Is It Over?

Imagine a “u” attached to a slightly (or considerably) higher upside down “u” and you are looking at 2 business cycles. A business cycle includes a peak, a contraction, a trough, and an expansion. Most people think that this recession started…

Yacht Lessons

When we think about taxes, we should look at yachts. In 1990, because of a new luxury tax, anyone who purchased a yacht paid 10% more. The result? People stopped buying domestically made yachts. Yacht makers went out of business…

Taxing Decisions

Some people believe that government spends more when it has an affluent population to pay for it.  In a recent NY Times column, David Leonhardt presents a slightly different perspective. Instead, he says that because we are a more affluent society,…

Frugal Fatigue and Yuan Updates

Re a March 21 post about frugal fatigue… For a fifth straight month, consumer spending is up, meaning perhaps that we are headed for a “V” recovery?   Data from the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report indicates that internet spending…

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.):…

Appreciating the Market

In a recent WSJ interview, Nobel laureate Gary Becker tells us that, “Markets are tough to appreciate.” The reason, he says, is people feel government can better care for them than a profit seeking individual. Calling markets counterintuitive, Becker sees why people…

Hot Wing Markets

Opening on April 1 in NYC, the Exchange Bar & Grill has food and drink prices that respond instantaneously to demand.  As described in a Reuters article, if everyone wants hot wings, then, in $.25 increments, the price increases; if…

No Longer a Sin?

Pondering health care reform, I began to wonder whether sin taxes would become Pigovian taxes. A sin tax focuses on the impact of a behavior on an individual. Levied on something that society believes is “bad” for a person, a sin…

Yuan or Yen

Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, called China a currency manipulator in a recent interview. Next month, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will let us know if he agrees. The United States has not formally called China a currency manipulator since 1994.    According to a…