This is Curtis Jay Correll's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Curtis Jay Correll's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Curtis Jay Correll
Recent Activity
Microfinance is not the magic solution to poverty. It has limited success in a variety of areas. In many cases it has not proven to increase profits for business, has not had the desired effects on consumption and has not caused some massive and quantifiable change in women’s empowerment. It is instead a tool that has brought about small and positive effects all over the world. It is important to look at microfinance as what it is, an undertaking to provide credit to those who could not otherwise access it. Of course not all loans have quantifiable positive social impacts, but the same can be said of loans on a larger scale in traditional finance markets. Microfinance firms have had many positive effects. Little effect has been found of credit on healthcare and education, but significant impacts on welfare have been found due to the ability to withstand shocks. This is a huge purpose behind finance markets, the ability to use debt to get through the bad times and pay it off during better times. Business profits on the whole were not found to increase, but more businesses were formed as a result of credit access at the micro-level. While consumption has not been shown to increase as a result of micro-loans, consumption patterns often change away from wasteful goods to food and other positive goods. These are all small effects, but it makes perfect sense that microfinance would have small effects, and it clearly has proven able to effect the lives of some and help them rise out of poverty. I loved that the paper went beyond just showing the positive effects of microfinance and went further to evaluate methodology behind microfinance and its effectiveness. My impression from the paper was that access to savings has proven more important for improving welfare than access to credit. So the analysis of reframing and design of savings accounts was really interesting to me. The fact that what is most beneficial to the firms in terms of risk-reduction is often not the most socially beneficial option for borrowers stands to reason, but was interesting to read about. The fact that these issues could be altered or reframed was particularly interesting. Loans with a built in grace period proved more effective, though with a higher default rate. The fact that this could be adjusted easily by simply offering the grace period with a higher interest rate was really neat. Other small changes were also really cool. The counter-intuitive fact that by switching from group-liability to individual-liability, you actually see essentially no increase in default rate was fascinating, particularly since removing that disincentive will encourage more people to engage in the credit market. The ability to increase saving through education, parallel accounts, commitment savings and simple reminders is really encouraging. Just by instituting these small changes, microfinance firms seem to be able to increase their impact. This article did an awesome job of showing this, while taking into account the limitations or potential negatives of microfinance.
Like Sam said, I find it amazing that we are pre-disposed to prefer savanna-like environments because of human development and evolution in such environments. I would be curious to see the study that showed that though, as it would then be difficult to explain the appeal of mountains and other different environments. Is a preference for another environment an aberration or a phenomenon of evolution based in some survival mechanism? Along that train of thought, the difference between integral and incidental affect was drawn out very nicely in this paper. Thinking of integral affect as preprogrammed responses is a very valuable simplification. The examples of both integral and incidental affects were both effective and memorable. The part regarding affect and emotion in conservation was fascinating to me, particularly because it relates to my research topic. Their result that people’s emotional connection with animals greatly encourages commitment to conservation and sustainability is an important result. They took it one step farther and found that people’s willingness to pay for support increases when seeing images of endangered giant pandas instead of statistics regarding them. This will be important to my research as I will be looking further into this result in the context of whale sharks.
