How a Skating Rink is Like the Economy

Driving around Columbus Circle in NYC, sometimes I wonder why so many drivers do what they are supposed to do.   Economist Dan Klein gave me an answer in “Rinkonomics.” He asks that we imagine for a moment that we have…

How Are French Fries and Airplanes Similar?

The same oil that fried your potatoes might have fueled your airplane. Correctly processed, biofuels made from used cooking oil burn 80% cleaner than fossil fuels. Just add to that the incentive of US subsidies, emission limits and carbon taxes…

One Reason Why The U.S. Should Not Destroy Its Elephant Ivory

Last week, the US government “pulverized” nearly 6 tons of elephant ivory from Asia and Africa. Intending to send a message to elephant poachers, the Fish and Wildlife Service destroyed ivory that was seized through law enforcement. Asked why, the…

The Price System: Quinoa Economics

Why aren’t we eating more quinoa (keen-wah)? Let’s just start with a NASA quote: “While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.” Essential…

The Market System: Defaults and Decisions

Coffee: At Starbucks, I order a Grande West Java Black Eye Clover in a Vente cup. My drink requires 4 decisions. Software: Downloading software, don’t you just check the default package rather than selecting from a customized list of alternatives?…

The Market System: How We Spend Our Time

During a typical day, we spend our time working, relaxing, sleeping, caring for others, caring for ourselves, doing housework and attending to an assortment of minor and major miscellany. Last Thursday, in its annual American Time Use Survey, the BLS…

Foreign Investment: Coca-Cola

How does a business return to a country that it left many decades ago? After a military coup in 1962, Coca-Cola reduced its presence in Myanmar (Burma)  and then was prohibited from returning when the US banned most foreign investment there. Now…

The Market System: Parking Ideas

Sort of like lunch, there is no such thing as a free parking space. It costs us dollars or time. Hoping to optimize so valuable a commodity, some cities are installing parking devices that use demand and supply to price…

Election Economics: Obama’s Keynesian Message

Comparing Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan economics, people name John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich von Hayek. Having looked at Hayek several weeks ago, let’s turn to Keynes now. During 1934, with unemployment high and production low, British economist John Maynard Keynes was…

Manufacturing and the Market System

Adam Smith might look at recent increases in manufacturing and say, “The market works.” Here are some stories. One furniture manufacturer decided it could make consumers happier by moving back from China. Yes, it would mean paying a sander $10…