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Home 2017-07-28T13:07:05+00:00

Hedgehog or Fox?

By | March 13th, 2018|

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Sculpture: “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Photo: Peter Briggs. Source: Wiki A Greek poet coined this phrase almost 3000 years ago. It can describe two approaches to life. On the one hand, you have people who pursue many ends – often unrelated and contradictory, eclectic, diffused, omnivorous. On the other are souls who [...]

Hu is Xi?

By | March 12th, 2018|

Who is Xi Jinping? VOA News. Source: Wikimedia Xi Jinping is the General Secretary of Communist Party in China. He presides over the largest country in the world by population and the second largest economy in the world. He grew up during the tumultuous Mao Zedong years. His father was a high-ranking Party official in the ‘50s, but was purged from Party and sent to [...]

Fed Obsessions

By | March 9th, 2018|

What effect does the Fed have? Poster from 1880s. Source: Wikimedia For years we’ve obsessed about the Federal Reserve. Whether we picture the Chair as a heroic figure fighting off the forces of darkness and doom, or see the Fed as the center of a global conspiracy to enact vicious cycles of ruin, or view Fed staff and officers as primarily technocrats overseeing the country’s [...]

Digging Ourselves Out

By | March 8th, 2018|

How do storms affect the economy? Photo: Jeroen Kransen. Source: Wikimedia As winter storm Quinn buries the Northeast, it’s worth asking how storms impact the way we live. In past years this was an obvious question. After all, in an agricultural society, unusual weather has a direct impact on food production. In 1815 Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The resulting ash cloud caused 1816 to [...]

Arriving On Time

By | March 7th, 2018|

“If you leave late, you’re going to get there late.” Photo: Mario Ortiz. Source: Wikimedia That’s what my son’s driving instructor told him during a lesson. You can’t make up for a late start by going faster and rushing through yellow lights. And if you’re headed for a busy big city airport during rush hour, you’d better start even earlier and give yourself some margin. [...]

The Best of Intentions

By | March 6th, 2018|

“And then what happens?” Photo: Kamainv. Source: Wikimedia That’s my favorite economic question to ask when I’m looking at a new proposal. Everyone with a business plan will outline their actions and the intended consequences of their enterprise. Uber has a plan to facilitate “ride sharing,” where folks with some extra time and access to a car can earn a few dollars by “sharing” a [...]

Growing on the Beach

By | March 5th, 2018|

Have you ever noticed how beach grass grows? Photo: Jon Sullivan. Source: Public Domain Photos Ocean beaches often have dunes behind them, covered with beach grass – sometimes surrounded by protective fences. The plants grow in lines, strengthened by creeping underground stems that connect them to one another. Over time, the grass thickens and the sand dunes stabilize. This helps prevent coastal erosion. In Europe, [...]

Risk, Uncertainty, and Balance

By | March 2nd, 2018|

The Era of Low Volatility is Over. Photo: NOAA. Source: Wikimedia That’s what I thought when I looked at last month’s returns. Equity markets around the world were down around 5% last month, led by economic stalwarts like Johnson & Johnson and Samsung Electronics. Growth-oriented companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, still keep chugging along. But the market’s unbroken string of monthly advances – with barely [...]

Mexican Trade Revolution

By | March 1st, 2018|

Has trade with Mexico fundamentally changed?     Emelio Zapata. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Mexico runs a trade surplus with the US. Global supply chains mean that many component parts are shipped to Mexico from all over the world, assembled, and then exported to the US. Historically, Mexico also exported oil to the US. But that’s changed over the past few years. From 2006 to [...]