Economic History

US economic history starts with the 13 colonies and the transition from communal to individual land ownership, continues with 19th century economic growth and takes us to the role of services during the 20th century. Involving government, consumers and businesses, at econlife, economic history provides more understanding of today’s economy.

Economic Facts About Dogs

Have you ever thought about the connection between your dog and the economy? During an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog, spoke about dogs’ lives. A lot of his stories relate to the onset of two…

Crisis Autopsy

In an October NY Times op-ed, Calvin Trillin describes a (hypothetical) conversation in a midtown bar about the financial crisis. “The financial system nearly collapsed because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.” By contrast, decades ago, a top student became…

Social Insecurity

Is there a “lock box” with surplus social security funds? Sort of.   In 1983,  when we had inadequate funding for the social security program, a commission led by Alan Greenspan suggested extra sources of revenue for a Social Security trust fund.…

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…

A One-Handed Economist?

Let’s not look at CDOs, SIVs, ARMs, TIPs or ATMs. Nor do we need specifically to consider credit default swaps, securitization, hedge funds or venture capital. Instead, we can go to the question that Robert Litan asks at the end…

New Financial Products

Instead of a garage or a laboratory, think of an office or a conference room. And, rather than a computer or an aircast, imagine a junk bond or a bank account.  All of these products, at one time were invented.…

Legislative Jeopardy

Between 1932 and 1934, the Senate’s Pecora Commission, named after its general counsel, amassed 12,000 pages of testimony.  Its focus was the impact of stock exchange practices on banking, securities, and commerce.  Subsequent major financial legislation was based on the work of…

Roads to Prosperity

In Part 1 of the Teaching Company course, “America and the New Global Economy,” Professor Timothy Taylor discusses the origination of the euro. Four goals he says were sought: free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.  Central especially to…

Icemen and Pinsetters

In a wonderful story, NPR looked at “The Jobs of Yesteryear.”  Among those they discussed were pinsetters, elevator operators, icemen, and lamplighters. For each one, while technology made the occupation obsolete, the economy benefited with a higher GDP and a better standard of living. More specifically……