Purchasing Power

The Big Mac Index is out again and not much has changed. Norway’s Big Macs are expensive and Chinese Big Macs are cheap. What do Big Mac prices tell us about purchasing power? Starting with an average U.S. price of $4.37, we…

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…

Chicken Economics

Ten chicks. If I were teaching in Uzbekistan instead of Summit, NJ, I might have received 10 Serbian chicks as a part of my salary. According to Radio Free Europe, the Uzbek government partially paid certain teachers and doctors with…

Giraffes and Levis

French fashion, food, wine and now a French giraffe. Most French moms buy Sophie for their newborns. Seven inches tall, with brown spots, black eyes and pink cheeks, she is just a rubber toy giraffe that squeaks. In French supermarkets, her…

European Ties

How to picture the US/European economic partnership? You could think of Skippy Peanut Butter. Owned by Unilever, a multinational based in the UK and the Netherlands, Skippy’s peanuts are grown primarily in Georgia and Texas, shelled and sorted here, and…

Should We Buy American?

How to diminish unemployment? The NY Times tells us about a Montana general contractor who plans to use only American-made goods for building his homes. Explaining, he said,  “I think we could solve this recession if everyone shifted just 5%…

Trading Places

A switch has taken place. More than half of our imported goods used to come from the G-6 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K.) Now, we import more from China, Mexico and Brazil. Specifically, in 1987, 55% of…

Putin’s Economics

Our story begins during February when Russian Prime Minister Putin decided to freeze gasoline prices. Oil companies had a predictable response. They left. Following the money, they redirected their supply to higher prices elsewhere. The result? Russian gasoline exports were…

Made in China?

True or false? Is Apple’s iPhone made in China? The answer is true and false. True. According to U.S. trade statistics, the iPhone is made in China. Consequently, the iPhone is recorded as a minus for us and a plus…