Thursday, July 31, 2008

Buying old cars as fiscal stimulus?

Via Mark Thoma, Alan Blinder's cash for clunkers. There's a lot to like about this idea based on the comments. Most of them wanted more details -- mainly how to define a clunker. I'm still driving my 1996 Saturn and I think it would go a few more years and I don't think of it as a clunker. So, I don't know if old cars per se should be the definition of a clunker. The major problem is that these are the cars all the poor can afford. If Alan Blinder is thinking that $3500 per car is too small a stimulus we can always pay them the money AND give them all a Prius.

Update: Freakonomics chimes in:
The biggest problem with this policy, however, is the way it distorts long run incentives. Let’s say the rules of the program say that a car must be at least fifteen years old to qualify for a big government subsidy to scrap it. This gives powerful incentives to people with twelve-year-old cars they were planning on scrapping to keep driving them for three more years to collect the government bounty. Instead of reducing the number of clunkers on the road, this program could actually lead to an increase!
It also seems to me that any effect on the demand for new cars would be extremely limited. People who drive clunkers are generally not in the market for new cars. Presumably their replacement car will be a used car. The increased demand for used cars will lead to higher prices for used cars, which will push some buyers towards a new car, but the likely impact on new cars would be small.

That's why we also need to give them Priuses when they trade in their clunkers!

More bandwith competition

Previously, I had thought that we needed more competition since the main problem is that Verizon, AT&T, Comcast have a defacto monopoly because they own their lines. The situation sounds similar in wireless as well and thanks to a pointer by MT:

Americans today spend almost as much on bandwidth — the capacity to move information — as we do on energy. A family of four likely spends several hundred dollars a month on cellphones, cable television and Internet connections, which is about what we spend on gas and heating oil.

Just as the industrial revolution depended on oil and other energy sources, the information revolution is fueled by bandwidth. If we aren’t careful, we’re going to repeat the history of the oil industry by creating a bandwidth cartel. ... That’s why, as with energy, we need to develop alternative sources of bandwidth.

Wired connections to the home ... are the major way that Americans move information. In the United States and in most of the world, a monopoly or duopoly controls the pipes that supply homes with information. These companies [are] primarily phone and cable companies...
But just as with oil, there are alternatives. ... Encouraging competition...

Horse camp update

K1 completed her month at horse camp last week. We had been against the idea but it turned out very well for all of us. I learned a lot from her and she learned a lot as well and demonstrated a lot of qualities that I didn't know she had.
1. She learned all about tacking and the parts of the horse/tack and remembered them well.
2. She actually loved the smell of the stables.
3. She didn't mind getting dirty and helping with cleaning the horse. (They didn't muck the stables - I guess a bunch of kids in a stall with pitchforks can be a little hard to manage.)
4. She learned that each horse has its own personality and needs to be managed accordingly.

And I learned how wonderful horses can be. It can be a calming experience just walking along the stalls watching them watching me with their soft eyes.

I thought I'd tag these horsey articles that I had read:
1. Barbaro's Legacy - an amazing article from the Smithsonian Magazine on Barbaro's life ending injuries and the progress that equine medicine has made.
2. Believe in Magic - For a Dollar, Nancy Alberts Bought a Mare. It Had a Colt With a Star on Its Face and Not Much Promise. But Alberts Named Him Magic. See Him Run.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Airline travel

Or why I always hestitate when I can't drive to a vacation spot - having to fly is NOT a vacation. More here.

1. Deregulation of airline companies occurred in the 1970s.
2. New entry, growth, shakeout followed by consolidation, new entry, growth, shakeout.
3. Will we ever get to an equilibrium where exits=entries or are we already there? Perhaps the frustrations with air travel is that there are so few alternatives unlike for instance the entry/exit/shakeout from convenience stores or gas stations or book stores.

A travel writer's view of economic growth

"Instead of the development, filth, crowds, and smoke-spewing motorbikes and diesel trucks that are, sadly, so common in this part of the world, there are hills, rolling into the sea, wild tropical flowers releasing their scents, brilliantly colored birds trilling after a rain shower, and some of the most pristine waters in the world".
From "War and Peace" by Samantha Gillison on Yap and Chuuk in Micronesia. Samantha Gillison grew up in Papua New Guinea.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Verizon FIOS

After writing this post I remembered about FIOS.

