Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bee rustlers---How do they get the lasso around their necks???

From BBC: 'Bee rustlers' sting Japanese apiarists
""Japanese bee-keepers have been warned to be on their guard, following a spate of hive thefts.
The price of honeybees has doubled in recent years after a ban on imports. Police suspect a gang of specialist thieves is stealing honeybees to order. In central Shizuoka prefecture, eight hives of 60,000 bees were taken in a single night from five separate farms. The area is well known for strawberry growing and farmers need honeybees to propagate their crops. The insects have been in short supply in Japan after imports were banned for several years to try to prevent the spread of parasites. The price of a swarm has doubled to more than $400 (£260). The Japan Beekeepers and Honey Association says more than two million of the insects were stolen in 2009, and thefts are becoming more frequent. The organisation has urged its members to be alert, but has admitted it is difficult to protect hives around the clock on remote farms. ""

How do you like your wine capped? Cork or plastic?

From WSJ: Show Stopper: How Plastic Popped the Cork Monopoly

A terrific example of "creative destruction" at work, in the wine cork business, of all places.  Creative destruction is a necessary component for innovation and the continued development of new products.  We must be willing to let go of goods that have been rendered less useful (NOT necessarily useless) though technological advancement and/or changes in consumer preferences. Seems as though there is a challenge to a centuries old "tradition"...
""The story of how Nomacorc and other stopper upstarts broke the centuries-old cork monopoly is a lesson in how innovation, timing and hustle combined to exploit an opening in a once airtight market. It shows that any dominant industry can be vulnerable to competition, especially if it grows complacent about its position.""

 It is a market-oriented cleansing process that is not without costs, however, such as the workers in the out-innovated businesses who lose their jobs. Creative destruction also serves to keep the attention of the dominant industry.  They cannot become complacent or a competitor/upstart will chip away at their market dominance. 
""Unknown to most American wine drinkers, the plant's owner, Nomacorc LLC, has quietly revolutionized the 400-year-old wine-cork industry. Since the 1600s, wine has been bottled almost exclusively with natural cork, a porous material that literally grows on trees in Portugal, Spain and other Mediterranean lands. But over the past 10 years, an estimated 20% of the bottle stopper market has been replaced by a new technology—plastic corks that cost between 2 and 20 cents apiece. More than one in 10 full-sized wine bottles sold worldwide now come with a Nomacorc plug, while another 9% or so come from other plastic cork makers. Screw caps took another 11% of the market.  "We infuriated the cork industry," says Marc Noel, Nomacorc's chairman.""
I don't drink wine (or any other alcoholic beverage) so I don't really have an opinion, but I am sure the debate rages among oenophiles (is that the right word?)...But I do love Creative Destruction---gives me warm fuzzies. Such as I would imagine wine would... :)

Related story on the world-wide wine glut..

Business Spending Propels Recovery---Nice Graphic showing C + I + G + N(x)...

A MOST excellent interactive graphic from the WSJ  (click HERE for original story) on the latest Gross Domestic Product report...Just put the cursor over a particular bar and you will see that sectors contribution (or detraction) from GDP...Conveniently set up to show C + I  + G + N(x)!!  An economics teachers dream!!

AMAZING Apartment Transformation--377 sq ft into a mansion!!!

Increased Investment expenditures ('I") in Developing countries means an Increase in Exports for US...

