Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Spectrum auctions explained (by Scott Kominers in Bloomberg)

Explaining economics is something economists should do more of (especially in light of some of the silly things written about economics in the popular press by people who misunderstand what they are writing about).  Here's a good example of good explanation, written clearly, by an expert:

To Improve Wireless Networks, Auction the Airwaves:
People are watching TV on devices, so mobile companies need more spectrum and broadcasters need less. Here's how to get there.
By Scott Duke Kominers

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sally Satel on EconTalk, talking about organ donation (podcast)


Sally Satel on Organ Donation

EconTalk Episode with Sally Satel
Hosted by Russ Roberts
You Are What You Eat...
kidney.jpgSally Satel, psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of increasing the supply of donated organs for transplantation and ways that public policy might increase the supply. Satel, who has received two kidney donations, suggests a federal tax credit as a way to increase the supply of organs while saving the federal government money. She also discusses the ethical issues surrounding various forms of compensation for organ donors.
Size:27.6 MB
Right-click or Option-click, and select "Save Link/Target As MP3.

Readings and Links related to this podcast episode

Related Readings
HIDE READINGS
This week's guest: This week's focus: Additional ideas and people mentioned in this podcast episode: A few more readings and background resources: A few more EconTalk podcast episodes:

Highlights

Time
Podcast Episode Highlights
HIDE HIGHLIGHTS
0:33
Intro. [Recording date: July 6, 2017.]
Russ Roberts: Sally Satel recently wrote an article with Alan Viard entitled "The Kindest (Tax) Cut: A Federal Tax Credit for Organ Donations," and that's going to be our topic for today.... So, you bring a special perspective to kidney donations. Talk about your personal story.
Sally Satel: Yeah. I got a kidney in 2006; and then I got another kidney a year ago, almost a year ago today. And, when I got my first one it was sort of a surprise. A lot of people who know that they're going to need a kidney--well, by definition, they know that they're going to need a kidney. What I meant is that they have certain illnesses--they are either diabetic, or they've got lupus, severe hypertension that's been poorly managed for a while, high blood pressure. People know they are at risk for this, for kidney failure. But my case was sort of a surprise. I just went to the doctor for a regular checkup. This is the part of the story that scares everyone, because I felt completely fine. And during a routine blood draw, found out that I had--well, that I had kidney failure. Which is rather easy to diagnose. It's a test called a creatinine level. But when you go for a regular blood draw, a routine blood draw, that's one of the indexes they measure. So, they tested it again, and that was the same. So, the clock was ticking for me, because I knew from my medical training that if you have kidney failure, you need a new kidney, or you will languish on dialysis for years. And no matter how long you are on dialysis, your life will be prematurely shortened. I mean, people have lived for 20 years, even a little longer, on dialysis. Some people tolerate it better than others. That's a process where your blood is cleansed of toxins about 3 times a week for about 4 hours at a time; you go to a clinic. Most people feel very debilitated by it. The average person on dialysis can't hold a job. But some do. And, some people--it isn't as psychologically devastating to some folks. But others find it so distressing, they are actually--suicide is not that unusual. So, the idea of being tethered to that machine, while, granted, it would keep me alive. Now, if my liver had failed and I didn't get a transplant, that would be it. So, kidney dialysis does keep people alive for awhile. But it just seemed like a really, really half a life. So, I knew I needed a kidney, but I didn't know exactly when I would need dialysis. So, as I said, the clock started ticking. And it turned out I had a good year before the function got to the point where I really was becoming physically debilitated. But it was very hard finding a donor. And that's what kind of galvanized me, this whole issue of the shortage. But, just in terms of finding a donor, as I say, it was extremely difficult. It's not like every day you ask people for a body part. And I didn't have--I have a very tiny family. And, to make a long story short, none of them--I didn't feel I could ask any of them. And in fact I never really asked anyone. I would do it all differently if, heaven forbid, there is yet a third time I have to go through this--see, I'm very nice to my interns. But I would just talk about it with folks and wasn't even being coy. I just sort of thought magically, 'Oh, well some people will think of being a donor, and it will work out.' But it became pretty clear that it wasn't working out. And a lot of people actually said they would do it; and I appreciate that in that I know they wanted to be--I know they felt empathy for my situation; but in the end, basically, a lot of them got cold feet and backed out. And then you're in this terribly awkward position, because you really can't be angry. I mean it's an enormous thing to ask, and it would be incredibly presumptuous to have the expectation that they owed you anything. So, I was really getting very demoralized and about to get ready to go on dialysis. And, Virginia Postrel, who I knew, not very well, had been at a cocktail reception somewhere--this was in November of 2005--and she ran into a mutual friend and asked that friend how I was. And the friend said, 'Not so hot. She needs a kidney.' And, Virginia went--I think the next went to her computer--I remember the subject line; I still have a printout of her email--it said, 'Serious Offer.' And she said, 'So-and-so told me you needed a kidney, and if I match, I will do it.' And I think she followed up a few minutes later with another email: 'I won't back out.' And, so, she went through with it. This was March of 2006. And I'm almost as grateful to Steve, her husband, as to her, because that was one of the reasons that two of my friends, other of my friends who had seriously considered donating did not go through with it--because their spouse basically said, 'It's the kidney or a divorce.' [More to come. 6:48]

