Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reliance on Trade by State

There has been heated debate over whether or not the United States should implement stricter regulations on foreign trade. The diagram shows the percentage of each state's GDP that comes from international trade, Michigan having the highest. The current administration has been proposing stricter trade restrictions on its largest trading partners China, Mexico and Canada. This map gives us an indication of what states would be most affected by this decision. Should trade regulations vary by state depending on how dependent that state's economy is on it, or should the U.S. work on making states more self-sufficient?


A bit of supply and demand

What are we going to do on Cinco de Mayo?  Do we need subsidies?  (go here for an analysis of the avocado market)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Taxes are relative

An analyst, Alan Viard, at the American Enterprise Institute,

says administration officials will almost certainly ensure that no one pays a higher rate on the same income. Yet the elimination of most deductions could nudge some wealthier Americans into higher brackets, he says.  Overall, Marr notes the Tax Policy Center has estimated the top 1% of households would see a 14% increase in after-tax income, while low and middle-class Americans would see gains of just 1.2% to 1.8%.  (link)

But consider this opinion piece from the American Conservative:

The latest IRS data reveals that the top 1 percent of earners pay over 39 percent of total personal income tax revenues, while the top 5 percent pay 60 percent. Trump’s proposed reduction of the top personal income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent—the same rate that prevailed as recently as 2012 when Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi were in charge—would not fundamentally change this equation. What might change, however, is the willingness of the rich to keep paying their taxes in the first place. The fact that a Republican-controlled government will not even propose a rate below 35 percent sends an unambiguous message to the wealthy. America has arrived at a new national consensus: a populist Republican Party now agrees with the Democrats that a tiny sliver of Americans should pay for everyone else’s entitlements.

Without those entitlements, most Americans would not have healthcare, public education, or a chance for retirement.  Remember that most of the funding for the entitlements that I mentioned comes from the FICA tax, not the personal income tax.  

But the bigger picture may be that as long as I gte mine, I'm happy.   Maybe we no longer care about being American.  What do you think?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Goats Become Legal Tender in Zimbabwe

Let's move out of the U.S. today. Most of us have heard about the hyper-inflationary crisis that ravaged Zimbabwe's economy in 2008. The crisis led to the decision to abandon Zimbabwean currency for the United States dollar in 2009. Recently, the Zimbabwean economy has been suffering from a serious currency shortage that has seen its citizens waiting in bank ques for hours trying to get their hands on some cash, sometimes to no avail. 

Just this month, parliament introduced legislation allowing borrowers to back their bank loans using livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle. Following this decision, the Education Minister Lazarus Dokora announced that parents struggling to pay school fees could now pay their children's tuition with livestock (primarily goats). The decision has been met with outrage, despair, frustration ...and quite a bit of humor.

We have been discussing how far the world has come in terms of economic and technological development. Following this decision, however, most Zimbabweans, myself included, feel like their country has taken several steps backwards. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Coal-Mining and Climate Change Regulations

In Decatur, Illinois, engineers are constructing self-driving trucks and drills, while autonomous Caterpillars are already being used in Australia. Autonomous machines, are safer, more efficient, more productive …and never need to take a lunch break! The mining industry is fast becoming a high tech industry in need of more engineers and coders than it needs laborers. With the demand for coal decreasing in light of cheaper and more sustainable natural gas fuel, as well as the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, coal mining companies need these productivity enhancing innovations in order to keep prices competitive.

As part of the United States’ climate pact with Paris, former President Barack Obama pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 26 percent of its 2005 levels. He planned to do this with the Clean Power Plan, which entailed replacing hundreds of coal-fired power plants with wind and solar farms. President Donald Trump, however vowed to overturn Obama’s efforts in the name of protecting, and even returning coal-mining jobs back to the U.S. A recent study has predicted that automation will replace 40 to 80 percent of mine workers, and with the world moving towards clean energy, demand for coal will never return to its previous levels.

Where do you suggest these workers go?


Bitter Pill: Medical bills are STILL killing us

Last week, I commented on "A Severe Case of Diminishing Returns" by referencing a Time magazine article on health care costs from 2013. Written by Steven Brill, author of America's Bitter Pill, "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us" was a scathing special report highlighting what we seem to always skip over in the health care debate.

