San Francisco’s Housing Dilemma

Most people from the Bay Area are likely familiar with the absurdly high rent and house prices in San Francisco. And in recent years prices have only been getting worse, pushing out large numbers of San Francisco’s lower-income residents. Currently, the median rent in the city is $1,463 a month, the highest in the country among large cities. Much of the blame for skyrocketing rents has fallen on the large influx of wealthy residents to the city, many in the booming tech industry centered in nearby Silicon Valley. While I share some of the anti-gentrification sentiment and hope that the Continue reading San Francisco’s Housing Dilemma

Food Prices

If you buy your own food, you may have noticed in the past couple years that food prices have been rising faster than the prices of other goods. Today, we’re going to pull apart an interview on food inflation into economic terms, that we can then turn back into real world discussion. If you’re not quite sure what inflation is yet, here’s a link to a previous post on inflation. Here’s the interview. It’s from Marketplace, with a guy named Matthew Boesler from Business Insider. In total, it’s about 5 minutes long. Food inflation, or, why bacon is a good investment by Raghu Continue reading Food Prices

Cryptocurrency: Not Just Bitcoin (Part II)

Even though Bitcoin thoroughly dominates media coverage and public discussion of cryptocurrency. It is the oldest crypto-currency and does by far have the largest market capitalization—all Bitcoins are together estimated to be worth US$5.5 billion. More than sixty peer-to-peer currencies existed as of November 2013, and that number has dramatically risen since. As of April 8th, lists market capitalization values for over 200 cryptocurrencies.  Market capitalizations range from Litecoin’s US$300 million, much a smaller than Bitcoin but still substantial, to LiteBar’s $384. The sheer number of similar-sounding names (well more more than half include the word “coin”) raises the question… Why? Last week, I Continue reading Cryptocurrency: Not Just Bitcoin (Part II)

New Nuclear

Energy consumption is rising rapidly. The exponential rise in population and technology means that this consumption won’t be decreasing any time soon. Most of this energy consumption comes in the form of electricity. An Iphone eats up as much electricity as a refrigerator (taking into account servers and all energy use behind the scenes). That is a lot of added energy use even in small family homes. Energy consumption is not going to decrease any time in the near future. Clean energy and green technologies are making an effort, but barely making a dent in total production. Non-hydroelectric energy (created Continue reading New Nuclear

The Status of Robotics in our Economy

It seems like we have been expecting sophisticated robots to show up for some time now. We have been making movies about artificial beings for decades, spanning from Data in Star Trek, to Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, to Star Wars with our favorite robot duo. There is a certain fascination with robots in our society, where we are both excited and terrified about the development of artificial intelligence. Well, more and more, we are having machines doing things humans used to do, and we should start to consider what that could mean for our society. Already, this mechanization has had Continue reading The Status of Robotics in our Economy

Thesis Corner: All About the Craft Beer Industry

In the past, I’ve written Thesis Corners on the biological importance of water and coffee’s link to national health, but today’s blog will focus on the industry changes happening to another beverage: beer. From a brewer’s standpoint, the beer business is a precious trade that stimulates one’s business savvy, scientific know-how, and an artistic expression to some degree. This week I had an email exchange with senior Eric Hopfenbeck, who tackled the entire craft brewing industry for his thesis. Read on to understand what classifies a craft brew, how this beer category is capturing market share from the Goliath beer companies, and a potential Continue reading Thesis Corner: All About the Craft Beer Industry

Subsidizing Megabanks

The bank bailouts of 2008 set a benchmark for how far the US and European governments will go to protect large financial institutions. It essentially said to these banks, shame on you for your shady investment practices, but you’re too important to the economy to pay the true cost of your bad decisions. And now that government protection of financial institutions has been established, these banks can reap the reward of an effective ‘government guarantee’ on their investments. According to an article from the New York Times Economix Blog citing a recent study by the I.M.F., this effective ‘government guarantee’ Continue reading Subsidizing Megabanks

The Institute for New Economic Thinking

After the Great Recession, as the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 has become known as, the need for greater economic research led to the founding of The Institute for New Economic Thinking. This think-tank is dedicated to the perpetuation of economic innovation and sharing new economic thought. One could practically get lost in the depths of information, interviews, videos, and blogs through-out their website. Here is just a glimpse at what they have to offer with a post from The Institute’s Blog: The Chartbook of Economic Inequality By Tony Atkinson and Salvatore Morelli. “The acute loss of job prospects, especially among the young, the Continue reading The Institute for New Economic Thinking

Cryptocurrency: Not Just Bitcoin (Part I)

In the cryptocurrency world, Bitcoin tends to hog the media spotlight. This makes sense, as it’s the oldest, most-valued (recently determined to have a market capitalization of around US$6 billion), and best-marketed (i.e. most recognizable) brand of cryptocurrency. However, I was suprised to discover that in discussions of crytocurrency issues such as black-market trading, stability of value, and technical viability it stands in for a vast and surprisingly diverse swath of currencies. More than sixty peer-to-peer currencies existed as of November 2013, and that number has almost surely risen since.  {For a primer on Bitcoin, consider reading Holly’s interview with Emily Neville about her thesis on Continue reading Cryptocurrency: Not Just Bitcoin (Part I)

More money, more problems

Most rich countries had a drastic fall in crime rates in the early to mid 1990s. This decrease in crime seemed inexplicable.The theories run from an “aging population, higher incarceration and immigration rates, less exposure to lead paint, better police tactics…” the list goes on and on. Freakonomics even contains a chapter on the possible linkage between Roe v. Wade (1972), increases in abortions, and the reduction of crime; the reduction of children being born into poor circumstances being the reason for this abrupt (and welcomed) reduction in crime. The reasons all come with their fair share of anecdotes, but Continue reading More money, more problems