Monday, July 24, 2017

Celebrating János Kornai at 90, In Budapest



Here's the Call for Papers:  The importance of János Kornai's research for understanding the changing role of the state in the economy 

"The aim of this conference - organized on the occasion of Kornai's 90th birthday - is to bring together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines (economists, political economists, political scientists, sociologists and historians), advanced scholars as well as PhD students who build on Kornai’s insights (www.kornai-janos.hu) in their own research."
...
"Important dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: September 15, 2017
Notification of acceptance: October 1, 2017
Payment of conference fees: February 1, 2018
Full paper submission: February 1, 2018
Conference: Feb 21, 2018 

A celebration of Victor Elias, at 80, in Tucuman


Here's a story about and interview with Victor Elias in La Gaceta, complete with testimonials from students whose lives he touched.

 El académico que optó por quedarse en su Tucumán
Acaba de cumplir 80 años y la academia le rendirá un tributo al doctor en Economía por la Universidad de Chicago y director del Magister de la UNT. Sus alumnos recuerdan las enseñanzas que le dejó al profesor que, según confiesa, se retroalimenta con la creatividad de los aspirantes a economistas.

[G translate: The academic who opted to stay in his Tucumán
He has just turned 80 and the academy will pay a tribute to the Doctor of Economics from the University of Chicago and director of the UNT Magister. His students remember the teachings [of] the teacher who, he confesses, is fed by the creativity of aspiring economists.]

Victor Elias and Al Roth, Tucuman, 2016, taken by Ivan Werning

Here's an earlier interview, from 2005
Entrevista a Víctor Jorge Elías
by Juan Carlos De Pablo

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Random Matching under Priorities: Stability and No Envy Concepts by Haris Aziz and Bettina Klaus

Here's the preprint of a new paper by Haris Aziz and Bettina Klaus:
Random Matching under Priorities: Stability and No Envy Concepts

We consider stability concepts for random matchings where agents have preferences over objects and objects have priorities for the agents. When matchings are deterministic, the standard stability concept also captures the fairness property of no (justified) envy. When matchings can be random, there are a number of natural stability / fairness concepts that coincide with stability / no envy whenever matchings are deterministic. We formalize known stability concepts for random matchings for a general setting that allows weak preferences and weak priorities, unacceptability, and an unequal number of agents and objects. We then present a clear taxonomy of the stability concepts and identify logical relations between them.Furthermore, we provide no envy / claims interpretations for some of the stability concepts that are based on a consumption process interpretation of random matchings. Finally, we present a transformation from the most general setting to the most restricted setting, and show how almost all our stability concepts are preserved by that transformation.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Epilepsy and Neurophysiology fellowships are unravelled

Here is an article calling for a match. The opening paragraphs describe the current, unraveled recruiting process.


The Case for an Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology Match  RSS  Download PDF

Pediatric Neurology, 2017-07-01, Volume 72, Pages 5-6, Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc.
"Accredited epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology fellowships in the United States do not participate in a formal matching system to facilitate selection of trainees. For the 2015 to 2016 academic year, there were about 95 accredited clinical neurophysiology fellowship programs offering 313 positions and 43 epilepsy fellowship programs with 106 available positions. Each of these programs has their own unique recruitment process. The lack of a standardized process may be disadvantageous for both applicants and the training programs.
With our current approach, applicants may feel compelled to accept a fellowship offer before completing other program visits and with little time to consider their options. This situation occurs when a position is offered on the spot or soon after an interview. Unless the offer is quickly accepted, the candidate risks losing a guaranteed opportunity in order to explore other programs. The lack of uniformity in the application process can create additional difficulties for applicants.
Similarly, knowing that good candidates are likely to receive offers from other institutions during an interview, many institutions feel compelled to make a quick decision in their selection of fellows. In an effort to avoid vacancies, program directors may be tempted to select applicants who are available but may not be the best choice. Adopting a formal match system would create a more organized process with clear advantages for both applicants and programs."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Usury and theology

At Aeon, Alex Mayyasi writes about the work of banker turned theologian David Miller:

Of money and morals
Moneylending has been taboo for most of human history. So how did usury stop being a sin and become respectable finance?

