Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If You Want the Federal Government to be Less Intrusive . . .

. . . root against the Washington Redskins. No kidding. From the working paper "Redskins and Regulation," by Bentley Coffey, Patrick A. McLaughlin, and Robert D. Tolison:
We examine the correlation between federal government activity and the performance of the D.C. area's National Football League team, the Washington Redskins. We find a significantly positive, non-spurious, and robust correlation between the Redskins' winning percentage and the amount of federal government bureaucratic activity as measured by the number of pages in the Federal Register. Because the Redskins' performance is prototypically exogenous, we give this surprising result a causal interpretation. Drawing upon public choice theory and behavioral economics, we provide a plausible explanation for the causal mechanism: bureaucrats must make "logrolling" deals in order to expand their regulatory power, and a winning football team acts as a commonly shared source of joyous optimism to lubricate such negotiations. We do not find the same correlation when examining Congressional activity, which we attribute to legislator loyalty to their home state's team(s).
(via Newmark's Door)


  1. I must presume this is posted here as an example of fruitcake propeller-head PhD's and goof-ball nutty-economists with nothing better to do with their grad students, SPSS and StatPak programs.

    Indeed, this is an excellent example of how correlation is not causation. Believe me, when the (Dead)skins are doing poorly (like for the past several seasons), there is no lack of opportunity for bureaucrats and lobbyists to co-mingle in the DC environs.

  2. I believe Anonymous is mis-interpreting the work by Bentley Coffey, Patrick A. McLaughlin, and Robert D. Tolison(CM&T). Dodds bill is a legislative action and their study stated explicitly that there was no correlation between Redskins and congress. So this Bill does not prove there is no causation here.

    In fact, since legislation is required before new bureaucratic action can begin, it will be interesting to note any improvements in Redskin success if the Bill passes. At that point CM&T suggests we all do whatever is necessary to defeat the Redskins if we favor smaller bureacracy. POWER TO THE MANNINGS!

  3. Anon responding here, though not to give this 'study' more attention than it deserves.

    Efin, I have no idea how Dodd's bill is a factor at all as the inferred (and likely spurious) effect has nothing whatsoever to do with it, or any other single piece of legislation for that matter.

    And, FYI, the Fed Register publishes more than just regulations. If there were zero new legislation whatsoever (wow, imagine that!), it would continue to contain pages and pages of content.

    I wish these numb skulls had run the correlations for the rest of the NFL, the NBA, or my kids soccer team for that matter. I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts they would have found at least one to have as good or better R2's and sig. T's as those for the (Dead)skins.

    This is junk econometrics no matter how one looks at it. These authors should get a real job - like at McDonalds's. Then they could run correlations for something more important, like the number of 'with fries' orders and their home NFL teams's performance.

  4. Anon said: "This is junk econometrics no matter how one looks at it."

    Couldn't agree more, except I think all econometrics is junk. I guess my tongue was too deeply planted in my cheek to be observed.