Saturday, April 2, 2011

Watch a Live-Stream of an Eagles Nest and the potential to see new hatchlings TODAY---I find this fascinating!!

You have to watch an advertisement first, but the video is a live-stream of an Eagles nest and apparently one egg has hatched  TODAY and two others are in the process. Pretty cool to tune in on something like this...HT: CARPE DIEM...

The First one to hatch!!!
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If I can JUST make it to retirement age I will be able to find a job!! Huh? That does not sound right, but may be true...

Below is a chart of the "winners and losers" in the hunt for jobs in the last 15 months.  The group in the 45 to 54 range are large net losers in terms of employment.  Traditionally, these years have been the peak career and earning years for most people. The headline for this blog entry seems non-sensical, but there seems to be a grain of truth in least at this point in our economic history. 
Why The Middle-Aged Are Missing Out On New Jobs

The job gains in the latest employment report ALL (almost all) went to Women!! See the incredible numbers here...

These two items from the latest Employment Report are pretty interesting (from the Household Survey,--a phone survey, not the headline establishment survey--from businesses) .  Last month, women were the "winners" in finding new jobs by a substantial margin---+4,000 for the guys and +247,000 for the gals.  Also, note that more men LEFT the labor force (decrease of 31,000) and more women ENTERED the labor market (increase of 96,000).  Any thoughts as to what is going on in the nation's labor market? 

Source: Business Insider

Engineering meets Economics on the 50th Floor of a Skyscraper---A nice graphic on the Marginal Costs of Tall Buildings...

Skycraper construction is reaching new heights, literally and figuratively. This is the last graphic from an interactive that shows a historical timeline in the engineering of these types of structures.  I like the link that is made between  engineering and economics. 

When construction of a skyscraper takes place there are lots of up-front costs, both fixed and variable. As construction is set-up and commences, then costs decrease per floor added because fixed costs become spread out over the project and variable costs, while they may be increasing, are increasing at a decreasing rate (production becomes streamlined and efficient). 

However, as the graphic shows, the variable costs will start to increase again as the engineering requirements of maintaining a strong structure become more complicated and expensive.  After a certain point, the cost of each additional floor becomes more costly than the last.  In economics, we call this the Marginal Cost of Production--the change in Total Cost divided by the change in quantity, in this case each floor of the building.  If the Marginal Cost of the next floor EXCEEDS the Marginal Revenue (the change in Total Revenue divided by the change in quantity, in this case each floor) gained from leasing that floor then the builings owners should not construct that floor.

 Alas, this may not stop them from reaching new heights. Sometimes peoples egos will over-rule the economics. We know how that usually turns out....

Source: The Atlantic

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A nice, simple gasoline tax graphic for the US....

I have posted something similar in terms of the variation in gasoline taxes in the US, but this graphic is a much more simple visual.  The Federal gas tax is $.184 (18.4 Cents). So subtract that from the numbers you see and you have the State tax assessed per gallon of gasoline. It is important to recognize this when looking at the differences in the total price of a gallon of gas around the nation.

Source: Econobrowser

Those Cotton Pickin' Farmers are to blame for higher food prices! No, really, it is literally the fault of Cotton Picking farmers that food prices will increase...

In Microeconomics, farmers and the commodities they grow are used to illustrate a perfectly competitive market. The main characteristic of a firm in a perfectly competitive market is that they are a "price-taker". They have no pricing power and must accept the price dictated by the market.  Many farmers in the Farm Belt are indifferent to the commodity they grow---the land, machinery, and the know-how they possess can be used to grow corn, wheat, soybeans, or cotton.  Their main concern is which one will give them the most revenue per acre planted.  Seems like cotton is the winner in this regard. The problem is that cotton is the only one in the group you can't eat.  More land allocated to growing cotton, means less allocated to growing food. Food prices have been increasing in the past year.  These increases can be absorbed by rich countries, but not so much for those on "the margin".  Much unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere has its roots in high food prices. As more farmers make this decision, is will only makes things worse in developing/poor countries as they try to meet the food needs of their people. 

Amber Waves to Ivory Bolls

"...But this spring, many farmers in southern states will be planting cotton in ground where they used to grow corn, soybeans or wheat — spurred on by cotton prices that have soared as clothing makers clamor for more and poor harvests crimp supply.

The result is an acreage war between rival commodities used to feed and clothe the world’s population.