"Vedic law in Ancient India condemned usury, and rulers routinely capped interest rates from Ancient Mesopotamia to Ancient Greece. In Politics, Aristotle described usury as ‘the birth of money from money’, and claimed it was unnatural because money was sterile and should not ‘breed’.
...
"In the 4th century CE, Christian councils denounced the practice, and by 800, the emperor Charlemagne made the prohibition into law. Accounts of merchants and bankers in the Middle Ages frequently include expressions of anguish over their profits. In his Divine Comedy of the 14th century, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri put the usurers in the seventh circle of Hell..."

"The stigma against moneylending continued well into the 1500s. To understand it, think about your reaction to the idea of a bank making a loan to a business at a 5 per cent interest rate. No problem, right? Now compare that to how you’d feel if your mother lent you money on the same terms. In Biblical times, the typical loan was more like the second case – it wasn’t an arms-length transaction, but a charitable loan from a wealthy man to a neighbour who’d experienced misfortune or had nowhere else to turn. "

Thursday, July 20, 2017

THE 28TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GAME THEORY; IN HONOR OF PRADEEP DUBEY AND YAIR TAUMAN

The celebration of Pradeep Dubey and Yair Tauman is going on now.

Here's the program.

Declining racial disparities in deceased-donor kidney allocation

Here's an article from the June issue of Health Affairs, reporting that racial disparities among deceased-donor kidney recipients seem to have declined since the introduction of a modified allocation procedure.

New Kidney Allocation System Associated With Increased Rates Of Transplants Among Black And Hispanic Patients

  1. Rachel E. Patzer8,*
+Author Affiliations
  1. 1Taylor A. Melanson is a doctoral student in the Laney Graduate School, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia.
  2. 2Jason M. Hockenberry is an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, at Emory University.
  3. 3Laura Plantinga is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.
  4. 4Mohua Basu is a data analyst at the Emory University School of Medicine.
  5. 5Stephan Pastan is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.
  6. 6Sumit Mohan is an assistant professor in the Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, and in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City.
  7. 7David H. Howard is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, at Emory University.
  8. 8Rachel E. Patzer (rpatzer@emory.edu) is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery and Department of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and in the Department of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health.
  1. Health Affvol. 36no. 6 1078-1085

Abstract

Before the 2014 implementation of a new kidney allocation system by the United Network for Organ Sharing, white patients were more likely than black or Hispanic patients to receive a kidney transplant. To determine the effect of the new allocation system on these disparities, we examined data for 179,071 transplant waiting list events in the period June 2013–September 2016, and we calculated monthly transplantation rates (34,133 patients actually received transplants). Implementation of the new system was associated with a narrowing of the disparities in the average monthly transplantation rates by 0.29 percentage point for blacks compared to whites and by 0.24 percentage point for Hispanics compared to whites, which resulted in both disparities becoming nonsignificant after implementation of the new system.

From the paper:
"The United Network for Organ Sharing implemented a new kidney allocation system in December 2014,26 in part to address long-standing racial/ethnic disparities in the allocation of deceased donor kidneys. The primary factor for determining a patient’s priority level on the waiting list for a kidney transplant is how long he or she has been waiting. Under the new system, the starting point for calculating waiting time was changed from the date the patient was put on the waiting list to the earliest of either that date or the date of the patient’s first regular dialysis. This change was expected to benefit minorities because blacks and Hispanics spend more time on dialysis before being put on the waiting list, compared to white patients.27,28 The new system made additional changes meant to improve access to transplantation, including making it easier for patients with a highly sensitized immune system to receive transplants and increasing the sharing of kidneys across donor service area boundaries. It is important to note that this policy targets the allocation of deceased-donor kidneys, not of live-donor kidneys."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blackmail has something in common with transactions that become repugnant when money is added

Blackmail isn't what I usually mean when I speak of a repugnant transaction, because it isn't a voluntary transaction that third parties wish to prevent, it's a crime that someone assaults someone else with. But, just as some praiseworthy transactions (like donating a kidney to someone who needs a transplant) can become repugnant when money is added (both demanding compensation and compensating the donor of a kidney for transplant is a crime almost everywhere), the crime of blackmail involves combining actions that are otherwise legal but that together are criminal.