It is available in our neighborhood but with our dumb luck, would you believe that our neighbor next door and our neighbor behind us both have access to FIOS but we don't. I called Verizon to ask them why and they didn't know. Said they would have a tech check it out and get back to us. Right! It's been a month and I haven't heard a thing.

I'm beginning to think that I should start guest blogging on not that this is a problem that is unique to DC.

Cavalier as an alternative to Verizon?

Received a flier from Cavalier Telephone advertisng $50 for combined unlimited long distance and internet. It sounded great until I read the comments on Broadband Reports - may give them another year or two to see if their service improves now that they have teamed up with Google. Perhaps Google should just buy them out since after reading the comments I can't really trust their service. This is mainly because we are already had problems with Verizon and I can't imagine the coordination in the switch over can be anything but messed up.

I don't really know what the regulatory issues are with Google being a telco but I had previously suggested that there really isn't enough competition in this industry. The main problem is that either Verizon or ATT owns the lines and this gives them a de facto monopoly. Likewise, with Comcast owning their lines I'm sure I'll get nothing but less than stellar service.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Looking for a job

I'm looking for a job where it is most important to be seen as being busy. These activities could be labeled as "launching initiatives", "forming comittees to study xyz", etc. The outcomes don't matter. I've been thinking about the relative importance of appearing to do something versus acutally doing something. I seem to be starting a lot of things but not finishing many so I was wondering if there was a job with such a description. Does it sound like a politician? Unfortunately, I don't have many of the attributes of a politician - so is there anything else? Congressional aides?

"Girlish" activities

In a previous post on why science-fiction is not as popular with women, Megan McArdle had suggested that it was not "girly" enough. Here are a list of activities that seem to be overly represented by women:
1. Ballet
2. Horseback riding
3. Ice skating
4. Gymnastics
Would these be considered "girly" activities?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Life is a series of bubbles

This article from The Onion (thanks to pointer from G. Mankiw) should be taken more seriously by academics:
WASHINGTON—A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.
"What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution."

The current economic woes, brought on by the collapse of the so-called "housing bubble," are considered the worst to hit investors since the equally untenable dot-com bubble burst in 2001. According to investment experts, now that the option of making millions of dollars in a short time with imaginary profits from bad real-estate deals has disappeared, the need for another spontaneous make-believe source of wealth has never been more urgent.
How about a model where the economy is always on the cusp of some bubble and in some cases bubbles form and in others it doesn't? Or perhaps bubbles seem to be more frequent now because the Fed has been using interest rates (or lowering interest rates too often) to stimulate output? (This is Jeff Frankel's view as far as commodity prices are concerned.) So, isn't the recent rise in commodities prices a bubble that we can all invest in?

Here is George Soros' view on bubbles:
"As I explain in my new book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets, the regulators and the market participants were acting on a false interpretation of how financial markets operate. They worked on the assumption that markets tend towards equilibrium and deviations are random. That false perception about financial markets led to the construction of the structured products, and it made this crisis much bigger than it would have been if it was merely a US housing bubble. Some people didn’t understand this. Ben Bernanke [the Fed chairman], for instance, said that it was a specific problem of the sub-prime loans, which is wrong. Others, like Paul Volcker [a former Fed chairman], did understand it. Asset bubbles are endemic. There are self-reinforcing processes that operate where investors’ initial misconceptions then reinforce a trend, and that leads to a bubble."
And here are some more of my more contrarian views:
1. Free trade is NOT a natural or stable equilibrium so the Edgeworth Box where gains from trade arise naturally is not the correct way of thinking.
2. Competitive markets are NOT a natural equilibrium. Successful firms tend to become big and gain some kind of monopolistic power so promoting "market economies" by privatization or sale of GSE's in general is not sufficient to claim that a sector has become more efficient. It's the process of competition with new entrants that results in efficiencies. Likewise, a hands off approach will lead to agglomeration. Subsidies should be used to target and encourage new entrants.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Optimal police investigation strategy

I admit it - I watch too many cop shows on TV: Law and Order, CSI, Cold Case, etc. In all these shows, the police go with their hunch, browbeat a suspect until he/she confesses or gives another lead (or in the case of CSI, the evidence might point another way) and then chase the new lead to another suspect and brow beat them again until they catch the killer. I've often wondered:
1. Is this really how police do their work?
2. And if so, is this optimal?
3. Are police hunches really/experience useful or should they just follow the evidence (a la CSI)?

