Friday, August 22, 2014

The rise of the robots! In the movies the heroes usually win that battle. How will the Labor Markets fair?

A nice graphic from MIT Technology Review on the rise in the use of robotics in manufacturing versus the change in manufacturing employment.  It certainly is a mixed bag in terms of the relationship (as they note in the graphic).

There is no question that the two will be co-joined in the short and long(er) term as the workplace changes and labor adapts to new technology, and vice versa.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Primer on how the Unemployment Rate is Calculated..

If you are a student or teacher of economics here is a terrific primer on how the Dept of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics collects information and calculates the Unemployment/Employment rate.

A great resource for your class.

HT: The Conversable Economist.

Economic vs Accounting Profit: Corn or Soybean? That is the question--answered here.

Using data from the US Dept of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) I made the following two charts (I am in the infant stages of learning Excel, excuse the poor formatting!).

They show the "Accounting Profit"(RED) and "Economic Profit" (BLUE) for Corn and Soybeans in 2013. The distinction between the two is important in AP Microeconomics.

When tallying costs, accountants only care about explicit money costs paid for resources.  When calculating economic costs, economists include implicit Opportunity Costs in addition to money costs.

Economic costs are ALWAYS going to be more than accounting costs, hence economic profits are ALWAYS going to be less than accounting profits. Repeat that until it clicks!

As a recent transplant to the mid-West (Illinois, now Ohio) I have quickly learned that Corn and Soybean require very similar resources to grow---the Opportunity Cost of switching from one to the other is apparently quite low.

Simple observation:  Growing Corn in the "Northern Great Plains" does not seem like a good idea. Soybean returns a higher accounting and economic profit.  Growing Soybean in the "Heartland" seems like a GREAT idea--accounting AND economic profits are high.

Note this data are for 2013.  I drive around Central Ohio quite a bit.  I notice many more fields that had corn last year are now teeming with soybean. Why?

Economic theory (and apparently practice if I can believe my lying eyes!) suggests in a "perfectly competitive" market, the presence of economic profit(s) induces producers to enter that market.

Use these graphs as you wish.  Hope it helps with the concept.

Here are the agricultural regions (SOURCE USDA-ERS):

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Million Deaths caused by these 3 things we take for granted everyday.

Saw this link by way of Hans Rosling and this passage made me pause:

Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries

In 2012, 502 000 diarrhoea deaths were estimated to be caused by inadequate drinking water and 280 000 deaths by inadequate sanitation. The most likely estimate of disease burden from inadequate hand hygiene amounts to 297 000 deaths. In total, 842 000 diarrhoea deaths are estimated to be caused by this cluster of risk factors, which amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases. In children under 5 years old, 361 000 deaths could be prevented, representing 5.5% of deaths in that age group.
Those of us who live in developed countries do not give these things a second thought when we use them--except when they do not work on immediate demand.

Clean water, functioning indoor toilets and proper hand hygiene. Ordinary for us, extraordinary for many others.

Drink some water, flush your toilet and wash your hands---next time stop and celebrate it.  Pass it on! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Here is the BEST answer to every job interview question---Economist-style.

What happens when you ask someone with an excellent grasp of economics to be honest in a job interview (SMBC).  

Made me laugh.  Thought of something like this a couple of weeks ago in a job interview when asked "Why do you want to work for _____School District?"....Ummm, you have an opening and I need a job.  :)


Teaching (or learning) Interest Group Politics? You need this App!

Ran into this site, SpendConsciously ,while trolling the Internet.  If you are teaching (or learning) about interest group politics this site has a REALLY fun and interesting App. It is called "BuyPartisan".  I downloaded on my Smartphone for "free".

Using your phone you can scan the bar code on a product, and if they have the company in their database, it will return to you the proportion of dollars this company donates to the major political parties (and "others").

Spent some time doing this to items in my pantry.

I think it might slow down my shopping trips as I use this in stores. Knowledge is power, or so I have heard.

View My Stats