Milton Friedman’s thoughts on Greed.
Coal is the number one source of energy in the globe. It is cheap, abundant, and easy to store and burn. Much of the world depends on coal to become an industrialized economy. The price of electricity produced from coal can be as low as half the price of other forms of energy. The United States generates 26% of all electricity through coal. Plans to lower that level are minimal. Japan turned to coal after the Fukushima disaster. While some countries seems to be tapering off their use of coal, others are just getting started. Last week I discussed the Continue reading More to Burn
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
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
The United Nations formed the World Food Program (WFP) in 1961 to allocate foreign food aid to those suffering from famine or other disasters (man-made or natural). The program originally provided aid by sending staple foods directly to the region in need. This use of aid quickly undercuts local markets. And while it does feed people, many are still left malnourished.There is a need to take a closer look. Flooding a region with free commodities can drive local producers out of business and cause more long term damage than short term good. There is not much use in feeding a Continue reading Food Aid or Food Assistance
President Barack Obama has been looking for ways to get young Americans to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Recently he appeared on Funny or Die to do a mock interview hosted by Zach Galifianakis (best known for the Hangover). It is interesting to see a President play a comedic role. The Economist follows up on the interview with a few stats to shed light on the trends in health care enrollment. The deadline to sign up for healthcare without a penalty is April 1st and Obama is hoping to get as many people enrolled as possible. Continue reading Obama Reaches out to Young America
The 2014 Farm Bill that was signed into law earlier this year. The Farm Bill puts out nearly $1 trillion ($956 billion) over the next ten years, but only 20% of that goes to farming. Food stamps make up a majority of the bill, but it is the restructuring of farm subsidies that changes agriculture in America. The Farm Bill has changed from Direct Payments to an insurance scheme. Direct payments was originally established in1995. Farmers originally received payments just for having the property to produce on. This was meant to help farmers during transitional periods between planting and harvesting. Continue reading The Risk in Agriculture
The 2014 Farm Bill (which was signed into law in February) can be a mess to understand. From food stamps to farm subsidies, the bill helps to shape the way America grows, processes and consumes foods. This video gives an introduction to the Farm Bill. It can be interesting to find out the mechanisms involved in such a massive bill (nearly $1 trillion). This is a relatively unbiased view of the bill and the market incentives that drive it. In particular it discusses the new crop insurance program and the decisions producers will face in the coming year. Before we Continue reading An introduction to the Farm Bill
Those that live in poverty spend differently than those with a higher income. In general, poorer individuals have a higher marginal propensity to consume and spend a majority of their income on food. The ability to afford food provides greater health and well being. Poorer countries often use subsidies to make food prices artificially low, but governments may find that subsidizing food costs for buyers can have significant benefits. Subsidizing food costs can push the supply or demand side of the market. When food subsidies go to farmers supply is pushed out; when they go to consumers, demand shifts out. Continue reading Many Mouths to Feed
News stations report on it, economist and statisticians analyze it, policy makers inform the public of it. The Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates this standard measure quarterly. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the level of all goods and services produced during a given time period. There are two ways of calculating GDP. One way is to add up the cost of all goods and services produced at the market price. This is not the units sold, but solely the units produced during that time period. This reflects the supply side of GDP, but does not take into account inventory from Continue reading GDP, the difference between a good tool, and the right tool.