“When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high?”

Brill sets out to tackle this issue in 24,000 words of investigative journalism that finds some surprising results. I have often recommended the article to friends and colleagues looking for a perspective on the ongoing debate about healthcare in the United States. Unfortunately the article itself (which I have in print) is behind a subscription on Time magazine's website. But I found a wonderful summary of the points on a blog that distills the door-stopping special report into a scant 1,500 words. Read here.

I'd like to hear some brainstorming of solutions to reign in medical costs and force hospitals to be more efficient and fair in their pricing. Or, if you think that there is no problem with the costs, tell me why. 

To the latter, I suggest that medical care is not a place for free market absolutism, in the same way that neither electricity nor water are. We must seriously consider government intervention in this market in order to ensure that the natural monopoly is contained.

Trump's tax plan

What do you think?  I think it would increase inequality. But I can't see it passing.  Can you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Exporting Addiction for Profit

The opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic caused a record breaking number (over 52 000) of drug overdose deaths in 2015. Stricter regulations by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as growing awareness that pharmaceutical companies underrate the risks of opioid use have led to sales falling steadily since 2011. As U.S. sales fall, pharmaceutical companies are opting to turn to the global market to make up for lost revenue, globalizing an epidemic that had largely been contained in the U.S.  

Pharmaceutical companies are carrying out huge marketing campaigns overseas. Their strategy is to have chronic pain be approached as a serious medical condition in need of treatment, and to seriously discredit any speculation about the deadly risks of opioids. Mundipharma, a network of companies that sells OxyContin, has coined medical experts’ reluctance to prescribe opioids “opiophobia.” The company has hired a team of medical experts, patient advocates and celebrities to push the message that opioid painkillers are safe and effective; and has even been running training seminars in China, as well as many other countries, in an attempt to get medical professionals to overcome their opiophobia. 

Such companies are targeting countries in Latin America, Asia the Middle East and Africa, which are less equipped to deal with addiction. In class, we spoke about the dangerous side-effects such drugs have. Why do you think any medical expert would then agree to advocate for them overseas? Are painkiller companies, in fact, exporting addiction?

Should former President Obama have taken the money

He will be paid $400,000 to speak at a conference put together by a Wall Street firm.  Should he have said no?  (see link here)

I think he should have said no.  But then, I'm an idealist.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Feudal Economy for the 21st Century

Economic hardship is fertile soil for giving workers a bad deal. That is the thesis I developed reading Thaddius Howze's Medium article, Feudalism and the "Algorithmic Economy". It touches on the concepts of automation and inequality in a sphere many of us are familiar with: the so-called "Sharing" or "On-Demand" economy. Salting to taste the dystopian conspiracy language present in the article, the piece has me thinking about the nature of the gig economy that has arisen in the wake of the recession, and how that relates to the willingness of people to work for lower wages in worse conditions than before.

A principle of Keynesian theory says that wages are sticky downwards, which leads to unemployment in bad economic times as workers are laid off as opposed to taking wage cuts. This was true in the Great Depression, and history repeated itself in the 1970s, 1980s, at the end of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, and yet again in 2009. But perhaps employers have found the answer? When your wage is outsourced to a computer algorithm that makes decisions based on demand surges and the overall supply of labor, falling wages are just "Economics 101" again. And when your contractors have no unions, no benefits, and only the most tenuous of threads tying them to the notion of employment, who are they to argue?

Howze makes the claim that this is the neo-Feudalism for the new economy. The workers of the algorithmic economy are the peasants of old, having their opportunity dictated to them by the lords of the algorithm. This assessment bares striking resemblance to Chapter 8 of Robert Gordon's book. The gig economy's lack of safety net, or even a reasonable guarantee of work, for tiny wages that may not even cover the cost of employment is similar to the exploitative industrial work of the Gilded Age. While the nominal disutility of work may not be the same, the implication is as clear as the parallels I see in the rise of populism in Europe and North America.

Labor needs food, shelter, and clothing, and when economic times threaten the base of the needs pyramid, people are willing to accept a worse deal for their work. Rather than endemic unemployment, the post-recession world has opted for endemic underemployment and worsening working conditions. Do you think the gig economy is fundamentally exploitative, taking advantage of an economic downturn to give labor a raw deal? And baring in mind the trend of the U.S. government toward deregulation and supply-side policy, do you think we are staring at a new Gilded Age?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Is inequality inevitable?