Caterpillar bringing back 9,000 laid-off workers worldwide

"Developing" economies are getting ahead of the the so-called developed countries (US, Europe, Japan, etc) in terms of economic expansion (GDP growth).  Businesses in some of these countries are replacing capital goods and buying new capital goods in anticipation of an eventual pick up in business from the US and Europe (China and other Asian economies are already steaming ahead, and are major customers for American producers such as Caterpillar).  The US STILL has the Comparative Advantage in the production of medium to large scale construction equipment of all types.
""Exports of heavy equipment to Asia and Latin America are putting employees back to work at Caterpillar Inc. factories in Illinois....The growth in emerging economies is fueling demand for commodities. That is stoking sales of Caterpillar’s big mining trucks made in Decatur and large tractors made in East Peoria. Workers already have been recalled to those factories.""
These immediate purchases increase their domestic spending-- "I" (for Investment Spending) in the GDP equation ("C+I+G+N(x)" ) and, in turn, increases Aggregate Demand.  This is a good thing for them because it creates/ressurects dormant jobs TODAY.  It is a good thing for the US because it puts idle production capacity back to work and "brings back" jobs to the factories...
""By the end of the year, the heavy-equipment maker expects to rehire 9,000 of the 19,000 workers who were laid off worldwide during the worst of the recession, CEO James W. Owens said. The number of workers being recalled “could go higher,” he told Crain’s during an interview this week at a U.S.-Saudi Arabia business summit in Chicago. "We hope it will."
One-third of the rehires will be in the United States; the bulk of those 3,000 workers will be in Illinois, where Peoria-based Caterpillar has several large plants. Another 9,000 to 10,000 jobs will be created at Cat’s domestic suppliers.""

After the initial purchases, these capital goods become part of the nations Capital Stock, or stock of productive capital, for making goods far into the future.  Business spending is significant because it affects BOTH the demand AND suppy side of any economy.  It spurs immediate purchases of high dollar goods on the demand-side, and competition, innovation and, perhaps most important,  productivity on the supply-side, hence more jobs and opportunities now and into the  future...I can feel the ripple effect on the economies of Middle America as we speak!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chart of Worlds Largest Oil Spills---Not something to be proud of...

Crude mistakes

The world's largest oil spills

ON APRIL 22nd Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig 130 miles (209 km) south-east of New Orleans sank into 1,500m (5,000 feet) of water, following an explosion two days earlier. Eleven of the 126 workers who were onboard remain unaccounted for. Around 1,000 barrels (42,000 US gallons) of crude have been leaking from the submersed rig each day since it sank last week. This spill however, pales in comparison to large disasters, both accidental and man-made. During the first Gulf war, the Iraqi army purposely destroyed tankers and oil terminals in Kuwait, releasing 500m barrels of crude, in order to hold-up the US Navy’s imminent approach in the Arabian Gulf. The environmental impacts caused by such spills varies greatly, with those close to the coast and pristine environments by far the most destructive. Hopefully the current oil slick will harden and sink to the ocean floor before it has a chance to make landfall in Louisiana over the next few days.


How a bank is SUPPOSED to make money...

This site has a VERY nice explanation of what happens when you deposit money in a bank.  Lots of AP Macroeconomic concepts---the fractional banking system, required reserve ratio, money multiplier, etc.  Worth a read if you have ever wondered how the banking system functions (minus the shenanigans)...

"Meet the Average Family"---financially, that is...

We don't save enough! No surprise there.  I like to teach the "80%, 10%, 10%" method of financial success.  Of the income you earn, you should try to live on 80%, save 10% (in a 410K preferably), and donate/tithe 10%.  This last 10% is the most important for me.  Make the personal decision as to where you want that money to go: church, charity, foundation, directly to other people, etc (I try to hit all of these, the best I can).  When I started to do this, I found my outlook on life change and became a much less selfish person.  I believe it is true that you get back much more when you give.  That is my two cents worth---probably inflated by a penny...

Jackson Pollock Creates a PPT for the US Military---Who says art and war don't mix...

When are the testifiees going to change seats with the testifiers..

When are the testifiees going to change seats with the testifiers..

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes!! First off-shore windmill farm approved!! Err...maybe not...

Regulators Approve First Offshore Wind Farm in U.S.

YES!! Alternative energy is coming to Martha's Vineyard in Massachussettes...
"After nine years of regulatory review, the federal government gave the green light Wednesday to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, a highly contested project off the coast of Cape Cod...
Oppps...not so fast...
""But the project is hardly shovel ready. Several regulatory hurdles remain, and opponents of the wind farm have vowed to go to court, potentially stalling Cape Wind for several more years...Audra Parker, president and chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said that several groups would go to court to halt the project. While the permit is “a significant piece of the puzzle,” she warned, other pieces must still be put in place to get the project under way.""

