By Felix Salmon
March 31, 2011

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Ethics and escalators — SciAm

Dave Sokol resigns from Berkshire Hathaway, under stock-trading cloud, citing desire to get rich — TBI

Bank of America’s 2010 compensation: Brian Moynihan $1.9M, Neil Cotty $4.1M, Sallie Krawcheck $6.2M, Bruce Thompson $11.4M — SEC

Beware economists wielding short samples — Freakonomics

‘Where did Wilson get the inspiration for such lyrics as “Yesterday was Thursday/Today is Friday?” “I wrote the lyrics on a Thursday night going into a Friday,” he said.’ — Gawker

Ben Zimmer on tech-company trademarks — NYT


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So many economic statistics — even economic measures — are questionable.

Which of the following households is wealthiest?
* Traditional married couple, husband works long hours for $60k income, wife stays home with the cooking/cleaning/kids.

* Modern variant on the above — husband works standard week for $45k income, wife picks up part time work for an additional $15k, handles the majority of cooking/cleaning/kids.

* Professional couple — husband and wife each work full time for $90k income, less child care costs that range from $20k (when young) to $10k (when school age), plus an additional $10k of taxes and an additional $10k of expenses for takeout, prepared foods, and other items that nobody has time for.

* Divorced couple (perhaps after attempting the stress of the previous arrangement), father working long hours for $60k income less $15k child support, mother working full time for $45k less $10k-$20k child care expenses, two households to support…

Of course male/female roles in the above are arbitrary (and these days frequently reversed).

So which situation represents the greatest wealth? The fourth represents the greatest national GDP. The first represents the highest average salary. The third represents the greatest household income.

But isn’t that second household likely to be as wealthy (in real terms) as any of the others? Perhaps even more so?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

@TFF, that’s a great example. Don’t forget Mark Twain’s maxim: “There are three types of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The measure you choose depends entirely on the point you want to make, not the other way around.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

Pretty rich for the Freakonomics guys to disparage anyone for selectively presenting data.

Posted by simonak | Report as abusive