A few things I’m interested in. Please talk to me about these if you’re expert in these.
Microeconomics: every aspect
History of technology
Commercial life and its effect on ethics
U.S. Constitution, in particular Article II powers, commerce clause, contract clause, First Amendment right to speech, Fourth Amendment right to privacy, Fifth Amendment takings power
How we signal socially and how we process stories
Verdi’s operas, Liszt’s piano transcriptions
Real life application of finance ideas, e.g. alpha, efficient markets.
Econometrics and regression analysis
- Board games (the ones that aren’t fancy dice games)
Some people (mostly professors) I like to read
Peter Thiel on technology, science, and finance
Robin Hanson on signalling and robots
Tyler Cowen on anything that he blogs about
Richard Epstein on torts, contracts
John Cochrane on finance
Steven Landsburg on microeconomics
Randy Barnett on contracts and the commerce clause
Ilya Somin on executive power, property
Alex Tabarrok on statistical misconceptions, technology
Bryan Caplan on education, immigration
Vaclav Smil on energy transitions
My favorite long-form journalists; I will always read their new articles.
Radley Balko, WashPost
Glenn Greenwald, First Look
David Grann, New Yorker
George Packer, New Yorker
Lauren Collins, New Yorker
Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker
Charles Mann, Wired, and various
Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair
Bess Levin, Dealbreaker
- Matt Levine, Bloomberg
Things that I haven’t yet gotten the chance to read and learn more about
René Girard’s Mimetic Theory
Richard Posner’s ideas on common law, efficiency, and law and economics
Fernand Braudel’s examinations of commercial life
Leo Strauss on how to read and think
Here’s the link. Full piece below.
Dan Wang ’14 Named Rochester’s Student Employee of the Year
University of Rochester student Dan Wang has been named the 2012-2013 University of Rochester Student Employee of the Year. The award, given annually by the Student Employment Office, recognizes an outstanding student employee who has made valuable contributions to the department in which he or she works. Wang, who works for University Communications as a news assistant, was nominated by Larry Arbeiter, associate vice president of communications.
As a news assistant for communications, Wang’s work often included weekend work to keep track of University news, and 7 a.m.-work days to prepare daily news reports. In addition to supporting staff in the office with press lists and news pitches, he also wrote press releases, news stories, and blog posts relating to University news.
I explore a fairly technical piece of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy in a Supreme Court petition coming from Rochester. Here’s the link. And here’s the full piece.
How Government Violates the Fourth Amendment Rights of Renters
In Rochester, New York, renting rather than buying a home is enough cause for a search warrant.
Florine and Walter Nelson are grandparents who have lived in Rochester for over 30 years. For nearly a third of that time, they have resisted the efforts of city officials to inspect their home on the basis that they are renters rather than buyers. Since 2005, the city has steadily escalated its efforts to enter their house, by charging them with contempt and attempting to use “administrative” search warrants to conduct suspicionless searches.
I was so privileged to work on this with Radley Balko when I interned with him. This piece, about the township of Mount Holly trying to exercise eminent domain, was published in the Politics vertical of the Huffington Post on August 1st, 2012. Here’s the link. And here it is in full.
New Jersey Town Rips Up Working-Class Neighborhood for Private Developers
By Dan Wang
Santos Cruz still remembers the first time he heard the demolition crews. “They came without any warning at 6 a.m. outside my home,” he said in a recent interview with The Huffington Post. “The ground started shaking and there was a tremendous amount of noise. They knocked down all the houses they owned: It was like being in a war zone for a whole month.” Cruz, 49, has lived in Mount Holly Gardens, N.J., for 23 years. Now, the local government wants him out.
I write about technology and globalization for Gavekal/Dragonomics, a global macro economics research firm with a focus on Asia.
I’m currently living and working in Hong Kong. I’ve previously lived in Kunming, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Rochester, Freiburg im Breisgau, San Francisco, and Manhattan. I’ve previously worked at Flexport, Shopify, the Huffington Post (where I was assistant to Radley Balko), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a few other places. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major in economics and philosophy.
