Sun, 17 February 2019
Today's guest on Economics Detective Radio is Anja Shortland of King's College London, discussing her new book Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business, where she brings an economist's perspective to the shady world of the kidnapping for ransom business and to the professionals who specialize in getting hostages home safely. The book's description reads as follows:
Kidnap for ransom is a lucrative but tricky business. Millions of people live, travel, and work in areas with significant kidnap risks, yet kidnaps of foreign workers, local VIPs, and tourists are surprisingly rare and the vast majority of abductions are peacefully resolved - often for remarkably low ransoms. In fact, the market for hostages is so well ordered that the crime is insurable. This is a puzzle: ransoming a hostage is the world's most precarious trade. What would be the "right" price for your loved one - and can you avoid putting others at risk by paying it? What prevents criminals from maltreating hostages? How do you (safely) pay a ransom? And why would kidnappers release a potential future witness after receiving their money?
Fri, 8 February 2019
Mark Thornton returns to the podcast to discuss his new book The Skyscraper Curse (available digitally for free). The book discusses the connection between record-setting skyscrapers and economic recessions. Here's an excerpt from the book's introduction:
The Skyscraper Index expresses the strange relationship between the building of the world’s tallest skyscraper and the onset of a major economic crisis. This relationship only came to light in 1999 when research analyst Andrew Lawrence published a report noting the odd connection between record-height buildings and noteworthy economic crises — that is, the skyscraper curse, a relationship that dated back nearly a century. Without a theory to support it, journalists largely dismissed Lawrence’s report as the fun story of the day.
Mark relates these skyscrapers to the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT). He shows how record-setting skyscrapers and recessions can be caused by a common factor: excessively cheap credit. We discuss this theory in the interview.