Carpe Diem

Tuesday afternoon links

1. Markets in everything: There are more than 7,300 gas stations selling ethanol-free gasoline in the US and Canada, find them here.

2. Markets in everything: University of Toronto students are buying and selling spots in college courses that are full, turning registration into a bidding war. (HT: Marginal Revolution)

3. US War on Plants/Weeds Update: A Louisiana man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for possessing half an ounce of weeds. Corey Ladd, 27, was sentenced as a “multiple offender to 20 years hard labor at the Department of Corrections.”

Economic Releases Today

4. The Philadelphia Fed released its August state coincident indexes today based on a state’s nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index. Thanks to the state’s oil boom, North Dakota led the country with the highest year-over-year increase of 4.04% in the state’s coincident index through August. The average 12-month increase was 2.9% for all US states.

5. The American Staffing Association reported today that for the week ending September 15 its Staffing Index for Temporary, Freelance and Contract Employment reached 100 for the first time since December 2007.

6. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index increased 12.4% in July from a year ago, which is the largest annual increase in US home prices since February 2006. Meanwhile, the FHFA House Price Index increased in July by 8.8% from a year earlier, which was also the largest increase in that measure of US home prices since February 2006.

17 thoughts on “Tuesday afternoon links

        • well, yes and no.

          this gets a little tricky.

          if you can make a better product even if it is cheaper to make that existing ones, you can still often charge more for it, particularly if there is a supply constraint, as there is in this case.

          ethanol is also cheaper than gasoline, so i suspect this is more a case of blending bad wine with good wine to drop the price.

          • ethanol is also cheaper than gasoline“…

            Due to government subsidies in the growth, harvesting, and manfacturing process or at least somewhere along that process, right?

  1. Like a turdlet floating in a champagne glass…some guy in Louisiana gets 20 years for having pot…we have 18 million alcoholics in the USA…they belong in prison too

    • There is more to this than meets the eye. This is sorta like the leftists who complained a person got 3 strikes for stealing a slice of pizza. First he wasn’t nice about it and the guy had a long line of offenses against people, including beating them up, etc. Thank goodness when he was put away for good, he had only attacked a few people to get a slice of pizza.

      This guy with the pot has a long criminal record of doing other things. – thank goodness this time he was only caught with pot. Unfortunately the propaganda page about the guy won’t come up so I can’t read all the details – but if someone is clean and gets caught with pot, I agree they should be let go, but if someone has a long history of criminal activity – I have much less sympathy.

      Another good example. You would think lifetime in prison is a bit harsh for tax evasion – right? Besides how would the person pay back the money if they are in prison. But was it OK to put Al Capone away for tax evasion?

      Think about it – anyway, this guy is not the poster boy for drug law relief.

    • we have 18 million alcoholics in the USA…they belong in prison too

      Why? What does imprisoning drug users or alcoholics do for the alcoholics and drug users and/or what does it do for society?

      Additionally, drug user does not equal addict. Equating a drug user with an alcoholic, who is an addict by definition, is sloppy thinking, as well as incredibly expensive when applied to government policy.

  2. Myth: Prisons are full of people in for marijuana possession

    “Fact: About 750,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana offenses in the U.S. There’s a lot of variation across states in what happens next. Not all arrests lead to prosecutions, and relatively few people prosecuted and convicted of simple possession end up in jail. Most are fined or are placed into community supervision. About 40,000 inmates of state and federal prison have a current conviction involving marijuana, and about half of them are in for marijuana offenses alone; most of these were involved in distribution. Less than one percent are in for possession alone.” — Rolling Stone

