Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Escaping from the disaster front

I am now in Toronto for the History of Economics meetings. Lucky timing. The fires are continuing Chico. The American Red Cross Disaster Response Team is set up in one of the campus buildings. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to town yesterday to see how bad it was.

Fires and floods are becoming commonplace. Our only hope is drilling for oil offshore and Alaska.

News From the Disaster Front

Some of you may have seen the news about the huge California wildfires. One of the biggest started just outside of Chico, but has been moving up toward Paradise, about 10 miles away. 5000 homes are at risk and much of the city has been evacuated. It is also very close to the junior college. As of this morning, the fire is only 10% contained. The expected shift in the winds will blow the fire up the canyons causing enormous damage.

Part of the problem is the inadequate rainfall we have had. Maybe we could make a trade with the midwest.

35 miles an hour winds kept much of the smoke away until this morning. Visibility is now very bad. I do not know how many pack-of-cigarettes-equivalents I am getting from breathing the air.

On Sunday morning, I will be on my NAFTA tour, giving a talk in Mexico City and then attending the History of Economic Society meetings in Toronto.

Japan’s De-deindustrialization?

BusinessWeek published an intriguing article about Japanese automakers boosting domestic investment to expand production in Japan, even though the Japanese market is declining. The Japanese plants will have a competitive edge because they are more flexible and have fewer defects. German companies are also ramping up Japanese production, presumably for similar reasons.

What US companies are following a similar strategy rather than adopting a race-to-be-bottom approach?

Rowley, Ian. 2008. “Facing an Auto Slump, Japan Lifts Capacity: Carmakers Are Expanding at Home, Where Nimble, High-Tech Plants Offer More Flexibility.” Business Week (29 May): p. 64.

Continue reading

New radio interview regarding The Confiscation of American Prosperity

Yesterday, I had a very nice radio interview with Alan Ruff on WORT, a community radio station in Madison, Wisconsin.

Prediction Markets: October Surprise

I remember how John Poindexter wanted to use prediction markets to learn about terrorism. Maybe he was on to something. Some of the run-up in oil prices seems to relate to the dangers of a conflict in Iraq. Would believers in rational expectation accept that Bush may be readying an October Surprise?

Globalization, Imperialism, and Power

I was just invited to deliver a paper in Mexico in a few days. I have to send it off even earlier, but what I have is a very rushed effort, thrown together in two mornings. Any quick pointers would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Market Lunacy

“Property rights attract private capital and, with government space programs stagnating, a lunar land rush may be just what we need to get things going again. I’ll take a nice parcel near one of the lunar poles, please, with a peak high enough to get year-round sunlight and some crater bottoms deep enough to hold ice.”

Reynolds, Glenn Harlan. 2008. “Who Owns the Moon? The Case for Lunar Property Rights.” Popular Mechanics (June).

Free At Last

I am happy to announce that my new local assemblyman — the winner of the Republican primary is certain to win in November — made as his overriding issue the importance of protecting our borders. I assume that he will be overseeing the erection of a major wall surrounding his district, which encompasses parts of several counties. At last I am free from the threat of an invasion by a fleet of taco trucks.

Another Oil Futures Market

“Tom McGee’s business is surging faster than the price of gasoline. That’s because PMP Corp. is one of the few places in the U.S. that gas stations can turn to when they need old-style gas pumps adapted to register prices over $4 a gallon. The mechanical dials on many vintage pumps can’t register prices over $3.99 a gallon or ring up single sales north of $99.99.”

Many small-town stations, especially in remote, rural areas, can’t afford to buy new pumps, which can cost as much as $10,000 each. PMP’s retrofits are between $600 and $800.Continue reading

Ronald Findlay and Kevin O’Rourke

Ronald Findlay and Kevin O’Rourke published a fascinating book, entitled Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium, which comes out in support of the historical policies of mercantilism. To my knowledge, neither author has any hint of leftist sympathies. Have I missed something?