GDP Made Concrete

 Posted by on 30 March 2008 at 12:17 am  Cool, Economics
Mar 302008

This map isn’t new, but it’s pretty damn cool: US States Renamed for Countries with Similar GDPs.

We’re in Finland!

Testing the American Dream

 Posted by on 13 February 2008 at 11:30 am  Economics, Politics
Feb 132008

Having been told that it was extremely difficult for poor people to advance up the economic ladder in America, college graduate Adam Shepard conducted an interesting experiment.

He decided to start from the very bottom of the economic ladder, with “a gym bag, $25, and little else”. He moved into a homeless shelter “on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, S.C.” He set as his goal “to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year”, without relying on his education or his former contacts.

He worked his way out of poverty, found work as a day laborer, made new friends, and landed a steady job at a moving company. He had to quit his experiment after 10 months because of learning of an illness in his family, “[b]ut by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.”

According to the article:

The effort, he says, was inspired after reading “Nickel and Dimed,” in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

Clearly, this shows the crucial role that a person’s character, attitude, and work ethic play in whether he is successful or not, as opposed to the exact magnitude of material resources he starts with.

The full article tells more Adam Shepard’s fascinating story: “Homeless: Can You Build a Life from $25?

He has also written a book about his experience, entitled, Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. It looks like his book has gotten consistently high reviews on Amazon. (We’ve ordered a copy already, but it’s currently out of stock and on back order.)

Europe’s Philosophy of Failure

 Posted by on 27 January 2008 at 1:33 pm  Economics
Jan 272008

The January/February 2008 issue of Foreign Policy points out that young students in France and Germany are being taught that capitalism and free markets are “savage, unhealthy, and immoral.”

If I were a betting man, I’d sell Europe short. Assuming that I could find any economically-literate Europeans who’d take the other side of the trade…

Amazon Versus France

 Posted by on 17 January 2008 at 6:15 am  Economics
Jan 172008 is being punished by the French government for offering free shipping:

The Tribunal de Grande Instance (a French appeals court) in Versailles ruled back in December that Amazon was violating the country’s 1981 Lang law with its free shipping offer. That law forbids booksellers from offering discounts of more than 5 percent off the list price, and Amazon was found to be exceeding that discount when the free shipping was factored in.

The company was told to start charging within ten days or pay a daily fine. It also owes €100,000 to the French Booksellers’ Union for the court battle and for the losses it has apparently caused them. With the holidays over and the ten-day grace period over, Amazon has officially announced its plan to ignore the court order and pay the fine instead, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Amazon can do so for 30 days (€30,000), but after that time the court will review the fine. They could raise it, or they could lower it, but given that Amazon has chosen to flip the justices the bird, guess which outcome is more likely? At some point, if Amazon doesn’t change its ways, the fine will probably be jacked up so high that the company has no choice but to comply.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, has taken to the virtual airwaves to rally the French public in support of Amazon’s free shipping. He sent out a recent e-mail to French customers in which he claimed that “France would be the only country in the world where the free delivery practiced by Amazon would be declared illegal.” He then asked people to sign an online petition that has so far garnered more than 120,000 signatures.

I am glad that an American CEO is defending his company’s right to engage in mutually voluntary rational trade (and in the process save money for his customers). I don’t know whether Bezos is doing it in a principled fashion that gets to the moral fundamentals or if he’s only making a pragmatic argument.

Economics Humor — Seriously!

 Posted by on 23 December 2007 at 12:10 am  Economics, Funny
Dec 232007

As little as I know of economics, I definitely enjoyed this humorous translation of Mankiw’s 10 principles of economics by the Stand-up Economist:


Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha