Posts Tagged ‘economics’
Barbie, who celebrated her 54th birthday last month, has had more than 130 careers. Some, of course, command higher wages than others. But what is perhaps surprising is that the price of a doll varies by profession. Most in the “Barbie I can be…” collection cost $13.99; but some, like “computer engineer” or “snowboarder” can cost two or three times more. It can’t be the (cheap) accessories that come with each— why should a miniature plastic laptop be valued so much more highly than a chef’s tiny cupcakes?
The Economist‘s “Graphic Detail” explains…
Matthew Notowidigdo, an economist at the University of Chicago, calls it the “Barbie Paradox,” an idea popularised by his colleague Emily Oster in an article last year in Slate. They conclude that price discrimination is probably at work: sellers exploit parental hopes that a girl playing palaeontologist may grow up to be the real thing, so charge more. And the white-collar professions certainly assuage criticisms from the early 1990s when Mattel released talking Barbies that groused “Math class is tough” (which inspired The Economist to publish an in-depth analysis of the pint-sized princess in 2002). Interestingly, there is only a modest correlation between Barbie’s occupations and real-world salaries. Inexpensive pilot dolls are paid quite a lot in life, and despite babysitter Barbie’s moderately high price, she would take home a pittance as a childcare worker.
As we put away our childish things, we might send darkly humorous birthday greetings to Samuel Barclay Beckett; he was born on this date in 1906. A novelist, poet, and theatrical director, Beckett is best remembered as the playwright who created (with Eugéne Ionesco) what Martin Esslin dubbed “The Theater of the Absurd.” His Modernist masterpieces– Krapp’s Last Tape and Waiting for Godot, for instance– had a profound influence on writers like Václav Havel, John Banville, Tom Stoppard, and Harold Pinter. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
From Randall Monroe’s exquisite What If?, The Cost of Pennies.
As we search for a larger change jar, we might recall that this was the date, in 1919, on which the world did not end. American meteorologist Albert Porta had made a widely-publicized prediction that a conjunction of six planets on that date would cause a “magnetic current” to “pierce the sun”, causing an explosion of flaming gas which would engulf the Earth. The hysteria that followed incited mob violence and some suicides… before, as the world did not end, it subsided.
THE KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION conducts a quarterly survey of economics bloggers (you can see the third quarter results here). It tends to focus on current economic conditions and policy questions, but the fourth-quarter questionnaire contained something a little different: a challenge to capture the state of the economy in haiku. The results are sublime…
Indeed. Consider the stylings of Reuters’ Felix Salmon:
No one has a job
And they’re not paid much
Or the musings of Professor Stephen Karlson:
Intermodal loadings increase
Trade conflict looms without cease
Occupy Wall Street
Or this, from Robert Cringely:
Econ guys, gentle souls
Think policies guide markets
Jail time is better
Or the only-too-culturally-appropriate contribution of Amol Agrawal:
When Japan fell in 1990s
They were lectured by the world economists
Time for Japanese to smile
… more at “The economy in haiku .”
As we think in seventeen syllables, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the Maastricht Treaty came into effect, formally establishing the European Union (EU)… and laying the groundwork for the Eurozone– the European Monetary Union and the creation of the Euro– and thus for the painful pecuniary pageant that is playing out on the Continent today…
Arguments rage as to how the U.S. sailed into the economic eddy in which we’re caught, and as to how we should navigate out. (Your correspondent’s thoughts, FWIW, are littered among the postings in his other blog.) But the situation is what it is… a situation that the folks at ProPublica have profiled, current as to data available this month.
- Annual rate at which the GDP grew this year: 1.3 percent between April and June, 0.4 percent between January and March
- Average annual GDP growth from 1998-2007: 3.02 percent
- Total jobs lost since January 2008: 8.7 million
- Total jobs recovered since January 2008: 1.8 million
- Unemployment rate in July 2011: 9.1 percent
- The “natural unemployment rate”: 5 percent
- Months that the unemployment rate has been around 9 percent or more: 28
- Number of unemployed people in July 2011: 13.9 million
- Number of long-term unemployed people in June 2011: 6.3 million, or 44.4 percent of the unemployed
- Number of long-term unemployed people in July 2011: 6.2 million, still about 44.4 percent of the unemployed
- Years it will take to get back to an unemployment rate of 5 percent: four years if we’re adding jobs at 350,000 per month; 11 years if we’re adding jobs at the 2005 rate of 210,000 per month
More at ProPublica… In an economy the fundamental premise of which is consumption, and in which employment gains demand a GDP growth rate of over 2%, it’s a sobering picture.
As we contemplating re-stuffing our mattresses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1835 that the New York Sun began a series of six articles detailing the discovery of civilized life on the moon. Now known as “The Great Moon Hoax,” the articles attributed the “discovery” to Sir John Herschel, the greatest living astronmer of the day. Herschel was initially amused, wryly noting that his own real observations could never be as exciting. But ultimately he tired of having to answer questioners who believed the story. The series was not discovered to be a hoax for several weeks after its publication and, even then, the newspaper did not issue a retraction.
The “ruby amphitheater” on the Moon, per the New York Sun (source)
From the cornucopia that is Network Awesome:
Buckminster Fuller – Everything I Know
In 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave a series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These lectures span 42 hours and examine all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries.
During the last two weeks of January 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours and examine in depth all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Synergetics. Autobiographical in parts, Fuller recounts his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization. The stories behind his Dymaxion car, geodesic domes, World Game and integration of science and humanism are lucidly communicated with continuous reference to his synergetic geometry. Permeating the entire series is his unique comprehensive design approach to solving the problems of the world. Some of the topics Fuller covered in this wide ranging discourse include: architecture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, geometry, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering…
Network Awesome is featuring one part of the series starting each Wednesday, here (and in their archive). Or readers can turn to YouTube. In either case, the pieces are bite-sized… and well worth the watching.
As we endeavor to “think outside the dome,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1974– as Fuller was agreeing to do the lectures featured above– that Paul Anka hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 with “(You’re) Having My Baby.”