Working Harder or Smarter? Or Something Else?

By |2019-09-03T06:54:45-04:00September 3rd, 2019|Global Market Update|

How can we be more productive? Photo: Doug Tengdin. When we think of how to be more productive, we may think of long days and hard labor. When economists look at an entire economy, they consider equipment, technology, and training. And productivity is incredibly important to an economy. One of the simplest equations in economics is how to calculate economic growth: Labor force growth plus productivity equals economic growth. How many hours we work times how much we do per hour equals the economy. [...]

Hamburger Helpers

By |2019-07-29T06:32:34-04:00July 29th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What can hamburgers teach us about economics? Photo: Phil Grey. Source: Needpix. CC0 Around the world, the McDonald’s Big Mac is a model of consistency. Whether we walk into a McDonald’s in Beijing or Brussels or Bogota, we’re going to see the same combination of beef patties, cheese, condiments, and a bun. That formula has been so successful that it’s offered in 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. Starting in 1986, Economist magazine started tracking Big Mac prices around the world, as a lighthearted [...]

Hot Pepper Economics

By |2019-03-14T06:14:03-04:00March 14th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What do we do when prices go up? Source: Wikimedia. CC-BY-2.0 We usually switch what we buy, if we can. If the price of cayenne pepper doubles, we try substituting chili powder. If Ford tries to jack up the price of its Expedition, sales of Chevy Suburbans go up. Substitution is what keeps our finances stable even when the prices of various household items double or fall in half. It’s also why the explosive growth of big box retailers in the ‘90s or online [...]

Snowflake Economics

By |2019-01-18T07:29:36-04:00January 18th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Does winter make economic activity more difficult? Photo: Aaron Burden. Source: Unsplash. We hear it every time a storm hits: “Winter storm ‘Wilma’ cost the US economy X billion dollars.” But is this true? Yes, I may be late getting into work because I was shoveling out my driveway and brushing off my cars. And yes, people drive more slowly on the highway and the airports are jammed. But in our information economy where folks can work from home and malls are closing because [...]

The Economics of Christmas

By |2018-12-21T11:49:07-04:00December 19th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Have you ever considered the economic impact of Christmas? Photo: Viktor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo There are lots Christmas celebrations. There’s the religious holiday, which is outside the scope of this blog. There is the secular holiday, where folks take time off to be with loved ones. It’s been noted that homeless shelters are pretty empty at Christmas. It’s the one time of the year many of those folks have someone to take them in. And then there’s the economic holiday: the [...]

Wage Slaves or Labor Entrepreneurs?

By |2018-07-17T06:12:41-04:00July 17th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Who owns our work? ADP Time Card Reader. Photo: BrokenSphere. Source: Wikimedia There’s a memorable scene from the bike-racing movie, “Breaking Away.” When a member of a teenage gang shows up for his first day of work at a car wash, his pushy new boss tells him: “Don’t forget to punch the clock, Shorty.” Offended by his supervisor’s attitude, the young man wraps his hand in a rag and physically punches the time-clock, breaking the glass. His buddies cheer, and he storms off. As [...]

Eclipse Economics

By |2017-08-21T07:04:39-04:00August 21st, 2017|Global Market Update|

Will the eclipse be an economic boon? Source: NRK News Millions of people are planning to travel to see the coming eclipse. Cities and towns along the route of the 70-mile wide totality are racing to complete their preparations. Casper, Wyoming is building a new town square that will be the center of a week-long “Eclipse Festival.” The State of Wyoming expects its population to double. The “Great American Eclipse” web site has a web app that will deliver real-time traffic data – particularly [...]

Mile High Munchies

By |2017-07-17T12:21:26-04:00April 3rd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Well, no one saw this coming. Denver skyline Photo: Larry Johnson. Source: Wikipedia There’s a touching scene in Peter Hessler’s book “Country Driving” where a family in a small Chinese village receives a gift from the local Communist Party. It’s a framed skyline of a gleaming foreign city with a digital readout of the temperature, time, and date. The unnamed city was supposed to represent China’s bright future. The city was Denver; the year was 2005. Through foresight or good fortune, the Chinese Communist [...]

Trade is Hard

By |2017-07-17T12:21:39-04:00October 24th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Why is free trade so hard to understand? Source: Moeconomics Blog The idea is simple: when everyone does what they do best, we’re all better off. Like a Mark Zuckerberg giving up coding to run Facebook. He knows how to code, by all reports he’s a good coder. But it wasn’t a productive use of his time. His time was better spent acting as Facebook’s CEO—managing his sector leaders, understanding where the business is moving, working out financial issues. So he gave up coding, [...]

Re-Thinking Brexit

By |2017-07-17T12:21:41-04:00October 5th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Can uncertainty cause a recession? Source: Econlib Economists are always looking for ways to test their theories. They can’t put economies into test tubes and sprinkle a little stimulus on them—they have to look for natural ways to examine how people react economically to new conditions. So they study businesses right near a state border to see if changing the minimum wage law has much impact, or they use the draft lottery to study the effect of military service on lifetime earnings. The Brexit [...]