New York

The city as the engine for social change and increasing well-being is one of the truly great triumphs of our amazing ability to form social groups and collectively take advantage of economies of scale (West, 2017, p.186).

New York is the classic metropolis.

Most great cities have a similar aspect – the river upon which it originates provides a bearing and context. I love Liverpool in part because the two Mersey tunnels preserve the unique skyline. New York – and when I say New York I obviously mean Manhattan – is special because there is no dominant waterfront. The fact that it’s an island makes it inward looking, and instead of being in a city to judge by itself, you feel that you are at the centre of all cities, and therefore all modern civilization.

My first trip to New York was via bus from Washington DC. We were offloaded in Chinatown and it was freezing cold, so we went straight into the nearest diner for coffee and doughnuts. After dumping our bags in the hostel we raced to the Empire State Building and caught the last elevator ride up. What was damp rain at street level was snowfall at the top. Romantic, and majestic.

My last trip was to present a paper at the Eastern Economic Association annual conference. The keynote was delivered by Ed Glaeser, the world’s leading economist on cities. He is a sharp, dazzling speaker, and watching him perform with a New York City backdrop was a thrill. Satisfying, and triumphant.

What I love most about cities is the juxtaposition of energy and possibility and the amount of personal space they provide. An atomised city provides a certain sanctity. Here’s how to spend time alone in NYC.

Cities are the crucible of civilization, the hubs of innovation, the engines of wealth creation and centres of power, the magnets that attract creative individuals, and the stimulant for ideas, growth, and innovation. (West 2017, p.215).

The downside of this, of course, is the potential to slip out of life, unnoticed. Cities come with costs.

They are the prime loci of crime, pollution, poverty, disease, and the consumption of energy and resources. Rapid urbanization and accelerating economic development have generated multiple global challenges ranging from climate change and its environmental impacts to incipient crises in food, energy, and water availability, public health, financial markets, and the global economy (West 2017, p.215).

But surely we can agree that the solutions to these modern problems must include (i) energy efficiency; and (ii) wealth. Thus cities are crucial.

Each trip to New York is a combination of revisiting favourite eateries and seeking new ones.

I recommend:

  • Ivan Ramen – (New York Times, one of my favourite episodes of Chef’s Table). I’ve only been the spin off, Slurp Shop, but enjoyed it immensely.
  • Sombrero – ok, this isn’t particularly impressive cuisine but when you come from the UK, and the alternative is a chain such as Tortilla or Chiquitos, it’s nice to sit in a Mexican restaurant, with a wide range of tequilas, and full plates of decent fare. My main motivation for my first visit was the proximity to my hotel, but I went back a second time for familiarity. Not a strong recommend, but a place close to my heart.
  • Xi’an famous noodles – I vouch for the Spicy Cumin Lamb burger, but there’s a lovely depth of heat and lip tingling joy across the menu.

To try:

  • Pisillo Italian Panini – the first sub that I had in NYC blew me away. Multiple meats, and it required a dislocated jaw to bite into! Contrast that with a single slice of wafer thin him, and perhaps a slice of cheese that you’d get in the UK. For a wide choice of Italian style subs, this is the place
  • Faicco’s Italian specialties (and apparently it has to be an Italian special)
  • Katz – the classic deli
  • Los Tacos, in Chelsea Market
  • Bleaker’s Pizza, Greenwich
  • Joe’s Pizza
  • Taim, West Village

Recommended bars:

  • The Turnmill – this is the official bar of the Everton FC NYC supporters club. What’s better than a packed pub in a foreign city, on a matchday, covered in TVs, full of fellow fans? Savour the crisp walk of anticipation from the subway ready to sink a cold pint at 10am. Bizarre, but worth doing.
  • The Garret
  • Employees Only

I’m not sure when I’ll next go back to NYC. But I miss it.

Poker

I don’t play poker but I have a couple of friends that do. I recently asked them what resources they’d recommend for people wanting to get into it, and thought I’d share their advice.

Transition economics

Learning Objectives: Understand the socialist calculation debate. Consider the empirical record of different transition economies.
Lecture handout: Transition Calculation*

The training scene from Rocky IV demonstrates the difference between the USSR (technologically sophisticated but lacking in heart) and the US (backward but free).

https://youtu.be/1oDTNEEu3Rw

  • Audio: Planet Money, “Peanuts and Cracker Jack
    • What are the main factors that determine the earnings of a vendor?
    • Why is it better to have the vendors decide on who does what, rather than senior management?
    • How much entrepreneurial profit comes from working harder than others?

