Rasmusen's Unpublished Papers (April 29, 2016)

To see other abstracts, go to Abstracts of my published articles. To return to my homepage, go to http://www.rasmusen.org/.

1. Working Papers
2. Forthcoming
3. Useful Notes, Not for Publication
4. Topics I Am Working On Without Circulating Papers
I have a separate page for papers that I don't think I will ever publish.

1. Working Papers

  1. "Understanding Shrinkage Estimators: From Zero to Oracle to James-Stein." The standard estimator of the population mean is the sample mean, which is unbiased. Constructing an estimator by shrinking the sample mean results in a biased estimator, with an expected value less than the population mean. On the other hand, shrinkage always reduces the estimator's variance and can reduce its mean squared error. This paper tries to explain how that works. I start with estimating a single mean using the zero estimator and the oracle estimator, and continue with the grand-mean estimator. Thus prepared, it is easier to understand the James-Stein estimator, in its simple form with known homogeneous variance and in extensions. The James-Stein estimator combines the oracle estimate's coefficient shrinking with the grand mean estimator's cancelling out of overestimates and underestimates. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2675681.

  2. Project: The State of New York ex. rel. Eric Rasmusen v. Citigroup, Inc. I'm suing Citigroup for $2.4 billion because it underpaid its New York State taxes, with IRS permission. The website and FAQ's is at http://rasmusen.org/citigroup.

  3. ``Why Use Requirement Contracts? The Tradeoff between Hold Up and Breach.'' A requirements contract is a form of exclusive dealing in which the buyer promises to buy only from one seller if he buys at all. This paper models a most common-sense motivation for such contracts: that the buyer wants to ensure a reliable supply at a pre-arranged price without any need for renegotiation or efficient breach. This requires that the buyer be unsure of his future demand, that a seller invest in capacity specific to the buyer, and that the transaction costs of revising or enforcing contracts be high. Transaction costs are key, because without them a better outcome can be obtained with a fixed- quantity contract. The fixed-quantity contract, however, requires breach and damages. If transaction costs make this too costly, an option contract does better. A requirements contract has the further advantage that it evens out the profits of the seller across states of the world and thus allows for an average price closer to marginal cost. http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/requirements-rasmusen.pdf.

  4. The Economics of Regulation: Coercion for the Public Good. I am writing an undergraduate textbook on regulation. I start with 4 chapters of theory (supply-and- demand, market failure, government failure, discounting and life valuation) and have just 2 chapters of antitrust, with 6 more chapters on other topics. My aim is to write a relatively short book (350 pages) with lots of photos and stories, skipping many topics and being interesting enough for someone to read for recreation.I also want to charge a low price, and I might well self-publish. http://www.rasmusen.org/g406/chapters/

  5. ``Immigration and Welfare.'' Can immigration (or capital inflow) hurt the welfare of a country? Yes, if there are decreasing returns to the factor, as this little paper will explain. The idea is important, and probably is new--- at least, I couldn't find it by a google search--- but an economics journal would say it is obvious, I think, so I probably will not try to publish it in a journal. I will post it on the web instead. I do hope it gets into the academic literature and the policy debates. If it is received favorably, I will tidy it up and put it into journal style, adding cites and superfluous generality, and checking my arithmetic. http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/immigration-rasmusen.pdf.

  6. ``Coarse Grades,'' with Rick Harbaugh. Certifiers of quality often report only coarse grades to the public despite having measured quality more finely, e.g., "A" instead of "98". Why? We show that using coarse grades can actually result in more information reaching the public, because it encourages low-quality individuals or firms to become certified. In our model the certifier aims to minimize public uncertainty over quality subject to the feasibility constraint of voluntary certification at a fixed cost. Moving from the best exact grading scheme to the best coarse one (a) induces more participation and (b) reduces public uncertainty. http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/coarse-harbaugh-rasmusen.pdf.

