From Mill to Obama

Yesterday, President Obama briefly said that some salaries on Wall Street were more than anyone should earn.  Approximately 160 years ago, John Stuart Mill responded by saying that he wanted to encourage work. Consequently, instead of limiting salaries through a…

Nobel Humor

Presented at Harvard with Nobel laureate participation (and based on authentic scholarly research), the Ig Nobel awards are funny but they also make you think.  As they express it… The 2009 economics prize went to executives at four Icelandic banks “for demonstrating…

Max Bialystock and CDOs

Comparing the deal to Bialystock, Bloom, and Springtime For Hitler in The Producers, NPR’s This American Life looked at how a Chicago hedge fund made money on seemingly unprofitable CDO transactions. Available as a podcast, the story made the CDO derivatives world entirely understandable.  The…

Wheelbarrows of Money

If your country’s currency is hyperinflating, then how do you buy bread? You can find a wheelbarrow or use another currency. During February, 2007, with an inflation rate exceeding 50% per month, the Zimbabwean economy experienced hyperinflation. Looking for purchasing power,…

Can More Be Less?

At Starbucks, no one orders just a regular coffee, at the Gap, we look at easy fit or relaxed or straight leg, and when selecting health insurance, we think about deductibles and prescription drug coverage. Everywhere we have many choices.…

A (Mind Boggling) Entitlement

I guess we can all agree that citizens have basic rights. But vacations? “Traveling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” according to Antonio Tajani, the European…

(Fictitious) Billionaire Facts

Did you ever wonder how rich Jed Clampett (the Beverly Billbillies) would be? According to Forbes Fictional 15, because of oil, gas, and banking investments, Clampett, worth $7.2 billion, is #5 on the list. C. Montgomery Burns, hometown Springfield, U.S.A.,…

A VAT For Pretzels?

The Senate just said “No” to a VAT. Disagreeing, Paul Volcker sort of said “Yes” when he observed that a VAT is “not as toxic an idea” as we once believed. Suddenly everyone seems to be talking about a VAT. Here are…

Economic Geography or Location, Location

Why, you may wonder, is an economist presenting a major address today at the Association of American Geographers? Looking back and looking forward, Paul Krugman’s speech provides the answer. Economic geography involves mathematical modeling and also costume jewelry in Providence,…

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…