Saturday, April 27, 2013

Here is a story about the 90% Debt threshold, a mouse and a dancing elephant. You would think people would be more concerned about the elephant.

This from my cyber-friend "The New Arthurian"

The Blue Line is Total Federal Debt (private and public) as a percent of GDP.

The Green Line is fixed at 90% of GDP.  The "alleged" cut-off point that suggests if a nations combined government debt exceeds that threshold it will dampen economic growth.

The Red Line is a line you NEVER/RARELY see inserted into the argument. It represents Total Private Debt (mine and yours and a few of our Wall Street/Corporate friends) as a percent of GDP.

Not to put words into the mouth of The New Arthurian, but I believe he is suggesting we are focused too much on dancing around the mouse in the room (the Green Line) and are not so much on the elephant sashaying behind out collective backs. 

I am a terrible dancer, but I know a Two-Stepping Elephant when I see it.

Source: The New Arthurian Economics

Link to interesting posting on the why software developers better be familiar with psychology. "Do you REALLY want your search for the price of a product to return the fastest result to you?" You might be surprised by the answer...

A bit off topic for me, but I found this posting on "Cognitive Overhead" an interesting merge between technology and human behavior.  A tech product/service can fail because it gets ahead of  normal human impulses and tendencies.  I encourage you to read the whole thing. It is not long

This is one paragraph I found to be true after thinking about it.

Slow down your product.
We’ve all heard stories of Google’s relentless quest for search-result speed, but sometimes you need to let your user understand and appreciate what your service is doing for them. Studies have shown that intentionally slowing down results on travel search websites can actually increase perceived user value — people realize and appreciate that the service is doing a lot of work searching all the different travel options on their behalf.
While I WANT a quick result when I put in a search request for a good or service that has many possible suppliers, if I get it TOO FAST I am naturally suspicious that it was pre-determined and I am being steered.

(Wonder if car dealers employ the same technique---"I will speak to the sales manager" ALWAYS takes way too long.  Do I perceive they are in tough negotiations on my behalf and coming back too soon makes me think otherwise?)

Think about this the next time you do a search for a price sensitive good/service.  The result is ALREADY in the system, WHY does it take so long to retieve it?  Now you know.

Programmers and software developers have to be students of psychology as well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

US economy Trivial Pursuit. Trivia about something not so, well, trivial...

HT: The Big Picture Blog.

These very informative slides are courtesy of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), a part of the Department of Labor.

They give an overview of various sectors of the economy.  My favorites are the ones on manufacturing.  One of the most misunderstood industries in the US.

Which one(s) is/are your favorites?

Cspan Slides Myths and Misperceptions

Thursday, April 25, 2013

If US manufacturing was its own country, it would rank 10th in the world in terms of dollar value of output. See the stunning chart HERE!!

This chart is interesting for a couple of reasons.  (From Mark Perry at Carpe Diem)

1. It shows how much of an economic powerhouse the US STILL is in terms of the dollar value of the production of Goods and Services in a given year. We produce more than China and Japan together PLUS about half of Germany's production.

2.  US manufacturing is ALIVE (although US manufacturing EMPLOYMENT has devolved). In fact, if you take the dollar value of US manufacturing production and compare it to total dollar value of  production in the rest of the industrialized world, it ranks 10th in the world if it was its own separate country.

Source: Carpe Diem

Starwood Hotels (Westin, Sheraton, Aloft) have an interesting Microeconomics experiment going on---Buy one night at the regular price and get 2 more nights at the dollar equivalent of your birth year.

Just saw this at Freakonomics.  Starwood Hotels (Westin, Sheraton, Aloft) has a unique promotion going on.

If you pay the Regular Rate for the first night, you the second and third nights at the dollar equivalent of the last two digits of your birth year.

For instance, I would pay $235 + 60 + 60 =  $355.00 or $118.33 per night.  Not bad for a Westin hotel!

Interesting strategy. The older you are the less you pay.   A form of discrimination that only an economist/economics teacher could love.

Here is an example from the Dallas area.  Go HERE to find a hotel in your area.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The growth in the printing of $100 bills has increased 500% in 20 years. Where are those Benjamins going? See here for the answer...

The number of $100 dollar bills in circulation has increase dramatically relative to the other US currency denominations in the last 20 years, as you can see from the graph below. 
Bills In Circulation (Percentage Change Since 1990)
Source: NPR Planet Money

Where are those Benjamins going?  A good number are going "off-shore".  Seems the $100 is a nice "Store of Value" for foreigners who want to hold there money wealth in US dollars instead of their own currency.  Nice mattress stuffers!! 

Oh, and it also is probably circulating among drug dealer and other nefarious underworld activities.  Gotta love the CASH!!

Percentage Of $100 Bills Held Outside The U.S. (1990-2011)

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