Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Side by side comparison of drought conditions---today and 1934, a Dust Bowl year....

Here are side by side comparisons of drought conditions today and 1934, a Dust Bowl year.

A stark reminder of how bad the conditions really were back then.  Keep in mind how much MORE the average person depended on agriculture (directly or indirectly) as compared to today.  I look at this and can feel their fear!!
Source: USA Today

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Infographic comparing The Great Depression with The Great Recession. Our grandparents were right.

Infographic: The Great Depression vs. The Great Recession
The Great Depression vs. The Great Recession by Payday

Nice infographic on the state of "Piracy" in the entertainment production business.

Music, Movies, Programs & Piracy

This is what I thought about on my commute last week on public transit to downtown Chicago ...

Last week I rode the train from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago to downtown Chicago to attend the AP US Govt and Politics College Board Summer Institute (AP Econ is next week). It takes about 45-60 minutes. After arriving at the train station I walked 2.25 miles to Northwestern U.

Along the way I see lots of large, abandoned manufacturing facilities and other buildings that were built sometime at the beginning-to-middle of the last century.

I have read lately that this represents under-utilized infrastructure/capital and is indicative of the decline in the US manufacturing base.  "They say" if we could just revive the manufacturing sector we could put these idle resources back to work.

I don't see it.  I see these buildings as "spent" capital/infrastructure.  They served the old way of production---lots of labor relative to capital and technology.  The capital/machines used were large and bulky and required large spaces.  Most of those factories produced many of the inputs that went into a final good.  Today, firms specialize and "out-source" the production of inputs.  Capital/machines are much smaller and more productive.  These buildings will never serve current or future manufacturing of any kind.

It is not under-utilized infrastructure--it is dead infrastructure.

When something dies, it should be buried or otherwise disposed of properly. 

Why not spend "stimulus" funds to eliminate this dead infrastructure to make way for new uses for the land---whether it is for new construction or green areas. It would improve property values and have many other positives consequences for the blighted areas.

I think this is a relatively rare case where you can have addition though subtraction.

Any thoughts?

Note: I am a devotee of Basitiat.  I don't think I am violating the principles of "The Broken Window"--the buildings are not "bringing enjoyment" to anyone, as far as I can tell.  Could be wrong.

Also, I do acknowledge the  "opportunity costs" of using resources for this purpose as opposed to something else.  From a policy making position, I think it can legitimately be on the "to do" list. 

Nice graphic showing drought conditions each year in the US since 1899. Is there a pattern??

Go HERE for a larger image of the graphic and article at NYTIMES.

Each line of maps represents a decade of drought conditions in the US.  Can you see a pattern of worsening conditions over time? Or is it inconsistent enough to not be able to draw any conclusions? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Find out how your city/region would fare in terms of GDP if it was its own country.

Here is a world GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ranking by country AND with the added twist of including the dollar value of production of goods/services in US cities/metropolitan areas. 

To look at this properly, DO NOT include the US GDP number. This is because  the overall US GDP number INCLUDES the city/metropolitan area number.  It is there for reference and scale. In your mind, bump up every country/city on the list one spot.

If you look down the list, you see "New York/Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA". This represents a regional geographic area that produces $1.287 TRILLION dollars in final goods and services.

If this geographic area were its own country, it would be the 13th (remember, you have to bump up one spot) largest economy in the world in terms of the dollar value of goods and services it produces.

Go down the list and find your city/metropolitan area and see how it ranks relative to the rest of the world.  The US is STILL a production machine. We often forget that. 

Note: The screen shots I took here are not the entire list. Go HERE at the Wall Street Journal to find the rest, if you don't see your area here.

Nice graphic showing the decline over time in the number of teenagers getting drivers licenses. WHY is this the trend?

Why don't young people want to drive anymore? Is this a good or bad thing?

As you move from left to right on this graphic, focus on the difference in the BLUE line (1983) and the GREEN line (2010). The bars represent the percentage of that age group in those particular years that have drivers licenses given that year. In other words, the number with licenses in that age group divided by the number of people in that age group in that particular year (1983, 2008, 2010).

Example: In 1983 approx 70% of 17 year olds had licenses. Fast forward to 2010 and approx 47% did. That is around a 33% decrease.  Certainly not insignificant.

Source: The Atlantic
The article this graphic comes from points out the statistically significant decline between 2008 (the RED bar) and 2010 (the GREEN bar) and asks what is driving this decline in the desire to get a license.

On the negative side I can see this affecting used cars sales, a big business for car dealers.

On the positive side I see fewer accidents, hence injuries and deaths.  Use of less gasoline.  Parents don't have to pay high car insurance premiums.

I can come up with more positives than negatives.  Extra credit for good responses at to how this trend may negatively impact the economy as a whole today and in the future.
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