Sunday, October 16, 2011

If Mainstream News Covered Politics Like They Cover the NBA

Sean Hannity would tell us OMB's latest estimates for the growth rate of TANF block grants in FY12.

Wolf Blitzer would tweet about the alignment of GOP representatives with either Cantor or Boehner on the Airport And Airway Extension Act.

Your local News At Eleven would lead with the number of weekly cafeteria duty periods agreed to in the latest teachers' labor contract.

TMZ would publish a leaked draft of the latest Status of Forces Agreement between the USA and Bulgaria.

Jay Leno would bring on his favorite economist to opine on the wage elasticity of labor supply.

C-SPAN would play in local watering holes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Suggestion For NBA Owners

Would you rather not give away half of your revenue to your performers? Why settle for the NBPA's latest offer when you can improve your economics a hundredfold?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NBA Labor Talks Go Nowhere

Pro basketball labor negotiations concluded today without an agreement and with grim portents for the coming months: The entire October slate of pre-season games has been cancelled, and regular-season games will be cancelled next Monday if there is no agreement by that time.

Reading the quotes in this article, it seems that the NBA owners formally offered a revenue split of 47% to the players, but Commissioner Stern later strongly hinted that they are willing to come up to 50%. The players' union, however, remains unwilling to budge from its latest offer of 53%. (Whether the owners are sincere in suggesting that a 50-50 split would sate them is unclear, but it would be difficult to walk back from such a public statement.)

It seems, then, that the owners are more ready to compromise to reach a deal today and begin playing ball. I do not attach any moral opprobrium or admiration for a willingness to cave on one's initial position, or for a stubborn insistence on not losing face. I merely note that the players appear less willing to agree to the psychologically salient half-half division of revenues. (They may soften their resolve after a couple months of lost paychecks, of course. An entire missed season of salary is a greater loss, given the average player's 5-year career, than the aggregated annual differences between 50% and 53% of total revenues.)

Of course, a negotiating party can try to appear reasonable by throwing out an extreme initial bid and then "compromising" to something less provocative. And the owners have already won a dimension of these talks by carving out certain revenue streams from the definition of "Basketball-Related Income" that is subject to division. I am mindful that Stern and the NBA owners are trying to spin external observers and commenters. In these talks, the owners began with a proposal of 46% to the players, while the players would have been chuffed to continue the 57% dictated by the 2005 labor agreement. Perhaps the players feel that they should not have to move so much. But the old contract is now null and void; the players' new bargaining position is determined solely by economic factors and the wiles of their negotiating team.