On a 40-minute show, yes it does appear to be the optimal strategy. Browbeating a suspect does yield useful leads but what about in real life?

The Washington Post is currently running a series on the murder of Chandra Levy. Their main thrust so far seems to be that the police went on a hunch that she was going to meet some one (probably Gary Condit) and excluded all other possibilities until it was too late. Too late in the sense that by the time they could exclude him they were already unable to follow whatever evidence they had. By the time her body was discovered all the evidence was compromised. I believe that they had hope that Condit would confess and tell them where the body was which may have been why they did not do as thorough a search as they might have.

So far, I've concluded the following:
1. Yes, they really do follow their hunches/instinct/gut what have you.
2. Yes, they really work like they do on TV (or maybe it should be the other way around).
3. In real life it isn't optimal - life is not a 40 minute cop show and yes they really need to gather the evidence and follow it despite what their hunches tell them.
4. This is not to say that they should not also purse their hunches because I believe that experience is important.
5. They need to guard against a herd mentality so having a nay sayer or someone who is willing to go against conventional wisdom at the time is important. (Remember the white box truck during the sniper shootings that turned out to be a Chevy Caprice?)

A paradigm shift?

I'm trying to write some elegant prose that ties the following elements together:
1. The recent financial crisis in the subprime and housing market
2. The wide inequality gap that has led other commentators to call this the Second Gilded Age
3. An ever louder chorus calling for increased regulation of financial markets
4. Globalization's effects on job security
5. The shift of some countries (notably Latin American countries) to socialist and populist models or some kind of authoritarian but market based economics (e.g. Russia, China).
These all lead to a decrease in the "faith" of free markets to "get the job done" and eventually leads to increased government intervention and perhaps even a return to the mixed economies of the 1970s (without the Keynesian spending, although the increasing calls for a fiscal stimulus may suggest otherwise). On the academic side, rational expectations and efficient markets theories will no longer be in center stage and although no new paradigm has emerged, these theories come under greater criticism.

Unfortunately, I've been out of economics too long to tie these together logically (but not long enough to note that this is an extreme view in terms of the "failure" of market based economics) and have not been writing enough to string together anything coming close to elegant.

Update: Dani Rodrik ties some of these strands together very eloquently here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Systemic risk and GSEs/FM

The latest event in the current financial crisis is the viability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Like Paul Krugman I think the fears are overblown although the volatility and uncertainty is good for some short sellers. Calculated Risk agrees in principle with Krugman but makes some good points in that the FMs were partially responsible for their current predicament even if they did not invest in subprimes. What might happen next?
1. The Fed and Treasury might take this opportunity to slowly dismantle the FMs.
2. I don't buy the argument that the GSE's are a necessary player in the MBS market. If anything, by an accident in history they became a monopoly and have exploited their position (and the perception that they are necessary).
3. The GSE's should be broken up and sold and I would argue that it is the responsibility of the Fed that the new entities should not become TBTF. The Fed and Treasury should seek to minimize the systemic risk that ANY institution can become TBTF or at the very least prepare for the eventuality if an institution does emerge to become TBTF. (See also my review of "Too Big To Fail" by Gary Stern and Ron Feldman who argue along the same lines.)

These are similar to arguments by Sebastian Mallaby although I don't believe nationalization is necessary. The terms currently being proposed allow the government to take an equity stake to recapitalize the institutions and might give it enough leverage to break the companies up.

Update: Mark Thoma rightly criticizes the break-up approach on the grounds that a 100 small firms with identical portfolios would leave us in the same position as 1 large firm. However, breaking up a firm might lead each manager to pursue different strategies.

