increase state taxes for the purpose of raising revenues. The court concluded that the auctions were consistent with AB32 and did not violate Proposition 13 because they are not a tax but revenues generated by sales of valuable commodities (emissions allowances).

Needless to say, I'm am very pleased with the court's ruling, and hope it survives on appeal. I agree with its distinction between a tax and a sale, though it's clear that auctioning of emissions allowances functions just like a tax. In a way, it's ironic that Justice Roberts of the US Supreme Court had to work so hard to characterize the Affordable Care Act as a tax in order to preserve the legality of the "individual mandate" under the US Constitution, while in this case the California court had to avoid treating a very similar kind of instrument as a tax in order preserve its legality under the state constitution.

Terrific Interview with Steve Reich

One of my favorite contemporary composers, here, at The Gothamist.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Adventure Ride Saturday

I rode over to Dr. Jim's house and from there we hit the SW side of Bloomington. The wind was gusting to 25 mph from the south, and that proved to be the least of our problems. At one point, we had to portage our bikes over mounds of debris at an I-69 construction site, and then we rode some gravel roads on the way in (fortunately no punctures, but quite an upper-body workout). Not the fastest ride ever, but 45 miles and just under 4000 total feet of climbing. I'm sure I'll feel it when I get up tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Exporting TSA Inefficiencies to Canadian Airports

It took me nearly 1.5 hours to get through US preclearance passport control and security at Toronto's Pearson Airport today. Fortunately, I had gotten to the airport early enough to make my flight. Other travelers in the security lines were not so lucky.

Would this be a bad time to renew my plea for most cost-benefit balancing in our national insecurity apparatus?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Off to Toronto

I've a presentation tomorrow afternoon at the University of Toronto Law School. The event announcement is here. The paper I'm presenting can be downloaded here.

A Photo from Last Saturday's Group Ride

By Lake Lemon:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

COP19 startuje we Warszawie

The global roving cocktail party known as the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has opened in Warsaw, Poland. This is good news for the local economy, and for conference delegates who enjoy good vodka and kabanosy (as I do), but not much else.

I long ago gave up hope that global negotiations involving thousands of people might lead to substantive breakthroughs in climate policy. At least this time around the parties aren't promising any breakthroughs; they're merely trying to keep up their largely pretended momentum toward a new climate agreement next year.

Whatever the newspapers say, the UN's COP is a sideshow. The only climate talks of potential import and interest are those taking place bilaterally between the US and China. If those two countries can make a significant deal in the next couple of years, they could well tip global climate negotiations into a much more cooperative and productive equilibrium.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Who Are Those Guys Wearing Colts Uniforms?

They're can't be the real Colts, getting stomped by the Rams (and their own mistakes). They look worse today than during the horror days of the Curtis Painter season.

Among other things, from week to week it's looking as if the Browns made a savvy deal getting a first-round draft choice in exchange for the ponderous Trent Richardson. And Darius Heyward-Bey continues to display the stone hands of a boxer.

Is today's game a signal that the Colts have been vastly overrated, or is it just a wake-up call to a team coasting on the strength of its good publicity?

Man U 1 - Arsenal 0

All credit to Manchester United. They really pressed the Gunners, who simply were unable to get their offensive attack out of neutral.

Per Mertesacker and Thomas Rosicky were missing because of illness. In truth, the entire team looked flu-ridden.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rare Saturday Group Ride in B-town

Several of my cycling buddies (nearly half of Team Treachery & Deceit) drove down from Indy today to ride the hills with Dr. Jim and me this afternoon. We rode both sides of Lake Lemon, Shilo Road, and up into the Morgan-Monroe State Forest on Beanblossom, for a total of nearly 44 miles and more than 3200 feet of climbing. Thanks to David, Larry, Kenny, Big Frank, Ed (and his son Ryan, a former Little 5 rider), Bill, and Terry for making the drive down for a very pleasant, if windy, Saturday ride. I hope I tempted them all to come back again soon with a post-ride feast featuring Aver's pizza and Fat Tire.

Special kudos to Ed, who got a new hip just last year, and still beats me up the hills at the youthful age of 68. Also, Kenny, who just turned 60, has really gotten stronger in the last year or so. I can't say that I could ever have beat Ken up the hills, but at least we used to ride them together. Not any more.

