Archive for March, 2009
At the end of November, I mused about public sector's problem of attracting and retaining top-notch talent:
Ben Bernanke's salary as chairman of the Fed is just over $191,000. Henry Paulson as CEO of Goldman Sachs made $16.4 million according to Forbes. [...] I find it very hard to believe that compensation plays no role whatsoever in an individual's choice of employment.
This all seems terribly obvious to anyone who thinks about it, and Nate Silver has commented on the same phenomenon with a real-world example:
In retrospect, it is clear that regulators did not have the human capital to keep up with the financial industry, and to understand it well enough to be able to exert effective regulation. Given the wage premia that we document, it was impossible for regulators to attract and retain highly-skilled financial workers, because they could not compete with private sector wages. Our approach therefore provides an explanation for regulatory failures.
That is, the excessive wages paid by Wall Street not only lure talent away from other parts of the private sector, but also from the public sector, where employees are subject to government wage controls. The very people who might be the most capable of enforcing regulations on the banks instead wind up working for them.
This is a very real problem. Some of the work that I did in my first job after college at KPMG involved valuing intellectual property in conjunction with international tax disputes. We had our economists, and the IRS had theirs. The thing was, however, that our economists were better than the IRS's, because if someone at the IRS was any good, we'd hire them away and treble their salary. Part of a good regulatory reform plan, then, would be to increase the salaries paid to employees at institutions like the Fed, the Treasury, the IRS, and the FDIC.
So how do we solve the problem? Tripling an IRS economist's salary probably means they're making in excess of $400K/year, which is more than the President makes. Is it feasible to have regulators that make more than the President?
BU's GPA requirements for their Economics PhD students:
All courses must be passed with a grade of B- or higher. The core average must be pi (3.1416) and an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for the M.A.P.E. and the Ph.D. must be attained in all courses taken after enrollment in the Graduate School at Boston University. At the end of each academic year, a student's course grade average is reviewed. Failure to maintain satisfactory standing results in recommendation for termination from the Ph.D. program.
The full interview with President Obama on Jay Leno from Thursday, March 19, 2009. Well worth watching whether you're conservative or liberal. He's going to be fun a fun president when he's out of office…
I don't know how long the Hulu embed will be good for, so get it while it's good.
I'm trying to do some analysis on car accident statistics with respect to at-fault collisions for people driving vehicles with automatic transmissions vs those who drive stick. While the NHTSA has a surprisingly advanced query system set up that allows you to drill down to pretty specific results without much trouble, I can't seem to find this data. I've gone through the raw data as well, and this information doesn't appear to be collected.
I'm trying to find out whether transmission type has an effect on accident rates.
VIN numbers are collected, and this information is associated with a specific VIN, but is there a way to easily pull this information from somewhere? Hmm.
Life imitates art or art imitates life?
Came across this video on YouTube, and thought it was worth sharing:
The always-excellent Big Picture blog from the Boston Globe has a Lantern Festival photoessay that's worth checking out, which also covers the unfortunate fire at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that overshadowed this year's celebration.