  7. ``Concavifying the Quasi-Concave,'' with Christopher Connell. We show that if and only if a real valued function f is strictly quasi-concave except possibly for a flat interval at its maximum and belongs to a precise regularity class, there exists a strictly monotonically increasing function g such that g of f is concave. We prove this sharp sharp characterization of quasi-concavity for any Euclidean space or even any arbitrary geodesic metric space. We also establish a simpler sufficient condition suitable for most applications for concavifiability on Euclidean spaces or any other Riemannian manifolds. http://rasmusen.org/papers/quasi-connell-rasmusen.pdf (sprawling version with intuition and extra results) and http://rasmusen.org/papers/quasi-short-connell-rasmusen.pdf (concise, math, version).

  8. ``Isoperfect Price Discrimination: Bargaining and Market Power,'' with David Myatt. Standard discussions of perfect price discrimination rest on a hidden assumption: that the monopolist can make take-it-or-leave-it offers. If a monopoly charges different prices to each of a large number of buyers, the correct paradigm is not the ultimatum game, but bilateral monopoly. The monopolist's profit will not be the entire surplus, but something less. Under ``balanced isoperfect price discrimination''-- a constant .5 split of the bargaining surplus with each buyer--- and constant marginal cost, the monopolist has the same profit as monopoly pricing if the demand curve is linear, less if demand is concave, and more if demand is convex. Increasing marginal cost tends to make the monopolist prefer price discrimination. Isoperfect price discrimination is complemented by an idiosyncratic product design and informative advertising, whereas simple monopoly pricing is facilitated by plain-vanilla designs promoted via pure hype. Competition pushes suppliers away from isoperfect price discrimination and towards simple posted pricing. http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/pdisc-myatt-rasmusen.pdf.

  9. ``The Concealment Argument: Why No Conclusive Evidence or Proof for God's Existence Will Be Found.'' Logic and Biblical evidence suggest that God wishes that some but not all humans become convinced of His existence and desires. If so, this suggests that attempts to either prove or disprove such things as God's existence, past miracles, or present supernatural intervention are doomed to failure, because God could and would take care to evade any such efforts. In tex and pdf. (http://rasmusen.org/papers/conceal-rasmusen.pdf).

  10. "Fine Tuning, Hume’s Miracle Test, and Intelligent Design" with Eric Hedin. “Fine tuning” refers to the well-known puzzle that the values of certain physical parameters need to take certain precise values for life to exist, values tuned to within 1 in 1050. Some therefore suggest that an intelligent designer must have created the universe. A “miracle” is an event highly improbable according to our prior beliefs. Hume’s miracle test says that if someone tells us a miracle has occurred, we should balance the probability it truly did occur against the probability he is lying. Fine-tuning is conceptually the same as a miracle. Physicists propose a theory consistent with the data, but it is consistent only if one or more parameters takes an extremely low-probability value. Hume’s miracle test tells us we must compare this with the probability the scientists are lying or deceived. That is highly improbable, but as improbable as the “miracle”? If not, our choice is not between intelligent design and random coincidence, but between intelligent design and current scientific theory. Without the feature of a designer, the supposed fit to data of several standard scientific theories is less probable than that the leaders in those subfields are lying or deceived. Intelligent design makes a falsifiable prediction: that current physics theory will continue to make correct predictions of reality, of which fine-tuning will be a part. The alternative, scientist fraud or error, implies that in time current scientific theory will prove to be false and the coincidences will disappear. Thus, intelligent design is the savior of physics, not its rival. http://rasmusen.org/papers/hume-rasmusen-hedin.pdf.

  11. Book Publishing Ideas: I've put these on a separate page, at http://www.rasmusen.org/abros.htm.

2. Forthcoming

  1. ``A Model of Trust in Quality and North-South Trade.'' Why do some countries produce higher quality goods than other countries? This article suggests that one reason is self-perpetuating reputations, modelling the idea with a Klein-Leffler reputation model embedded in a general equilibrium model of trade. Reputation differences are particularly interesting because reputation is a form of social capital that is amenable to modelling. Like product differentation, it can explain why countries might trade even if their technologies and endownments are identical, why firms could profit from exports even if the foreign price is no higher than the domestic one, and why governments like to have "high-value" sectors. Ideally, a developing country would shift its own producers to a high-quality equilibrium; if that is not possible, the next best thing is to import experience goods and substitute to home production of goods for which reputation is not important. http://www.rasmusen.org/published/trade-law-rasmusen.pdf.