I'm still the slowest rider in the group (especially uphill), but at least I'm also still the heaviest. (I wonder whether those facts are correlated.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Judicial Review of EPA's New Regs on Carbon Emissions from New Coal-Fired Power Plants

Dan Farber sagely observes (here) that power companies will have trouble challenging the regulations in court because in order to establish standing they have to establish that they will be harmed by the regulations. But, as Dan points out, no power companies are building coal-fired plants these days; the fracking revolution has led to a wholesale switch to natural gas-fired plants, which will not be affected by the regulations. In the absence of actual plans to build coal-fired power plants anytime soon, the D.C. Circuit really should deny standing. Of course, courts don't always do what they should do under prevailing legal rules.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Few Observations About the Colts Win Over the Texans

1. Whoever thought that the Colts would not miss Reggie Wayne were kidding themselves. The Colts had no replacement slot receiver who could make the hot reads, and it showed throughout the game (and in Luck's first-half passing stats). In particular, if Darious Heyward-Bey is the answer, I don't know the question.

2. The refs had a terrible game, almost entirely to the detriment of the Colts (especially the missed roughing-the-kicker call and the wholly unjustified reversal of a correct call on a fumble by Houston).

3. The Texans played as if it were a playoff game, which it virtually was to them. Much credit to their young quarterback, Case Keenum, who didn't look like it was only his second start. His offensive line gave him great support, keeping the Colts pass rush at bay. (The same cannot be said of the Colts offensive line throughout most of the contest.)

4. At halftime, I thought there was no way the Colts were going to come back from an 18-point deficit playing away from home.

5. Andrew Luck's poise, self-belief and belief in his teammates, when the Colts are trailing, is simply amazing. This was his 10th fourth-quarter comeback victory in 23 professional starts.

6. Many thanks from Colts fans to the Houston kicker.

7. Finally, sincerely felt best wishes to Houston head coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed at halftime and was taken to the hospital. The Texans had all the momentum going into the break, and it's hard to imagine that Kubiak's absence didn't demoralize them a bit. And he's also the team's offensive play-caller.

Protecting Cyclists from Negligent Motorists: A Tale of Two Countries

Bob Mionske compares what happens in the US and the Netherlands after a motorist kills a cyclist, here at Bicycling.com. It's long past time US police, juries, and legislators stopped casually accepting "I didn't see the cyclist" as an excuse.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Arsenal 2 - Liverpool 0

Arsenal have made a great start to the Premier League season, but they haven't played any of the top contenders (among whom I do not count Spurs). But in the last week, Arsenal have lost two home games to top opponents: Dortmund in the Champions League and Chelsea in the League Cup (in the later match Wenger rested several of his starters). So, some fans were understandably nervous ahead of today's home match against a quality Liverpool squad.

They needn't have worried. Although Arsenal only occasionally hit their fluid best on a few occasions throughout the match, they pretty thoroughly dominated Liverpool. Santi Cazorla scored in the first half half-volleying a rebound off the crossbar of his own header from about 10 yards out. In the second half, Aaron Ramsey settled everyone's nerves with a second goal created from almost nothing. Ozil picked him out with a short cross just outside the box. Ramsey took one touch then calmly stoked the ball with the outside of his foot, curling it past the diving Liverpool goalkeeper. Such is his scoring form that just about anything Ramsey tries seems to fly in the net.

Arsenal's defense created a few nervy moments as time wound down, but Liverpool never seemed likely to climb back into the match. It was just what the Gunners needed: a good solid win against a quality opponent. Right now, Arsenal's midfield looks so strong that very few teams (either in the Premier League or the Champion's League) will be able to cope with them. In particular, Ozil seems to be improving his underestanding with Cazorla, Ramsey, Rosicky, and the others from one week to the next.

Saturday Ride

It's a beautiful homecoming Saturday here in B-town. So, Dr. Jim and I took advantage and went out for a 24-mile ride (the Orchard route). I hadn't ridden outdoors in nearly two weeks, and I'm still feeling the first two indoor training sessions with Coach Bob in my legs. Not surprisingly, a couple indoor training sessions really doesn't help with the hills. I think the only thing that helps with climbing are hill repeats (and a bit of weight loss wouldn't hurt either).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rest in Peace: Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1927-2013)

The former Solidarity leader, political prisoner (like most Solidarity leaders during the period of Martial Law, architect of the "Roundtable" talks that ultimately led to free elections in 1989, Poland's first post-communist Prime Minister, and in many respects the father of Poland's 1997 constitution, Mazowiecki was a man of great principle. A quiet intellectual, Mazowiecki had as much or more influence over the course of Polish politics in the late 20th century as anyone, including the more charismatic Lech Walesa.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

(Not So) Fun Fact about NYC

It can take a taxi more than an hour to get from LaGuardia Airport to Washington Square in Manhattan ... on a Sunday afternoon! That's nearly as long as it takes the airplane to get from Indianapolis to LaGuardia.