Here is a short section of a recent Freakonomics podcast ( on income inequality:

Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School. She trained as a sociologist but is best known today as a management sage.
KANTER: One of the striking things about sports teams on losing streaks is that losing teams often had stars, just like third-world countries have rich people, even though most people are poor. Losing teams have stars, even though the team isn’t winning. The difference is that the stars look out for themselves. They feel no obligation to lift up the other players, to teach them, to include them. They only care about their own record. Rich people in an African country can take their money and go park it in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, and not care about lifting up their country. Whereas [with] winning streaks in countries, as well as sports teams and companies, generally those at the top feel some obligation toward the education, the training, the development of people below them. To make things work well, inequality doesn’t help. If you have a lot of people who feel left out of the system, well, they do get angry, and they sometimes surprise you with their feelings. But also, they often go passive. They think nothing could be done to change anything. And because of that, they’re not very motivated, and nothing does change.
Bryan Caplan is an economist at George Mason University.
CAPLAN: The main predictor of living standards of not just most people but the poorest people in the country is productivity in that country. Countries that produce a lot of stuff aren’t just good places to be rich or middle class; they’re good places to be poor. So when people complain about people being left behind … China’s got 1.3 billion people. Sure, someone’s going to be left behind in there. But is it better to be poor now in China than it was 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, when people were starving to death? There is no question. It is only by going and forgetting history, forgetting comparisons, and then searching through a vast number of people to find a sad story that we can forget the big picture. What is the big picture? Not that we can find something that happened that is bad in the world so vast we can’t even imagine it, but seeing what is happening overall. What is the general trend, and how can we keep the general trend good?
Again, it’s a reminder that overall, the prosperity curve is still rising. But still, as some countries, and people, become incredibly rich, isn’t it natural to try to close the gap beneath them? A few months back, I had a chance to put this question to Sir Angus Deaton, an emeritus professor of economics at PrincetonDeaton won a Nobel Prize in 2015 for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare.
DUBNER: I’d love to talk for a moment about inequality: the degree to which it is inevitable, perhaps the degree to which it is desirable, and the parts of it we should worry about, and those we shouldn’t. 
DEATON: That’s a great question. I spent last week in Davos being asked nonsensical questions like, “How do we kill inequality or remove inequality?” And I’m not sure the inequality is the right concept. It has so many sides to it and so many causes and so many effect, that focusing exactly there doesn’t seem to be the right thing. In fact, I just got something from some social organization today, which said, “We define inequality as stagnant wages.” Which is a very odd definition of inequality. Inequality is about, to some extent, the dispersion. Taking it from there, there’s always going to be some inequality, at least in the world in which we live. There is this interesting fact that for most of human history, in which we were all living in hunter-gatherer bands, there appears to be no almost no inequality. Yet from farming onward, from the Neolithic revolution, there’s been a lot of inequality. Even in the perfect Rawlsian world — where you’re trying to maximize the welfare of the worst off — you would need some inequality because otherwise the worst person, like everybody else, would have nothing. That’s a simple economic story as to why there ought to be some inequality. If you go all the way back to the Athenians, there was the question as to whether extreme income distribution wealth disparities were not compatible with a functioning democracy. And if they were, what sort of democracies could you have? Could you design constitutions that would somehow contain that? That’s a separate question which economists don’t typically think about very much. 
(If you are interested in listening to the rest of the podcast, it is on the link above)
Who do you most agree with? Do you think income inequality is inevitable?

Boom or Bust

The understanding of economic growth often focuses on boom periods. However, perhaps rather than focusing on the growth periods of an economy, we should be focusing on the recessions. A study by Broadberry and Wallis found that the continued economic growth across countries of all income levels was better explained by shorter, and less substantial recession periods, and less so by the size of the large growth periods. 

Basically, this shows that due to the protections built into our economies, and our general respect for the law, recessions are less severe than they once were. Although, this article suggests that we may not be able to rely on our current stability to continue. Before the modern era, elites would fight between themselves for the spoils of growth and send the economy back to square one through wars, corruption and the like. Respect for courts to resolve disputes prevents this from happening. With populist politicians challenging the authority of judges once again across the world, that is food for thought.

