Feed on

Here is the latest from Vox:

Obamacare succeeded for one simple reason: it’s horrible to be uninsured

So here we’ve come. Now the entire health care reform is a success because … people signed up for it. That’s sort of a low bar isn’t it? Well, maybe not:

The health-care law beat its mark because it was selling something 8 million people want to buy.

Maybe. Maybe not. The “law” beat its mark because THERE IS A MANDATE to buy it. Now, I surely am a know-nothing partisan hack. but I would not exactly call any program a success based on people signing up for it, and I surely wouldn’t double down on that claim by glossing over the fact, yes fact, they all of the sign-ups were legally required to do it.

I’m sort of at a loss for words for a good analogy. Maybe, “the 1st grade was a success because every kid signed up for it.” In any case, this might be more evidence that Vox is doomed. Or not, after all, I’ve always argued that people get what they want. 

  1. It is commonly believed that workers are exploited, for a variety of reasons, by their employers. One retort of folks like me would be that if there are other options for you to work, then this really couldn’t be true. There are many other retorts. Let’s ask about one more: in how many jobs do you think workers have any room to slow down/slack off/etc? Right now, I am blogging this from my office when I should be prepping for my class. I suppose you could argue that this exercise is making me a better teacher and is really not slacking off, but is it? To the extent that there is ANY room to “slack off” at work, how can it be the case that you are exploited? And are there many jobs today where people are actually busting it for 8 hours per day? I’ll toot my own horn and argue my wife’s job is one such job, but outside of critical care units in hospitals I am not sure. I bet eBay auction activity peaks in the middle of the day, as does the filling out of tournament brackets and checking of sports scores.

  2. Related to the above, you know that about the only way you can “get”  a pay raise and get to keep 100% of that raise is … to … slack off at work. If you make a fixed salary, say, $10,000 per year. If you can manage to “get your work done” in fewer hours, while it may look like you are actually more productive by productivity measurements, you are actually not, since you are still on the clock for the same amount of time.. But if that time is spent daydreaming, listening to podcasts, planning vacations, e-mailing your mom, checking out college sports results, and so on, which I know NO ONE does, then of course you are taking higher pay home and it is not being taxed. I’d love to see some data on how such behavior (no one self reports that honestly however) correlates to marginal income tax rates and other effective penalties on work effort.

  3. I’ve been toying with fully “flipping” at least one of my classes. However, I think that in a room of 300 people that idea stinks. I also am having two other doubts. First, it’s that a flipped class is actually less effective than a well organized lecture and discussion, because I think the videos are far too canned to be as good as I’d want them to be – students cannot stop a video in the middle and ask my avatar a question, among other problems. Second, the more I think about it, the less I think “flipped” classrooms are innovative at all. If you have a well chosen set of readings, and require students to prepare for class by doing those, perhaps also by watching a few video supplements and a few podcast supplements, how is that any different than having them watch instructional videos? So, at any moment a classroom can and I argue should be flipped. I think some sort of hybrid model is probably right. But my new thinking on flipping is not that this is particularly innovative or educational, but perhaps more enjoyable form of delivery, or even an “easier” form of delivery for “millenials” who grow up not reading or liking to read, and who do not see value in struggling for a couple weeks on a brutal problem set or struggling on an exam with material that goes beyond rote memorization. I think the problem is not lectures per se, but huge classes that do not allow (me) instructors to spend time with all of their students, should those students actually want it.

  4. To this day, I’ve NEVER had a response to my point about our government collectively spending over $6 trillion per year and it still proudly parading around as if that’s not enough to do what they want to do. I’d make the additional observation here that if what the government were actually providing were true “public goods” then either (1) it would not have to spend nearly as much as the economy and the population grows, yet instead we’ve seen the opposite, or (2) if it were a pure transfer system that actually delivered benefits to the poor and needy and did not extract resources from the poor and needy and middle class and upper class to shower benefits on the chosen few, then the $6 trillion would perhaps be less of a “concern” since it would’t actually be all that costly. 


If you read the Fed’s consolidated financial statements for fun and take them seriously, you would learn that the Fed’s current leverage ratio is …


It’s just a number of course.

