Sunday, August 24, 2008

Subsidized Education Arbitrage

Many university degrees lead to either a career in academia or in the catering business (philosophy and physics come to mind). In Canada, education is heavily subsidized, which leads to an unusually large pool of highly educated unskilled labor.

Many degrees require grueling effort for many years in fields that have no commercial application whatsoever. Diplomas in these fields are void of "know-how" value for employers, but they should bear the same "sorting effect" value as their counterpart in applied fields (like engineering). So by comparing the wages of physics majors and engineers in the industry, it should be possible to split the value of the "sorting effect" from that of scholarly knowledge.

Then again, the labor market is not very liquid (ask any HR person to describe the "sorting effect" and you'll see what I'm talking about), so an arbitrage opportunity may exist for those employer smart enough to exploit this inefficiency.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Liquidity in the meat market

I was having breakfast this morning at a restaurant where two servings of meat were offered with eggs and toast (the norm is one serving). The choices were bacon, ham and sausage. Out of the three, I personally prefer bacon, so I ordered two servings of bacon. Yet in the small survey of other patrons that were in the restaurant at the time, everyone ordered two types of meat. Apparently my stomach and taste buds form a much more liquid market (for bacon) than that of others. Or perhaps some other effect is going on here.