One of my favourite ruminations on the differences in economic systems.

  • Further reading: “Havana or Prague” in Hitchens, Christopher, (2010) Hitch-22: A Memoir, New York: Twelve
Lecture handout: Transition Shock*

There’s a big difference between queuing for basic necessities, and queuing in excitement about the first McDonalds in Moscow:


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 12 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

Foreign Investment

Learning Objectives: Consider the role of foreign investment in economic development. Perform a country competitiveness exercise. 
Case: Porter, M., and Ketels, C., “Indonesia: Attracting foreign investment” Harvard Business School case no. 9-708-420, January 11th 2013 (£)

Tyler Cowen wants to fund the following question:

  • What should Widodo do? Indonesia is a large, populous middle-income country. It faces no major near-term security threats. It has a small manufacturing base and no major non-commodity export sectors. What is the best non-bureaucratic 10 page economic development briefing document and set of prescriptions that one could write for Indonesia’s president?

Here’s my analysis of Belarus, using many complementary concepts.


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 12 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

 

Debt crises

Learning Objectives: Understand the causes of a sovereign debt crisis. Understand the role international agencies play in managing a debt crisis. 

Although I use Chapter 3 as the pre reading for this class, I highly recommend the full book: “And the Money Kept Rolling In”. Here’s The Economist’s summary

Case: Blustein, P., “And the Money Kept Rolling In” Public Affairs, 2005 (pp.39-60)

  • Discussion question: As of July 1998 should the IMF suspend their program in Argentina, or continue their support?

A 2016 episode of the podcast Planet Money looked at sovereign debt crises, and is well worth a listen. The title was “A Hedge Fund, A Country, And A Big Sailboat“.

To understand the dynamics of a sovereign debt crisis, use this model from The Economist.

Instructor Resource: “Argentina: What Happened Next?” January 2014

The key goal for monetary authorities is credibility: [Credibility flashcard]

What constitutes an optimal currency areas? [Optimal Currency Areas flashcard]


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 10 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

Currency crises

Learning Objectives: Understand the causes and triggers of a currency crisis. Consider indicators that predict a currency crisis. 

 

Case:Currency Crises” Harvard Business School case no. 9-799-088

  • Discussion question: Which countries are on the verge of a currency crisis?

To get a good understanding of how currency crises occur, and their implications, see Yegor Gaidar’s 1999 article on “Lessons of the Russian Crisis for Transition Economies“.

The key goal for monetary authorities is credibility: [Credibility flashcard]

What constitutes an optimal currency areas? [Optimal Currency Areas flashcard]


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 8 (Section 8.3) and Chapter 10 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

Banking crises

Learning Objectives:
Lecture handout: Banking crises*

Further resources

Here’s a good video on Bitcoin:


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 7 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.

Behavioural economics

Learning Objectives: Apply a range of examples of behavioural anomalies to real business situations. Understand behavioural anomalies in light of an ecologically rational framework.
Lecture handout: Behavioural economics*

Here is an explanation of the Birthday Paradox. Notice that the probability calculation assumes a uniform distribution (i.e. that there’s a 1/365 chance of being born on any given day). In fact, birthdays in July, August and September are more common than other months.

This applet allows you to play multiple games of the Monty Hall problem. An article in the Smithsonian Magazine asks “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Case:Sun: A CEO’s Last Stand”, Business Week, July 26th 2004

The purpose of the case is to find examples that allow you to complete:

Here’s a nice poster of cognitive biases:

The UK government are so concerned with “excessive optimism” that they released guidance on how to mitigate it.

One of my favourite uses of behavioural economics is to reflect on the design of a menu when I am eating in a restaurant. This analysis by William Poundstone is truly fascinating.

Although I take behavioural economics seriously, I don’t think it majorly restricts the usefulness Efficient Market Hypothesis:

The reason for this is (partly) explained in Vernon Smith’s Nobel prize address:

  • Smith, V. L. (2003). “Constructivist and Ecological Rationality in Economics†”. American Economic Review93 (3): 465–508

Further videos on the implication for stock picking are: “The psychology behind irrational decisions“, “Understanding Unconscious Bias” (Royal Society) and from Marginal Revolution University: “How expert are expert stock pickers?” (and subsequent videos such as “Can you beat the market?” “Investing: Why You Should Diversify” and “Who Is More Rational? You or the Market?“)


These resources form part of my Managerial Economics course map. You can watch the full YouTube playlist here. This page ties into Chapter 11 of ‘Economics: A Complete Guide for Business‘.