Friday, September 22, 2017

Broken Chains and Reneging: rare and not very consequential


By:Cowan, N ; Gritsch, HA; Nassiri, N; Sinacore, J; Veale, J
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TRANSPLANTATION
Volume: 17   
Issue: 9   
Pages: 2451-2457
DOI: 10.1111/ajt.14343  Published: SEP 2017
Abstract
Concerns regarding the potential for broken chains and "reneges" within kidney paired donation (KPD) and its effect on chain length have been raised previously. Although these concerns have been tested in simulation studies, real- world data have yet to be evaluated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the actual rate and causes of broken chains within a large KPD program. All patients undergoing renal transplantation through the National Kidney Registry from 2008 through May 2016 were included for analysis. Broken chains and loops were identified. A total of 344 chains and 78 loops were completed during the study period, yielding a total of 1748 transplants. Twenty broken chains and one broken loop were identified. The mean chain length (number of transplants) within broken chains was 4.8 compared with 4.6 of completed chains (p = 0.78). The most common causes of a broken chain were donor medical issues incurred while acting as a bridge donor (n = 8), donors electing not to proceed (n = 6), and kidneys being declined by the recipient surgeon (n = 4). All recipients involved in a broken chain subsequently received a transplant. Based on the results, broken chains are infrequent, are rarely due to lack of donor motivation, and have no significant impact on chain length.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The private equity junior labor market continues to unravel

Eric Budish points me to the annual story, which seems to be published earlier each year, about the race for young talent in private equity:

Private Equity Prowls for Young Bankers Early in Frenetic Ritual
Job offers can ‘explode’ at midnight as buyout firms compete

"Junior analysts a few weeks on the job can now expect a flurry of emails from headhunters for some of the most prestigious private equity firms in the world. The jobs they’re being recruited for can pay more than $200,000 a year and won’t start until 2019. The battle to hire the best of them is fiercer, and more urgent, than ever.

"Buyout firms are tapping junior bankers earlier -- advancing the annual recruiting cycle, the industry’s biggest window of hiring, for the fifth consecutive year after an agreement to hold back fell apart.
...
"During the most recent cycle, formal interviews started in January...

"That was the earliest recruiting start ever -- about two weeks sooner than the previous year, and a full three months sooner than in 2013, when the major private equity firms stopped cooperating on timing after some broke out to recruit early.
...
"The majority of the mega-funds fill up their spots within 96 hours...
...
"Going forward, there’s no telling how much sooner the recruitment schedule will creep. But one effect is becoming permanent, said Grauer: candidates don’t have much work experience to discuss in their interviews anymore.

“I’d like to think we’ve gotten to a point where it doesn’t get earlier,” Grauer said, adding that interviewees today don’t often know what they want professionally in the long term. “The days when they were able to talk about all their transactions are gone.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hurricanes and price gouging (and watermelon)

Accusations of price gouging don't just concern food and water and plywood and gasoline: nowadays we evacuate by airplane as well. But last minute bookings are always expensive...

Airlines Face Criticism Amid Irma Price-Gouging Complaints
"Florida residents have been logging their compaints about unfair pricing of items like water and gasoline, along with airfares, with the office of Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida. There have been more than 7,000 since Monday, the attorney general said on Friday.
In their letter to Transportation Secretary Chao, Senators Blumenthal and Markey wrote:
“Airlines certainly have a right to a reasonable return for services rendered and vagaries in pricing are to be expected; but airlines have no right to impose exorbitant, unfair prices on Americans simply trying to get out of harm’s way.”
Florida Representative Charlie Crist also wrote a letter to Ms. Chao, calling for an investigation of United Airlines after receiving several complaints over airfare increases.
...
"“If there’s any gouge, it’s just the last minute walk-up airfares that are designed for desperate business fliers,” Mr. Hobica said. “It’s just the computer programs doing what they do when it’s last minute and seats are scarce.”
Delta, the target of the initial viral complaint, has denied changing its pricing structure leading up to Irma’s arrival and has capped its one-way fares out of South Florida at $399 through Sept. 13 (other airlines like JetBlue lowered one-way fares to as low as $99.) "
***********
I've never been able to track down if it's a true story, but I've heard over the years of some hurricane in which people both lined up to buy some essential good at a very high price, and then clapped when the police showed up to arrest the purveyors for price gouging and confiscate the goods.
Stephanie Wang points me to this second or third hand account, where the good in question is ice.

They Clapped: Can Price-Gouging Laws Prohibit Scarcity?

*********
Here are two recent articles, con and pro on raising prices in an emergency (they both have a picture of empty shelves...)

Memo to economists defending price gouging in a disaster: It's still wrong, morally and economically  by 

Price Gouging Can Be a Type of Hurricane Aid
Higher prices can help resources get to the people who need them most.
by Tyler Cowen

**********
Of course, not all accusations of price gouging arise from emergencies. Consider the watermelon. The Jordan Times has the story:
Petra diner closed temporarily for ‘overpricing melon’  Photo of fat bill goes viral, triggers anger, mockery

"AMMAN — The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) on Wednesday decided to extend the closure of a tourist restaurant over an over-priced bill of a watermelon.

