What the World Eats, Pretty Cool
Via The India Uncut Blog.
Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
From today's WSJ, "Our Soviet Health System" by Dr. Robert Swerlick, Emory University School of Medicine:
In response to Columbia President Lee Bolinger's (formerly president of the University of Michigan) article in the Chronicle for Higher Education (subscription required) "Why Diversity Matters," Dinesh D'Souza writes "Why Diversity Doesn't Matter:"
From the 25 year period from 1982 through January of 2007, the CPI for food increased at an annual rate of 2.89%, and the CPI for unleaded gasoline increased at almost exactly the same rate of 2.88% (see graph above, click to enlarge). However, the variability of gas prices over this period was almost 13 times higher than food prices, measured by the standard deviations of gasoline inflation and food inflation, 51% vs. 4% respectively. (And to be fair, if you add in the last several months of gasoline price increases, the 25-year average inflation rate for gas is slightly higher than for food.)
Think about how a majority of the general public would answers these 9 questions, let me predict their answers as follows:
The chart above (click to enlarge) is from Gongol.com's monthly Traffic Rankings for Major Business and Economics Websites, see the top 10 blogs above and Carpe Diem (#43) from June 1.
From John Stossell on ABC 20/20: "One reason that people are upset by gas prices is that the price is in your face every time you drive by the gas station. But it may surprise them that this year the price of lettuce, broccoli and apples increased much more than the price of gas. You probably don't know that because they don't post big signs like gas stations do."
"Bob Dole once told me that there are 42 senators from farm states and that pretty much means the government is going to be into ethanol."
We hear a lot about "Exxon Mobil's record profits" (108,000 hits on Google), but considerably less attention is paid to "Exxon Mobil's record taxes" (only 97 Google hits), which is approaching $30 billion per year (see chart above). That's a large number, so here are some ways to put $28 billion of taxes in perspective:
The Internet is a tightly controlled privilege in Cuba, reserved for the trusted elite. Private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization. Access in Cuba is limited to citizens who can prove they are engaged in research or connected to an accredited and approved institution.
From Monster's online job availability report for May, "The Monster Employment Index rose three points in May (see chart above), suggesting U.S. online recruitment activity and related demand for workers has stabilized at the end of the busy spring hiring season. Overall, 13 of 20 industries and seven of 23 occupational categories tracked by the Index registered increases of varying degrees last month. Year-over-year, the Index’s annual growth rate dipped slightly to 13%, but showed a moderate improvement over the slower pace recorded in the first quarter of
I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change.
The First Lesson of Economics: We live in a universe of scarcity, and there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it.
Amount of wealth required to be in the nation's top 1%: More than $5,000,000
Bottom Line: Most wealth is not inherited, and most fortunes are not made passively in the stock market. Rather, wealth and fortunes are mostly created by many years of hard work and effort directed toward "solving a problem or doing something better than it's been done before." In other words, in the self-interested pursuit of wealth, entrepreneurs are led by the "invisible hand" to solve other people's problems, or produce new products for other people, or produce existing products more efficiently for other people, to the great benefit of everybody in society.
From "About Those "Skyrocketing" Gas Prices," by Larry Elder
WSJ: "The S&P 500 rallied to a new record close on Wednesday, a long seven years since its prior record close of 1527.46, on March 24, 2000 (see chart above).
The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 2592.59, its highest close since Feb. 7, 2001. It is up 7.3% on the year, but is still a long way (2,456 points) from its record close of 5048.62, set on March 10, 2000 (see chart above). In percentage terms, the NASDAQ Index would still have to increase by almost 95% to break the 2000 record close.
