Category Archives: Economics

No News is Good News?

I came across this graphic this morning, which really tells the story of the decline and fall of television news. Check out “30 Minutes with CNN.” What is worse, there are other “news” stations that are worse, having mostly replaced factual reporting with talking heads screaming at each other.

(click on image for larger version)

With all of the news now ad-supported, the key financial goal of the “news stations” has become to keep viewers watching as long as possible so they see as many commercials as possible. Sadly, Americans would rather be entertained than informed, and so departed the news, international first, and then almost everything else.

It would seem to me that there MUST be an opportunity for a next-gen CNN with more factual reporting, even if we real news wonks have become a tiny niche…


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Filed under Economics, Media

Our Conflicted Government

Sometimes the right picture is worth more than a thousand words. There’s a fine art to representing data to clearly illuminate an issue, and this one takes my nomination for the graph of the year. This graphic comparing our government’s nutritional recommendations to its actual spending tells the story of money (from lobbyists) over morals.

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Filed under Economics, Graphics, Health

International Broadband Pricing

Here’s an interesting chart via Ohm Malik’s blog on the OECD telecommunications outlook report on the cost of broadband Internet in different countries. It’s an interesting metric on industrialization. Sadly, we’re not looking so good.


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Filed under Economics, Technology

More Posts Coming

Hi all,

Sorry for the recent sparseness in postings. Work got crazy for a bit, and now I’m in Davos Switzerland for the World Economic Forum as MobiTV was chosen as one of the Technology Pioneers of 2006.

More to come next week on how we techies got a chance to to rub elbows with the powerful and try to explain how technology could help make the world a better place.

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Filed under Economics, Technology

Aphabetical Bias ,or What’s In a Surname?

Judging by a recent paper from the Journal of Economic Perspectives, it would appear that I stand in good stead if I ever want a job in economics accedemia, and I have my father to thank for it.

And no, it’s not just because he was such a great dad and taught me how to fend for myself and all. Not that he didn’t help set me on numerous paths of opportunity. He did indeed. But one step would appear to have accrued simply from sticking with the country’s naming tradition.

A paper entitled “What’s in a Surname? The Effect of Surname Initials on Academic Success” by Liran Einav and Leeat Yariv (of Stanford and Caltech)showed some rather comprehensive data that showed measurable advantage to those with names starting with letters earlier in the Alphabet.

The more elite the selection criteria, the more the bias was evident. Check out the paper.

In retrospect, I can remember that just through the happenstance of my last name, I usually ended up first in or second in line whenever a class was organized, and got to start projects earlier than most. Maybe that sort of things add up. So all you teachers out there, start switching up and be sure to sort from the back of the alphabet half the time, or else suffer the risks and liabilities of unintended alphabetic discrimination.

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Filed under Economics, Math

Ever Wonder Where Your Tax Dollars Are Going?

Check out the Death and Taxes Poster in this zoomable Flash applet. It’s not the easiest interpretation to decipher, but it is packed with visually interesting information, and does attempt to show relative budgets by the circle sizes. (Also note that this just covers the discretionary budget that is voted on, and approved every year, and does not include service on ongoing programs like Social Security).

Here are a couple excerpts related to some of our recent foreign endeavors:

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And on the domestic front:

If all that doesn’t already depress you, just note that the circle for the national debt of over $9.3 trillion is larger than the entire chart in its expanded form. Wasn’t fiscal discipline supposed to be a fundamental plank of the Republican party? What happened?

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Filed under Economics, Graphics

Gas Up Before the Inevitable Price Increase

Now that election day is passed, I expect the Republican administration to re-start the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which will inevitably drive up gasoline prices.

Most of the economists I know were a little surprised that the country would stop filling the reserve when the prices were already at a multi-year low and the reserves had been depleted already partly due to the Iraq conflict. But as we now know, politics trumps economics, and they needed any weapon in the run-up to the election. Even then, it looks like the artificially-induced lower gas prices weren’t enough to stave off congressional defeat.

The only real question remaining in my mind is when they will open the spigot, given the open-ended nail biters in Virginia and Montana to determine control of the Senate. It wouldn’t surprise me if for some reason the SPR intakes remain closed until the election is completely resolved.


Filed under Economics