He concludes an excellent piece with:

I don’t mean to criticize anyone in particular. (I used to be the economics instructor.) In all of these cases, there really isn’t anything any one individual can do to remedy the bad practices. Making a big issue of them would lead to useless excommunication. Instead we shrug ironically. In our society, an ironic attitude is a token of sophistication (a telling word, which once meant corruption but now implies competence). An ironic attitude towards collective ethics is adaptive. It helps basically decent individuals participate in coalitions that ruthlessly contend for rents. But perhaps we’d have a better society if, rather than turning our ethical discomfort into an object of aesthetic consideration, lots of us worked straightforwardly to remedy it. And perhaps more of us would do so if the risk of losing our place were not so terrible. Ethical behavior is endogenous. “Inequality” renders it costly.

The rest (long) is spot on in my view.

Update: the first article I read this morning was about a voice vote in the Senate which included, among other things, an extension for 2 more years, a 20 year old (but recently expired) wind production tax credit.

Just had the pleasure of watching Rocky with my daughter and that line above was one I missed when I first watched it 30 years ago. At the end of the epic fight, where Rocky had just gone the distance against Apollo (and lost), the news folks and TV folks are swarming Rocky, and upon seeing Adrian in the crowd come toward him to embrace him at the end of the fight, Rocky’s very first response had nothing at all to do with himself, how he felt, the fight, what he had just accomplished – nothing. Nope, what he worried about was that on her way to the ring from the dressing room, as she fought through the throngs of fans in the crowd, she managed to lose her red hat. And Rocky asked HER about that.

Tax Rumination

Let me offer a few simple, cranky, thoughts on taxes today.

(1) I like to believe I am not the dumbest person on the planet. I also happen to be a professional economist. And I have absolutely NO IDEA going into the year how much in tax obligations I owe to the government at all levels. If I get within 10% I would be incredibly impressed with myself. I find that to be “problematic.”

(2) In terms of tax incidence, it is well understood that at all levels, but even just at the federal level, the rich pay much larger shares of their incomes as taxes than the non-rich, despite the rhetoric. The table below, from the CBO, shows it for the federal level. But what I’d like to see, but cannot find from a cursory search, is a distribution of tax payments by household. For example, if you paid $10,000 in taxes last year, what percentile of the tax paying distribution does that put you in?

Average Federal Tax Rates, by Income Group, 2010

(3) Just for those of you who know me and my extravagant and unseemly lifestyle, my estimate is that Rachel and I, whose combined income puts us nowhere near the 1% (not that it should matter), paid a total of about SIXTY THREE THOUSAND dollars in taxes last year. Are we doing our share? And let’s ask simply, does that make us more or less likely to give to charities in a given year? Given that I am told that government is supposed to provide for my health and retirement security, does this make me more or less likely to save for my own health and retirement? Does this make us more or less likely to spend time in the community in a given year? Does this make us more or less likely to be sympathetic to all of the “hard work” our elected officials do? We can ask many more questions. But I’d like to do this exercise one day (were in not impossible due to Friedman’s stupid recommendation that we have tax withholding). I want to take $63,000 worth of cash. And I want to go to a research lab investigating basic disease pathways. And I want to go to a single mother in the inner city who is struggling to find work and feed her kids. And I want to go to a piece of state or national forest that is threatened by some development or other encroachment. And I’d like to ask, “are you better off with me handing some of this to you or by me sending it all to Albany and DC first and having their experts take care of you?” Note that this is not committing the “voluntarism fantasy” (more on that in a future post) but rather me committing the $63,000 to the causes that we support. Is there ANYONE, regardless of political affiliation, who would say,”yah, you know, I don’t think we want that money from you, better to funnel it through the political sausage grinders in DC and Albany, that way we can make sure it is spent properly!”

No reason to go on. I’ll just leave with my annual takeaway point. I think my family is upper middle class at best, and we pay $63,000 every year in taxes. My bet is half of this is totally wasted and funneled to politically favored interests. My bet is that half the remaining funds are used to supply services that we take advantage of (this is not to say they couldn’t otherwise be provided” and the remaining quarter maybe goes to do things we otherwise couldn’t do on our own. But the larger point I will beat on until I am in the grave … at all levels of government we spend DIRECTLY over $6 trillion. That government spending is equivalent to the second or third largest country on Earth if we relate that to GDP. And people are still screaming that we can’t get basic infrastructure provided. We can’t get adequate schooling provided. We can’t get enough funds for basic scientific research. Our military is squeezed. Our state budgets are squeezed.