On the Road Again

On my way to New York for the annual meeting of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Policy Analysis at NYU Law School. I'm going early so that I can also attend the conference, which precedes the board meeting. The conference is intended primarily to instruct progressive advocacy groups on the utility to their cause of sound economic analysis. However, tomorrow's program includes panels that greatly interest me on the social cost of carbon and the proper role (if any) of jobs analysis in regulatory impact assessments. The full agenda is here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crystal Palace 0 - Arsenal 2

It seemed like a perfect match for Arsenal to regain their footing after a disappointing midweek loss to Dortmund at home in the Champion's League. After all, Crystal Palace (CP) were near the bottom of the table, having picked up just 3 points in their first eight matches, and their popular manager Ian Holloway resigned earlier this week. But there's no such thing as a sure thing in the Premier League. From the start of the match, the CP players worked hard and pressed Arsenal high up the pitch, giving Arsenal's creative midfielders little space in which to operate. And they looked for their own scoring opportunities on the break, with former Gunner Maraoune Chamakh leading the front line.

Not long into the match, Mathieu Flamini looked to have pulled a groin muscle and had to be replaced. In what proved to be a brilliant move, Wenger substituted the attacking winger Serge Gnabry for the defensive midfield stalwart, and the German looked dangerous from the moment he stepped on the pitch, several times darting into dangerous areas against a CP defense that seemed ill-equipped to handle his pace and ability to change direction on a dime. It was that skill that eventually earned him and Arsenal a penalty kick in the third minute of the second half, which Mikel Arteta scored with confidence.

Fifteen minutes later, Arteta was sent packing by referee Chris Foy, who showed him a red card for a foul on his former teammate Chamakh. Foy adjudged Arteta to be the last defender, even though the foul occurred far nearer the halfway line than the Arsenal goal. Moreover, replays indicated that Chamakh initiated the contact, which resulted in both players tumbling to the turf. Anyway, Arsenal were down to 10 men for the last 30 minutes of the match (including stoppage time), a number that did not include either of their holding midfielders.

In that circumstance, CP not surprisingly gained a stronger offensive foothold in the match, and started to severely test the Arsenal defense. And they would have tied the match but for two saves. The first was made by the woodwork, but the second was the result of outstanding goalkeeping by Wojciech Szczesny, who got a strong enough hand to a bullet of a shot from just outside the penalty area to deflect it over the bar.

Finally, Arsenal put the game to rest on a counterattack, when Jack Ramsey set up Oliver Giroud with a sweetly lifted pass from just outside the left side of the penalty box. Giroud was charging into the box and the ball appeared right in front of his face. He probably could not have avoided heading it into the goal if he had wanted to.

All in all, a good win for Arsenal. CP might be disappointed not to have gained a point from the match, but it always seems that teams near the bottom have the luck go against them, as CP did in this match.
But Arsenal now face a new problem for the upcoming League schedule. Arteta will be sitting with the red card, while Flamini may be sidelined with a groin injury. Nacho Monreal came in and did a decent job in front of defense (and also popped up in the offensive third) as a substitute. But this is still a position where Arsenal lack some needed depth. It's certainly possible for either Wilshire or Ramsey to drop back into the holding midfield position; but they both like to get forward so much that they are inclined to leave space open that other teams might attack. For the sake of upcoming games in all competitions, let's hope that Flamini has a quick recovery.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The High Cost of Victory

In an ironic twist to a game that was about the returning hero -- Peyton Manning -- the Colts and their fans have lost the hero who stayed. The Colts won the game, but they've lost Reggie Wayne for the season with a torn ACL. Reggie's been so durable, having started 189 games in a row, that Colts fans could almost take for granted that he'd be in the line-up each week. Well, we'll take him for granted no more. He will not start his 190th consecutive game. We can only hope that he will be back next season, and not let this injury end his career. Whatever happens, we're sure to see him at his induction ceremony in Canton.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spectacular Libraries

The Telegraph has a nice photo collection, here, some of which I had not seen before. I particularly like the Ryotaro Museum in Japan.

Jim Irsay's Operating Instructions: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Today is payback day -- the day Peyton Manning shows Jim Irsay just what he thought of Irsay's insults from earlier in the week (see comments here). Whatever Irsay thought he might have been doing with those comments (getting under Peyton's skin or whatever), everyone (and I mean every Colts coach, player, and fan) wishes he had just kept his mouth shut.

Jim Irsay is a very rich man - the son of a son of a self-made man, and the proud owner of an NFL franchise that he inherited from his father. Like many rich men (think Donald Trump), he holds the mistaken belief that money = intelligence.

As a Colts fan, and someone who believes that the Colts were right to draft Andrew Luck, even if it meant letting Peyton go (which I had hoped did not have to happen, see here), I dearly wish someone, anyone, could convince Irsay to (a) keep his mouth shut, (b) let his coaches coach, and (c) let his players play. It would probably have to be someone even wealthier, and therefore more intelligent, than Mr. Irsay. Is Trump available?