For example, if someone knows something about you that you would like to conceal, it is quite often legal for them to reveal it to interested parties, or even in a biography of you they might write (e.g. your past arrests, affairs, political affiliations and contributions, etc.). It would also be quite legal for you to approach someone and commission them to write something about you, including something over which you might have editorial control. But if someone proposes to combine these things, by threatening to write bad things about you unless you pay him money, that is in many cases the criminal act of blackmail.

More on blackmail and it's subtleties (e.g. I can't demand that you pay me if you don't want me to reveal that you are a thief, but I could threaten to report you the police if you don't pay me for something you stole from me...) in this interesting column at the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy:
Blackmail is surprisingly hard to define

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Supervised drug injection sites--Harm reduction

One of the problems with intravenous drug addition is that addicts can overdose and die. A number of North American cities are trying to combat this by opening supervised drug injection sites, meant to be safe places to shoot up, staffed with one or more healthcare workers and social workers.

From the Globe and Mail:
Montreal gets federal approval for two supervised injection sites

"Supervised injection sites provide a safe space for addicts and provide them with the necessary equipment — sterile syringes, gauze pads and the like — for safe injections.

"The users themselves bring their drugs, the sites pride themselves on being anonymous and confidential, and the users are accompanied on site by nurses and community and psycho-social workers.

...
"The Montreal sites are modelled after Vancouver-based Insite, which was the first city in North America to have a legal, supervised injection site beginning in 2003.

"While critics say the sites encourage drug use, experience has shown they reduce the number of overdose deaths and transmission of hepatitis C and HIV."
***********

Here's a 2010 article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal:
Vancouver’s supervised injection facility challenges Canada’s drug laws
Kathleen Dooling, MD MPH and Michael Rachlis, MD LLD

Here's a 2008 article in the British Columbia Medical Journal by a former Vancouver Chief of Police (he would prefer strict enforcement rather than harm reduction):
Supervised injection sites—a view from law enforcement
Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 3, April 2008, page(s) 132-134
Jamie Graham

Here's a 1995 Editorial in the American Journal of Public Health
Editorial: Harm Reduction-A Framework for Incorporating Science into Drug Policy by Don C. Des Jarlais


And of course, all this is made topical by the opioid epidemic:
Why opioid deaths are this generation’s Aids crisis
"The soaring numbers of deaths from overdoses in the US and UK requires a radical and fast rethink of drugs policy"

Monday, July 17, 2017

21st conference of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS): July 17-21 2017 in Quebec City


Here's the IFORS conference web page.
"Welcome to ... the 21st Conference of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies...“OR/Analytics for a better world”.


I'll be speaking Monday on Marketplace Design

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How (not) to measure school choice

Here's a post I just looked at from The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College at Columbia (posted in April). It is about more and less illuminating ways to discuss how popular New York City high schools are, as reflected in how often they are on students' rank order lists, how many students they make offers to, and how many seats they have.

The Real Data for NYC High School Admissions

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Who Gets What and Why in French: Les marchés où l'argent ne fait pas la loi

The French translation of my book Who Gets What and Why has recently become available...


Les marchés où l'argent ne fait pas la loi
Des conceptions innovantes pour des appariements efficaces
Alvin Roth
Traducteur : Jean-François Caulier
2017 - 288 pages
("Markets where money does not make the law
Innovative designs for efficient matching")

"Prix Nobel d’économie, Alvin Roth dévoile les règles souvent surprenantes régissant un vaste nombre d’activités dans lesquelles l’argent ne joue pas ou peu de rôle. C’est le territoire des marchés d’appariement, où « vendeurs » et « acheteurs » doivent se choisir l’un l’autre. Dans cet ouvrage, il révèle les marchés d’appariement cachés autour de nous et nous apprend à reconnaître un bon appariement, pour faire ainsi des choix plus avisés et subtils."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Global Kidney Exchange at Mexico's Museo Interactive de Economia

Ivan Carillo's reporting on global kidney exchange will be featured today at Mexico's Museo Interactivo de Economía*

The Thirst Journal. How Can Economy Save Lives?

Cinema Because of MIDE’s Anniversary


Produced by the journalist Iván Carrillo, it tells the story of Marisol Robles, publisher and poet from Veracruz, who was diagnosed with kidney failure on June 28th, 2011 and who, after a failed first attempt of kidney transplant, recorded the vicissitudes of her illness in her blog: The Thirst Journal.
The documentary talks about how the encounter and collaboration with Mike Rees, MD, from Toledo University Medical Center (Ohio) and the professor in economy of Stanford University Alvin Roth, will result in a series of innovations in the field of medicine through economy, revolutionizing the form kidneys are exchanged in the world. This innovation will become an important part of the merits mentioned on 2012 for Alvin Roth to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

OPPENING HOURS AND ADMISSION:

July 14 2017
Friday , 10:00 - 12:00 hrs.
Free admission
****************
Here's another announcement: the film will celebrate the Museum's 11th anniversary
Festejará el MIDE onceavo aniversario con proyección de documental
****************
*From their website:
El Museo Interactivo de Economía (MIDE) surgió como una iniciativa del Banco de México para ser un espacio de divulgación de la economía y las finanzas.