“There’s a lot more money to be made in cotton right now,” said Ramon Vela, a farmer here in the Texas Panhandle, as he stood in a field where he grew wheat last year, its stubble now plowed under to make way for cotton. Around the first week of May, Mr. Vela, 37, will plant 1,100 acres of cotton, up from 210 acres a year ago. “The prices are the big thing,” he said. “That’s the driving force.”

Economists, agricultural experts and government officials are predicting that many farmers, both in the United States and abroad, will join Mr. Vela this year in chasing the higher profits to be made in cotton — with consequences that could ripple across the globe.

“It’s good for the farmer, but from a humanitarian perspective it’s kind of scary,” said Webb Wallace, executive director of the Cotton and Grain Producers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. “Those people in poor countries that have a hard time affording food, they’re going to be even less able to afford it now.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After spending a semester abroad you must work as an intern...College is no fun anymore! But getting a job in your preferred career field IS the end game...

In addition to spending a semester abroad, internships are becoming an important part of marketing yourself.  I know, I know, you say..."WHEN do I have a chance to have FUN in college!".  I am just the messenger. If you want to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack, then you must consider it. Hey, it is FUN to work in the career of your choice--and it lasts a long time!

NYTIMES: The Internship as Inside Track
WANT to land a full-time job after college? Get an internship or two, or even four or more.

Internships have long been a part of the collegiate learning experience, but have never been more closely tied to permanent hiring than they are today, said Trudy Steinfeld, executive director of career development at New York University.

Of course, internships aren’t the only route to employment. But companies increasingly view them as a recruiting tool because they are a way to test-drive potential employees, she said. Conversely, interns can test-drive the company to see if it’s a good fit, professionally and culturally.

Not only do college interns garner more job offers than applicants without that experience, but jobs that grow out of internships tend to command higher starting salaries, said Edwin W. Koc, research director at the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

We know how much a gallon of gas costs. But how much do other things you buy cost by the gallon? Nice graphic!

Source: Paul Kedrosky's Infectious  Greed

Another gem from Hans Rosling---The magic of the Wash Machine as an engine of economic growth. Worth a watch!!

A great lecture on the virtues of simple devices that make our lives better.  The last two minutes tie it all together for me---a powerful illustration of OPPORTUNITY COSTS. Well worth the 10 minutes to watch...

A List of 10 de facto Monopolies no one talks about. Should the Government break them up, even though we (mostly) LOVE their products?

As coincidence would have it, in AP Microeconomics we will study Monopolies this week.  Here is a list of 10 companies by market share should be considered monopolies (or oligopolies or monopolistic competitors--a fine line) in their respective markets. These are not your grandparents monopolies, which I would characterize as "hard" industries such as oil, fixed phone service, banking, etc. All these industries employed lots of people and formed the heart of the "middle class" in America.  Now, industry tends to be "soft", literally and figuratively. This list is made up of high-tech firms and no one gets their hands physically dirty in any of them.  It is quite amazing that most on the list have been around less than 20 years. Don't worry, as with all monopolies, someone will come along with a better mousetrap and take them down---Creative Destruction, indeed.     

The New Generation Of American Monopolies

A monopoly is either what the government says it is or what a dominant company’s competitors claim. The government’s opinion is the only one that counts, however, as Sprint will find out as it protests the new AT&T buyout of T-Mobile.

A common definition of a monopoly is when a company has such effective control of its market that it can set prices and stifle innovation by depriving competition of any chance of profit. The offending company only has to continue to do extraordinarily well in its field regardless of what antitrust regulators have to say. 24/7 Wall St. found ten instances that could be considered de facto monopolies though the government will not take action in each case.
1. Product: Search Engine GOOGLE
   Market Share: 90.1%
   Competition: Yahoo!, Bing

2. Product: MicroSoft Windows  
    Market Share: 89.7%
   Competition: Mac OS X, Linux

3. Product: Facebook
    Market Share: 63.8%
    Competition: MySpace, Linked In, Twitter

4. Product: Netflix
    Market Share: 61%
    Competition: Blockbuster, Hulu, Vudu

5. Product: Intel
    Market Share: 80.3%
   Competition: AMD

6. Product: I-PAD
    Market Share: 73%
    Competition: Android, Samsung

7. Product: I-Tunes    Market Share: 70%
   Competition:, Wal-Mart Music Downloads

8. Product: Kindle
    Market Share: 67%
    Competition: Barnes & Noble, Sony

9. Product: Sirrus Radio
    Market Share: 100%
   Competition: None

10. Product: PayPal
      Market Share: N/A
      Competition: Google Checkout, Fiserv, CashEdge
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