By the way, Go Colts!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hilly Hundred Weekend

I hadn't planned on riding the Hilly this year because I was supposed to be in Chicago this weekend (though things didn't turn out that way). Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of the Hilly. Simply too many cyclists for my taste, and lots of them getting off their bikes in the middle of climbs, in the middle of the road. Besides I get to ride the hills around Bloomington whenever I like (or, these days, whenever I find time).

Even if I had planned to ride the Hilly this year, I probably would have bagged it today, when I woke up and saw the weather. 44 degrees and rain. No thank you. I hope all my friends who have come to Bloomington this weekend especially for the ride have better weather for tomorrow's stage.

Arsenal 4 - Norwich City 1

The first game back after an international break is always tricky business, the more so it seems when Arsenal are at home to a lower-ranked squad, like today's match against Norwich City. So often, the Gunners take a half or more to rediscover their rhythm.

Not so today, especially with the Santi Cazorla back on the pitch (after a several weeks on the injured list) playing alongside Mesut Ozil for the first time. From the off, Arsenal's one-touch football was sublime. The first goal, by Jack Wilshire in the 18th minute, resulted from five or six consecutive one-touch passes, the last being a brilliant flick from Giroud (not for the first time this season) to the goal-scorer that put him through against four defenders in the box. A classic Arsenal goal.

Throughout the first half, Norwich City could hardly get a sniff at possession. Every time Arsenal lost possession, they seemed to have the ball back within 5-10 seconds. The only bad news for the Gunners in the first half was the need to substitute for Mathieu Flamini, who picked up a head injury. But how bad could it be when the substitute is Aaron Ramsey, who was Premier League player of the month for September?

Arguably, Arsenal should have led by more than 1-0 going into the halftime break. Olivier Giroud would have made it 2-0 but for an excellent stop at the near post by the Norwich keeper. As the half drew to a close, Norwich City finally started to play their way into the match. It appeared that Ramsey's replacement of Flamini may have unsettled Arsenal's structure a bit. Whatever the reason, the defense let down a bit, and Norwich nearly evened the score before the halftime whistle. Fortunately, Wojciech Szczesny, who had had little to do throughout the half, made a fine save to protect Arsenal's halftime lead.

The second half began with both teams sharing possession and creating a few half-chances. Arsenal seemed comfortable enough, but a 1-0 lead is never safe; and as the 60th minute approached, the fans in the Emirates Stadium seemed to become anxious that their clearly superior side had not already finished the job. But Norwich City deserved at least some credit for their dogged determination. They weren't just going to let Arsenal run roughshod over them; and they played as if they could at least salvage a point from the match.

Arsenal seemed to put paid to that notion in the 58th minute on a fine counterattack led by Santi Cazorla. He passed the ball to Giroud on the wing as Ozil ran straight at the goal. In a reversal of normal service, Giroud, for second time in the match, picked up the assist, as his cross found Ozil's head and Ozil's header found the back of the net. It was Cazorla's last action of the match. Being short of match fitness, he was replaced by Thomas Rosicky.

The Gunners seemed well and truly in control of the match, when suddenly, against the run of play, some lackadaisical defending by Arsenal allowed Norwich City back in the match. Johnny Howson scored on a fine shot from the edge of the box. In some respects, it was to be expected. Arsenal hardly ever keep a clean sheet these days -- their only one of the season so far came against Tottenham. This must be a continuing worry for Arsene Wenger. It may, in part, have been a consequence of the first-half injury to Flamini, who is happy to do the dirty work on defense. His replacement, Aaron Ramsey is, like Jack Wilshire, more intent on getting forward on the attack. Clearly, Arsenal's defense is strongest when Flamini and Arteta are in the midfield together. Take one of them out, and Arsenal's goal seems more at risk. Fortunately, Arsenal survived the risk today, but they definitely need to better organize their defensive midfield in situations when they're protecting a lead and either Flamini or Arteta is out of the line-up.

Second-half substitute Aaron Ramsey finally put the game to rest on a brilliantly taken goal in the 83d minute. He received a pass from Wilshire at the edge of the box, and then dribbled his way past three defenders to bring himself face-to-face with the goalkeeper, who really had no chance as Ramsey blazed the shot past him. To put a cherry on it, Arsenal scored a fourth, brilliant goal in the 88th minute, as Rosicky crossed to Ramsey at the far post, who pulled the ball back to Mesut Ozil in front of the net for his second goal of the match.

Despite the defensive frailties that can result from having so many offensively-minded midfielders on the pitch at one time (not to mention two offensively-minded fullbacks), Arsenal's have the offensive prowess to overcome those frailties. Some of Arsenal's combination play today was simply breathtaking.