Well, as they say, (insert mean words here). That’s pathetic. There is simply no case to be made that we are undertaxed, that we underspend, or can’t get done what needs to get done. Every time I hear that, (remember yesterday’s post) this is a gigantic admission that the entire apparatus is incompetent and failing, and yet that is proudly pronounced by supporters of big government each and every time this sort of an issue comes up. There is no reason for me to be charitable to that view. If there is a case to raise taxes more, or spending more, it’s NOT on the grounds that we’re not doing enough now. Not … at … all. That case can only be supported by arguing, however crazy I think it is, that we should do more, that families like mine should “contribute more”, that retirees “deserve” more, that all of our “obligations” to all of the millions of people with hands in the cookie jar must be met in full. Give me a break.

Finally, just to kick us in the nuts a little harder than normal, after I paid $90 to Turbotax to do my taxes (a racket if there ever was one), I was greeted with a sales tax on the software on top of it. Thugs.

Update: the first article I read today is this one from Vox …

Yes, they are calling the lack of movement on infrastructure a “tragedy.” Quiz time everyone: how much of the federal gas tax dollars have actually been funneled to toy transit projects and away from roads? Question #2 is this really a “tragedy?” Question #3 so 6 years into the crisis we’re still in a depression? Can I just ask someone to tell me when it’s over? Finally … well … I think Vox is doomed. This particular author used to write far more nuanced pieces than this. Tragedy? … $6 trillion. Repeat it …$6 trillion and one of government’s most fundamental jobs is being deemed a tragedy. Emperor? Clothes?

Here is some unsolicited advice for my students. My university, like many I am sure, offer students the opportunity to take a class with a Pass/Fail option (S/F in our university lexicon). The stated reason for this, like all things in education, sounds quite reasonable: to allow students to explore a wider and more challenging array of classes than they otherwise would have. As you probably realize, there is quite the chasm between what we say about the pass-fail option and what it actually ends up looking like.

From my experience teaching, advising majors and advising first year students, my sense for the pass-fail is that it is either chosen to “take it easy” in a course irrespective of whether the student is trying to extend her horizons, or more likely that it is not chosen ex ante but rather an ex post decision declared in courses only after students realize they are doing poorly. We allow students to select this pass-fail option well into the semester (after 10 weeks for most students, and even later for first-year students). The problem with doing this should be obvious, and not just to my intermediate micro students.

What is this problem? Well, there is information embedded in ANY signal you let out there – from the way you dress, to the choice of words you use, to the college you attend, the car you drive and yes right down to the pass-fail option. Think about how prospective employers and graduate schools interpret a transcript with an S on it, especially if it is in a course that seems to have a topic similar to the others you have taken (in other words, it is clear that you did not take an arcane music history course for fun all the while being preMed)? If you expected an A, and they expected you to get an A, you’d be better off showing the A instead of the pass-fail grade. Indeed, anyone with an A would end up revealing their pass-fail grade anyway. This would leave people to believe that ANY pass-fail grade can be no higher than a B. But if people know this, and they surely do, then there is an incentive for any student with a B to reveal that grade so that people don’t mistakenly think their “hidden” grade is worse than it really is. And so now all people with an A and a B reveal their grades. That means that anyone with a remaining S on their transcript is either a C or a D student. If students realize this, then they will reveal if their grade is a C (and many do, since they need the actual grade to count toward major or other distribution requirements), leaving all students with S grades being all students with D grades. I can imagine the situation where the Cs don’t reveal.

But the point is this – if you have an S on your transcript, for WHATEVER reason, people gain valuable information from it. First it tells people that you are the kind of person who, when doing poorly, takes this option instead of bearing down and seeing the full consequences. Second, it suggests that if you were surprised by the class, that you at least were not prepared enough on the way in so that you were NOT surprised by it. But third and most important, what it tells people is that if you have the S on your transcript, it is no different than having a D on your transcript. In other words, just as in the “old days” the “For Sale” sign on a car was a pretty good indication that the car was a “lemon” you putting the S sign on your car is a pretty good indicator that you are a lemon, at least in that course. 

