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.