It must be a terribly frightening prospect for Arsenal's opponents these days to face a side with six legitimate play-makers, each of whom could legitimately wear the #10 shirt, including Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshire, Ramsey, Rosicky, and Arteta if necessary. When three (or more) of them are in the game at the same time, they are fully capable of switching positions at a moment's notice, creating massive match-up headaches for the opposing team's defense. The quality of Arsenal's offensive midfield, at present, is on par with any side in the world, excepting Barca.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why Did Mitch McConnell Do a Deal to Re-open the Federal Government?

Facing challengers from right (Tea Party) and left (a strong Democratic candidate) in his forthcoming reelection campaign, Mitch McConnell has problems no matter what positions he takes. In that circumstance, we should expect him, like most experienced, cynical politicians, to take whichever position losses him the fewest votes, all things considered. Here are two factors that might have led him to make the decision to do a deal with Harry Reid, rather than just sit tight: (1) He currently holds a 47-point lead in Kentucky public opinion polls over his Tea Party primary challenger; and (2) McConnell inserted into the short-term budget fix a provision to fund two new dams in Kentucky.

As to (1), with the midterm elections still a year away, McConnell's big lead over his Tea Party primary challenger could well evaporate, but he might well hope that broader voter support for Tea Party candidates might wane in light of their extremism; and he might come off looking like a statesman by comparison. No doubt, his staff did their own calculations on the likely costs and benefits of his doing a deal with Harry Reid, and decided that his current lead in the polls was unlikely to evaporate as a consequence.

As for (2), I find it repulsive that Mitch McConnell used his political leverage and the cover of national concerns at stake to sneak into law funding for two dams in his home state. That's about as venal as you can you get. But will Kentuckians see it that way? Or will they just see their stalwart Senator bringing home the bacon? If the later, it might well gain him some general election votes against his Democratic rival. At the very least, it is a reminder that as a (very) senior Senator, McConnell is better positioned to provide for his constituents than a brand new Senate (regardless of party affiliation) would be.

The Big New Energy Source Is Conservation

Forget biofuels. Consider these facts from a new report by the International Energy Agency (here):

  • From 2005 to 2010, efficiency measures saved the energy equivalent of USD 420 billion worth of oil in a group of 11 IEA member countries.
  • Had it not been for energy efficiency measures implemented in past years, consumers in those 11 IEA member countries would now be consuming – and thus paying for – about two-thirds more energy than they currently use.
  • In 2010 in those countries, the energy savings from efficiency measures exceeded the output from any other single fuel source. That year, the 11 IEA economies avoided burning 1.5 billion tonnes of oil equivalent thanks to efficiency improvements developed since 1974. By comparison, in 2010 those same economies consumed about 1 billion tonnes of oil equivalent from assets developed over the same period.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Favorite Comment on Yesterday's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics

Fama got the prize for his "efficient markets" theory, and Schiller shared it for showing that Fama was wrong.

That pretty much captures it.  (As for Hansen, the third recipient of the prize, hardly anyone seems to understand his work, and those who do seem incapable of explaining it in ordinary English.)

Actually, Fama and Schiller ended up in the same place but for diametrically opposed reasons. Both believed no one could predict future moves in stock markets. For Fama, this is because markets possess and process way more information than any individual could possibly possess and process. For Schiller, markets are largely irrational (moved by what Adam Smith called "animal spirits"), and no one can predict what an irrational actor might do.

The 2008 financial crisis pretty much proved that Fama is wrong and Schiller is right.

UPDATE: John Kay adds that giving the Nobel Prize to Fama and Schiller together in the same year is like giving the physics prize in the same year to Ptolemy and Copernicus.

Andrew Luck's Not Good Enough...

... to catch his own passes.

Meanwhile, injuries are piling on the defensive side. Pretty soon, the "next man up" is going to be one of the coaches.

Monday, October 14, 2013

This is the Republican Party's Problem

This time, I'm not talking about the budget impasse or the debt ceiling, but about the Republican Party's toleration, and occasional baiting, of racists and other despicable extremists in their midst. See the most recent example in the Washington Post (here).

Finally, A Ride

It had been two full weeks since I'd been out for a ride (with only one or two spins on the indoor trainer during that period). So, when I finally got out for a ride with Dr. Jim yesterday to ride the Orchard Route, the decline in fitness was palpable. My heart rate was consistently 5 to 10 beats faster at every level of effort than it had been two weeks before. Over the course of a 30-mile ride, that's a lot of extra heart beats. In terms of basic feeling on the bike, a two-week layoff felt more like a two-month layoff.

On the other hand, winter training up in Indy starts in another couple of weeks. And if my schedule and energy levels allow me to get up there two evenings a week, I should improve my overall fitness during the off-season, which is something I haven't managed to do since I moved down to B-town from Indy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Excellent Interview with Behavioral Economist Richard Thaler


Republican Gerrymandering Destroys Party Cohesiveness

The great American humorist Will Rogers famously quipped, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat" (see here). The Republicans traditionally have been viewed as a more cohesive party, if not exactly marching in lock-step, at least holding to certain core principles and goals.