"A photo of the bill went viral on social media sites, triggering both angry reactions and mockery.

"PDTRA President Mohammad Nawafleh told The Jordan Times on Thursday that the restaurant, whose rent contract had already expired on July 15, will be closed for two months for selling a water melon for an unreasonably high price and serving food items that are not listed on its menu.
...
"Commenting on the issue, Tourism Expert Sami Hasanat said that such overpricing would harm the “already deteriorating” sector in the Kingdom.

"Authorities have to ensure that prices are always within the “reasonable” levels, as prices would affect the turnout of tourists, added Hasanat, a former MP."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Marijuana in California: will the illegal market coexist with the legal market?

"California, which by one estimate produces seven times more marijuana than it consumes, will probably continue to be a major exporter — illegally — to other states. In part, that is because of the huge incentive to stay in the black market: marijuana on the East Coast sells for several times more than in California."

That's from the NY Times article
Legal Marijuana Is Almost Here. If Only Pot Farmers Were on Board

Monday, September 18, 2017

School choice in Chile (deferred acceptance algorithm)

There are new school choice systems being used this year in Chile, based on the deferred acceptance algorithm.

"La ciencia detrás del nuevo sistema--
Algoritmo promete terminar con filas y discriminación en la admisión escolar")

(Google Translate: The science behind the new system--
Algorithm promises to end rows and discrimination on school admission)


Here's a sentence that gives an indication of the old system the new school choice system replaces (courtesy of Google Translate):
"What is changing is the night and the long lines because it is a centralized postulation system that guarantees that all those who register in the agreed term do not have to queue and can apply from home."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yemenis selling kidneys in Egypt: Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera has the (nuanced) story:
Desperate Yemenis sell organs to survive
Victims of trafficking rings say the networks operate anonymously in shisha bars and coffee shops in Yemen and Egypt.

"Ali - who is unemployed, divorced and in his early thirties - recently found himself facing a stark choice. He could either sign up to fight with the Houthi rebels on the front lines of the war in Yemen, seek work in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, or sell his organs.

"There are no jobs, and my wife left me for another man," Ali said despondently from his postoperative bed in Yemen's Bani Matar district, southwest of the capital Sanaa.

"After more than two years of war, many working-class Yemenis have turned to selling grocery items and khat - a mild, chewable narcotic - to make a meagre living. Others have opted to sell their organs to survive.
...
"Ali said that the doctor who performed his operation did not warn him of the potential consequences and there was no postoperative care. Patients are compelled to sign a contract that states, "It is not our responsibility if complications arise after the surgery," he added.

"Once the surgery was done, and I received the money, I was on my own," Ali said.
...
"A few operations are done in big hospitals with proper medical care; the majority are done in unlicensed or makeshift operation theatres with inadequate equipment or staff, Maqtari added. Only 45 percent of the healthcare facilities in Yemen are fully functional.
...
"As Yemen's war drags on, the future is anything but certain. But for Adnan Ali, who will soon enter his second marriage with the woman of his dreams and launch a taxi service, there are signs of a brighter future.

"Arrangements are under way for the wedding," he said, "and I am planning to buy a car to run a taxi."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sven Seuken appointed Chief Economist of BandwidthX

Here's the press release:

BandwidthX Appoints Sven Seuken as Chief Economist
Prof. Seuken’s appointment underlines the importance of market design in BxMarket

"BandwidthX, the operator of the cloud-based mobile data market, today announces Prof. Sven Seuken as its Chief Economist. Professor Seuken is one of the world's experts in electronic market design. He is a tenured Associate Professor of Computation and Economics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland where he supervises a team of seven PhD students and Postdocs, conducting research on market design topics. At BandwidthX, Professor Seuken enjoys a broad mandate including the design and analysis of market mechanisms and trading rules to drive new efficiencies in BxMarket. The appointment comes at an exciting moment as BandwidthX is expanding its platform across various data networks and global offerings.

"Professor Seuken holds a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard University. Since 2006, he has been conducting research on electronic market design. His main focus lies on designing marketplaces with complex combinatorial constraints. Applications he has worked on include peer-to-peer backup markets, electricity markets, matching markets, spectrum auctions, data markets, financial markets, cloud computing markets, and bandwidth markets.  Prof. Seuken has received several awards, including a Google Faculty Research Award, a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship."
...
"BandwidthX operates an advanced connection management service and a cloud-based marketplace where both Mobile Operators and Network Service Providers can define their value for data capacity in real time and are automatically matched when their values align. BxMarket gives the Mobile Operators incremental data capacity at lower cost, while allowing the Network Service Providers to profit from new revenue streams from their underutilized data networks. With this new form of micro-commerce, everyone in the mobile data ecosystem wins: from Mobile Operators and Network Service Providers to equipment and software vendors, aggregators and financial clearing companies and, of course, the end user of the device. Learn more about BandwidthX at http://www.bandwidthx.com.