Let's Legalize It: Bone Marrow and Kidneys
Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
The chart above shows the bond market's inflation prediction since the beginning of the year, calculated as the weekly difference between the 10-year regular, nominal Treasury yield (data here) and the 10-year Treasury inflation-indexed yield (a measure of the real interest rate, data here), both on a constant maturity basis. From a yearly high of 2.62% in mid-April, the proxy for bond investors' inflation outlook has been trending downward, and reached a year-to-date low of 1.82% in late September. After rising above 2% for three weeks for the last week of October and the first two weeks of November, the inflation expectation spread has been below 2% for the last two weeks.
The chart above shows monthly inflation rate from the Billion Prices Project @ MIT over the period from the first of the year through October 31. According to the BPP website, the index is "designed to provide real-time information on major inflation trends, not to forecast official inflation announcements. We are constantly adding new categories of goods, but we do not cover 100% of CPI goods and services. The price of services, in particular, are not easy to find online and therefore are not included in our statistics."
Like the Santa Claus Beard Beanie pictured above, and there's lots more here from Stupid.com.
Here's an interesting study titled "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption," by economists D. Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees. This is the abstract:
Auto sales were released today by Autodata, and excluding the artificially high "cash for clunker" month of August 2009, light vehicles sales in November were the strongest in any month since June 2008, almost two and-a-half years ago (see chart above). On a seasonally adjusted annual rate, 13.63 million cars were sold last month, which was an 11% gain from the same month last year and almost a 3% improvement from October.
Washington, D.C.'s unemployment rate has been rising over the last year, and at 11.1% in September was more than two percent above the 9% jobless rate for the country (which has been falling, see chart above). Further, more people in the District are now unemployed - 37,034 - than at any other time in the city's history. So you would think that if an employer promised to bring 1,600 permanent jobs and 600 construction jobs to the city, and also pledged $21 million in charitable donations over the next seven years, that District residents would be thankful, grateful and appreciative, and would welcome that employer with open arms.
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Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week.
Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."
It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence.
That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.
“There are many hidden truths about the world of wind turbines from the pollution and environmental damage caused in China by manufacturing bird choppers,” noted environmental blogger Tory Aardvark in a recent post about wind farms, also citing the dangerous noise produced by turbines. He added,
"The symbol of Green renewable energy, our savior from the non existent problem of "Global Warming," abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it’s too cold or the wind speed is too high."
Tory Aardvark called the more than 14,000 abandoned wind turbines in the U.S. symbols of a “dying Climate Religion.”
In case it's not obvious, this podcast from Planet Money answers the question.
The chart above shows the "Coincident Economic Activity Indexes" for the U.S. and a sample of U.S. states (New York, Florida, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin). The coincident economic indexes are based on four variables: nonfarm payroll employment, the unemployment rate, average hours worked in manufacturing, and wages and salaries.
Updated: The EIA released data today on U.S. natural gas production for the month of September. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, natural gas production (both gross withdrawals and marketed production) in the U.S. reached new record-high levels in September of almost 2.5 trillion cubic feet for gross withdrawals and 2.1 trillion cubic feet for marketed production, about 6% above the year-ago levels. Compared to September 2006, natural gas production has increased by 22% over the last five years for gross withdrawals and 24% for marketed production.
The chart above displays monthly "natural resources and mining" employment levels in North Dakota (blue line) and Pennsylvania (red line) back to 1995. After more than a decade of flat employment levels for energy-related jobs in both states, employment levels recently have been booming, along with the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota and the Marcellus natural gas boom in Pennsylvania.
Here's something interesting from today's Census release on new home sales: The average new home price fell to $242,300 in October, which was the lowest average monthly new home price since August 2003 ($241,000), more than 8 years ago (see chart above). It's also $79,200 (and 25%) below the peak average new home price of $321,500 in February 2007.
The Federal Reserve recently released data on delinquency and charge-off rates at U.S. commercial banks for the third quarter of 2011. For consumer credit cards, the delinquency rate fell for the 9th consecutive quarter to 3.47% during the July-September period this year, dropping to the lowest level since a 3.46% reading in the first quarter of 1995, more than 16 years ago (see blue line in chart). Compared to the 4.35% quarterly average since 1992, the delinquency rate on credit cards is now about a full percentage point below the long-run average.