The current impasse over the government shut-down and the looming debt-ceiling debacle demonstrates more than any previous political issue that the Republicans have become at least as disorganized as Rogers' old Democrats. The GOP is fractured by disagreements not between moderates and conservatives, who are generally united on these issues by a base level of pragmatism, but between those two groups on one side and radical/irrational anti-federal government ultra-conservatives on the other.

Interestingly, this problem is largely a perverse consequence of Republican efforts to maintain control of the House of Representatives through partisan gerrymandering, which has created dozens of congressional districts in which pragmatic governance is viewed as a fault in what the ignorami consider a zero-sum game for the heart and soul of "America."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spectacular Public Health Improvements from Statin Use

According to this story in the Telegraph, use of statins to control cholesterol has cut the rate of strokes in the UK by 40% between 1995 and 2010. Imagine how much more we could cut the rate of strokes, as well as heart attacks, if the medical/pharmaceutical complex could resolve the intellectual property problems and combine a statin, a blood pressure medication and small dose of aspirin into a single super-pill, which doctors could prescribe to (nearly) everyone in the population starting on their 40th birthday.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Which Way Does Uncertainty About Climate Change Cut?

Gernot Wagner and Marty Weitzman argue strongly in today's New York Times (here) that the risks of extreme increases in global mean temperatures swamps any uncertainties that climate change might not turn out to be as much of a problem as scientists currently believe. They calculate a 5 to 10 percent chance that global mean temperature could increase by 6 degrees Celsius or more over a relatively short period of time, entailing socio-economic consequences "outside anyone's imagination, perhaps even Dante's." Therefore, in their view, lingering uncertainties about climate change effects should cut in favor of "an even more sharply decreasing path" in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

What makes this op-ed so compelling is that Weitzman (I don't know Wagner's work so well) is no alarmist or doomsayer, but an extremely rigorous and respected mainstream economist (very likely a future Nobel Prize winner for his ground-breaking work in environmental economics). Policy-makers should (but probably won't) pay very close attention to what he writes.

A Reminder that Small, Self-Governing Communities Can Be Very, Very Nasty

Divorce is never easy. But state laws throughout the US provide reasonable institutionalized processes by which either party to an unhappy marriage can get out. For Hasidic Jews in New York, however, the rules for divorce are different than for the rest of us. For example, a wife who wants to divorce her husband (for any reason, including abuse), must obtain the husband's permission in the form of a document known as a "get." In other words, the husband in a Hasidic marriage holds a veto power, which in effect makes him sovereign over the marriage.

This institutional arrangement is so obviously out of step (that is, it lacks "fit") with other fundamental attributes of Americanism, including individual autonomy and equal rights (especially for women) that it should be abolished. But so long as it persists, how are Hasidic wives to get out of abusive or otherwise unhappy marriages?

Rabbis, as community leaders, can serve as advocates for wives, counseling, even urging, husbands to issue gets. But the decision remains firmly with the husband, who can choose to ignore the rabbi. To solve that problem, a new market apparently has arisen, in which abused or unhappy wives pay rabbis to abduct and torture their husbands to extract (or extort) the get. According to CBS News (here), a New York Police sting operation infiltrated the illicit market in Hasidic husband torture. Two Hasidic rabbis are under arrest for kidnapping and torturing husbands, using "'electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs, and ... plastic bags' placed over the heads of husbands to force them into granting their wives a divorce." The price for the service, which included the services of "two enforcers," was $60,000 to $70,000.

Evidently, the transaction costs of at least some Hasidic divorces are very, very high mainly because of the husband's (unilateral) veto power. This story contrasts sharply with well-known story, told by law and economics scholars, that high levels of trust and internal dispute-resolution mechanisms within close-knit Hasidic communities, reduce transaction costs (including principal-agent problems) among Hasidic diamond merchants (see, e.g., here). It is clear that small, self-governing communities do not only reduce transaction costs for members, but can raise them to very high levels, depending on the institutional context.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Off to MLEA

As soon as I'm done teaching Climate Law & Policy this afternoon, I'm off to Champaign-Urbana for the annual meeting of the Midwest Law & Economics Association at the University of Illinois College of Law. I'll be presenting a new paper, co-authored with Mike McGinnis and Graham Epstein, about the somewhat hidden institutional interactions that give rise to Garrett Hardin's "tragedy of the commons." To make a long story short, it's not just about (non)ownership the pasture - it's equally about ownership of the cows and the institutions governing what happens to the grass when the cows consume it. We'll probably be posting the paper soon on SSRN.

