Saturday, September 17, 2011

An American in England

After a 25 year absence, I returned to the LSE campus today.  I couldn't resist entering their bookstore.  When I was 20 years old, I spent a fair bit of $ there.   Now that I'm 45,  I know most of the authors of the books they have in stock.  Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz have their own sections at the bookstore and there were columns of Tirole's old IO book piled up and ready to be sold.    Ed Glaeser's Triumph of the City can be purchased there but my Climatopolis is not stocked there.  You get what you deserve!  The school seems to have to have forgotten that I'm proud member of the class of '87.

I went on a 3 hour walk today and walked along the Thames until I arrived at the Government buildings. Take a look at this photo below.   Their Department of Energy is called the "Department of Energy and Climate Change".    Interesting stuff.


London looks real good to me (it reminds me of Washington DC now that crime is down in our nation's capital) except the weather quickly shifted from sun to heavy rain and I was unprepared. I left my umbrella and raincoat at the hotel.   I was proud of myself that armed simply with my blackberry's Google Map (but no real map), I was able to navigate London's crooked streets and return to my hotel without a taxi or asking anyone for help.

On my red eye flight from LA to London, I didn't get much work done but I did read a good book about commercial real estate (Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur by James Randel).  Now that I'm a real estate Professor, I am determined to really know my stuff.  The 10 hour flight flew by but I only slept for 2 hours and watched parts of 4 different movies (Thor, Limitless, Tomorrow Never Something (Bond movie), and Bridemaids (not a dudes' movie).

In yesterday's UK Independent newspaper, there was a very interesting article that I can't find online.  It said that the UK is revamping its food spoilage date regulation.  Everyone seeks to avoid buying old rancid milk and the dates on the milk help.  Apparently in the UK, there is concern among environmentalists that "good food" is being thrown out prematurely because it has an early expiration date.  This raises an interesting issue. If I understood the article, some foods may no longer present an expiration date.  So, there is a tradeoff --- consumers want to be able to differentiate high quality and low quality food and low quality food is "older food".   Given that sellers are unable to price differentiate on "age" of food, they must prefer to not date the food and instead say; "milk is milk".  If a supermarket can sell 2 week old milk and 3 week old milk it faces less inventory risk from week to week milk demand shocks.  In the past, it would lose if milk demand in week 2 is low because it will be called "bad milk" in week 3.  Now, I can't remember if milk will still be required to be labeled but I stick to my general point.  Economists are big fans of information provision but this appears to be a case where consumers will be given less information.