  2. ``Law, Coercion, and Expression: A Review Essay on Frederick Schauer's The Force of Law and Richard McAdams's The Expressive Powers of Law.'' Forthcoming, Journal of Economic Literature. What is law and why do people obey it? This question from jurisprudence has recently been tackled using the tools of economics. The field of law-and-economics has for many years studied how fines and imprisonment affect behavior. Nobody believes, however, that all compliance is motivated by penalties and it is questionable whether that is even the typical motivation. Two books published in 2015, Frederick Schauer's The Force of Law and Richard McAdams's The Expressive Powers of Law, consider alternative motivations, Schauer skeptically and McAdams more sympathetically. While coercion, either directly or in its support of internalized norms, seems to dominate law qua law (and not as a mere expression of morality), a considerable portion of law serves other uses such as coordination, information provision, expression, and reduction of transaction costs. http://www.rasmusen.org/published/expressive-law-rasmusen.pdf.

3. Useful Notes, Not for Publication

  1. "Principles of Graphs and Tables." Tips for undergraduate writing ( http://www.rasmusen.org/g492/14_graphs.htm).

4. Miscellaneous, without Circulating Papers,

  1. Project: "Agape, the Golden Rule, the Rule of Law, and Wealth Maximization: All the Same Idea?" Agape is better translated as "esteem" than "love". Applied to public policy, it implies equality under the law, not pity or social justice. Mercy is a Christian private virtue, but not a public one.

  2. Project: "What Does It Mean To Be a Liberal? An Objective Approach.'' How does one define what it means to be a liberal or a conservative? People disagree. I suggest that it is useful to find an objective measure of liberalism based on what the average person in the population thinks it means to be liberal. I do this by regressing a person's self-reported degree of conservatism on his personal characteristics and his answers to specific political questions. using data from the General Social Survey. This method also allows one to test whether people think of liberalism as a characteristic of social identity (e.g., ``I'm an unmarried black female, so I must be liberal'') or of political belief (e.g., ``I'm pro-abortion, so I must be a liberal''). I argue that the best way to do these regressions is by openly mining the data in a way as transparent as possible, ignoring the concept of statistical significance.

  3. Project:``Odd, Enter; Even, Out: A Peculiarity of Buyout, Blackmail, Extortion, and Nuisance Suit Games.''

  4. Project:``Going from 2-by-2 to 1-by-1 in Basic Trade Theory.''

  5. Project:``The Bagehot Rule Should Drop the Secure Collateral Proviso.''

  6. "Belief in God: A Game Theory Approach. "

  7. Project: "Technological Inefficiency of Monopolies: Hayekian and Organizational Approaches"

  8. Project: "Stigma in a Moral Hazard Model."

  9. Notes on ``Biased Experts in a Sender-Receiver Model.'' http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/bias-rasmusen.tex.

  10. "Three Years or Six to Audit? The Ill-Considered Intermountain Decision," The IRS wishes to interpret “omits from gross income” to mean “reports but understates gross income” to extend the period for audit from three years to six. It took that position without notice-and-comment, in the context of the hot pursuit of a particular tax shelter, and after losing in court, with all 13 Tax Court judges concurring, it made the motions of going through notice-and-comment so as to get Chevron deference on appeal. This paper discusses what should be considered in choosing a statute of limitations and points out how these considerations were completely ignored in IRS decisionmaking. This provides a good example for showing how the various theories of Chevron deference work.

  11. "Hold-Up as a Social Cost of Monopoly with Perfectly Competitive Retailers or with Consumers."

  12. ``What Asset Sale Price Is Fair? – The Chrysler Bankruptcy Section 363 Sale'' (with J. Mark Ramseyer).

  13. "A Simple Model of Keynesian Fiscal Policy." A one-input, one-period, two-good, extremely simple structural model with rigid prices and labor markets can generate Keynesian effects.

URL: http://www.rasmusen.org/unpabs.htm. Indiana University, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, in the Kelley School of Business, BU 456, 1309 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-1701, (812)855-9219. Comments: Erasmuse@Indiana.edu.

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