    • Che,

      Perhaps those right-wing extremists at Rolling Stone are on to something. Here’s what the Office of Drug Control Policy says:
      “In reality,
      the vast majority of inmates in state and federal prison for marijuana have been
      found guilty of much more than simple possession. Some were convicted for drug
      trafficking, some for marijuana
      possession along with one or
      more other offenses. And many
      of those serving time for
      marijuana pled down to
      possession in order to avoid
      prosecution on much more
      serious charges.
      In 1997, the year for which the
      most recent data are available,
      just 1.6 percent of the state
      inmate population were held for
      offenses involving only marijuana,
      and less than one percent of all
      state prisoners (0.7 percent) were
      incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge, according to the U.S.
      Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). An even smaller fraction of
      state prisoners in 1997 who were convicted just for marijuana possession were first­
      time offenders (0.3 percent).
      The numbers on the federal level tell a similar story. Out of all drug defendants
      sentenced in federal court for marijuana crimes in 2001, the overwhelming majority
      were convicted for trafficking, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Only
      2.3 percent—186 people—received sentences for simple possession, and of the 174
      for whom sentencing information is known, just 63 actually served time behind bars.

      • Paul

        And many of those serving time for marijuana pled down to possession in order to avoid prosecution on much more serious charges.

        True, but that’s not unique to drug crimes. If the prosecutor had a strong case for a more serious crime, they would pursue that charge, and not offer a plea.

        A “much more serious crime” might be intent to sell or distribute, which is difficult to prove without evidence of an actual sale. Simply an amount arbitrarily considered to be more than a person would carry for their own use can be considered intent to distribute in some jurisdictions. Hard to prove, but an easy threat to make to ensure a plea to doing *something* not approved by the state.

        • A “much more serious crime” might be intent to sell or distribute, which is difficult to prove without evidence of an actual sale“…

          Well ron h, not actually true depending on the state you and or county you live in…

          Locally in St. Louis county and the state of Missouri you can have a small amount of a drug in three or four discreet packages and can be hauled up for intent to distribute which for all intents and purposes is every bit as felonious as having a one kilo brick of the drug…

          • juandos

            I think that was my point. You might be charged, but how could anyone prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to sell or distribute?

  3. “Bankers warn the administration’s new “disparate impact” home-lending regulation will wreak havoc in credit markets, replacing merit standards with political correctness.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued the controversial new anti-discrimination rule earlier this year. Now enforced by every federal regulator dealing with banks, it has the effect of criminalizing credit standards used to qualify borrowers for home loans.

    Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America jointly filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that under the new HUD rule:

    “Virtually every lender in the United States could be sued for using non-discriminatory credit standards simply because variations in economic and credit characteristics produce different credit outcomes among racial and ethnic groups.”

    In their 33-page brief, filed in support of a landmark housing case pending before the court, they complain that HUD recently launched 22 separate investigations against lenders alleging that their policies of requiring minimum credit scores “had a disparate impact on minorities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”

    The mortgage trade groups argue the formalized disparate-impact rule also effectively criminalizes other legitimate business practices, including minimum down-payment requirements, sliding loan rates and the charging of brokers’ fees.

    … we’ll all end up eating the legal and compliance costs banks will have to front under this race-baiting witch hunt.

    The social engineers and race demagogues in this administration are trying to enforce a balance in financial outcomes that risks another collapse of the housing market. The Supreme Court must put an end to a scheme so reckless, unfair and unconstitutional.” — IBD

    We’ve seen this movie before, it didn’t end well.

  4. BIS: Worldwide credit excess ‘worse’ than pre-Global Financial Crisis

    “The Swiss-based ‘bank of central banks’ says a hunt for yield is luring investors en masse into high-risk instruments, “a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis”.

    “This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the Bank for International Settlement’s former chief economist, famous for flagging the wild behaviour in the debt markets before the global storm hit in 2008.

    “All the previous imbalances are still there. Total public and private debt levels are 30 per cent higher as a share of GDP in the advanced economies than they were then, and we have added a whole new problem with bubbles in emerging markets that are ending in a boom-bust cycle,” said Mr White, now chairman of the OECD’s Economic Development and Review Committee.” — StratRisks

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