I previously wrote about the kerfuffle between Facebook and the Aussie government (namely its PM and his Treasurer) about a week ago here. I wrote that piece after Facebook had chosen the “nuclear option” of blocking all news content from its users’ pages. I concluded there and then:

“So, in sum, and to return to the question posted as title: Facebook banning the sharing of Aussie news: The evil empire at work? There is no doubt that Facebook flexes its muscles to improve its bargaining position but it does have good reason to be concerned about the proposed news media…


It’s complicated. Twelve observations. (Version 0.9 — draft)

First, Facebook is a powerful social media company which through its platform exerts considerable influence on the public discourse. (Contrary to what some people argue, it is not a monopolist as there are substitutes such as twitter.) The considerable influence makes it imperative that it becomes more transparent on consumer protection and privacy issues, for example. I believe the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) got that right in its Digital Platforms Inquiry report published almost two years ago. …


In the final days of his four-year run as president of the USA, Trump has become desperate, deluded, and outright dangerous, for the social fabric of that country and the trust in its institutions alike. People like (former defense secretary) Cohen have called him “blatant in (his) criminality”. In light of his obvious role in the incitement to armed insurrection and the subsequent storming of the Capitol (with the possible intent to capture, and even kill, lawmakers; see also this corroborating testimony), there is a good chance that the Senate will convict him. In Liz Cheney’s words: Trump “summoned this…


More than four years after the Brexit referendum, and almost one year after the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 (for the remainder of 2020 still benefitting from continued membership in the single market and customs union and British citizens allowed to roam the EU freely), a Brexit trade deal has been struck. Importantly, the deal guarantees “zero tariff and zero quota” trade on goods but introduces significant, and most likely disruptive, border checks to enforce for example regulatory standards. Importantly also, the freedom to roam the EU freely will end for most UK nationals. They will predictably…


On writing (academic manuscripts)

People often report having trouble writing (academic) manuscripts. I definitely did. Not being a native speaker of English did not help matters. I had, however, the good fortune of having as chair of my dissertation committee someone who not only commented on content but the way it was presented. As a matter of fact, I collected some of the pearls that he threw away in margin notes on my grad student attempts at writing:

“There are two kinds of theory. One is written to organize data. One is written for publication in JET.” …


A recent randomized controlled trial by Bundgaard et al in the Annals of Internal Medicine has captured considerable attention by the likes of Sebastian Rushworth who summarized the article in a tweet as saying, “Face masks don’t work.” As I pointed out within minutes, “That’s really simplifying the results section in questionable ways.”

Let me be blunt, Rushworth’s tweet is deeply misleading science communication by someone who should know better had he read the piece before he tweeted. …


[One of my intellectual heroes, Karl Marx, had his 200th birthday on 5 May 2018. I decided to reflect on his influence then. Originally posted here. This is a very slight revision.]

My first encounter with Kalle was when I was still in (the equivalent of) high school. Things were heating up in (West) Germany around that time: students started marching against a “system” that had allowed atrocities abroad (Remember Vietnam, that last and long-lasting proxy battle of the Cold War?) and also at home where the old Nazis (Remember “Silver Tongue” Kiesinger?) …


Sabhlok, then an economist in the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, quit his job in September 2020 at the tail end of a massive Melbournce-centered covid-19 outbreak in Victoria in early July that led the Andrews government to impose harsh lockdown restrictions that were partially eased only in early November and are still in place, at reduced severity, as of the writing of this review. As Sabhlok makes clear in the Preface to his book, “[His resignation] was to lodge a protest against the Victorian Government.” (p. 9)

Like others (including myself), Sabhlok — who voted for the Andrews…


[Disclaimer: An earlier version of this post was published a couple of years back elsewhere. This is a revised and updated version.]

Facey is in the news again.

Apparently it shut down a huge and quickly growing (360,000 and counting) group of Trump allies that was used to organize protests against vote counting meant to promote Trump’s latest misleading narrative. A few days earlier, Facebook moderators were instructed to suppress a controversial New York Post story about Hunter Biden, according to leaked moderation guidelines seen by The Guardian. …


In fact, …

Note: This is a substantially updated version (Version 2.0) of a heavily edited piece in The Conversation a couple of months ago. Version 3.0 is planned for early 2021.

The case of Sweden has attracted considerable attention, and opinionated — but often poorly informed — commentary (e.g., here, here, here, and here). We have been told that Sweden has become a cautionary tale and does not qualify as a model that Australia ought to pay attention to, nevermind follow.

The circumstances of the two countries (e.g., Australia’s insular status against the more integrated Scandinavian situation Sweden finds itself in, different…

Andreas Ortmann

EconProf: I post occasionally on whatever tickles my fancy: Science, evidence production, the Econ tribe, Oz politics, etc. Y’all r entitled to my opinions …

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