Toggle Commented Nov 10, 2014 on Econ 398 for Tuesday at Jolly Green General
Wow. There was a lot going on in that paper. It recapped much of what we’ve learned this semester while also introducing some new concepts and studies. I found the study on flight insurance versus terrorism insurance for flights to be particularly interesting and effective at demonstrating the authors’ point regarding integral emotion. Insurance against all potential airline risks commanded a lower willingness to pay than insurance only against terrorist attacks. This is of course because the mention of terrorist attacks gives people a very definite and emotional response. This fear would make people more likely to want to purchase air-travel insurance. I would be interested to see this study expanded to see how much more, if any, insurance against all incidents would sell for if terrorist attacks were specifically mentioned as being among the possibilities. I found the study that amended our views on discounting to interesting as well. They used the positive result of kissing a celebrity and the negative thing of having a non-lethal electric shock. The fact that people would value the positive result higher down the road but a negative thing more negatively in the long run was somewhat intuitive, but I was interested to see that the results were so strong. I think this result is likely somewhat a product of nurture. We are taught from a young age to savor good things and to get the hard things done first. We naturally want to see constant improvement in our lives, so it makes sense to get the bad things out of the way and enjoy the good things later.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2014 on Econ 398 for Tuesday at Jolly Green General
Shultz and Lewis’ article was very interesting to me. Like HeeJu, I found the concept of political favoritism towards the urban poor to be interesting. Of course urban poor are easier to reach and must be fed, but it seems harsh to sacrifice one group to take care of the other. When we looked at the Lewis’ Two-Sector Model, we discussed how a country can make the first assumption hold by enriching the traditional sector. These sorts of policies rather discriminate against the traditional sector and remove incentives, causing the assumption to be even farther from the truth. Essentially this ought to strip the traditional sector of much needed investment and cause a need for even more price caps and quotas. I also found the statement that “longer life spans provide additional incentives to acquire more education, as investments in future earnings,” to be very interesting. I had not thought about the fact that longer life expectancy reduces the opportunity cost of one year of education. This means that it is a more sensible choice to choose a lower amount of education when you have a lower life expectancy. It takes some time for the investment in education to pay itself off, and in many cases of shorter life spans, it may never fully pay itself off. Thinking about education choices in this light gave me a whole new perspective on why people might choose to invest less in their education in the developing world.
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I really liked Udry’s thorough explanation of the rationale behind child labor and why even altruistic parents can choose that. As many other students have pointed out, his analysis was very sterile, but it was in my opinion extremely effective. It gave a simple summary of the problem, why the problem exists, other complications of the problem and solutions to the problem. I really appreciated his rational approach towards reducing child labor by as much as possible instead of taking some moral stand and banning it outright, potentially causing as much harm as good. This was rooted in the idea he presented that almost all of the families who choose child labor actually need that added income. That is why the education incentive system makes so much sense. To make it economically advantageous in the short and long term to send children to school should allow us to break a vicious poverty cycle and begin a virtuous cycle of increased education and decreased poverty.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2014 on 280 Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I think the temptation when reading this article is to take a pro-model or anti-model stance. Much like Kate said above, I believe there is a place for models and a place where they may not fit as well. Clearly this would include the early ideas behind any theory. If all ideas are thrown out for not being well-modelled, we would never be able to develop new theories, since ideas which have not yet been modelled generally stand at the beginning of any advancement. Unlike Kate, I think modelling has a role at least at some point in every area of development economics. As she said, many of the other posts express a cautious approach to models. This caution is, in my opinion, excessive since the application of the model is much more dangerous than the model itself. To reference our discussion of the Washington Consensus, the problems were not with the models but with the misinterpretation of the models and unilateral belief that the models were capable of more than they had claimed. Generally speaking, economic models do not claim to be universally true and perfectly applicable in every situation. Instead, they base a conclusion off a set of assumptions. This simple model does not show what will happen in every situation. Rather it identifies a trend. If models are used in this way, then there is no danger in models except the chance of the model proving false. Consequently I think it is important that we focus not on where models apply, but how they apply. To use the metaphor of Africa on European maps, it is important that we fill in as much as we can with models but not to ignore the parts we cannot yet model.
Like Raymond, I was interested in Rodrick’s argument that there is a difference between jump-starting growth and sustaining it. In jump-starting growth, Rodrick used pretty clear empirical evidence to show that Washington Consensus strategies are not always the most effective. Liberalization of the economy in trade and others sectors does not necessarily help the country in question, since the market forces and institutions in place often cannot immediately hold up under new market pressures. Since so many market assumptions are violated in many of these countries, Rodrick showed that in some cases it is better to fix the market failures or even to simulate the effects of liberalization through policy first. Maintaining and sustaining growth is where the Washington Consensus and economic liberalization appear to have a closer resemblance to successful policy. Through liberalization and the improvement of institutions domestically, growth seems to be sustained most effectively, but Rodrick makes the point that current methods have been effective in function but do not necessarily need to be replicated in form. The same goals can be best achieved in different ways in different countries, so it is important in both this step and the jump-starting of growth to look very specifically at countries individually instead of painting them all with the same brush.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2014 on ECON 280 Paper at Jolly Green General
I suppose I did not find the idea of the “tipping point” as disturbing as many of my classmates. As HeeJu pointed out, this data clearly shows that a balance in family power is the optimal solution. I find this heartening. While previous data we’ve looked at seemed to simply show that men are more selfish and that women are more altruistic and care more for their children, I believe this data has given us a conclusion that we should have already known. That is that a household with a balance of power functions most cohesively. Power corrupts, even at the family level, so it is hardly surprising that the parent of either gender will become more self-interested as they begin to make more unilateral decisions. Discourse and debate as well as a system of checks and balances are important in decision-making even within the family unit. So to look at this holistically, neither gender is inherently selfless and both need checks and balances. That being said, the current RPS system of distributing payouts to the female in the household is the best option since most households still are male-dominated with an imbalance between the parents. In terms of methodology, I was curious as to the accuracy of the decision to measure household power by education level, though unlike Andrew I think it may very well be an accurate measurement on the aggregate. Clearly you cannot measure each individual family that way, since personality and other factors would necessarily come in to play, but I believe that on the aggregate this is at least a solid benchmark. On average however, I think there should be some statistical adjustment for the patriarchal nature of developing societies. While there will almost certainly be trends towards more equal power as women become more educated, you are still likely to see women given at least a little less power than the statistics might indicate because of cultural norms and social expectations.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2014 on ECON 280 paper #1 at Jolly Green General
This article was both very saddening and enlightening. The mere thought of survival on only $1 PPP is unbelievable. I found it interesting to see both how income was made and how it was spent particularly by the extremely poor. I would have assumed previously that the marginal expenditure on food per $1 of additional income would be nearly $1 for people who are critically undernourished, disease-prone and hungry to the point of reduced physical capabilities. I was amazed when reading the part about keeping up with the neighbors and consequently ignoring proper nutrition. I had assumed that in extreme poverty, people overcame petty rivalries and insecurities like that, but I suppose the extremely poor are not so different from anyone else after all. The lack of access to credit and particularly savings was the most interesting part of the article to me. When thinking about poverty, I had thought of and witnessed people with lack of access to nutrition, adequate housing and healthcare, but I had simply never thought about the lack of access to business resources provided by financial institutions. It made me realize the importance of aid through microfinance programs, subsidized loans and savings account access. A life without savings is a life without any reliable means for survival into old age, and that is an essential resource to keep the young from spreading themselves even thinner to take care of the elderly. The necessity for entrepreneurship among the extremely poor was another factor of poverty I had not fully considered. It demonstrates how much potential is being wasted in these people because of a lack of education, quality healthcare and access to basic resources necessary to expand a business. If provided even a portion of the resources available to us in the developed world, many of these impoverished people might have made excellent entrepreneurs and business owners.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article made me think about both Adam Smith and the foundations of economics through a new lens. With a firm background in the Wealth of Nations and very little further exposure to Adam Smith’s works, I always thought of him as focused almost exclusively on market forces and the individual as a rational, self-interested actor. Seeing the foundation he lay for behavioral economics, The Theory of Moral Sentiments makes one question how behavioral economics remained a fringe practice of economics for so long. It seems almost as if early economists saw the “Invisible Hand” and stopped at that or ignored much of the rest of Adam Smith’s work. His work should have established economics as an interdisciplinary study at its core. With references to sociology and psychology as well as a clear link to moral philosophy through ideas from Plato’s allegory of the chariot in Phaedrus, his work shows an important connection between economics and other fields. It almost establishes economics as a framework or mindset through which other fields of study can and should be viewed. I found Smith’s writings on “Consumption and Its Discontents” to be the most interesting part of the article. The use of the “Invisible Hand” in the context of social interactions was really cool. Smith’s work reads much like many modern works that present the “groundbreaking” realization that wealth does not equate to happiness. The examples of a paraplegic and the lottery winner being nearly equally happy once they adjust to their circumstances and the anecdote of kings fighting for the safety and security that a common peasant would enjoy did an excellent job of demonstrating the principle that happiness and pain are feelings that only last for a short time. The article ultimately gave me a new perspective on both Adam Smith and early economics. It showed me the natural connection between economics as a whole and behavioral economics as a sub-category. Economics was always a field intended to be looked at through two sides, first purely analyzing tendencies and market forces to see what would happen in a world of assumptions, then with some of the assumptions lifted so that people and decisions can be studied as they really are. With this method you can better understand not just what will happen, but why and how it comes about.
