Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Aging and asset prices

The aging population of the western world may bring lower asset prices.  From the Sep. 24th, 2011 print edition of The Economist:

Economics focus: Bringing down the house

The effect of ageing on asset prices may make the rich world’s problems worse
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January 30, 2012 Posted by | economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Game theory in practice

Advances in predicting human behaviour as applied to economics and politics.  From the September 3, 2011 The Economist:

Game theory in practice

Computing: Software that models human behaviour can make forecasts, outfox rivals and transform negotiations

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January 5, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, economics | , , | Leave a comment

El Nino, Prince of War?

El Niño, a worldwide fluctuation in the climate, may provoke civil war as well as inclement weather.  From The Economist, August 27, 2011:

Climate science (I): Seasons of discontent

October 27, 2011 Posted by | economics, politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Demographics affects stock/bond markets

According to the article below, stock and bond markets are affected by the demographics of the country. From Globe and Mail, May 19, 2011:

Markets and the lure of a demographic dividend

As the world ages, a new report suggests the place for investors to be in the decade ahead may well be Ireland, Spain or Greece

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June 12, 2011 Posted by | economics, investing | , , | Leave a comment

Middle class attitudes changing

How middle class attitudes differ from those of the working class, in different countries.  Enlightening.  From The Economist, Feb 12th 2009:

A special report on the new middle classes in emerging markets: Beyond Wisteria Lane

Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. It is not the rich who are different but the middle classes

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February 26, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, economics, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Explaining Religion

“Explaining Religion” is a three-year European scientific collaboration involving scholars from 14 universities. Some of their intriguing experiments are detailed in the article below.

From The Economist, Mar 19th 2008:

The science of religion:Where angels no longer fear to tread

Science and religion have often been at loggerheads. Now the former has decided to resolve the problem by trying to explain the existence of the latter

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February 26, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, economics, psychology, religion | | Leave a comment

The economics of self-control

Buying willpower?  Looks like it can be done…

From Globe and Mail’s Report on Business:

The economics of self-control

There’s no better motivator for reaching a goal than the prospect of losing money if you don’t. And these days, it’s never been easier to outsource your willpower

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September 15, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, economics, neuroeconomics | , | Leave a comment

Policies to combat procrastination

Nice example of how studying human behaviour can help form effective and efficient policies.

From The Economist, Dec. 30th 2009:
New-year irresolution

How to combat the natural tendency to procrastinate

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August 24, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, economics | | Leave a comment

Fair Play

Is the human quality of fairness in our genome, or is it a social construct?  The study concludes the latter — it found  a correlation between fairness and market integration.  Note that the original article includes a graph not reproduced here.  From the Mar 18th, 2010 issue of The Economist:

The origins of selflessness

Fair play

It is not so much that cheats don’t prosper, but that prosperity does not cheat

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August 22, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, economics, psychology, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Windex-induced morality

Nice experiment showing how scent affects behaviour — in this case, citrus-scented Windex induced charity (not sure though whether it was the Windex or the citrus or the combination).  But the best part was the effects of the fart-scented spray (not kidding!).  Another strike against the economic assumption of rational behaviour.

From, Friday, Oct. 23, 2009:

Do ‘Clean’ Smells Encourage Clean Behavior?

By Catherine Elton
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August 21, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, economics, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment