March 19, 2011

A Market for Hukou

Amid the soaring housing prices in numerous major cities in China, some local governments have proposed contractionary housing market policies to cool down the fervency, including limiting the purchase of additional new housing and that by nonlocal residents. In Beijing, temporary residents without a Beijing hukou are now forbidden to purchase residential housing until they have been working and paying taxes in the municipality for five years. Some netizens even suggest that Beijing residents (hukou holders) make money by faking marriage with nonlocals who have the intention of buying a house in Beijing, and divorcing afterward.

The ill-justified hukou system has been a long-time issue, constantly debated among Chinese intellectuals. While seriously doubting the equity, efficiency and validity of this current housing purchase limitation policy, I cannot stop thinking about allowing people to trade their hukou under the existing system, so that people (like me) may get some extra cash by leasing out their little used Beijingese ID. If the government established the system only to limit the number of residents in urban areas to avoid congestion, then exactly who live there should not be an issue.

This cap-and-trade system can potentially make a huge market and a partially efficient solution, if the trading cost and barrier could be lowered to ground.

March 10, 2011

Economics Rankings

A few rankings in Economics that I found helpful:

World rankings:

  • ARWU. Also known as the Shanghai ranking.
  • Tilburg Top 100 Ranking
  • IDEAS. Compiled by the "largest bibliographic database dedicated to Economics and available freely on the Internet". But use this one with caution.

US rankings:

March 3, 2011

How to use a toolbox in Matlab

A Matlab toolbox is a batch of functions dedicated to a specific purpose, e.g. statistical analysis. Most Matlab distributions contain a handful of toolboxes of their own; they can be accessed from the "Start" button at the lower-left corner of the Matlab interface. But once in a while you may need to install external toolboxes for usage in a particular area.

Days ago I came across the Econometrics toolbox for Matlab (different from the (other) Econometrics toolbox installed with the Matlab R2009a distribution; see help econ) which I need for my Honors Project. At first I couldn't figure out how I can use the functions in this package, and I googled but there was no relevant document either. Thanks to Amanda and others, I eventually figured this out.

First you need to move the folder of the toolbox to some domestic location; I would suggest Document\MATLAB on Mac machines where is the default folder for Matlab files. Then, from the menu bar, choose File > Set Path..., click Add with Subfolders... before choosing the folder of the toolbox (which includes all functions of it). Now you should see all subfolders of the collection you've chosen included in the list on the right. Save it, and now you should be able to command any function newly added like all other functions. Enjoy!