Does the concept of recessions defining our growth rather than boom periods contradict Gordon? 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Not Everyone's a Pessimist

Marco Annunziata is the Chief Economist and Executive Director of Global Market Insights at GE. Unlike Gordon, he is an optimist when it comes to the growth and innovation we can expect to see in the coming years. If you have 12 minutes, check out his TED talk here. He speaks about how we will continue to incorporate machines and technology into our jobs and our lives. Otherwise, here is an article that he wrote for the Economist in 2013 answering the question "Will we ever invent anything useful again?".

“Perhaps the innovation naysayers are taking their cues from the last half-decade of economic turmoil. But just as global economic “gloom and doom” loses traction – financial market health is improving, major economic disasters like the fiscal cliff didn’t come to fruition – so the current pace of innovation should give us optimism, and optimism is in turn required for our capacity to invent.

“Back to The Economist’s question on whether we’re due for another innovation explosion. I would answer unequivocally, “Yes.” The caveat is that not only do I believe we’ll invent new, useful technologies, but tools like the Industrial Internet allow us to improve the efficacy of existing ones.

Are you as optimistic as Marco Annunziata?

How many "first times" can there be?

Have we always had the means to alleviate poverty? If yes, why haven't we as a society been able to "fix" the problem? Or is poverty necessary and/or inevitable for the sustainability of our current economic systems in place?

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Severe Case of Diminishing Returns

(Check out the original source for this graphic here. It's interactive, well worth the click.)

As Gordon points out in Chapter 7, many of the improvements in our average life expectancy over the 20th century can be attributed to improved infrastructure in water, sewage and sanitation. Despite this, healthcare costs have seen serious increases, particularly in the U.S. "While the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country in the world, it ranks 12th in life expectancy among the 12 wealthiest industrialized countries."

Now I'm not asking you to solve the healthcare crisis, but what factors are contributing to the "low returns" the U.S. is getting on its healthcare investments and what could explain why many other countries are doing so much better?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is climate change going to take down the housing market in Florida?


Consider the following from the article linked above:

          "When Cason first started worrying about sea-level rise, he asked his staff to count not just how much coastline the city had (47 miles) or value of the property along that coast ($3.5 billion). He also told them to find out how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302). What matters, he guessed, will be the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far. “These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason, who became mayor in 2011 after retiring from the U.S. foreign service. “When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.” If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue. And all of that could happen before the rising sea consumes a single home. As President Donald Trump proposes dismantling federal programs aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, officials and residents in South Florida are grappling with the risk that climate change could drag down housing markets. Relative sea levels in South Florida are roughly four inches higher now than in 1992. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts sea levels will rise as much as three feet in Miami by 2060. By the end of the century, according to projections by Zillow, some 934,000 existing Florida properties, worth more than $400 billion, are at risk of being submerged. The impact is already being felt in South Florida. Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock. Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply. The area’s drainage canals rely on gravity; as oceans rise, the water utility has had to install giant pumps to push water out to the ocean. [...] Sean Becketti, the chief economist at Freddie Mac, warned in a report last year of a housing crisis for coastal areas more severe than the Great Recession, one that could spread through banks, insurers and other industries. And, unlike the recession, there’s no hope of a bounce back in property values."

Who do you think will lose the most from damaged property due to flooding/climate change? Will it be the government's responsibility to pay for their loses? Do you see a possible solution or is it too late?

Climate Change and Migration

“Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban center; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impacts of war, which leads to even more displacement.”

(Check out the full article here)

Do you think that migration due to climate change will be an economic and political factor in the U.S. in the coming years? Furthermore, how will we deal with it when we do not even have a designation for “environmental migrants” or “climate refugees”?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Do you have the skills to spot fake news?


Facebook recently added a temporary feature to help their users spot fake news. This was a response to the fake news "phenomenon" that has taken off on all social media platforms. People read, share and believe whatever they see online and run with the story. In our discussion last night, we all agreed on how the social media has added to the formation of information bubbles, and has aggravated the polarization of the US (and rest of the world).

Here is a snapshot of Facebook's guidelines for how to spot fake news.

facebook fake news help center tips false

Were you already practicing these things? Was there something new that you never considered when reading a story online? Do you see this approach as a sustainable way to eliminate or keep this phenomenon at a minimum? What alternative solutions would you suggest to social media companies?

Grandma's Uber

On page 95, Gordon mentions Economies of Density. This refers to the idea that new technologies and services often come to urban areas before rural areas. This occurs because it is much easier and often cheaper to supply these new modern conveniences in more densely populated areas. In particular, networking of running water, sewage, and telephone lines occurred much more quickly in cities than in the country.
Despite the fact that rural areas have caught up in many regards, there are still some amenities that are not available outside of the city. However, one company, Liberty Mobility Now is attempting to bring a very popular service to rural America; ride hailing. This service, which Uber and Lyft provide to urbanites around the country, is proving to be a very valuable service to rural residents as well. Since many small towns do not have any buses or other forms of public transportation, the availability of ride hailing is meeting an important need for the aging population who can no longer drive and those who cannot afford a car. “Rides cost $1.25 to book and $1 per mile. The fees are a small fraction of what the cabby charges.”

Do you think that this type of service will be profitable in rural areas, or does the Uber model need to be further adapted to fit the needs of the rural population? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Tax Day!

      In honor of tax day, find out how much you know about taxes and our perception of taxes in the U.S. Head to this article (here), and answer the main question, and there you can also check out some interesting figures like the one below. What surprised you? What didn't?

Are you a Techno-Optimist?

If you did this week's reading, techno-optimism might sound familiar. It is the "belief that technology can continually be improved and can improve the lives of people, making the world a better place."  

When you think about possible solutions to today's societies' problems, do you see more technology as a solution?

OR are you a techno-pessimist? A Technological Citizen blog defines techno-pessimism as the belief that technology has "created just as many problems as solutions" and that it brings "unforeseen consequences and dangers."  

Consider the following from a recent Huffington Post article:
Techno-optimists "find reassurance in a dependable habit of technological progress to clean up after itself. The Industrial Revolution gave us climate change. It’s a big problem, but the best advice is to keep calm and carry on. The carbon dioxide-eating nanobots will be along shortly. The increasing power of our technologies seems to justify the notion that if we really care about improving human well-being, we should focus on improving our technologies. [...] Suppose that it’s true that many new technologies bring considerable benefits to the individuals who acquire or experience them. We err in translating improvements in individual well-being into predictions about the long-term effects of technological progress on society. Predictably happier individuals don’t necessarily make a predictably happier society."

Personally, I lean more towards the techno-optimistic beliefs but I recognize the concerns of a techno-pessimist. I think before putting all our money into any kind of technology, we have to consider all the risks and consequences (calculate negative and positive externalities). The only trade-off this has is that it would slow down implementation of innovation.

How do you define yourself? What concerns, if at all, do you see moving into the future?

The American Dream and Productivity

Go here for link.

The United States built its economy on (1) unlimited land, (2) unlimited cheap labor, (3) unlimited innovation and (4) geographical isolation.   But now, growth has slowed.

The American Dream is simple: it’s the unwavering belief that anybody — you, me, your friends, your neighbors, grandma Verna — can become exceedingly successful, and all it takes is the right amount of work, ingenuity, and determination. Nothing else matters. No external force. No bout of bad luck. All one needs is a steady dosage of grit and ass-grinding hard work.

 Education isn't enough. 

Source: Economic Policy Institute

Most jobs created since the recovery began have been low-wage jobs followed by high-wage jobs. The recovery of middle-wage jobs has been lackluster, however. Source: NYTimes via National 
 Employment Law Project

The world has changed.Source: NYTimes via National Employment Law Project

Monday, April 17, 2017

Thinking beyond chocolate cake - State of National "Defense" in the US


Some of you might've seen or heard about the infamous chocolate cake segment from Trump's interview last week. In the midst of dessert-excitement, another (arguably, more important) statement was overlooked.

"The military has been cut back and depleted so badly by the past administration and by the war in Iraq."

For the sake of time, I will leave out a rant about the rest of the interview.

