Unexpected Economic Indicators

Instead of the G.D.P., CPI, and assorted leading and lagging indicators, economists also look at an entirely different set of data. Sometimes hemlines, movie star preferences, and everyday purchases provide business cycle evidence. During a plunge in economic activity, people’s…

Costly Legislation

Looking at a recent NY Times article, whose title was, “Cost of Jobs Bill Leaves Some Democrats Leery,” I wondered whether the author realized just how many costs his discussion involved. If passed, the bill would extend jobless pay, provide…

The Ant or the Grasshopper?

“What a silly little ant you are,” said the grasshopper in The Ant and the Grasshopper. “Forget about work…Enjoy the summer!” But all day, everyday, grain by grain, the ant continued to gather and store her wheat. When the harsh winter arrived…

More Water Dilemmas

Bottled water has been around for a long time. Bottled Perrier was introduced in 1863 while people first drank a bottled Poland Spring product 13 years later. With bottled water consumption having increased until the recent economic contraction, environmentalists are…

Leverage

In many ways, the recent financial crisis was (and is) really about seesaws. A seesaw is a lever that lets you do a lot with a little. Using a seesaw, a person weighing 100 pounds can lift someone at the…

Pay What You Want

The place is the SAME Cafe in Denver, a “pay-what-you-want” restaurant. Recently, one person paid $5 for a large soup and coffee and a second individual left $7.50 for 2 slices of pizza, a large soup, and a salad. Then,…

Travels of a Dollar

Having just followed the probable travels of a dollar bill at “wheresgeorge,” I’ve been thinking about money. Money is more than coin or paper currency. Because we can easily spend our demand deposits (checking accounts) and savings accounts, they too…

More Taxing Decisions

Would you support a penny an ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages? According to the NY Times and The New England Journal of Medicine, the idea is becoming increasingly attractive to many municipalities. By putting on our economic glasses, we can…

Lessons for a Rainy Day

Last Tuesday was a bad day for most umbrellas. In New York City, it poured, it was windy, and most umbrellas were flipping out, blowing sidewards, and doing everything except what they were supposed to do.  It makes sense that…

Public and Private Incentive

For centuries, the US Postal Service delivered most of the mail. The job it did was satisfactory but not optimal. Yes, through sleet and snow, etc., we received our letters and packages but employees rarely focused on cutting costs and…