I recently had a post about why $5 per gallon gas would be good for America, because the higher the price and the longer gas stays expensive, the greater the conservation, and the greater the chance we'll someday see viable alternatives. In today's Washington Post, Robert Samuelson has an excellent, related article ("A Full Tank of Hypocrisy"):
Another factor to consider when comparing today's gas prices to previous years is the significant increase in fuel efficiency over the last 25 years. According to the EIA, average fuel efficiency in 1981 was about 15.6 miles per gallon (MPG), and now it is over 20 MPG, almost a 30% increase (see graph above, click to enlarge). The "Real Cost Per Mile" series above takes into account both the changes in inflation-adjusted gas prices and the changes in fuel efficiency over time.
Then there are the famous "obscene" profits of oil companies. Again, there is no definition and no criterion by which you could tell obscene profits from PG-13 profits or profits rated G.
"Fair trade" is code for protectionism disguised as retaliation against other countries that may or may not practice protectionism, and it's a bad sign when even Republicans talk about "fair" rather than "free" trade.
According to today's release from the BLS, therse are Top 5 Metro Areas with the lowest April unemployment rates (3 of the 5 are in Montana):
"In all our FDA history, we are unable to find a single instance where a Congressional committee investigated the failure of FDA to approve a new drug. But the times when hearings have been held to criticize our approval of a new drug have been so frequent that we have not been able to count them. The message to FDA staff could not be clearer."
Jimmy Wales invented Wikipedia (it currently has 1.6 million articles in English), and he remains its reigning local deity. Despite that, Wikipedia actually happened because it was allowed to happen. Rather than specifying at the beginning what the rules would be, Wales let the community evolve its own rules, in response to real needs.
To those who believe a trade surplus should be the objective of policy, take a look at Japan and Germany. Both have had large and persistent trade surpluses for decades. But for the better part of the past two decades, Japan has experienced anemic economic growth. Germany, during the same period, has had mostly double-digit unemployment. Meanwhile, the United States, with its large and growing deficit, has experienced steady, consistent economic growth and job creation over the same period.
NEW YORK: The price of a New York taxi medallion reached a record $600,000. The previous record price Medallion financed was $550,000. Prices of corporate medallions have increased from $195,000 in 2001 to the record $600,000.
1. In 1993, Canadian patients waited on average 9.3 weeks between the time they saw their family physician and the time they actually received specialist treatment. By 2006, that wait had nearly doubled to 17.8 weeks.
Here is the Fraser Institutes's press release.
American legislators and policymakers seem oblivious to the scientific and economic realities of ethanol production. Brazil and other major sugar cane-producing nations enjoy significant advantages over the U.S. in producing ethanol, including ample agricultural land, warm climates amenable to vast plantations and on-site distilleries that can process cane immediately after harvest.
You don't need to know any economics to be in favor of "a living wage" or "affordable housing." In fact, the less economics you know, the more you can believe in such things.
CARACAS (Reuters) - VRCTV was the most popular TV station in Venezuela, and has been on the airwaves for 53 years. Venezuela shut down the opposition television channel on Monday and replaced it with one promoting President Hugo Chavez's self-proclaimed socialist revolution in a move widely criticized as a threat to democracy.
1. The first CAFE standards, according to a 2002 National Research Council study, resulted in 1,300 to 2,600 more Americans killed on the roads in 1993, a typical year, because cars were lighter. If any pharmaceutical product had killed that many patients the manufacturer would be bankrupt. Families can sue Merck, but not Uncle Sam.
According to a study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, cocaine prices (adjusted for inflation) fell by more than 80% between 1981 and 2003, while the average purity almost doubled from 40% to 70% during that period (see graph above, click to enlarge). The data in the graph are for amounts of powdered cocaine less than 2 grams, the report also has price and purity for larger amounts, as well as price/purity data for heroin, crack cocaine, meth and marijuana, for those data go here.
From today's Detroit News: According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth the average pay in 2006 for state government employees was $49,660. For private-sector workers, the comparable figure was $42,588. That's a difference of close to 17 percent.
A previous post discusses how the "marriage gap" might contribute to increasing income inequality. Another explanation of income inequality is offered by USA Today - it's a "generation gap":
Percentage of domestic oil resources currently off-limits in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf : 78