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Perplexed: Branding does not actually create value for society as a whole. People do not value name brands for anything inherent in the good, but rather for the impression it gives. Specifically, it sends the message "I am richer than you." Obviously, no matter how much everyone spends on such goods, everybody can't be above average. Thus, the net result is that the consumer gains value (respect) by diminishing the respect of everyone else in society by a small amount. There is no net gain in people's satisfaction, and resources have been devoted to the fashion company that could have been used elsewhere.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2010 on Greg Mankiw's sob story at Half Sigma
First, the claim that "the United States now has the second-lowest level of intergenerational income mobility in the world, after England" is ridiculous and is either a typo or based on an extremely poorly designed study. Many poorer countries have much more static economies. In both the US and Britain, there are still opportunities to advance on merit, though they may be curtailed; your relatives don't have to have connections in the party as in, for example, North Korea. Moreover, collecting accurate data on the least developed nations would be virtually impossible. This might make sense if you replace "world" with "developed nations," although I would still like to see the original study, especially the list of nations included. Second, these academics diminish their credibility by giving only minimal consideration to the viewpoints of non-elites, in this case state university academics. This was presumably within their power to correct. They are dead wrong if they really think that they are head and shoulders above academics at less prestigious institutions in intellectual ability.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2010 on Elite studies at Half Sigma
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Oct 19, 2010