Kindergarten Matters

Several months ago, we asked if law school was a good investment. Now we can ask the same question about kindergarten. Saying that adult outcomes count while test scores do not, Harvard economist Raj Chetty and 5 colleagues researched the…

Institutionalized Trust

The production path of a pair of Levi’s stonewashed 501 jeans could have started in a Mississippi Delta cotton farm, continued with a North Carolina fabric weaver, and included the Dominican Republic and Haiti for cutting, sewing, and finishing. Then,…

Idea Incubators and Economic Growth

It is so tempting to assume that we get the best results when we tell people what to do. If we want to use less oil, then pass laws that encourage us to invent better batteries. Yes? Using Selman Waksman as…

Consumer spending

In Pursuing Happiness: American Consumers in the Twentieth Century, economist Stanley Lebergott asked us to imagine that automobiles, penicillin, electric washing machines, refrigerators, disposable diapers, electricity, television, and “every economically significant good added since 1900” all disappear.  Next, he tells…

Transportation Matters

Reading about India’s inadequate railway system, I thought about the Erie Canal. Currently, massive freight containers that took four or five days to travel from Singapore to Mumbai will then take 28 days to reach New Delhi because trains and…

A Closer Look At Consumer Spending

We always hear reporters saying that, “Consumer spending makes up more than 70% of the economy…” Mike Mandel, former chief economist at Newsweek, believes the reporters are misleading us. Yes, the consumer component of GDP is 70% of all spending.…

Entrepreneur Incubators

Which words do you associate with “entrepreneur”? Risk taker? Ambitious?Creative? Smart? Energized? Henry Ford? Steve Jobs? Clarence Birdseye? The words and names convey a recipe for success. And yet, according to a recent FT article from Tim Harford, the ingredients are…

Tall Stories: Height and Success

A recent Daily Mail article about President Sarkozy’s height sensitivity reminded me of studies that relate height to success.   But first, some height stats: Nicholas Sarkozy (France): 5’5″ Barack Obama (U.S.): 6’2″ Angela Merkel (Germany): 5’8″ Gordon Brown (U.K.):…

The Tip of the Iceberg?

Growth or a safety net? Thinking at the margin, an increasing number of European policy makers are debating a change. The result is a classic economic dilemma. Unemployment and medical insurance, pensions, licensing protections, and job guarantees can each tug GDP…

Big and Little Worries

1.  Sovereign debt: Contemplating big worries, I could place sovereign debt at the top of the the list. Should we currently be concerned about Greece, Spain and other EU nations with excessive obligations?  Beyond, should we be focusing on the…