Thursday, November 21, 2013

We are at the same level of beef consumption per person as we were in the 1940's. Good for people, bad for cows...

Here is a graph (which I modified a bit) from The Big Picture Agriculture blog that shows Meat Consumption from 1900 to 2012 by type of meat.  It shows that on a per person basis we are back to early 1940's level of consumption of beef, about 52 pounds per person per year.  BUT down considerably for a high of 91 pounds around 1978.  I wonder what happened in the late 70' to cause the rapid descent in consumption never to recover. I am of age to know but do not remember.  Maybe Mad Cow disease first emerged???

This is good for people is terms of health, but it is not good for the health of cows.

In 1942 the US population was 135 million.  Which means Americans consumed 7,020,000,000 (7.02 billion) pounds of beef.

In 2012 the US population was 314 million. Which means Americans consumed 16,328,000,000 (16.328 Billion) pounds of beef.  That is a 132% INCREASE in the total consumption meat.

Each cow produces, on average (in 2005), 585 pounds (I am taking this sites word for it) of beef.

That means approx. 16,000 more cows are needed to satisfy the demand for beef today compared to 1940-ish.  (Math---16.328M-7.020M divided by 585).

Isn't your life better for knowing this. To celebrate I am going to eat a cheeseburger.

Gift Cards are NOT a friend to GDP accounting during the Christmas shopping season. See here why.

A little known fact to keep in mind as you think about economics while shopping this holiday season: 

How Gift Cards Could Ruin the Holidays

According to the NRF (National Retail Foundation), a record 80.6% of shoppers plan to give gift cards as presents. The average shopper plan to spend about $163 on gift cards, up from $157 spent last year. 
Retailers, however, don’t book a gift card as a sales until the recipient spends it, usually in January. That means gift-givers might think they are being very generous, even as retailers report lackluster sales for November and December. 
That suggests the correct way to measure holiday sales is averaging November through January sales. (Consequently, we may not know the success of holiday shopping season until Valentine’s Day.)
If I buy you a $50 Gift Card for Chili's that amount is not counted as a sale until it is redeemed for real goods and/or services at a later time. If it is after Dec 31st then it would not be counted in 4th quarter GDP.

However, what the retailer paid for the ACTUAL card (the "plastic") and any fee you paid to buy the card would be included in current sales as a new good or service, hence current period GDP.

Otherwise trading money for a gift card in the same amount is considered a "private transfer payment".
"These payments are considered to be non-exhaustive because they do not directly absorb resources or create output. In other words, the transfer is made without any exchange of goods or services"
If you were to include in GDP that amount PLUS what it was redeemed for in goods/services you would be "double counting" production.  

No economics degree will be offered at a University in Washington D.C. Think about that for a moment...

The irony.  This is happening at The University of D.C. (as in District of Columbia, you know, the nation's capitol) INSTEAD of cutting (or EVEN considering cutting) athletic programs.

UDC trustees keep athletics for now, but cut 17 academic programs

"One by one, with a few exceptions, the trustees terminated a series of academic degree programs the other night at the only public university in the nation’s capital.
Any discussion on economics?” asked Elaine Crider, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia. “If not, all in favor vote ‘aye.’” And so the board voted Tuesday night to discontinue the undergraduate major in economics."
Hmmm....No one will be able to get a degree in economics at a college in Washington D.C. where is it needed THE MOST.

Think about that...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Chicago MSA should look just like Sweden in terms of economic and social outcomes in theory. Why doesn't it in practice?

The WSJ has a nice chart ranking countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and inserting the Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) for various regions in the US.  In other words, they are comparing a whole countries value of their production to the value of production for specific geographic regions in the US.

For instance, the GMP for the Metropolitan Statistical Area ("MSA") for Chicago and its environs (Joliet, Naperville, Il-In-WI)  in 2012 was $571,000,000,000.

The Gross Domestic Product for Sweden in 2012 was $525,700,000,000.  

Pretty close to each other in output value. I wondered how this worked out on a per capita (per person) basis.

The population in the Chicago MSA was 9,522,434 in 2012
The population of Sweden was 9,577,000 in 2012. (Wow! Almost identical populations)

The Gross Metropolitan Product PER PERSON the Chicago MSA was $57,695
The Gross Domestic Product PER PERSON in Sweden was $54,892

The dollar value of output per person is actually HIGHER in the Chicago MSA.

BOTH get lots of snow in the winter. Both have pretty good hockey teams.

But that is where most of the similarities end when it comes to the way people think about the two places, especially in terms of social outcomes.

Why would that be?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Only in the ObamaCare discussion: Numbers are difficult. When some = millions and when millions = some. Math is hard for ideologues.

I read A LOT of stuff from the different perspectives regarding the "Obamacare" official roll-out.

Language is important and here is something I find curious, but not surprising.

Liberal commentators/writers refer to the number of people getting cancellation notices as "some" or "JUST 5% of the population!!!", which is, of course, millions of people (are we not "equal"?)

Conservatives commentators/writers emphasize the "MILLIONS!!" who may (or may not) lose their current policies and pretty much ignore the millions of uninsured and/or un-insurable. (Opps, where did they go??)

It is a minor point but just something I picked up on in the discussions.  Put your ideology aside and listen for yourself.  I believe you will hear it a MILLION TIMES (or 5% or the time).  Choose your quantity.   :)

I like sports that produce winners and losers, but I don't like Federal polices that do the same thing.

Can't we do stuff that merges one-sides "Millions" with the other sides "5%"?  Rhetorical question....

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