I've been attending MLEA pretty regularly since the inaugural conference 12 years ago. It's the only law & econ conference I regularly attend because it's smaller, much friendlier, and less status-driven than national or "coastal" law and econ conferences. We attract plenty of top-notch senior scholars, but the relative friendliness of the conference also attracts lots of junior scholars, who really appreciate having the forum for presenting their works. And we "elder statesmen" inevitably learn a lot from them.

Anyway, this conference is chock full of interesting-looking papers. You can download the schedule here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Who Says Democracy Is An Inefficient Form of Government?

According to The Independent (here), in Azerbaijan the election results are published before the polls are opened.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bergkamp Wants to Return to Arsenal as a Coach

He doesn't want to manage; he wants to coach the strikers. Who wouldn't wanted to be coached by the greatest creative genius ever to play for the Gunners? The Telegraph has the story, here.

Memo to self: Buy Bergkamp's new autobiography.

"Model-free Forecasting"?

Wouldn't that be something like language-free writing?

Each day I receive dozens of messages from SSRN, alerting me to new working papers in Law, Economics, and Political Science. A couple times a week, those announcements are supplemented by others from PNAS, NBER and others. This morning, I happened across a paper in the PNAS Early Edition purporting to be about "model-free forecasting." I didn't read the article, but I am puzzled by the phrase, wondering what kind of forecasting could possible be "model-free."

With the possible exception of tiny infants (who probably do not engage in much forecasting of future conditions) or those whose brains are seriously damaged, we all operate with mental models about the external world, models which are largely formed by the (for lack of a better word) cultures in which our brains and bodies develop. Those models not only help us conform to the social norms of the societies to which we belong; without them, it would be literally impossible for us to make sense of the external world or even function (that is to say, live) as part of it. In this basic sense of the word, even animals can be said to engage in mental modeling, albeit without the kind of self-reflection and Bayesian updating of which humans are capable.

Perhaps I should read the article to see what the authors are actually on about. I find it hard to believe that they could really believe in anything as absurd as "model-free" forecasting (I would say the same about claims of "value-free" or "theory-free" forecasting). Perhaps they just mean that forecasting may be free of explicit models, which at least is conceivable.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Who'll Stop the Rain?

It's been a complete rain-out for cycling this weekend. To be relegated to the trainer in the basement (not by choice) this early in the fall is a gross insult, especially given that I'll be on the road next weekend (at a conference in Champaign-Urbana). The miles are getting hard to come by.

West Brom 1 - Arsenal 1

This was a tough away game for the Gunners. West Brom are a solid side that have been playing very well this season (as their win away at Man U last weekend attests). So, no disgrace that Arsenal came away with only one point from this fixture. Admittedly, the Gunners weren't at their fluid best; aside from a few moves of real brilliance, they looked like they have come off the boil a bit. Ramsey picked up a knock in the first half that forced him to retire early in the second half. His replacement, Thomas Rosicky, seemed completely off the pace. Jack Wilshire, aside from a well-taken half volley that careened off a West Brom defender for Arsenal's only goal, still is struggling to find his form. He misplayed several passes in the first have, and allowed West Ham defenders to get into his head with a lot of niggling fouls (as is too often the case). Giroud and Ozil showed great quality, once again. But they didn't get enough support in this match from the rest of the midfield.

That said, West Brom have to be given some credit for taking Arsenal out of their game. They made up for whatever talent differential that exists (and if it does exist, it's not all that great) with great effort, good passing, and a strong defensive shape that Arsenal found hard to break down. Either team could have taken all three points in this match, and West Brom might actually have had the better claim to them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

More Psychic Income

I'm not talking about the IU football team's surprising victory over Penn State today, but a terrific recital this evening at Auer Hall by the prodigiously talented German organist Martin Schmeding. In addition to the usual repertoire of Bach, Buxtehude, and Mendelssohn, Schmeding treated us to a virtuouso piece by the contemporary Japanese composer Akira Nashimura and the beautiful Sonata in C Minor by nineteenth-century German composer Julius Reubke. The latter piece is familiar to organ music aficionados, and has been widely recorded (including by Schmeding, although his recording is not so easy to find in the US). I highly recommend a listen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Psychic Income in Academia

I am not an underpaid academic, and yet on top of my regular income, I receive a lot of psychic income - the kinds of perks that cannot be valued in market terms. So, for example, the most enjoyable part of my school week is usually the 90 minutes I spend with two super-smart colleagues from Political Science discussing books we are reading together on political theory. Right now, we're reading Hume's Essays.

But this week has brought an unusual perk that makes even my reading group pale in comparison. The great political and property theorist (and intellectual historian of political theory) Alan Ryan is in Bloomington to give a talk in the Political Science Department. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join a small group having dinner with him this evening, and it was a rare treat.

