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> current focus...


Grading America's Public Pension Plans

An interactive database I helped build was just released by Urban. To all pension enthusiasts, click through to see your state's overall pension grade...

> blog ramblings...



Classical population dynamics in a form you can play with

indexing with namedtuple

A basic class for an easily subsetable dictionary using Python's namedtuple as keys for multidimensional indexing

color gradients with Python

Investigating a few "Pythonic" ways to calculate gradients across given input colors

> recent publications...


LOOP and the Internet Marketplace

Ben Southgate - (Michigan Journal of Business)

This paper examines 12,887 individual eBay, english-style, completed auctions of the Otterbox Defender iPhone 4/4S cell-phone case over a 90 day period, with sales and purchases occuring in both the USA and Canada, all collected from Findings suggest quick reversion of cross-border prices to parity. Specifically the half-life of deviations is estimated to be 10.34 hours. With this evidence in mind, eBay appears ever closer to an Economist’s ideal marketplace, with limited price friction, large numbers of informed buyers and sellers, and low barriers to entry.


How Will Rhode Island's New Hybrid Pension Plan Affect Teachers?

Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica, Owen Haaga, Benjamin G. Southgate - (Urban Institute)

In 2011 Rhode Island replaced the stand-alone defined benefit pension plan it provided to state employees with a hybrid plan that reduced the defined benefit component and added a 401(k)-type, defined contribution component. Although controversial, the new hybrid plan will boost retirement incomes for most of the state’s public school teachers. Our simulations show that two-thirds of newly hired teachers will earn more retirement benefits under the hybrid plan they would have earned under the old plan. Defined contribution plans—the dominant employer-sponsored retirement plan in the private sector—can play an important role in the reform of public-sector pensions.