New Financial Products

Instead of a garage or a laboratory, think of an office or a conference room. And, rather than a computer or an aircast, imagine a junk bond or a bank account.  All of these products, at one time were invented.…

Legislative Jeopardy

Between 1932 and 1934, the Senate’s Pecora Commission, named after its general counsel, amassed 12,000 pages of testimony.  Its focus was the impact of stock exchange practices on banking, securities, and commerce.  Subsequent major financial legislation was based on the work of…

Unintended Consequences

New rules might not always have the results regulators expect.  Starting on April 29, any airplane that sits on the tarmac for longer than 3 hours will be fined up to $27,500 per passenger.  For a Boeing 737, that could mean…

Icemen and Pinsetters

In a wonderful story, NPR looked at “The Jobs of Yesteryear.”  Among those they discussed were pinsetters, elevator operators, icemen, and lamplighters. For each one, while technology made the occupation obsolete, the economy benefited with a higher GDP and a better standard of living. More specifically……

A Real Seat

In 2005 you could have paid $4 million (an all time high) for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) but you would have had almost nothing on which to sit.  Looking down from the balconies overlooking the huge trading floor of…

The Top 19

Are 19 banks “too big to fail?” Listening to Bloomberg radio, I heard that four banking firms control close to 50 percent of their industry’s assets, that the top 19 control 85 percent, and that the bottom 8000 control 15 per cent.  An…

Default Records

Seeing current concerns about the money owed by Greece, I wondered about her past record.  Until 1932, it was not good.  The first report of Greece defaulting on her debt was during the fourth century B.C.  At the time, ten…

The Significance of the Frisbee

Last week, just after listening to the Schumpeter lecture from Dr. Timothy Taylor in a (very good) Teaching Company course on the history of economic thought, I read in the N.Y. Times that the inventor of the Frisbee had died.…

Equal Pay For Equal Work?

Having read that “Women Now A Majority In American Workplace” (NY Times, 2/6/10, A10), I wondered how much the wage differential had changed from the 1980s when women’s weekly earnings averaged close to 70 percent of men’s. The Institute for…

Unemployment History

With unemployment data scheduled for a Friday release, it might be helpful to place the numbers in perspective. The Dallas Fed has illustrated the following conclusions through a series of graphs comparing employment trends now to past recessions. 1. The…