Posts filed under “Cognitive Foibles”

Why Retail Investors Make the Same Mistakes

My interview with of Rhonda Schaffler of

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Media, Psychology, Video

Mark Perry Doesn’t Understand Geography

@TBPInvictus here: As I recently highlighted, Mark Perry – an AEI scholar and professor of economics - is playing very fast and loose with data surrounding employment in Seattle post its recent minimum wage hike. In his recent “report” on the subject, which was picked up far and wide by conservative outlets, Professor Perry wrote (emphasis mine):

“In June of last year, the Seattle city council passed a $15 minimum wage law to be phased in over time, with the first increase to $11 an hour taking effect on April 1, 2015. What effect will the eventual 58% increase in labor costs have on small businesses, including area restaurants? It’s too soon to tell for sure, but there is already some evidence that the recent minimum wage hike to $11 an hour, along with the pending increase of an additional $4 an hour by 2017 for some businesses, has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs in the Seattle area. The chart below shows that the Emerald City MSA started experiencing a decline in restaurant employment…”

The minimum wage hike took place in the city of Seattle, population ~650,000. What’s all this talk about “area restaurants,” “the Seattle area,” and the “Emerald City MSA”? (Note that companies with under 500 employees — that includes most restaurants — the actual date is 2021, not 2017).

This is simply someone with an agenda deliberately being intellectually dishonest in an attempt to mislead readers and spread misinformation widely through the conservative echo chamber. It’s a tried and true method that, unfortunately, has worked time and again.

When Perry talks about Seattle (city proper) and the “Seattle area,” you may not know it, but he’s talking about two very, very different areas.

Legislatively, economically, legally and socially, these are two completely different regions. Perhaps most important of all, in terms of data collection for the subject at hand, the map below shows exactly how different they are:


Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 6.08.17 PM


Seattle, the city in question whose minimum wage is now $11, on its way to $15 over the next 3-7 years – is (as best as Paintbrush lets me draw it) the area within the red oval. The “Seattle area” or “Emerald City MSA,” as Perry misleadingly wrote, are the three more darkly shaded counties – Pierce (bottom), King (middle), and Snohomish (top) – engulfing Seattle and making it look, well, geographically tiny in comparison.

The MSA Perry referenced as being impacted by the new minimum wage has an overall population of some 3.6 million versus the aforementioned population of Seattle at about 650,000. What’s to compare? As Media Matters put it in their takedown of Perry’s work: “The employment trends of the entire region are not representative of the impact of a local wage ordinance in a single city.” But Perry does not care, as he’s repeatedly referenced the same irrelevant data point multiple times on Twitter. He is exactly the man whom Upton Sinclair was referring to when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Why would anyone look at a MSA when it is the city – and ONLY THE CITY  - that has the new minimum wage law. The New York equivalent would be to suggest that perhaps an ordinance in New York City might somehow have a ripple effect in White Plains, N.Y., or Hackensack, N.J. After all, they are both part of the greater tri-state region (there is a massive New York-Newark-Jersey City MSA). It’s absurd on its face, and any honorable analyst understands this.

This suggests that Perry is engaging in fraud or ignorance. Neither reflects on him favorably. Perry should apologize and AEI should retract that piece in entirety.


An analyst as intellectually dishonest as Perry apparently is could do something similar on the flip side:

Seattle Passes Higher Minimum Wage; Area Food Biz Employment Now at 134,000!

First, I’d point out that at the end of 2013, the most recent year for which we have good statistics on the city itself, Seattle city employment in two broad categories combined – Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Accommodation & Food Services – totaled about 40,000, as seen below.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 6.36.53 PM

Source: American FactFinder

Then, I’d trumpet the “fact” that the “Seattle area” or “Emerald City MSA” (see what I did there?) has more than tripled that total to a whopping 134,000. I’d then claim victory at having “demonstrated” that the ordinance I supported was having its desired effect.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.47.13 PM

Source: St. Louis Fed

But I’d never do such a thing. Most reputable people wouldn’t.

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Category: Cognitive Foibles, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Employment, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy, Wages & Income

Farm-to-Table for Bad Information

@TBPInvictus   I am reminded of the above law each and every day. And a law it is. Inviolable. No sooner had I posted the other day about the shoddy “work” coming out of AEI than, voilà, said shoddy “work” is being trumpeted by pompous blowhard Stuart Varney on Fox News. I’ve seen this happen…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Financial Press, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

Interview with Richard Thaler

University of Chicago behavioral economist on stock markets, NFL drafts and the importance of trust Douglas Clement | Editor, The Region Published October 3, 2013   |  September 2013 issue Interview conducted July 17, 2013 We are rational, self-interested optimizers: Homo economicus. So the neoclassical model of economics has held for over a century. It has been a fruitful…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Cognitive Foibles, Psychology

The Recency Effect & Investors

What do gold prices, a stock-market plunge and a credit crisis have in common? The way investors tend to see them are examples of the “recency effect.“ A brief description first: In human psychology, people who are asked to recall items on a long list tend to have a sharper memory of the items toward…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Psychology, Trading

Chipotle Spices Up The Minimum Wage Discussion

@TBPInvictus If you’re just joining us, here’s our story thus far: Some on the right took a fairly benign article out of a Seattle publication and twisted it to fit their agenda, i.e. that the increased minimum wage there would spell disaster for the Seattle restaurant scene as eateries closed in rapid succession. Their hopes…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Consumer Spending, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Employment, Research, Wages & Income

Trump Rules

He can’t win and he shouldn’t… But it’s mindblowing to watch the pundits and players react to his statements. I’ve got no love for John McCain, but he’s an untouchable. You can’t question the man because of his war hero status. But what if you questioned that itself? What if you refused to play by…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Corporate Management, Crony Capitalists, Politics, Think Tank

You’re Only Human: Here’s How it Hurts Your Portfolio

I recently had the privilege of sitting down for a chat with Richard Thaler, professor of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. Thaler is widely recognized as the father of behavioral economics. He is perennially on the short list for a Nobel Prize in economics. His observations about how people behave in the…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Asset Allocation, Cognitive Foibles, Investing

The Big Disconnect Between Investing and Human Behavior

    My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we look at the work of Richard Thaler, the father of Behavioral Economics. His findings are very applicable to investors. The print version had the full headline You’re only human: How it hurts your investments; online its You’re only human: An economist explains how…Read More

Category: Asset Allocation, Cognitive Foibles, Investing

Home State Investing Bias May Be Skewing Your Portfolio

Most investors are (or at least should be) familiar with the concept of “Home Country Bias” — the natural tendency to be more familiar and comfortable with public companies in your home country. Investors everywhere consistently display this trait, which is in direct conflict with the basic principles of international diversification. A 2014 report by Vanguard found…Read More

Category: Asset Allocation, Cognitive Foibles, Investing, Psychology