Monday, October 26, 2015


Brent Gloy and David Widmar at Agricultural Economic Insights revisit the issue of declining farmland values and come to roughly the same conclusion they did earlier this year.
Farmland values and cash rents in the Corn belt continue to come under downward pressure. When current cash rents are compared to current farmland values, the outcome is a capitalization rate of around 3%. This value is reasonable given current longer term interest rates. However, the bigger question is whether cash rents can be sustained at current levels in this economic environment. 
When one considers the returns that would be generated by a farmland owner-operator relative to current farmland values the rate of return is very low. This means that farmland values and cash rents are likely too high to be justified given the current economics of crop production. This low rate of return can be addressed through farmland values and cash rental rates falling and/or the row crop income situation improving.
Jayson Lusk points to an interesting article that he says should be filed under "Unintended Consequences."
Researchers find that a ban on bottled water on the University of Vermont campus (presumably to cut down on waste) led to more plastic bottles being shipped to campus and to more soda consumption. 
Marian Tupy and Chelsea German at tackle Akerloff and Shiller's recent op-ed in the Washington post on the effects of markets on our well-being.

Arnold Kling provides some wisdom on proper critiques of economics. My favorite bit:
A bias toward “engineers” rather than “ecologists.” That distinction comes from Greg Ip’s new book, Foolproof. The engineer is like Adam Smith’s man of system, who ignores evolution, both as a factor that may permit markets to over come their own failures and as a factor that may cause government “solutions” to become obsolete.
Continuing this theme, Steve Forbes provides a critique of economic theory. I enjoyed reading the first page, but lost interest on the second.

Don Boudreaux points to Gene Epstein's response to some of Bill Gates' comments in an interview.

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