Ryan's 1986 book Property and Political Theory is a foundation stone for the seminar I teach (whenever I get the chance) in Property Theory. Unfortunately, that book is out of print, so I cannot have my students actually read the book, but it has influenced the structure and content of my course. And this past summer, unbeknownst to Ryan himself, I spent a great deal of high-quality time in his company, reading his two new books, On Politics and The Making of Modern Liberalism.

I'm greatly looking forward to his presentation tomorrow about the work of John Stuart Mill, revisiting some of his earliest works on the great English liberal.

Is The Shutdown All About Saving Boehner's Job?

Yes, according to this article in today's Washington Post by Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan. They claim enough Republicans favor a "clean" continuing resolution on the budget that the Senate version would pass if Boehner brought it to the floor for a vote. However, that Republican support amounts to only a small percentage of the House Republican conference, and Boehner is under intense pressure from a somewhat larger (but not a majority) percentage of his conference - the Tea Partiers - to hold out. The bottom line, according to Cillizza and Sullivan, is that Boehner would likely lose his job as Speaker, if he allowed a vote on the Senate version of the continuing resolution.

So, the question is whether Boehner is refusing to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote out of principle or merely to save his own job. He could, as a matter of principle, oppose a "clean" continuing resolution because he believes it would be bad for the country or because he believes that the Speaker, as a matter of practice, should bow to a plurality of his own conference (rather than being an actual leader). But if he is merely catering to the Tea Party blowhards to save his job as Speaker, then he is disserving the country and his constituents as a cowardly careerist.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World University Rankings: Bad News, Good News

Start with some bad news: The 2013-14 Times Higher Education World University Rankings are out (I refuse to link to silly rankings).

More bad news: Indiana University (132) is only the third best university in the state, ranking below both Purdue (62) and Notre Dame (90).

But there is some good news: The rankings are, in the wonderful words of Jeremy Bentham, "nonsense upon stilts."

However, there's even more bad news: Many people treat the rankings as significant of something; after all, they're based on objective criteria, right?

To end on a more positive note: Those people are wrong.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Arsenal 2 - Napoli 0 (CL)

In a very tough Champion's League group, Arsenal have made it two out of two. Having beaten Marseille away, today they made a strong Napoli side look very average. In the first half, Arsenal put on a footballing clinic with very sharp passing and movement leading to the two first half goals, including the first goal in a Gunners uniform for Mesut Ozil. Olivier Giroud showed great touch putting Aaron Ramsey in the clear down the right side; and Ramsey cut the ball back across the area to a free-running Ozil, who made a tough chance look easy, as he dispatched the ball past the keeper from about 18 yards out. Having scored the first, Ozil set up the second a few minutes later with a beautiful cross that Giroud could hardly help striking home from just a few yards out.

After that, it looked as if Arsenal might run rampant against a Napoli side playing without new striker Gonzalo Higuain, who Arsene Wenger targeted during the summer transfer window but ultimately declined to sign. Napoli managed not to concede again before halftime, despite Arsenal's domination of possession and shots on goal.

When the teams came out for the second half, I'm sure everyone expected Napoli to come out with more fire in their bellies. After all, 2-0 is hardly an insurmountable lead, and Arsenal do not often keep a clean sheet. The Italian squad's fans must have been sorely disappointed, as Napoli hardly threatened the Arsenal goal. For their part, the Gunners did not match the intensity of their first-half performance, but they didn't need to. They fairly coasted home to an easy 2-0 win against a top European opponent.

Supreme Court Passes on EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations

The story is here. It is not surprising that the Supreme Court did not accept the petition to review the judgment of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. With rare exception, the D.C. Circuit is the supreme court of federal administrative law; the actual Supreme Court gives its decisions great (though not unlimited) deference.

However, I would be surprised if at least a couple of the justices (perhaps Scalia and Thomas) were not eager to overturn the EPA's "Tailoring Rule" (on which see here and here).

The Root of the Federal Governance Problem in the US

It's not the Republicans, or the Democrats, or the electorate, or the media, or the money that is at the root of the latest US government crisis.

It is the Constitution of the United States, an outdated document that either requires or permits all kinds of pernicious impediments to compromise, consensus-building, and collective action. They include, but are not limited to, the electoral college, the Senate filibuster, equal representation for states in the Senate regardless of population, and partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.

And because the time-worn and faulty document is so difficult to amend, mainly due to the very pathologies it facilitates, getting rid of those pathologies is extraordinarily difficult. In a sense, our Constitution has become (for functional democracy) what the Supreme Court has long argued it is not (for national security): a suicide pact. Some argue that a constitutional convention is needed to replace our current, outdated governing document. Given the circumstances, I'd be concerned that the cure might prove worse than the disease.

It stands to reason that no other country in the world has tried to emulate our constitutional structure. The real American exceptionalism is not our democracy or our balance of powers, but our dysfunctional constitution.