Regulating CEO pay

The furor over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the current financial crisis in general has renewed interest in the compensation of the managers and CEOs of financial institutions:
Here is Angry Bear:
"OK so we have to bail out the FM's. However, it is irritating that the people who made this mess obtained tens of millions in compensation doing so. I can translate my populist rage into gametheoryspeak noting that bailouts create moral hazard problems. The US government can't let Fannie or Freddie or even the medium size bad Bear fail. It shouldn't make executives decide to run risks only because they know that if they roll snake eyes, the treasury or the fed will bail them out. So What is to Be Done ?It seems simple to me (and many many others). The institutions are too big to fail, their officers are vulnerable to bad incentives. The correct policy is to keep the institution from failing in a way which will serve as a lesson to the officers of other institutions."

On a more somber note, this was from a roundtable in Prospect Magazine:
"Hector Sants [chief executive of the FSA] said recently that the FSA would take account of bonus structures in firms in its prudential regulation. I think that makes perfect sense. No one is recommending a pay policy for banks in the 1970s style. But we need to think more about what a good bonus structure looks like and what a bad one looks like. And if you look at the credit rating agencies, they have hugely expanded on the back of structured credit. They have made lots of money out of these ratings and have had a strong incentive to stretch their models as far as possible to produce more ratings on a wide variety of products. So that is another example where the incentives embedded in the system need to be addressed."
These were the comments of John Gieve, deputy governor for financial stability of the Bank of England.

Trying to align CEO pay with shareholders have been the crux of organizational theory/principal-agent theory and unlike Angry Bear, I think that there are no easy answers. The general argument from the principal agent literature is that we don't want managers who are risk averse or risk loving but are risk neutral. Any attempt to regulate pay will result in a risk averse CEO or at the minimum turn him or her into a bureacrat that does the minimum to not attract the attention of regulators. In other words, we may be back to an era of regulated industries.

From NYT In Bailout Furor, Wall Street Pay Becomes a Target:
Wall Street has been the top tier of the corporate pay range, with executives earning eight-figure salaries. Its bonus system, which rewards short-term trading profits, has been singled out as an incentive for Wall Street executives to expand their highly profitable business in exotic securities and ignore the risks. ... “I’m of a free-market, conservative bent, but I am sympathetic to some reshaping of executive pay on Wall Street,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard. “For sure, I would consider very long-term payouts, up to 10 years out.”

Malay women cost less?

Elizabeth Pisani's post (thanks to MR pointer):
"So a Russian girl is worth twice as much as a girl from north China, huh? And Malaysian girls are discounted fairly heavily. ... If nothing else, I’m happy to note from the poster that all nationalities are working in air-conditioned rooms."
This post switched my preference on Pisani's Wisdom of Whores from maybe to must read even though the answer to this "price puzzle" is not in the book.

Women and sci-fi

M likes watching Star Trek: TNG and Voyager but doesn't like to read sci-fi. I wondered why but she said didn't know. Megan McArdle posted on this - "SF isn't girly":
"The feminists are mad because I said SF isn't girly. I think SF is girly, because I'm a girl, and my father gave me my first 3 SF books for my eighth birthday (Tunnel in the Sky, Sargasso of Space, and the third one escapes me). I spent one summer in Bantam Doubleday Dell's science fiction department, which was all female. I have an entire elaborate space opera planned out in my head which I may someday write, if my fiction writing stops being terrible.

But I think it's kind of hard to deny that there are a lot of women who do not like science fiction because it doesn't fit into their conception of girly. Stating that you are a woman who likes science fiction, and lots of women like science fiction, is theatrical, but it's beside the point; the demographic is overwhelmingly male. Connie Willis and Megan Lindholm and Sheri Tepper are great (I mean, at least until Tepper went off the deep end and started writing novels that implied men would be so much better if they were . . . women), but they are not the core of the genre. We can angrily declare that SF is so woman-friendly all we want, while women nod politely and bypass the SF section for the mysteries or the bodice rippers. Or we can try to convince them that they are making a tragic mistake, because what they are looking for in a romance novel or a good mystery can also be found in the SF section."

Read the rest of the post and comments for recommendations of SF. I don't know if the "girlyness" of SF is all or even a major part of the problem. It may be nerdyness ... so the question here is: Are there more nerdy guys than girls? And if so, are nerdy guys more likely or just as likely to read SF.

