Road Building Results

If extra road mileage is built, would you predict more or less traffic? The WSJ tells us that more roads led to additional driving from local residents, commercial traffic and people moving to the area. Public transportation did not influence…

Yak Herders

Demand is soaring for yartsa gunbu, a “nutty tasting fungus” from China’s Tibetan Plateau and similar Himalayan regions in Nepal and Bhutan. Reputed to have cancer fighting capability, aging retardants, and libidinal qualities, the fungus invades the dead bodies of…

Sales Tax Decisions

A buttered bagel is a sandwich but not an unsliced bagel–unless you eat it in the store. Subject to the New York State sandwich tax, so too are burritos, wraps, BLTs and buttered rolls.  Plan to buy fudge? You will…

Putin’s Economics

Our story begins during February when Russian Prime Minister Putin decided to freeze gasoline prices. Oil companies had a predictable response. They left. Following the money, they redirected their supply to higher prices elsewhere. The result? Russian gasoline exports were…

Egg Surprises

Egg prices are actually down. Averaging $1.73 a dozen during March, egg prices have fallen by 5% from March a year ago. So, yes, the CPI says the increase for food prices is up 2.7% during the past 12 months…

Green Elasticity

Sales of Nature’s Source Scrubbing Bubbles tub have plunged by 61%. At Stop & Shop, “Eco-friendly” people are switching from Clorox Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner to traditional Fantastic. Why? Because Fantastic is 40 cents cheaper. According to the NY Times,…

Aspirational Pecans

Our story starts with the walnut. Loved in China, and always cheaper than pecans, during 2007, suddenly, the walnut became relatively expensive. Following the law of demand, Chinese consumers bought fewer walnuts and more pecans. And that was when they…

Chinese Marriage Markets

A typical young Chinese woman is looking for a husband who owns a home. Probably, she will find one because China’s single child policy and tendency toward male preference have resulted in massive gender imbalance. With so many more marriageable…

The Price of Rice

What would make you switch what you eat every day? The Indonesian government is using an ad campaign to try to get people to change their daily diet. Their slogan is, “One Day No Rice.” With per person consumption at…

Food or Energy?

Biofuels create dilemmas. Whenever nations mandate converting corn or sugar into biofuel, their prices soar. People whose diets depend on these commodities are the first to suffer. What to do? Lower food prices or increase energy conservation? China’s answer was…