I like to get coffees and learn from people, do reach out: email@example.com and @danwwang. I’m a fan of the invitation posted on Patrick McKenzie’s site: “I like getting email… There is absolutely nothing you can do in my inbox which will cause me to think poorly of you as a person or make fun of you to my friends,” and “I like reading things. If you write something worth reading, tell me.”
Current favorites on this site:
Books I Like
The books I liked since around the time I started college. I try to excerpt the ones I like best.
What should I read next? Email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stendhal, The Red and the Black
- Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Excerpts)
- Melville, Moby-Dick
- Cowen, In Praise of Commercial Culture
- The book that convinced me to study economics. (Notes)
- Wharton, The House of Mirth
- I enjoyed this much more than Age of Innocence.
- The title is from Ecclesiastes 7:4: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
- Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty
- Ross, The Rest is Noise
- Runs through the personalities of the 20th century. My favorite book on music.
- Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World
- Proust, Swann’s Way, trans. Lydia Davis (Excerpts)
- Thiel & Masters, CS 183 notes & Zero to One (related essay)
- If you must pick one, read the lecture notes. The radicalism of the ideas were mainstreamed for the book.
- Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, The Strategy of Conflict
- Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom
- Laozi, Dao De Jing (Excerpts)
- Mann, 1491
- Cowen, Discover Your Inner Economist
- The best of the pop-econ books. (Harford comes next, then Frank, Wheelan, and Landsburg. All of these are better than Freakonomics, which won’t teach you very much about economics at all.)
- Mallaby, More Money Than God (related essay)
- Gertner, The Idea Factory
- History of the place that labs that developed radar, transistors, satellites, cell phone telephony, and more.
- Adelman, Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman (Notes)
- Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
- Ridley, The Rational Optimist
- A wonderful book about the scientific achievements that’s given us better nutrition, longer lifespans, and easier access to energy, etc.
- Plato, Dialogues
- In particular Crito and Phaedo.
- Cowen, The Great Stagnation & Average is Over (Excerpts)
- Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities (Excerpts)
- Fontane, Effi Briest (trans. Ritchie Robertson)
- There’s so much nuance; the most exciting plot detail isn’t even described, only discussed afterwards.
- Balzac, Cousin Bette
- The Gladwell books
- The best is definitely David and Goliath (Excerpts).
- Go ahead and disagree with his inferences, but where else would you find packed together so many great stories you haven’t heard of, and wouldn’t hear of if not for him?
- If you still object to his ideas, read him because he’s a great writer.
- Ford, Lights in the Tunnel
- Zweig, Beware of Pity
- Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism
- Details the rise of the American libertarian movement. Serious study, but the personalities are so crazy that it’s fun to read.
- Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Excerpts)
- Frank, The Economic Naturalist
- Short stories about the economic way of thinking.
- Isaacson, Steve Jobs
- Shakespeare: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Othello
- Packer, The Unwinding
- (Excerpts, with a focus on the Thiel story)
- Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
- Rand, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead
- Duffy, The World as I Found It
- A novel about the interactions of Russell, Wittgenstein, and G.E. Moore. Very fun.
- Kafka, The Castle, The Metamorphosis, assorted short stories
- Williams, Stoner
- Harford, The Undercover Economist
- Best parts were the sections about price discrimination.
- Nabokov, Lolita
- Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter
- Zola, Germinal
- Taleb, The Black Swan
- Landsburg, The Armchair Economist
- Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
- Wharton, The Age of Innocence
- Haidt, The Righteous Mind
- Kevin Simler put it best: “How humans actually, empirically, think about morality.”
- Cowen & Grandin, Thinking Differently (Notes)
- Baker, Days of Fire (Notes)
- Lewis, The Big Short
- Arrison, 100 Plus
- Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- Monroe: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship
- McCloskey, Bourgeois Virtues & Bourgeois Dignity
- First 50 pages of the Apology in Virtues is most worth reading.
- McArdle, The Up Side of Down (Excerpts)
- Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
- Conrad, Heart of Darkness
- Knausgaard, Min Kamp Vol. 1
- Uncomfortable, mesmerizing.
- Lewis, Liar’s Poker (Excerpts)
- Wapshott, Keynes Hayek
- Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers
- The first economics-y book I read; I spent two years of undergrad wondering when we were going to cover Thorstein Veblen.
- Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge
- Super well argued, I couldn’t continue to be a knee-jerk skeptic.
- St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose series (Excerpts)
- When I was little I read most of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I really liked them, but haven’t picked any of them up again.
(Chronological from here…)
- Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
- A lot of science wrapped in a thrilling story.
- Cumings, The Korean War (Excerpts)
- Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century
- Cowen, An Economist Gets Lunch
- Cirincione, Bomb Scare
- Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon
- Lewis, Boomerang
- More fun than The Big Short, not quite as good as Liar’s Poker.
- Roberts, The Storm of War
- Really engrossing read on key battles and personalities in WWII.
- Flynn, Gone Girl
- Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
- Translated by Ralph Manheim, try to go see it in original German.
- Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World
- Rilke, Duino Elegies, trans. Stephen Mitchell
- Wolfe, The Right Stuff (related essay)
- Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
- Judt, Memory Chalet
- Excellent essays on growing up in ’50s/’60s Europe.
- Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. J.E. Woods
- First 150 pages or so are stultifying, but it picks up. The ruminations on death/dying make it worth it.
- Glass, Music Without Words: A Memoir (related essay)
- Sebald, Austerlitz
- Stephenson, The Diamond Age
- I tweeted: “Wow, does anyone mix fun and deep as well as Neal Stephenson can?” Maybe I just don’t read enough science fiction, but Stephenson’s world is so fun and immersive. Plus, you feel like you’re learning a lot.
- Palaver, René Girard’s Mimetic Theory (related essay)
- George, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping
- I love ships and ships love me back. This is pretty much the perfect nonfiction book: many, many interesting facts weaved into a narrative story; and it’s slim, and doesn’t go overboard with too much detail.
- Benford, The Wonderful Future that Never Was (related essay)
- Watson, The German Genius (related essay)
- Wharton, Ethan Frome
- The Box, Marc Levinson (I now work at a company that arranges for air and ocean freight)
- Dick, The Man in the High Castle
- Scurlock, King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius
- Parsons, The British Imperial Century
- Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945
- The war from the perspective of the German population. One interesting fact: A quarter of Goebbel’s budget was spent on theatre, which was about as much as he spent on propaganda, and more than twice as much on film.
- Pomeranz and Topik, The World That Trade Created
- Chang, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
- Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat
- A remarkable book; this is how you write about opera.
- Yip & McKern, China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation
- Vance, Elon Musk
- Tombs, The English And Their History (related essay)
- DeWitt, Lightning Rods
- Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
- Liu, The Three Body Problem (related essay)
- Liu, The Dark Forest
- Foldenyi, Melancholy (related essay)
- Liu, Death’s End
- Kroeber, China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know
- Shepherd, Hitler’s Soldiers: The German Army in the Third Reich
- Gewirtz, Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China
- Brown, CEO China: The Rise of Xi Jinping
- Studwell, How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region
- McPhee, La Place de la Concorde Suisse
- Cowen, The Complacent Class (related essay)
- Harford, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
- Smil, Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing
- Sometimes polemical, but still a good overview of the dominance and decline of the American industrial base
- Wawro, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871
- Avent, The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century
- Miodownik, Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-Made World
- A wonderful, short book on materials: steel, paper, glass, plastics, etc.
- Stephenson, Seveneves
- Longerich, Goebbels
- Stephenson, Snow Crash
- Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What it is and How it Evolves
- Ge Fei, The Invisibility Cloak
- Yuk Hui, The Question Concerning Technology in China
- Haskel & Westlake, Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy
- Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom
- A history that reads almost like a novel
- Cartledge, A System Apart: Hong Kong’s Political Economy from 1997 Until Now
- Mann, Buddenbrooks
- Much easier to get through than Der Zauberberg
- A very Chinese novel… shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in four generations
- Lewis, The Tang Dynasty
- What’s important about Tang? Draining the south (Jiangnan and Lingnan), making it the permanent economic center of the empire; institutionalization of the Sui Codes; breaking of the aristocratic families.
- Bernhard, The Loser
- Hanson, The Second World Wars
- At some point one should decide to stop reading about this topic. This superb book is about it for me.