It gets even harder to discern the reason when we start breaking down SF to different categories - is Fantasy (Anne McCaffrey etc.) considered SF? What about Jean Auel's Earth's Children series ? (Incidentally, M loves this.) And the "hard core" SF writers such as David Brin, Vernor Vinge, etc.?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aggressive DC Drivers

After posting on bumper stickers, there were two posts by Megan McArdle on aggressive DC drivers. The comments here and here were also on a rather surprisingly reasonale tone and not as shrill as I had expected. The posts were mainly on bikes vs. cars and there is a sense at which both bikers and cars can be at fault. Add to that the distractions of Ipods, cell phones (on both bikers and drivers) and it's a recipe for accidents.

Distractions also can be due to other things such as talking like I may have been doing on a close call yesterday doing a right turn but was not conscious of someone else beating me to it from the opposite site doing a LEFT turn into my lane. In Washington DC there are also a lot of circles (or round-abouts as we used to call them) which a lot of drivers are clueless on handling - especially being in the "right" lane (if there is one). And I agree with one comment who said that in DC there are some who believe it is god given right to drive any way they like. (They're probably lawyers or lobbyists or their spouses.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fisheries commons

The April 2007 issue of National Geographic on the global fisheries crisis was informative and as usual had great photographs. Is there a solution to the commons problem?
1. Demonstration effects of overfishing - The accompanying story on the collapse of the cod industry did not make an example for the rest of the fishing industry. In fact, the enforcement of quotas which resulted in the return of cod seemed to reinforce the impression on some fisherman that the cod industry had been revived and they should be allowed to fish again.
2. The other story on New Zealand's marine reserves and how they can cause positive spillovers by allowing other fishes to thrive again only served to increase the perception that there is no crisis.
3. Quotas on fishing fleet and catch need to be enforced and can be circumvented.
4. It seems that the following conclusion might well be the only one (albeit not a very convincing solution):
But all agree that the fundamental reform that must precede all others is not a change in regulations but a change in people's minds. The world must begin viewing the creatures that inhabit the sea much as it looks at wildlife on land. Only when fish are seen as wild things deserving of protection, only when the Mediterranean bluefin is thought to be as magnificent as the Alaska grizzly or the African leopard, will depletion of the world's oceans come to an end.
Unfortunately, few of us get to experience the ocean depths as easily someone can take an African safari. A glass bottomed boat ride is not like being able to take a tour of the depths of the ocean.

Fiscal stimulus = job creation = full employment?

Mark Thoma pointed to Ken Rogoff's comment on the fiscal stimulus:
The spectacular and historic global economic boom of the past six years is about to hit a wall. Unfortunately, no one, certainly not in Asia or the US, seems willing to bite the bullet and help engineer the necessary co-ordinated retreat to sustained sub-trend growth, which is necessary so that new commodity supplies and alternatives can catch up.

Instead, governments are clawing to stretch out unsustainable booms, further pushing up commodity prices, and raising the risk of a once-in-a-lifetime economic and financial mess. All this need not end horribly, but policy makers in most regions have to start pressing hard on the brakes, not the accelerator. ...

I am puzzled that so many economic pundits seem to think that the solution is for all governments, rich and poor, to pass out even more cheques and subsidies so as to keep the boom going. Keynesian stimulus policies might help ease the pain a bit for individual countries acting in isolation.

It makes me wonder if central banks and governments are thinking of practicing Keynesian fine-tuning again at the expense of fighting inflation. Of course, I don't believe that central banks are totally discounting the inflation risk but I am wondering if the low inflation of the past have left them convinced that they were responsible for the low inflation and this has somehow made them overly confident that they can fully contain the inflation threat and at the same time stimulate the economy. What if the low inflation environment of the past decade can be attributed more to good luck than good policy?

Evolving English

This essay in Wired Magazine "How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand" reminded me of how various SciFi authors such as Vernor Vinge, David Brin, and Stephen Baxter have posited such and eventuality. Vernor Vinge in "Rainbows End" called it Good-Enuf English. David Brin's "Earth" and Stephen Baxter's "Saturn" didn't really have a name for the language but hinted at its evolution. The focus of the Wired magazine article is the influence of China and the Chinese speakers on the language but there can also be a Hispanic influnence as well.