Es el primer museo del mundo dedicado a explicar temas de economía, finanzas y desarrollo sustentable con las más avanzadas tecnologías, que ofrece a sus visitantes experiencias divertidas y relevantes, en un ambiente que estimula las emociones y el aprendizaje.

Google Translate:
The Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE) emerged as an initiative of the Bank of Mexico to be a space for the dissemination of economics and finance.

It is the first museum in the world dedicated to explaining economics, finance and sustainable development with the most advanced technologies, offering visitors fun and relevant experiences in an environment that stimulates emotions and learning.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

John J. Carty Award: NAS prize in Economics for 2018

The National Academy of Sciences John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science is to be awarded for work in Economics.

Get you nominations in before October 2... (you don't have to be a member of the NAS to make a nomination).



Scheduled for presentation in 2018 in economics. Nominations now accepted online through Monday, October 2, 2017.

About the John J. Carty Award 

The John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science is awarded every two years, to recognize noteworthy and distinguished accomplishments in any field of science within the National Academy of Science’s charter. The award is presented with a medal and a $25,000 prize. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company established the award to honor the memory of their Chief Engineer, Vice President, and general telecommunications innovator, John J. Carty. The Carty Award will be presented in 2018 in the field of economics. 

House Panel Lifts Ban on Slaughtering Horses for Meat

Hot news off the AP wire on one of my favorite examples of a US-centric repugnant transaction. Here it is from the NY Times:

House Panel Lifts Ban on Slaughtering Horses for Meat

"A House panel has voted to lift a ban on slaughtering horses at meat processing plants.
The move by the House Appropriations Committee would reverse a horse slaughter ban that was contained in a huge catchall spending bill signed into law by President Trump in early May.
A move to renew the slaughter ban, pushed by California Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard, was defeated by a 27-25 vote.
The Horse slaughter ban has mostly been in force for more than a decade. The ban is enforced by blocking the Agriculture Department from providing inspectors at meat plants that slaughter horses and is in place through Sept. 30.
There are currently no horse slaughter facilities operating in the U.S.
The vote came as the panel approved a Department of Agriculture funding bill."
***********
See my earlier posts on horse meat and it's bans here:  http://marketdesigner.blogspot.com/search/label/horse


HT: Itay Fainmesser

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The costs of heroism: Some hidden expenses that come with donating a kidney

Here's a Chicago Tribune column on the shabby way we treat organ donors, who assume nontrivial expenses to save someone's life. (Update: a flurry of emails inform me that the insurance situation described for the donor in this article doesn't represent the general conditions of either Medicare or much private insurance.)

Why price heroism? Organ donors can save taxpayers millions. They deserve a break.
by Paul Basken, Arthur Caplan

"The big medical bills began arriving right after Brittany's beautiful kidney was tucked inside her recipient. Fortunately that recipient has pretty good insurance through his employer, and the out-of-pocket hospital and drug costs were pretty manageable.
The biggest expense, as it turns out, concerns the government. By law, Brittany cannot be paid a dime of compensation for the gift of her kidney. But markets in organs aside, shouldn't heroes be reimbursed for legitimate expenses? These amounted to maybe a few thousand dollars for trips by her and her husband to testing appointments around their home in North Carolina, and to the Baltimore hospital where she underwent additional tests and the transplant surgery.
Even more costly is Medicare. Although some kidney donors don't need any added coverage, some sign up for the government-run health plan — at $3,000 a year — because it is the only way to guarantee coverage in case they have complications related to the donation surgery. Brittany had her own private coverage through her job as a high-school counselor. But having submitted to a "voluntary" medical procedure, she could not expect private insurance to foot the bill in the rare event of a complication.
So the bottom line is that Brittany saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and in return the government's "thank you" note is a Medicare bill of $3,000 a year.
Even worse, Medicare only allows that coverage for 36 months, meaning that a hero like Brittany is on her own if she experiences some problem related to her donation after three years. It's a massive disincentive for any well-meaning person who wants to save a life and help cut government spending.
Our government's current ban on any kind of payments, other than the reimbursement of immediately obvious costs such as Brittany's airfare to Baltimore, simply goes too far. Heroes should not have to go broke as the price of their generosity."