Monday, September 25, 2006

dumping the penny is a Sharpe idea

In the first half of this year alone, the U.S. government minted 4.8 billion of these useless coins, and since it costs 1.4 cents to make each one and maybe two more cents each to distribute them, that robbed taxpayers of $115 million.
Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post reports on the fate, or what should be the fate, of the penny. (Hat tip to Bill Craighead)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Chimpanzes and very cool graphics

Hans Roling uses very cool graphics to describe data on demographics and income distribution. Give it a chances.

Income inequality in the 90s

Hal Varian describes a recent explanation by James Galbraith on the increase in income inequality in the 1990s. It may have been because of Bill Gates, Stanford, and Berkely.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Milton's the man

Russ Roberts interviews Milton Friedman. The interview focuses on two of Friedman's books, A Monetary History of the United States and Capitalism and Freedom. These books both came out in the early 1960s and their influence persists. In Capitalism and Freedom you'll read about many modern reforms and suggestions for reforms that were radical at the time. Among other ideas, Friedman advocated for a volunteer army, a negative income tax, and education vouchers well before it was popular.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Interest rates up, interest rates the same?

The Washington Post reports on some controversey at the Fed. Janet Yellen, a member of the Fed Board of Governors, believes that the federal funds rate has reached a level consistent with inflation at the "comfort level". The article suggests that the funds rate hikes in the past two years have cooled the housing market and the economy in general; and the slowing of the economy will bring and keep inflation down. The federal funds rate is an overnight rate between banks and the mortgage rate is a rate that spans over many years; and there has always been a question of how close is the connection between the two. The Fed clearly can and does move the federal funds rate. The picture nearby (produced at the very cool FRED site) shows why there is a question as to the Feds influence on the mortgage rate.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Banana peels, the perfect fine?

In 1906, a Londoner died as the result of injuries from slipping on a banana peel. The London County Council enacted a penalty for those caught skinning the pavement. But, was it a perfect fine? Heavy Lifting pursues the answer.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Health controversey

This post at the New Economist offers very few answers about health spending and outcomes, but raises a bunch of interesting questions.

Kyoto comes to California

Lynne Kiesling, Miami Econ Alum, of the Knowledge Problem links to this post about Carbon emissions legislation in California. It raises issues of "legal competition" across states and efficient environomental regulation.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

GDP growth revised upwards

Growth in real GDP for the second quarter was revised upwards from 2.5% to 2.9%. The avearge growth rate in real GDP in the post WWII period is about 3%, so we are very near the average. Given the record high oil prices, at least the some of the air coming out of the housing bubble, and the Fed's 17 straight interest rate hikes, the performance of the economy is surprisingly strong.

However, Nouriel Roubini has a very sour opinion of the economy,
"If anything, anybody with sense would revise down their numbers, based on the inventory'' increase, said Roubini, who estimates third-quarter growth of 1.5 percent and no change in GDP in the fourth."
but is misquoted or he has a very high opinion of himself

"The Fed is going to cut rates some time late in the fall or early in the winter, because I expect a recession.''