B(T)FF… Best Trading Friends Forever

We can say that Mexico believes her top trading partner is the United States because the value of her exports to the US (2013: $370,826,831) added to the value of her imports from the US (2013: $370,746,056) is exceeded by none of her other…

One Reason That We Have Nutella

Inside a jar of Nutella you might have a little bit of the Ivory Coast, Turkey, Malaysia, the EU and the US. Processed in the EU, Turkey, Russia, Australia, North or South America, the cocoa and hazelnut spread is then…

One Reason That Geography Matters

Have you ever looked closely at Japan and the United Kingdom? Described by geographer Jared Diamond in a fascinating podcast, they look remarkably similar. Today Japan and the British Isles are modern industrial societies.  Both are north/south archipelagos located in…

Ukrainian Economics

Fewer bottles of kodrinskoie-sparkling will be served at Russian holiday celebrations. Declaring that Moldova’s exports no longer met its food quality standards, Russia has blocked Moldovan wine exports. In the past, Ukrainian cheese and chocolate have also been on and off…

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…

Comparative Advantage: A Natural Gas Dilemma

When the price of natural gas plunged in 2008, manufacturers smiled. As Dow Chemical’s CEO recently explained, cheaper natural gas means a $4 billion investment in 120 new manufacturing projects. Using cheap gas, Dow plans to build ethylene, propylene, chlorine and…

Eurozone: First Latvia and then Croatia?

Reading about Latvia’s probable eurozone entry at the beginning of 2014 and then perhaps Croatia by 2017, I remembered some wise words from economist Russ Roberts. During 2010, he presented a fascinating monologue Econtalk podcast in which Adam Smith and David…

The Panama Canal and an Invisible Line

When a desk destined for Ohio leaves China on a super-sized container ship, should it enter the US in LA or NY? The Panama Canal could determine the answer. Imagine a jagged north south line dividing the US. Located somewhere between…

Manufacturing Matters in the US

Hearing about an apparel firm that “insourced,” I confess I was not as enthusiastic as the report. The firm, American Giant, had just enjoyed a run on their hoodies. As a Made in the USA producer, they have the caché of a…

The Real Mother of Invention

Saying that profit, not necessity is the mother of invention, economic historian John Steele Gordon starts his column in this week’s Barrons. His focus was the 18th century clipper ships that earned people like John Jacob Astor $50,000 for a single voyage…