Linklist: September 12, 2011

Via Marginal Revolution: Monopoly Property Value Calculator Centives. Calculate the value of properties in the game of Monopoly. Cool for those of us in the Value Capture arena.

Steven Hauser: Transit Usability Articles An interesting set of links on usability on Metro Transit by someone who works at the U.

From Felix Salmon via Bruce Schneier (Schneier on Security): Moving 211 Tons of Gold: ”
The security problems associated with moving $12B in gold from London to Venezuela.

“It seems to me that Chávez has four main choices here. He can go the FT’s route, and just fly the gold to Caracas while insuring each shipment for its market value. He can go the Spanish route, and try to transport the gold himself, perhaps making use of the Venezuelan navy. He could attempt the mother of all repo transactions. Or he could get clever.
Which leaves one final alternative. Gold is fungible, and people are actually willing to pay a premium to buy gold which is sitting in the Bank of England’s ultra-secure vaults. So why bother transporting that gold at all? Venezuela could enter into an intercontinental repo transaction, where it sells its gold in the Bank of England to some counterparty, and then promises to buy it all back at a modest discount, on condition that it’s physically delivered to the Venezuelan central bank in Caracas. It would then be up to the counterparty to work out how to get 211 tons of gold to Caracas by a certain date. That gold could be sourced anywhere in the world, and transported in any conceivable manner — being much less predictable and transparent, those shipments would also be much harder to hijack.
But here’s one last idea: why doesn’t Chávez crowdsource the problem? He could simply open a gold window at the Banco Central de Venezuela, where anybody at all could deliver standard gold bars. In return, the central bank would transfer to that person an equal number of gold bars in the custody of the Bank of England, plus a modest bounty of say 2% — that’s over $15,000 per 400-ounce bar, at current rates.
It would take a little while, but eventually the gold would start trickling in: if you’re willing to pay a constant premium of 2% over the market price for a good, you can be sure that the good in question will ultimately find its way to your door.
Any other ideas?”

Environmental and Urban Economics: Travel by Bikes in Cities:

“Those who live closer to the city center and live in “environmentalist communities” are most likely to commute by bike. There is a network externality here. If more people in the community want to commute by bike, the local Mayor has a greater incentive to supply infrastructure to support this choice. As the Mayor invests public funds in improving biking as a commuting mode, more “bike types” will move to this city and more incumbent commuters will choose to commute by bike.
So, this is really a commons issue of reallocating land away from other uses towards being “bike friendly”. In China right now, the opposite trend is taking place. Public space that was used by bikes is now being grabbed by cars. Now , can’t “we all get along”? This is an open question given that cars and bikes move at different speeds and that the laws of physics are well understood.”

Marginal Revolution: Cities as hotels : “Earlier this year I posted about India’s private city, Gurgaon. Gurgaon has grown from nothing to a city of 1.5 million people in just 30 years and it has done so based almost entirely on the private provision of public goods, including transportation, utilities, and security.”