Carpe Diem

25th Month of Real Disposable Income Growth

According to today’s BEA report, real disposable personal income increased by 1.23% in January compared the same month a year ago (see chart above).


1. January marks the 25th consecutive month of positive growth for real disposable personal income.

2. Although there has certainly been a slowdown in the growth of real disposable income over the last 5 months, it’s not necessarily an indication of recession. Notice in the graph that there was a period in 2002-2003 when real disposable income was growing at below 1% in 6 out of 9 months, and several months in 2005 with negative growth, and neither period was recessionary.
Carpe Diem

Global Hockey Competition: N.H.L. vs. Russia

NYTimes — Alexei Yashin (pictured above) joined a growing movement among Russian hockey players, government officials and business leaders. They are seeking to reclaim a sport viewed here as a national tradition that has been crippled, many say, by the pilfering of hockey stars over the last decade and a half by the N.H.L.

Now, say these hockey patriots, it is Russia’s turn to have the best. The country’s professional league expects to catch and surpass the N.H.L. as the world’s premier hockey league. To do that, it must keep its best homegrown talent at home — or lure it back home.

Carpe Diem

ND: Leading the US in Exports AND Protectionism?

BISMARK, ND — North Dakota ranked top in the nation for export growth in 2007, according to U.S. Commercial Service reports. The state’s exports totaled $2 billion in 2007, up 34% from its $1.5 billion in exports in 2006; nationally, export growth was 12% more than the previous year.

Among the top export destinations for North Dakota were Canada, which represented 49% of the market, Mexico, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and Australia. The top exports were skid steer loaders, motor vehicle parts, agricultural tractors, wheat, oil, sunflowers, machinery and crops, according to reports.

Dept. of Commerce International Trade Administration: Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1993, North Dakota’s combined exports to Canada and Mexico have increased 83%.

WSJ Washington Wire — North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan endorsed Barack Obama, saying the fact that Obama “has always opposed NAFTA” was a major factor in his endorsement.

(HT: National Association of Manufacturers)

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Google Chief Economist Hal Varian on Data Analysis

Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian Answers Questions on the Freakonomics blog:

Q: What jobs would you recommend to a young person with an interest, and maybe a bachelors degree, in economics?

A: If you are looking for a career where your services will be in high demand, you should find something where you provide a scarce, complementary service to something that is getting ubiquitous and cheap.

So what’s getting ubiquitous and cheap? Data. And what is complementary to data? Analysis.

So my recommendation is to take lots of courses about how to manipulate and analyze data: databases, machine learning, econometrics, statistics, visualization, and so on.

(HT: Newmark’s Door)

A few more:

Q: PC or Mac?

A: Linux.

Q: How close to “perfect information” can you get in your position at Google?

A: I sit one office away from our CEO, so I would say “about 12 feet.”

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Government Crackdown on Good Samaritans

INDIANA, PA — Denise George never thought she was breaking the law. Living on the outskirts of Dayton, she didn’t think twice about helping her Amish neighbors — whose religion prevents them from owning vehicles — make a trip or two into town during the week for supplies and other reasons.

That is, until she got a cease-and-desist letter from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission informing her that her actions were illegal.

HT: Reason

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Upbeat Economic News: It’s Not All Gloom & Doom

HELENA — With Montana’s unemployment rate at an amazingly low 2%, finding qualified workers for Helena employers is the biggest challenge facing the city’s employment agencies.

SYDNEY — Australia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell to a record low of 4.1% in January from 4.3% in December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

HONG KONGHong Kong’s financial chief said Wednesday he will cut salary and corporate taxes and abolish duties on beer and wine after a booming economy pushed the city’s budget surplus to a record high.

SEATTLE — The unemployment rate in Washington fell to a near-record low of 4.5% in January, in part thanks to the creation of 5,800 new jobs last month.

TAIPEI — The unemployment rate came in at 3.8% in January, down from 3.83% in December, and the lowest jobless rate for January in seven years.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s economy is estimated to have grown by as much as 5.3% last year, its highest rate in three years, as booming commodity exports and a stable currency helped Brazil record a $40 billion trade surplus. Inflation came in under 5%, and employment and foreign investment have reached record highs.

Carpe Diem

20 Ways Wal-Mart Clinics Will Affect US Healthcare

Big-box behemoth Wal-Mart has ventured into the healthcare realm, offering low-cost, walk-in clinics in more and more of its stores every day. Although Wal-Mart medicine may not sound like a great idea at first, these clinics can bring good changes to the health care industry, like insurance-free care, eased emergency rooms, and more widespread treatments.

Continue reading “20 Surprising Ways Wal-Mart Clinics Will Affect US Healthcare.”