Elections and Blood Tests
Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
Don Boudreaux explains how the immense strengths behind freedom and the human spirit provide the power to triumph over all obstacles - both those obstacles that result from natural disasters like earthquakes, and man-made obstacles like taxes and regulation. Call it a "Ganesha-like" power of freedom to overcome all obstacles:
We're now in the fifth quarter of economic expansion since the recession officially ended in June 2009. How does this economic expansion compare to the last two? Most reports describe the recovery as "sub-par," "weak," "fragile," and "anemic," etc.
The BEA reported today that real GDP grew at 2.0% in the third quarter, boosted by a 2.6% rise in inflation-adjusted consumer spending, the highest quarterly increase since the 4.1% growth in the fourth quarter of 2006, 15 quarters ago. This healthy growth in consumer spending from July through September is consistent with: a) the many states that have been reporting increases in tax revenues in the third quarter from sales, individual income and corporate income taxes, and b) the stronger-than-expected retail sales report for September (7.2% annual growth).
About 20 food trucks are currently operating in the Washington, D.C. area, with another five coming soon, according to the Food Truck Fiesta blog, which also provides a daily, real-time automated "DC Food Truck Tracker" map and updated Twitter feeds with information about where the trucks are located on a given day. The trucks typically move around each day, and about three locate daily at Farragut Square (conveniently located just down the block from AEI), often with blankets for a full picnic experience (see top picture), and often with ridiculously long lines at the Lobster Truck (see bottom picture), which currently ranks #1 among DC food trucks for having the most Twitter followers.
Charles Campbell, retired senior VP of Gulf Oil, cooks up quite "a stew of errors, misunderstandings, and non sequiturs" about free trade, according to Don Boudreaux, in this Baltimore Sun editorial "Free Trade Has Failed the U.S."
1. "The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) for Europe remains on an upward trend, and increased 0.3 percent in September, following a 0.7 percent increase in August, and a 0.9 percent increase in July. After increasing in September, the LEI for the Euro Area is 18.4 percent above its March 2009 trough."
It's not exactly a "market," but here's a free website (donations are accepted) that helps you when you're saying "I Can't Find My Phone."
New orders for durable manufactured goods in September reached the highest level ($199.1 billion) since September 2008, two years ago (see top chart above). The 12.2% increase in durable goods orders in September compared to the same month last year was the ninth consecutive double-digit increase starting in January of this year. From the cyclical low of $160 billion in March 2009, new orders for manufactured goods have increased by about 25% to almost $200 billion last month.
Dubai-based DP World is one of the world's largest marine terminal operators, with 50 terminals and 11 new developments and major expansions across 31 countries. From its latest report:
We hear a lot about the U.S. "trade deficit" or the "current account deficit," but we don't hear as much about the offsetting "capital account surplus" or "capital inflow" that has to exist when there's a trade deficit. For example, a Google search reveals three times more results for "current account deficit" (775,000) than for "capital account surplus" (224,000).
The unsustainable "higher education bubble" has received some well-deserved attention lately - watch Glenn Reynolds talk about it in detail here. A direct partner in the "higher education bubble" is the unsustainable "college textbook bubble," captured graphically in the chart above - notice how it totally dwarfs the "real estate bubble." Since 1980, educational books have risen annually at more than twice the rate of overall inflation, 6.7% vs. 3.3% respectively. "When students pay more for new textbooks than tuition in a year, then something's wrong," says Rand S. Spiwak, executive vice president at Daytona State in the article below.
Three pounds and 4,000 calories of gummy goodness for $27.95.
Predictions from University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball website, if the election were held today:
"In South Africa, where more than a third of the workforce is jobless, the problem is not that corporations are unethical but that there are not enough of them. One reason is that South Africa’s leaders blithely heap social responsibilities on corporate shoulders. Strict environmental laws cause long delays in building homes. This is nice for endangered butterflies, but tough for South Africans who live in shacks. Such laws also slow the construction of power plants, contributing to the rolling blackouts that crippled South Africa in 2008. South African labour laws make it hard to fire workers, which deters companies from hiring them in the first place. And a programme of “Black Economic Empowerment”, which pressures firms to transfer shares to blacks, has made a few well-connected people rich while discouraging investment."
TELEGRAPH -- "Caroline Spelman, the U.K. Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020 (MP: That's an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island).
From the New World Encyclopedia:
Here's one of the five.....
1. Bloomberg -- "Yang Shuqi paces up and down Ikea’s Beijing store, looking for a “small bed with toys” for her grandson. She doesn’t plan to buy it -- 1-year-old Beibei just needs to take a nap. Saturday afternoon is a bad time to look. Every bed (and couch, see picture above) in the 43,000-square-meter (463,000-square-foot) store is occupied, with some children and adults fast asleep under the covers.