Saturday, February 13, 2010

Economics Lesson from "The Big Bang Theory"---Just a coincidence--Economists are NOT NERDS!!??

Short microeconomics lesson from the show "Big Bang Theory"---NO, it does not suggest that economists are nerdy!!..or does it??? (only have to watch the first minute to get the lesson...:))(HT:Economists Do It With Models)

##*&%&(%^#( Ethanol Mandate!!!---Making People Hungry All Over The World...

I will let the research speak for itself...

"Data Highlights: U.S. Feeds One Quarter of its Grain to Cars While Hunger is on the Rise"---Earth Policy Institute...
"The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004."
The United States looms large in the world food economy: it is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies.
From an agricultural vantage point, the automotive hunger for crop-based fuels is insatiable. The Earth Policy Institute has noted that even if the entire U.S. grain crop were converted to ethanol (leaving no domestic crop to make bread, rice, pasta, or feed the animals from which we get meat, milk, and eggs), it would satisfy at most 18 percent of U.S. automotive fuel needs.
When the growing demand for corn for ethanol helped to push world grain prices to record highs between late 2006 and 2008, people in low-income grain-importing countries were hit the hardest. The unprecedented spike in food prices drove up the number of hungry people in the world to over 1 billion for the first time in 2009. Though the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has recently brought food prices down from their peak, they still remain well above their long-term average levels.
Continuing to divert more food to fuel, as is now mandated by the U.S. federal government in its Renewable Fuel Standard, will likely only reinforce the disturbing rise in hunger. By subsidizing the production of ethanol, now to the tune of some $6 billion each year, U.S. taxpayers are in effect subsidizing rising food bills at home and around the world.

Tragedy of the Commons---Epic fail?? Are Tigers Doomed???

I never said that solving the Tragedy of the Commmons would be pretty. 

NYTimes:"Tiger Farms in China Feed Thrist For Parts"
With pelts selling for $20,000 and a single paw worth as much as $1,000, the value of a dead tiger has never been higher, say those who investigate the trade. Last month the Indian government announced a surge in killings of tigers by poachers, with 88 found dead in 2009, double the previous year. Because figures are based on carcasses found on reserves or tiger parts seized at border crossings, conservationists say the true number is far higher.
The market is driven by demand almost exclusively by the Chinese.  An emerging middle class with increasing disposable income has contributed to the problem.
“All of the demand for tiger parts is coming from China,” said Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. “Unless the Chinese change their attitude, the tiger has no future on this earth.”
Accoding to the lessons of "The Commons" private ownership and developing markets for "tiger parts" would relieve the need for poaching in the wilds.  It would increase the supply and drive down the price, therefore providing a dis-incentive for illegal poaching, as the opportunity cost of doing so would increase.  Seems in this case, the economic concept is being trumpeted by cultural barriers that cannot be fully accounted for with The Commons...
...If the ban were lifted, critics say, trade in farm-bred tigers would simply provide cover for poached tigers, which are far cheaper to harvest and bring in far higher prices because most Chinese believe the healing properties of wild tigers are greater than those raised in cages.
Questions to ask:
1. Is the "Tragedy of the Commons" invalid in this particular situation?
2. How can the cultural barrier be overcome to ensure the survival of Tigers in capitivity/the wild?
3. How would you solve this problem?

Geography Buffs...Photos of Worlds Most Dangerous Roads...YIKES!!!!

Click HERE for photos/explanations of the most dangerous roads in the world...I thought driving Yellowstone was bad...I could NOT handle the stress of ANY of these roads....
Photo on Left: The North Yungas Road (also known as the El Camino de la Muerte, ‘Road of Death’ in Spanish) is a 43 mile road connecting La Paz and Coroico, 35 miles northeast of La Paz in Bolivia. Famous for its extreme danger, it was christened as the “world’s most dangerous road” in 1995 by the Inter-American Development Bank. The single-lane width, extreme drop offs, and lack of guardrails, only add to the danger lurking behind. Further, the fog and rain can make visibility poor and the road surface muddy, loosening rocks from the hillsides above. It is estimated that 200 to 300 travelers are killed per year on this treacherous road. Although, the old North Yungas Road is much less used by traffic nowadays, an increasing number of adventure bikers travel it for the thrills.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is that a Sausage or is it your iPhone stylus???

How do you increase the demand for Sausage Sticks?  Why you market them as a stylus for iPhones, of course! DUH!.Wasn't it obvious???...
Apple and HTC might each be trying to patent a fancy capacitive stylus, but it looks like the good people of South Korea have stumbled on a decidedly more low-tech (and delicious) solution to using their phones in the winter: sausages. Apparently snack sausages from the CJ Corporation are electrostatically compatible with the iPhone's capacitive touchscreen, leading many to use them as a "meat stylus" in the cold weather, rather than remove a glove. And it's not just a joke; apparently South Korean snack sausage sales are soaring. We don't know if anyone's managed to combine this bit of amazing hackery with the bacon iPod sleeve yet, but we do know that we just registered -- anyone care to send in some local sausage test results?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Your Cell Phone is the New "Blood Diamond" with Tragic Consequences...Do you care???