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2014 on 398 reading for Tuesday at Jolly Green General
It seems from this article that the situation in the oceans may be even worse than that on land. Even worse than that, it seems that they will contribute to each other. When the coral reefs subside, the barrier against coastal storms will be less effective. With more coastal storms, natural habitats will be destroyed, and the economy will be hurt too. In the same way, pollution on land can cause acid rain, which pollutes the ocean more. This makes for a nasty cycle of destruction for the environment. The picture with all the dying fish is amazing to me. Images like that need to be distributed to the voting public, and it needs to be made known that this is not an isolated event but something that will become ever more common in the future. If we continue on our current path, all of the predictions from this article and more will mess up our environment and our future. That cannot be allowed to happen, so we must find a way to stop it. The environmentalists who focus on marine biology must team up with other environmentalists as well as the media and economists. Only then can big business lose its hold on the public and stop further destruction of our world.
It is common to look at environmental issues at a global, national or even state level, but the effect pollution has on individual communities is an important focus that could really bring home these issues to the voting public. Tejada's focus on birth defects and diseases in specific communities and on individuals makes these issues more personal for those who do not specialize in environmental issues. Joseph Stalin once said, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions a statistic." This quote is actually relevant in this situation also. When you think of the victims of environmental change as individuals with families, dreams, hobbies and as mundane people, it seems much worse than when you look at the issue as a whole. In the same way, looking at the effect in one community is more impactful than throwing out statistics about how much of the rainforest is bulldozed annually and similar facts and figures. This needs to become an emotional as well as rational issue for the public to embrace it, and that means it needs to be presented like Tejada presents it- not so scientifically.
This certainly seems like a remarkable milestone. Being able to make a very large and power consumptive state completely independent from non-renewable resources is a huge step. Just because this is feasable though, does not necessarily mean it is practical. On the positive side, it could be a positive role model to other states, encouraging them to follow suit until the entire USA is reliant only on renewable. From there, hopefully that would spread to the rest of the world. That being said, it is highly unlikely that this will be carried out anytime in the near future, and it would likely be more politically feasable and efficient to use these resources to make the whole country less dependent on non-renewable resources instead of just one region. It makes the most sense to push for whichever of these options seems more aggreeable to politicians and the general public, since immediate public appeal is the main thing stopping politicians from making significant progress towards environmentally responsible policies.
Curtis Jay Correll is now following Caseyj
Mar 19, 2013
The classic conservative idea of market-based solutions to problems has historically dominated the Republican party. So what could be more conservative than fixing market failures with the creation of new markets? The tragedy of the commons is widely accepted by economists to create market failures especially in terms of pollution. Somehow politicians, lobbyists and rhetoricians have managed to silence both environmentalists and economists on these issues, portraying simply making firms pay for their own damages as a tax. It is amazing how effective they have been in changing the vocabulary of the debate and in doing so completely changing the issue. It is sad that such a practical and conservative approach to the problem of climate change and the environment has been twisted in such a way that people no longer look at the issue itself but at party platforms. Conservatives have abandoned an effective and economically sound solution to the environmental problem and left it entirely in the hands of the Democrats to solve these problems. This reduces the chances of finding an acutal solution, and when it is found it is less likely to be agreeable to conservative economists. True conservatives who worry about the problem of environmental damage and climate change must speak out and bring the Republican back to the bargaining table on environmental issues.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2013 on Another Political Football at Jolly Green General
This article is interesting, but I would like to see some more information about a few aspects of it. The lawsuit referenced in the article is particularly interesting to me. I would be curious to know who was suing AEP, on what grounds specifically and what the settlement was. Successful litigation over abstract damages like those caused by AEP is encouraging, but it makes one wonder how much companies are allowed to get away with before they have to pay retributory fees. I was also left wondering how they had such specific numbers on lives, heart attacks and asthma attacks spared. If these numbers are truly accurate, can we calculate these for smaller scale damages by smaller firms? Could we calculate similar numbers for pollution from one country to another? If these numbers are available and somewhat accurate, then this may mark a step forward in environmental accountability within the USA.
