Saturday, October 8, 2011

A couple of thoughts on the passing of Steve Jobs

(1) I wish we could have a tax code that could somehow discriminate between the truly productive rich and the, well, rich.  While I agree with Elizabeth Warren that no one gets rich by himself, there are rare people who really do know how to spend their own money better than the government.  The social returns to Steve Jobs must be remarkable.

(2) When politicians (and others) pay fealty to a market economic, their implicit assumption is that markets are competitive and exhibit, among other things, industrial (if not firm specific) constant returns to scale.  But successful enterprises like Apple often exhibit increasing returns to scale, at least for awhile, and certainly do not produce commodities sold into a competitive market.  Apple's innovation gives ii market pricing power, which is why it is so successful.  Without that pricing power, there might never be an Apple.  Yet the fact that success often requires market power implies that policies based on an assumption of a competitive equilibrium might be misplaced, perhaps disastrously so.