I am pretty sure that is not a signal folks want to send to employers or graduate schools or parents. None of this post is to suggest that there are not reasons for colleges to offer the pass-fail option, or for students to take it, it is intended to demonstrate albeit simply, what the signal embedded in that choice is for students and that this information is quite clear given the many other things students and colleges try to do in order to help students scrub their transcripts a little cleaner. I have two of my own children, and should they find themselves in a situation where they wanted to pass-fail a course, I would strongly inveigh upon them to NOT choose such an option, regardless of the grade they might ultimately get, but that’s just me. Finally, given the basic lessons of the economics of information, we can have a nice discussion about what information comes out of my mouth in general as a teacher and adviser, and what of that information is to be believed or whether it is even possible to convince someone to believe it. But that’s for another day.

Yesterday I suggested that the articles on both Picketty’s super-duper-mega-important book of the century on capitalism as well as the Yglesias piece on the gender wage gap were deserving of a fine toothed comb. Here, Matt Rognlie (whose blog I used to follow but for some reason I can’t get his feed to work for me), makes a particularly detailed critical observation about the book (i.e. the entire thing may be built like a famous Don McLean song).

Now for the (sort of) lament. About 10 years ago I started taking a strong interest in environmental issues and in particular trying to get up to speed on how climate modelers do their business, on how economists estimate damages from global warming and a whole host of related issues. As I peruse various research papers and journals on the topics and especially the punditry’s reporting on papers I do not have in front of me, from time to time I find myself wanting to have an “academic oracle” of sorts to both help me clarify some questions but most of all to have them help me know when I am being duped, or a about to be duped. When one enters the academy, the expectation is that this is the sort of place where such oracles exist. But the climate in the academy doesn’t actually seem to be amenable to these sorts of things. Granted, I’ve only reached out explicitly to have questions answered about a dozen times since I started here (and in some of them I did get some suggestions for reading, in others just a quick “I’ll get back to ya!” sort of response), but I certainly have never once in my time fielded a call or an e-mail from someone asking me to clarify an economic comment that was read or a view that they may have held. I find this regrettable, and truly sad. One reason I put my old student groups together was at least to try to find a group of people committed to such an exercise and to be able to at least ask hard questions “within the tribe” … but I’ve since pulled the plug on that.

I’d suggest the culture is not really amenable to open inquiry, especially given my impressions (OK, they’re more than impressions) of how us racist, sexist, baby-seal clubbing, paid lackeys of corporate America economists are thought of on campus. That said, I truly did want to ask someone the following question, because I feel like I am being bamboozled by a “denier” … I just read a piece talking about the “green-housiness” of methane. For those of you who follow the fracking debate or the global warming question in some detail, you are surely familiar with the argument that CH4 is something like twenty-times more “powerful” a GHG than CO2 is … and that although it has a shorter half-life in the atmosphere, should any considerable amount of methane be released due to leaky fracking pipes, or worse yet from warming permafrost, then we’re toast – any impacts of CO2 are small in comparison. Hence, we already know that a huge chunk of current warming is attributed to agricultural practices, and some folks argue that fracking is actually carbon positive because so much methane leaks from wells (though my understanding of both the economics and the science of fracking suggests this is massively overstated).

So I’d LOVE to have someone help me understand the gist of the argument I read about today (and yes, I was a physics major for most of my college life). The claim was this: that YES it is true that methane is much more “green-housy” than carbon dioxide. But since it absorbs energy at similar places in the electromagnetic spectrum as a FAR MORE abundant molecule in the atmosphere, that being water vapor, that both water vapor and methane cannot both be absorbing the same energy from the sun. And if that is the case, then while technically in a glass jar methane is indeed a greenhouse gas, in effect since so much water is already in the atmosphere then the additional methane we’d get, even if all of the permafrost on Earth laid a massive perma-fart into the atmosphere, then we wouldn’t see much, if any, radiative absorption from it.

I just truly want to understand the chemical-physics here. Do any of you know? I’m going to give it one more shot and pluck a faculty member out of the blue on campus to see if they can help me understand it. If this is in fact true, wouldn’t this have had to been known for a long time and been written into an IPCC report at least? If it has not been understood, then how is it possible that it either has been misunderstood for so long, or that we have been so “confident” in much of climate modeling. And yes, I’ve read a lot on climate modeling – and this does not have to make anyone into a denier … the fact is, the way we model the climate is extremely primitive. I recommend reading the work of Daniel Botkin (who seems to be living the life I always imagined for myself when I was a kid in Queens) for good intuitive explanations for what those models do. I recommend this book, which I’ve worked through a couple of times, to learn about global warming forecasting.