An effective cap and trade system to limit carbon and other emissions is really an exciting concept. Achieving the goal of environmental responsibility without undercutting the market system ought to be a bipartisan goal with the emphasis on a market based solution coming from the right and the emphasis on environmental responsibility coming from the left. States are indeed "the laboratory of democracy" and I think that they will hopefully all arrive at similar environmental regulations with or without federal intervention due to the successes in the Northeast. This article includes a lot of valid statistics and facts, such as the number of job hours created, money returned to consumers, and the amount of reduction in carbon output, but it would be interesting to hear the opinions of non-energy based businesses and to see some statistics on the rate of firms entering and leaving the North East and its correlation with the environmental policies. If there is no correlation, then there seems to be no valid reason not to instate similar policies throughout the US. While many firms will likely never support restrictive environmentally friendly policies, the fact that these policies can put money directly back into the pocket of the taxpayers could eventually sway public perception. Perhaps businesses will join the movement in order to appear more appealing to the common man and to show they have the consumers’ interests in mind. It may be a bit far-fetched or a long way off still, but the successes of such policies in the Northeast is extremely encouraging.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2013 on Hurray for Market Forces!!!! at Jolly Green General
I find it encouraging that such an important issue would be brought up in such a public setting as Obama's inauguration speech. I am still skeptical that significant change will come. Unfortunately, American businesses will be put at a global disadvantage compared to global firms in countries such as China and Brazil if America ever does pass serious environmental regulations. That is certainly not a justifiable reason for Americans to vote against environmental responsibility, but it seems unlikely that profit maximizing firms will willingly submit to leading the way towards sustainability and a healthy world. With corporate donations fueling both parties, it seems unlikely that anyone will successfully push through serious environmental changes. As crazy as it is that an issue recognized by approximately 78 percent of the population is being largely ignored, this seems to demonstrate that the people on the whole are somehow not being properly represented. It would be interesting to do a study on whether the average citizen is not being properly represented by their Congressmen, not getting out and voting, nominating the wrong candidates out of ignorance of the political system, or is not being adequately represented for some other reason. Whichever it is, I see no serious change in sight, though one can only hope that massive global changes will someday bring about environmental responsibility.
This is certainly exciting news. The fact that such an important issue has not only been mishandled by the government, as most issues seem to be, but actually outright ignored for so long is incomprehensible. It's good to see that at least someone is taking this issue seriously now, but the fact that it took the hurricane and countless other disasters to make it happen is just sad. The indication that (though likely correct) only liberal politicians will back this action is a sign of the sad political state we are in. Nothing about this issue should be partisan, and it is tragic that congressmen from both sides of the aisle can't come together and address this issue. Hopefully politicians will resolve these petty squabbles, though it seems highly unlikely, and until then there will likely be no solution coming from Congress. The misinformation and apathy about the environment is just too great and widespread for us to find any solution to this tragedy of the commons. For the foreseeable future at least, it seems that politicians will continue to do what it takes to get reelected, and at the moment that is to ignore any environmental issues.
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2013 on Rumor has it..... at Jolly Green General
It seems that although we've made some small steps forward, international environmental regulation has failed to keep up with today's rapid destruction of the environment. Past efforts to curb the damage, such as the UNFCCC at the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 seem only to have given a token effort to limit the destruction of our environment. Further, for each small step forward, there seem to be more steps back. On a national scale, the refusal of the courts to deal with many environmental liability and damage suits forces the nation to wait for Congress to pass laws before corporations can be held accountable for some of their damages. On an international scale, the powerful, polluting nations seem able to indefinitely put down the poorer nations whose climates are deteriorating in favor of protecting their heavy industry and their bottom line. There is one encouraging sign for the future though. If countries begin suing others over environmental damages in international courts, there could be a whole new level of accountability within both the international and national systems. This seems a bit idealistic, but if scientists can find a way to measure more specifically the damage from individual countries, this could soon be a reality. Richard Lord's testimony seems to be an encouraging bit of news for the future of climate litigation and the future of the world. If scientists gain the ability to more accurately attribute damage to a cause, then we can perhaps finally solve this issue.
Curtis Jay Correll is now following The Typepad Team
Jan 14, 2013