While numbers show that the previous administration did cut back on military spending, the number is still pretty high. The Washington Post reported that as of 2016, the US' military budget was $598 billion. While The Economist estimated that the US spent about $664.1 billion, which was around 3.6% of the nation's GDP. 

The President is not wrong that the budget has been cut over time, but that was done intentionally as part of an agreement NATO members made back in 2006. They agreed to maintain a 2% target.

 US spending falls between many Middle Eastern nations that have been facing extreme instability.

What do you think about United States' national defense spending habits? Why is it that they are spending so much money? What are they defending their citizens from? To what extent does war-profiteering play a role in these numbers?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rise of the robots: What advances mean for workers

With robots and other forms of automation becoming more technologically advanced there are many questions surrounding the fate of human workers that my be affected. I would like to think that for the jobs that are going to robot workers, there are also new or different jobs available to the human workers displaced by them. However, this does not always happen due to many real world factors not present in many of our Econ 101 teachings. If we are going to fully embrace robot workers and push for their innovation we also need to ensure that there are alternative jobs and training available for those getting replaced by synthetic workers.

Lloyd eyes Berlin for post-Brexit push

Lloyds Banking Group, a major financial institution in the U.K has decided to convert its Berlin branch into an European branch as an effort to protect their EU (European Union) operations in post-Brexit times. Firms like Lloyd and HSBC set up these EU firms because for many years, British-based financial services companies have been able to operate throughout Europe using so-called passporting rights.

Additionally, the consequences of Brexit are soon being realized as various studies have suggested tens of thousands of financial jobs could leave the U.K. HSBC has already said it is likely to move 1,000 workers from London to its European headquarters in Paris, while the insurance market Lloyds of London recently said it was setting up an office in Brussels.

Thoughts? Do you guys want to expand on any other economic consequences of Brexit?   

Solar Panels in Hawaii

As shown in this video, solar panels are turning into an invaluable asset for Hawaii. With more of its potential being realized, more areas are utilizing the benefits of solar panels to provide energy.

Thoughts on where you see the usage of solar panel go in the near future? Will it keep increasing? Or do you think it will decrease due to the current administration's lack of emphasis on climate change and other environmental issues?

Guessing death rates: fun in a gruesome way

go to

and try it.  How did you do?

Our current president has been the center of quite a few points of controversy including the failure to release any financial documents and to address any possible conflicts of interest. Given what was released in President Trump's 2005 tax returns, what other secrets could be revealed in Trump's tax returns? How will this change the views of President Trump's primary voter base?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Are Banks Co-Opting Bitcoin's technology?

Thoughts? What are your opinions about Bitcoin in general?

Paid Parental Leave: U.S vs. The World

The U.S, unlike the 19 other countries compared in this list doesn't have a law that guarantees paid maternity leave.

Paid maternity leave can improve productivity in the workplace as well as create a stable parenting environment for their newborns.

Thoughts on the infographic? How likely is it that a law guaranteeing paid maternity leave could pass in the future?  

Too many people; too few resources...but innovation still prevails

Friday, April 14, 2017

China fears North Korea/US conflict 'at any moment'

North Korea as of late has been increasing its number of missile tests as well as its ramping up of the research and development of nuclear weapons. China seems to be finding itself in a very precarious situation surrounding this issue as it is one of North Koreas only allies, and is at times worrying about the effects any weapons developments could mean for the rest of the world. While China is currently an ally they seem to think they may have to intervene should North Korean leadership decide to continue causing trouble in the region. As is stated in the article the Chinese people are not looking for any type of military escalation as in prime minister, Wang Yi's, own words, ''We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage." President Trump on the other hand is seeming to take a hard line on the subject at this point and while this doesn't currently mean military actions, the president seems to be determined in dealing with this problem. With there being aircraft carriers heading to the area around the Korean peninsula there is no telling whether there will be an escalation or if the North Koreans will finally submit to diplomatic sanctions and discontinue its missile tests. What might be the best policy when dealing with a situation such as this? Do you think that problems could arise simply because we are sending naval ships to monitor the situation?

Patterns of development: NASA night light maps

Go to .  The video shows patterns of light throughout the world.  Economic theory usually assumes that land is ubiquitous (ever present and identical).  Clearly it isn't.  I took the two figures shown below from the FAO (link is here).   Thoughts?