Have a nice weekend.

I recommend to all of you to read Vox, which is Ezra Klein’s new enterprise. It is definitely a progressive site, but if all you do is read sites you agree with a priori I’d suggest you’re not understanding the full picture of the ideas you care deeply about. The folks who write for Vox are very smart (in a smart-sense), seem to appreciate the value of the academic literature on topics, they speak to an audience that is influential and they pretty much have all of the talking points down pat, among other things.

In any event, I am not sure Vox will survive, and I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to think about why. Part of it is the way each article brandishes itself in a sort of, “We’re so smart and you’re going to be surprised by !!!!” attitude, which can be gleaned from the headlines. Generally I find the articles at least pay a modicum of attention to “the other side” even if they are dismissed, and generally I find the articles implying that in fact the authors themselves are right, even when they are trying to present ideas and arguments objectively.

But, this piece on the new and important book by Thomas Picketty and this piece on the recent dust-up on the gender wage-gap are worth going through with a fine toothed comb. I can’t, but let’s just point out a couple of things to chew on.

First, the review of Picketty’s book. This is a book that is going to be the new bible of the left. But I would urge all non-lefties to take the arguments and data seriously, even if you don’t jump into the same bathtub of policy prescriptions (e.g. a coordinated global wealth tax among them, yikes!). Here is one slice:

Why does this matter?

Capital in the 21st Century essentially takes the existing debate on income inequality and supercharges it. It does so by asserting that in the long run the economic inequality that matters won’t be the gap between people who earn high salaries and those who earn low ones, it will be the gap between people who inherit large sums of money and those who don’t.

Piketty’s vision of a class-ridden, neo-Victorian society dominated by the unearned wealth of a hereditary elite cuts sharply against both liberal notions of a just society and conservative ideas about what a dynamic market economy is supposed to look like. Market-oriented thinkers valorize the idea of entrepreneurial capitalism, but Piketty says we are headed for a world of patrimonial capitalism where the Forbes 400 list will be dominated not by the founders of new companies but by the grandchildren of today’s super-elite.

What is to be done?

Piketty wants the major world economies to band together to assess a modest global wealth tax. Global cooperation is desirable to prevent the wealthy from simply shifting assets into other jurisdictions. But short of intense global cooperation, he thinks larger economic units-the United States, say, or the European Union-should move ahead with wealth taxes, estate taxes, and other efforts to curb the power of wealth.

Here is another:

Since r is usually larger than g, the wealthy get wealthier. The poor don’t necessarily get poorer, but the gap between the earnings power of people who own lots of buildings and shares and the earnings power of people working for a living will grow and grow.

All I would say about this (and you should read more) is that it is yet another prediction. And no, the history of horrible past predictions of doom and gloom do not mean this one will be wrong, but predictions as such must be taken with the appropriate grains of salt. There is a lot of speculation on what new technology will do to “the middle class” and the role of labor income versus capital income in the future. But I think something missing from this review (and we’ll see when my book is delivered) is the democratization of capital today as compared to the past. Even the concentration of the top 1% or higher slices of the income distribution are not the same today as they were 50 years ago.  But I think the MAJOR observation that does not get ANY airplay in all of the reviews of this book is the unhidden assumption that the reason to care about the persistence of capital in the future is because of ??? What, exactly? Are those who inherit big piles of wealth, even as the “poorer” themselves are also getting fabulously rich, going to do more damage to us in the future? How is that so? Will they buy up all the property, leaving us peasants to sleep in the open seas? Or is it that they are going to wield an enormous amount of political power? Well you know what, if it’s the latter there are actually some pretty simple solutions. I know they are as unlikely as a coordinated global wealth tax, but nonetheless it shows a real shallowness of intellectual sincerity or depth to not suggest it: shrink the power of the government. Absent the ability of the “landed rich” to control the levels of coercive power, for them to be able to do damage the rest of us requires a fairly elaborate series of imaginary hobgoblins to make me scared, at least. But no such proposal is forthcoming. I’d be more amenable to reading these guys sympathetically if EVERY SINGLE proposal any time there is a “problem” doesn’t involve the wheeling out of larger cannons and missiles than previously prevailed. Again, this is of course my ideology at play, but I can assure you I do no such things. I don’t see every problem out there and just knee-jerk answer, “aha! we just need to see a market emerge there!” … it may look like I say that, but I can assure you that is not the case, as anyone who has spoken to me about lean-tos, water, or the safety net can attest. There’s much more to say on it. My urge to you though is NOT to dismiss the arguments, they rightly ought to be addressed head on.

