There is a lot of snow

I was surprised to walk into the lounge in our office yesterday and see that not much was left of our breakfast bonanza, although the donation bucket that Miguel put up as a joke has some money in it.

My Street
My Street, Infamous 2005 Blizzard

I was recently reading that there used to be rent control in Boston. It has been abolished state-wide since 1994, but there were some failed attempts last year to restore it. Rent control is a great example of a political solution to an economic problem; I don't think a (sane) economist has ever endorsed the idea. Rent control essentially abolishes the use of price as a mechanism of information transmission. The problem is that, in a stable market, prices properly reflect the position of supply versus demand. This is why rent control leads to the reduced availability of real estate. Look at either New York or San Francisco during rent control: Demand far exceeded supply after and was balanced prior.

Back on Earth, the price of real estate is a function of the supply. When the price is fixed artificially low, the demand rises above that supply. People rent larger apartments than they need. Or kids move out from their parents quicker than they normally would. Price cannot act as a mechanism controlling purchase. You get the formation of black markets and property values fall because demand is high enough that property need not stay competitive to rent out. A second wave effect happens when new rental units are not built, because the profit margins are artificially low. Any new developments tend to be rent control exempt (generally under a "luxury" exemption). Supply dwindles further.

Historically, upon the abolishment of rent control, new buildings are built as the supply is low and the demand high, existing buildings are rennovated and improved to stay competitive, the illegal black markets immediately collapse, and housing availability goes up. When the government fixes prices, they presume to be a better economic indicator than supply and demand. I think not.

Stata Center
The Stata Center, Deadly Blizzard of '05

I forgot to mention it at the time, but inotify has made it into Andrew's 2.6-mm tree. Quite nice! We also released a new version of the patch that switches from a fixed buffer for the filename to one that is dynamically allocated. It took some effort to keep the alignment safe and portable, but it was ultimately not hard and should satisfy one of our bigger requests, reducing memory consumption and allowing for filenames of any length.