Tyler Cowen

Tyler
Cowen
1962

American Economist, Academic, and writer, Professor and Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University, Co-author with Alex Tabarrok of the Marginal Revolution blog

Author Quotes

At fancy and expensive restaurants (say, $50 and up for a dinner), you can follow a simple procedure to choose the best meal. Look at the menu and ask yourself: 'Which of these items do I least want to order?' Or: 'Which one sounds the least appetizing?' Then order that item.

For the U.S., I think we should have a carbon tax, for environmental reasons.

In most of the world, breakfast is an important meal.

Often, economists spend their energies squabbling with one another, but arguably the more important contrast is between our broadly liberal economic worldview and the various alternatives - common around the globe - that postulate natural hierarchies of religion, ethnicity, caste and gender, often enforced by law and strict custom.

The fourth and final step is that the human isn?t needed much at all because the program on its own is so strong.

Unintended Consequences is full of substance, it is one of the must-read books of the year, and once I finish it I will be giving it a second read through right away.

At least in the United States, most economic resentment is not directed toward billionaires or high-roller financiers - not even corrupt ones. It's directed at the guy down the hall who got a bigger raise. It's directed at the husband of your wife's sister, because he earns 20 percent more than you do.

For the very top earners, vision and inspiration are essential. You need those to become the next Steve Jobs, but perhaps not to be the highest paid dentist in Beverly Hills.

In the early stages of negotiation software, on your smartphone, there may be programs that listen to the pitch of a voice, or that test for stress. You'll just ask the program, 'Was he lying? Was he eager to do business with me?' Maybe the computer will be right sixty per cent of the time.

Once you're using sides and sauces you're on the right track and you're also following the general principles about how to eat well in the United States.

The iPhone is made on a global scale, and it blends computers, the Internet, communications, and artificial intelligence in one blockbuster, game-changing innovation. It reflects so many of the things that our contemporary world is good at - indeed, great at.

Vietnamese food has probably been saved from the mass market because most people never master the sauces and condiments that must be added to the food, at the table, for its glories to become apparent. It's too much trouble, and a lot of people don't like asking for help, especially if the interaction involves some linguistic awkwardness.

Average is over is the catchphrase of our age, and it is likely to apply all the more to our future. This maxim will apply to the quality of your job, to your earnings, to where you live, to your education and to the education of your children, and maybe even to your most intimate relationships. Marriages, families, businesses, countries, cities, and regions all will see a greater split in material outcomes; namely, they will either rise to the top in terms of quality or make do with unimpressive results. These trends stem from some fairly basic and hard-to-reverse forces: the increasing productivity of intelligent machines, economic globalization, and the split of modern economies into both very stagnant sectors and some very dynamic sectors. Consider the iPhone. The iPhone is made on a global scale, and it blends computers, the internet, communications, and artificial intelligence in one blockbuster, game-changing innovation. It reflects so many of the things that our contemporary world is good at, indeed great at. Today?s iPhone would have been the most powerful computer in the world as recently as 1985. Yet to cite two contrasting sectors, typical air travel doesn?t go faster than it did in 1970, and it is not clear our K?12 educational system has much improved.

France has not only built a bureaucratic barrier against American culture, it has constructed a notorious intellectual case against it as well. The French spend hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing film production, extend interest-free loans to designated filmmakers, and have placed quotas not only on imports but on television time.

In truth, it's not the shareholders of the American International Group who benefited most from its bailout; they were mostly wiped out. The great beneficiaries have been the creditors and counterparties at the other end of A.I.G.'s derivatives deals - firms like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale, Barclays and UBS.

One interesting thing about cognitive biases - they're the subject of so many books these days. There's the Nudge book, the Sway book, the Blink book, like the one-title book, all about the ways in which we screw up. And there are so many ways, but what I find interesting is that none of these books identify what, to me, is the single, central, most important way we screw up, and that is, we tell ourselves too many stories, or we are too easily seduced by stories. And why don't these books tell us that? It's because the books themselves are all about stories. The more of these books you read, you're learning about some of your biases, but you're making some of your other biases essentially worse. So the books themselves are part of your cognitive bias. Often, people buy them as a kind of talisman, like "I bought this book. I won't be Predictably Irrational." It's like people want to hear the worst, so psychologically, they can prepare for it or defend against it. It's why there's such a market for pessimism. But to think that buying the book gets you somewhere, that's maybe the bigger fallacy. It's just like the evidence that shows the most dangerous people are those that have been taught some financial literacy. They're the ones who go out and make the worst mistakes. It's the people that realize, "I don't know anything at all," that end up doing pretty well.

The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you? Worst of all, are you competing against the computer?

We need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor.

Buying from a local farmer can mean that he makes a two-hour extra truck drive, which can damage the environment more than a bunch of bananas on a boat.

I don't really watch TV.

It?s becoming increasingly clear that mechanized intelligence can solve a rapidly expanding repertoire of problems.

One of the major Lockhart restaurants, Kreuz Market, ships to anywhere in the continental United States.

The lesson about food is that the most predictable and the most orderly outcomes are always not the best. They are just easier to describe. Fads are orderly. Food carts and fires aren't. Feeding the world could be a delicious mess, full of diverse flavors and sometimes good old-fashioned smoke.

We will be returning to historical levels of inequality. We'll view post-war America as a kind of strange interlude not to be repeated. It won't be the dreams that we all had that virtually all incomes go up in lockstep at three percent a year. It hurts to give that up.

Countries with lots of unmarried young men are the most vulnerable to sudden upheavals - this is what fueled the Arab Spring.

Author Picture
First Name
Tyler
Last Name
Cowen
Birth Date
1962
Bio

American Economist, Academic, and writer, Professor and Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University, Co-author with Alex Tabarrok of the Marginal Revolution blog