Joseph Stiglitz and Carole King

Joseph StiglitzNote: Today in Thomas Paine‘s birthday. I screwed up and celebrated it on 29 January. I’m really sorry about this. I saw the “old style” calendar date and ran with it. What can I say, I got excited. Go and read what I wrote and you’ll see.

It was fifty years ago today
That the Beatles went on Ed to play
They have never gone out of style
But anymore they do not make me smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan!

Watching these old performances, I’m reminded of two things: George isn’t a bad rhythm guitarist and Paul is a wonderful bassist. Otherwise: ugh!

The great singer and songwriter Carole King is 72 today. Before she became a legend as a singer, she was a songwriting legend with her then husband Gerry Goffin in the 1960s. I don’t know how many Top 40 hits, they wrote, but we are certainly talking dozens. They wrote songs such as “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “The Loco-Motion,” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” But their greatest song is probably “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” She later covered the song on her megahit album Tapestry. And since I have a special fondness for her vulnerable take on the song, here she is doing it live:

Other birthdays: Hungarian mathematician Farkas Bolyai (1775); novelist Anthony Hope (1863); another Hungarian mathematician Lipot Fejer (1880); twelve-tone composer Alban Berg (1885); actor Ronald Colman (1891); illustrator Frank Frazetta (1928); songwriter Barry Mann (75); novelist J M Coetzee (74); singer and songwriter Barbara Lewis (71); and the fine actor Mia Farrow (69).

The day, however, belongs to the great economist Joseph Stiglitz who is 71 today. I know him from his popular books like The Price of Inequality and Freefall. But unlike with most economists, I actually understand his academic work. And it is really important. I get so frustrated hearing people with a small amount of economics knowledge say things like, “We can’t raise the minimum wage; it will cost jobs; it’s just simple supply and demand!” Sadly, this is more or less what I hear from real conservative economists who know far more economics than I do. Stiglitz’s work deals with what I think is a critical problem with all this economic theory. He showed the effects of information asymmetries on markets. And wouldn’t you know: he found that the supposedly perfect markets were anything but. Of course, Stiglitz is not the only one to work on information asymmetries. People have been working on that for a long time, but he was the one with the major breakthrough. I still find it amazing that conservatives hang onto neoclassical models of the economy. But I guess the money is better as an apologist than an economist. Here is Stiglitz giving a brief TEDx Talk:

Happy birthday Joseph Stiglitz!

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