I have only VERY recently become aware of the extent of the horrific situation in the Eastern Congo and it has weighed heavily on my mind. The conflict there has taken some 6 million lives in the course of the "civil war".  The situation seems so hopeless.  The conflict is driven (not completely, but in large part) by the violent pursuit of minerals that are exported/smuggled to feed the global cell phone manufacturing market.  I feel compelled to do SOMETHING, even if only token in nature. Please watch this short video  and  visit the website  and let me know if you want to try to do something as well.  I will be writing about this problem in more detail soon.  THANKS!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Insert your own joke---Casket that screws into the ground...

I enjoy trying to think up clever titles to my blog entries, but this one I have to let pass because it is too easy. Here is the link to the ACTUAL patent just granted this week. Here is the link to the patent and drawings..WHY did I not think of this!!..Let me hear YOUR title for it...:) HT: Carpe Diem

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is Economics "getting to you"...View this short video for a laugh...

If you are finding that economics is starting to get to you (in a good way!) and are thinking about taking more classes in college or maybe planning to major in it, then you must view this humorous video.  It will be funny to you because you "get" economics...welcome to the dark side! :)

Where are the Jobs?? The answer may surprise you...or not...

A great interactive/real time graph (CLICK HERE to go to site) showing the changes in employment in major sectors of the economy in the last two years.  Education/Healthcare/State and Federal Govenment lead the way in "new" jobs.  If you are in Macroeconomics this is a great resource to give you a deeper perspective on where we have been and maybe where we are headed. Could you make a career choice based on this data???.

Tipping is not a city in China...Nice graphic on Tipping for service...

Neat graphic on tipping for service.   I have to admit, I am a generous tipper.  I think I got it from my father.  If you wait on me you are guaranteed at least 20%.  I always leave a tip, even when service is bad.  Probably should not, but it is just the way I am...A sucker I guess...
Although the addition of a gratuity or tip to a bill is now largely perceived as a gift for good service, the origin of the practice may be traced back to 18th Century English pubs when tipping was considered an essential incentive for better service. These days, many workers rely on tips as a substantial and necessary part of their income. In 2003, tips from U.S. restaurants alone were estimated at a whopping $26 billion. There are many emotional reasons people tip, such as to avoid embarrassment or to feel better about themselves because they know a tip is expected. Employees who provide services may also use tricks of the trade to manipulate these emotions to receive a larger gratuity. Have a look at the history of tipping below (click on graph to the left).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

If you need MORE Super Bowl Commerials Here is a link to 38 years worth...

If you need MORE Super Bowl ads, this LINK will take you to a site that has all the ads for the last 38 years or so...Kinda fun re-aquainting with ones you have of my favorites...

Upheaveal in Chinese Society---Pajama's are out of CONTROL!!!

Why can't this catch on in the US?  I think we should have pajama Friday's at school. What better way to get ready for the weekend....:)
As Beijing restricts online dissent and Urumqi clamps down on separatists, Shanghai is cracking down on... (wait for it)... pajama-wearing in public. The wearing of colorful, boldly-printed pajamas in public has been popular in the city for years, and well-documented on Flickr as well as National Geographic. But with the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai just three months away, city officials have launched a public etiquette clampdown targeting the unseemly practice. The South China Morning Post reports that the city's Qiba neigborhood "has mobilized neighborhood committee officials and volunteers since July to talk people out of the habit of wearing pajamas in public." The article also consults Chinese sociologist Zhang Jiehai, who says pajama-wearing in public began "as a matter of practicality because people lived in cramped conditions with no clear line between public space and private place."

If You Build It He (or consumers) Will Come...Let's Hope So...

Manufacturing activity is on the increase and provides a preliminary indication that the world's economies are on the mend.  Businesses all along the supply chain are restocking shelves and warehouses after drawing down inventories during the past year.  Even though retail purchasing has not recovered and still seems uncertain at this point, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers have to re-stock at least to minimun levels of inventories to avoid shortages.  This is postive because if businesses are caught with low inventory levels then shortages may emerge and the only way to "clear the markets" would be to raise prices, and no one wants that to happen.  Unexpected inflation would damage the recovery, because as we know, wages generally lag behind inflation---Rising prices + stagnant wages = reduced purchasing power---hence we will quickly be back where we started. Hang on, the recovery ride is going to be a wild one...
SURVEYS of purchasing managers indicate that manufacturing industries in most of the world’s big economies are growing. In big emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India, the indices compiled by Markit, a provider of financial information, were well above 50 in January, indicating robust growth. In each of those countries manufacturing was still shrinking in January 2009. There has also been a pronounced turnaround in America, where the Institute for Supply Management’s index for January was 58.4, in contrast to 35.5 in January 2009. Manufacturing is also expanding in Germany, France and Britain. But it is still shrinking in Greece and Spain, though much less markedly than a year earlier.
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