Some excerpts from the article:
"If you are stolen, call the police at once. Please omnivorously put the waste in garbage can. Deformed man lavatory. For the past 18 months, teams of language police have been scouring Beijing on a mission to wipe out all such traces of bad English signage before the Olympics come to town in August. They're the type of goofy transgressions that we in the English homelands love to poke fun at, devoting entire Web sites to so-called Chinglish. (By the way, that last phrase means "handicapped bathroom.")"

"Thanks to globalization, the Allied victories in World War II, and American leadership in science and technology, English has become so successful across the world that it's escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be. In part, this is because there are fewer of us: By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca."

"Given the number of people involved, Chinglish is destined to take on a life of its own. Advertisers will play with it, as they already do in Taiwan. It will be celebrated as a form of cultural identity, as the Hong Kong Museum of Art did in a Chinglish exhibition last year. It will be used widely online and in movies, music, games, and books, as it is in Singapore. Someday, it may even be taught in schools. Ultimately, it's not that speakers will slide along a continuum, with "proper" language at one end and local English dialects on the other, as in countries where creoles are spoken. Nor will Chinglish replace native languages, as creoles sometimes do. It's that Chinglish will be just as proper as any other English on the planet."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Some interesting travel writing

1. Acadia National Park from Smithsonian Magazine. We've been here several times yet there were some interesting titbits in here such as the origin of Asticou Gardens and organic farming at Four Season Farm.
2. From CN Traveler on Maldives. We were there in 2000 at a resort called Kurumba. I did not think it was worth revisiting but this article made me want to go to some of the other atolls. It only hinted at the mosquito problem (and it was incredibly hot) - the resort sprayed every other day during the evening and we were asked not to go outside during that time.
3. Islands on the Seine, again from the same issue of CN Traveler. Was in Paris twice - once was a quick two day trip and another was a more laid back trip in spring 2006. We stayed near the Eiffel Tower and have always wanted to go back and stay at the neighborhoods around Luxembourg Garden/Saint Germain. These islands would be within walking distance.
4. I've been wanting to go to Iceland and this was a nice write up of a trip on the northern side of Iceland. Most poetic thought: "Before long, we reach the height of land and look back to see Myvatn, home to more species of ducks than any other lake in Europe, and to the millions of midges on whom they feed. The heat of the earth's core rises to the surface here and comes up through the soles of our boots: We are standing on nature's original radiant floor."
5. The Northern Canoe Forest Trail as profiled in CN Traveler.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Determining causality in death penalty/guns and crime

Via WaPo by Cass Sunstein and Justin Wolfers:
One might like to conclude that these latter studies [that show that the death penalyy is not correlated with homicide/crime] demonstrate that the death penalty does not deter. But this is asking too much of the data. The number of homicides is so large, and varies so much year to year, that it is impossible to disentangle the effects of execution policy from other changes affecting murder rates. Moreover, execution policy doesn't change often or much. Just as a laboratory scientist with too few experimental subjects cannot draw strong conclusions, the best we can say is that homicide rates are not closely associated with capital punishment. On the basis of existing evidence, it is especially hard to justify claims about causality.

Justice Stevens argues, "In the absence of such evidence, deterrence cannot serve as a sufficient penological justification for this uniquely severe and irrevocable punishment." Perhaps. But the absence of evidence of deterrence should not be confused with evidence of absence.

... "We do not know whether deterrence has been shown. . . . Nor do we conclude that the evidence of deterrence has reached some threshold of reliability that permits or requires government action."

In short, the best reading of the accumulated data is that they do not establish a deterrent effect of the death penalty.
[emphasis mine]

And on the repeal of the DC handgun law in the NYT:

But Gary Kleck, a professor at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, whose work Justice Breyer cited, said there were good reasons for making a definitive judgment.

“We know the D.C. handgun ban didn’t reduce homicide,” he said in an interview.

On guns, I'm a little more concerned with the focus on homicide versus accidental death, suicide, assault with deadly weapon, battery, spousal assaults, etc. that do not fall into the homicide statistics.