A Nutty Demand and Supply Story

Our almond story starts on the demand side in China with a name change. Just like apricot kernals, California almonds had been called xing ren until the apricot kernel growers accused the Americans of “deceiving consumers.” Trying to minimize a marketing…

The Surprising Ways That China is a Part of Our Lives

Did you eat a Smithfield ham sandwich today? Go to an AMC multiplex? Drive a Volvo? The ham, the movies and the car are from Chinese companies. One reason that Hong Kong based Shuanghui International bought Smithfield is because China…

Why Should You Care About Time Zones?

At 5:30 am in San Francisco, the sun is not up and neither are most people. But, coordinating with NY time, work in the financial district has begun. Offices are active as are local coffee shops. Out of sync with…

Technology: Which Countries are Connected?

In 2011, close to one third of the world’s population was connected to the internet. Asking where are those people, we can answer in 2 ways. Size: Represented by size, the highest number of users, more than one half billion,…

An Economic Indicator: Yappy Hour and Other Doggy Treats

Dogs can tell us a lot…economically. San Francisco’s dog owners can select among 60 different dog treats and 4 birthday cake sizes at Le Marcel Dog Bakery. They can drop off a pet at one day care center that soon…

Fiscal Policy: What We Need to Know About the Debt Ceiling

Like me, you might have thought that the US has not yet reached its debt limit. But actually it has. The story is unimaginably complicated. From what I can discern in a Congressional Research Service report, for the last 9…

Chicken Productivity

Sometimes byproducts can become surprisingly useful. Scraps: Believing that their chickens could be tastier, NYC’s priciest restaurants are sending their table scraps to the farmers who raise their poultry. D’Artagnan, the wholesaler that invented the concept, has divided the chickens, restaurant…

Global Economic Growth: From Meat to Luxury Cars

For many of us, becoming  more affluent first means more meat and then maybe a washing machine. Imagine a spending ladder in emerging market nations like the BRICs–Brazil, Russia, India, China. At each rung, spending surges and then flattens at…

Elasticity: Eating More Meat

Earning more probably means eating more meat. Chinese meat consumption surpassed the US in 1990. Their 7-fold increase since 1980 corresponds to a huge GDP pop–maybe by a 50 multiple. One Australian economist hypothesizes that when an economy doubles, people eat 15%…

Tragedy of the Commons: China’s Genius Bars

When my MacBook Pro had a track pad glitch, I just booked a free appointment online for the next day at my local Apple Genius Bar. In Beijing, I might have had more than a 4 week wait. Trying to…