MIMBY---Not in my backyard...

Super Model Gisele moves next to Al Gore on "Do as I say, not as I do" Street...

Nice house Gisele...Honorary UN Environmental Ambassadorships obviously don't come with any understanding that you should somewhat live within the principles you are advocating....I am not against big houses, but am against big egos that tell me to take the stairs and then install an escalator in your house...Live your principles (at least a little bit), then I am open to discussion...Call me, Gisele... :)

Home Field advantage

What kind of U.N. environmental ambassador builds a 20,000 square-foot home with a six-car garage, an elevator and a lagoon? Why, that would be the Hub’s favorite Pats fan, Gisele Bundchen!

And a paparazzo’s sneak pics of Bundchen and hubby Tom Brady [stats]’s gargantuan new Brentwood, Calif., chateau has green activists seeing red.

“How big a space do two people need?” asked Philip Dowds, a Massachusetts Sierra Club official and professional architect. “A 20,000 square-foot house - the resources that it takes to put it together and the land that it needs, this just can’t happen anymore.”
According to photos taken by Los Angeles shooter Alec Byrne, who said he got a peek at the blueprints, the new West Coast lair of the Patriots [team stats]’ star quarterback and his glam wife will feature amenities including:
a wine bar and gallery
a six-car garage
a service kitchen and butler room
a pool house and lagoon-shaped swimming pool and spa
a recreation room with 19-foot ceiling.
And the manse will have an elevator - even though that seems to contradict environmental advice Bundchen offers on her own Web site to “take the stairs.”
“In addition to exercising, you save the electric power of the elevators,” she says on, which is currently festooned with references to Earth Day.
It’s not the first time Bundchen has taken flak for being less than fabulously energy efficient. Last year, shortly after being named to her U.N. post, the Herald’s Inside Track revealed the supermodel enjoys piloting a private helicopter.
Meanwhile, their new two-story Mediterranean-style home could end up costing the couple $21 million, according to estimates.
“The path of trophy homes is doomed to fail,” said Dowds, noting the home could comfortably accommodate 12 or 13 average American families. “And I mean fail on a very large and planetary sense.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

If you are having a debate about the nerdiness of a TV show, you might be a nerd...

Exploring the Complexities of Nerdiness, for Laughs
...Three years later some scientists still say that although the series, “The Big Bang Theory” (Monday nights on CBS), is funny and scientifically accurate, they are put off by it.
“Makes me cringe,” said Bruce Margon, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, explaining, “The terrible stereotyping of the nerd plus the dumb blond are steps backwards for science literacy.”
But other scientists are lining up for guest slots on the show, which has become one of highest rated comedies on television and won many awards. The Nobel laureate George Smoot of the University of California, Berkeley, and the NPR Science Friday host Ira Flatow, have appeared on the show....

The mortgage meltdown---it is Economics teachers fault!! I take full responsibility....

The mortgage meltdown---it is Economics teachers fault!!  I take responsibility..Well, not entirely my fault, but if I were paranoid, the implication is clear...

Did financial illiteracy contribute to subprime crisis?
...To translate that back into English, borrowers with the most financial literacy were two-thirds less likely to be in foreclosure than borrowers with the least financial literacy. That result remained even after controlling for demographic characteristics such as education and income and the specific mortgages both groups signed. Bottom line: "Twenty percent of the borrowers in the bottom quartile of our financial literacy index have experienced foreclosure, compared to only 5 percent of those in the top quartile. Furthermore, borrowers in the bottom quartile of the index are behind on their mortgage payments 25 percent of the time, while those in the top quartile are behind approximately 10 percent of the time."

What seems to be happening here is not that folks who are financially illiterate choose worse mortgages so much as folks who are financially illiterate make more financial mistakes once they have their mortgages. Either way, it's a reminder of the extraordinary asymmetry of information that stands between borrowers and lenders. You can download the full paper here (pdf).

Some assembly required...Watch the building/assembling of a Boeing 747 in 2.5 minutes...

Watch the building/assembling of a Boeing 747 in 2.5 minutes...(HT:CafeHayek)
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