And here is an exerpt from Matt Yglesias’ brief “take-down” of the “take-down” on the gender wage gap dust-up. Actually, before the slice, a very brief background. Looking at raw data, it looks like the “typical” female earns 23% less than the “typical” male in the labor market. A crude argument made by a lot of folks is that this is evidence of discrimination, or that women are not being paid the same thing for doing the same work as men. But of course this truly is nonsense. And I mean that sincerely. Looking at the raw data tells us nothing about the age, experience, cognitive skills, educational attainment, occupation, and much, much more about the typical persons in the data. So, the point of any “argument” about this is that one needs to do some pretty basic statistical analysis to control for these differences, and then ask the question, “if a woman were in all respects the same as a man, how would her earnings for doing the same job for the same number of hours and years compare to the male counterpart?” Now, when careful statistical studies are done, the findings are that most of the differences disappear. That is relatively uncontroversial, or so I thought. Of course, this does not mean that there is not discrimination against women (maybe they should be earning MORE once we control for all of those other factors) or maybe there are discriminatory factors that lead to choices that make women’s wages lower than men’s … that’s fine, and we can all scream at each other about that and of course never resolve it. But recognizing that the raw data on wage and earnings differences is nearly useless is a requirement to have any reasoned discussion. But this is not possible in the world where we simply need to herd ourselves into our tribes. Here is Yglesias:

The skeptics are wrong — the gender pay gap is very very real

You can see what I mean by the tone and types of articles that prevail on Vox (it’s the same style as existed on Wonkblog previously). In any case here’s a bit more:

The commonly cited statistic that American women suffer from a 23 percent wage gap through which they make just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns is much too simplistic. On the other hand, the frequently heard conservative counterargument that we should subject this raw wage gap to a massive list of statistical controls until it nearly vanishes is an enormous oversimplification in the opposite direction. After all, for many purposes gender is itself a standard demographic control to add to studies — and when you control for gender the wage gap disappears entirely!

Of course that’s completely trivial. The question to ask about the various statistical controls that can be applied to shrink the gender gap is what are they actually telling us. The answer, I think, is that it’s tellinghow the wage gap works.

He then goes on to actually confirm what the research on the gap shows. So, the gender pay gap is real in much the same way that the adult-child pay gap is very very very real. And when we add controls for things like age and education the impact goes away. Understanding that is important, but the title of the piece is I argue extremely misleading. Finally, after recognizing several of the important controls (and reminding readers that these controls themselves are possibly subject to discrimination, such as sorting into occupations or even pre-market discrimination that makes it harder for women to do well in school, be a particular major and so on, etc.) I see no discussion of perhaps another huge reason for the pay gap: job risk. And I see no discussion of the evolution of this pay  gap over time, and how it looks for today’s millenial generation and the new cohorts of college grads. And I see no discussion of the impacts of recessions on men versus women. Or the difference in college and grad school attendance and completion by men versus women.

Why is this missing? I don’t know. Maybe Vox is rightly trying to keep its articles short and readable. But then the air of impartiality is certainly nothing more than air if points as such are at least not given space in a footnote. As I said, I am retired from blogging or engaging in these “debates” so these stories deserve a far richer and more thoughtful treatment than the above implies.

It was very sunny and pleasant there. Anyone who knows Rochester …


…a new paper appropriately titled “Demographics, Weather and Online Reviews.” The study analyzed 1.1 million online reviews of 840,000 restaurants, looking for exogenous — or external — factors in the data. In other words, they wanted to figure out what makes us like or dislike a restaurant, beside the restaurant itself.

The results can be surprising. The diners’ education levels? No effect on actual ratings. Population of the area? Again, not so much.

But reviewers consistently gave worse ratings when it was raining or snowing outside than when it was clear. And reviewers usually liked restaurants better on warm and cool days, rather than very hot or very cold ones.

In researcher Saeideh Bakhshi’s words: “The best reviews are written on sunny days between 70 and 100 degrees … a nice day can lead to a nice review. A rainy day can mean a miserable one.”

Not surprisingly, restaurants in California and Hawaii are popular.

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