Independence and Printing Money

Having just celebrated July 4th, I’ve been thinking about 1776, the American Revolution, and money. At the time, money frequently determined who won and lost wars. When countries ran out of money, they had to stop fighting. Great Britain had…

Common Markets

Kenyan coffee exporters have a problem at the Tanzanian border. “On the Kenyan side they operate 24 hours a day, but on the Tanzanian side it’s 12 …We have had drivers standing at the border for 4 days. These things…

Making Macroeconomic Decisions

One problem with macroeconomic policy is the inability to confirm that it does or does not work. With variables constantly in motion, an entire economy as your lab, and no way to keep anything constant, how to know if you…

Baseball Games and Airline Fares

How much will the San Francisco Giants charge for a baseball ticket? It all depends on, “past ticket sales, the day and time of the game, the teams’ records, the pitching match-up, the weather, the going rate on resale Web…

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…

Can the Post Office Deliver?

Having just read a Washington Post article about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), I started thinking about its future. But first, its past: While we have had postal services since the 1600s, Ben Franklin transformed the system. Appointed Deputy Postmaster…

State Deficits and Jaws Charts

As a prospective buyer, Daily Show reporter Jason Jones went to check out the Arizona State Capitol Building when he heard it was for sale for $735 million. Once sold, the capitol would then be leased back to the state…

Paying Fannie Mae’s Bills

Each of us is helping to pay a $10 million monthly grass mowing bill. Why? Because of homes that are owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As GSE’s (government sponsored enterprises), Fannie and Freddie had purchased mortgages from financial…

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…

A High, Low, or No Soda Tax?

States debating a tax on soda have to decide whether they want to raise revenue or diminish obesity. If a sales tax on soda is not very high, people will continue buying sugary drinks. The result? The state gets more…