Mar 31, 2010
Black-market smugglers are literally stealing Indonesia’s small islands, including the legendary UNESCO heritage site of Krakatoa. “Sea reclamation projects in China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore are driving a black market in Indonesia’s abundant supplies of soil, sand and gravel,” reports The Times of London. Twenty-four islands have allegedly disappeared since 2005 due to erosion driven by sand mining.
Mar 30, 2010
Mar 29, 2010
Take it as given that the opportunity cost of train is car. (obviously, as by def. the next best alternative ;)
Assuming that on average you can get 10 km on 1 litre of fuel, in Switzerland at the current gas prices:1km = 0.151 USD and in the US, 1km = 0.078 USD.
At the current exchange rate this is more or less equivalent to the price in CHF, namely: 0.16CHF and 0.08CHF respectively.
Now we can explore the train costs with respect to car costs.
Paying tribute to old mate David,
"Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble." and ta-da!
In USA, the opportunity cost of 1 km on train cost is 0.66 CHF of 1 km by car but only 0.47 CHF of 1 km by car in Switzerland.
Of course, if you are a true baller boasting a Hummer, then the above may no longer apply.
However, as recession hit hard the USA, and keeping in mind that in 2000, 57% of households owned 2 or more cars, then assuming slightest amount of rationality within the jungle that we are living in, we can expect that people tried to make more trips with the environmentally friendly, fuel efficient cars of the wives... In this sense, the vehicle ingredient of the above calculations is no longer as heterogeneous, and shouldn't bias the USA-CH opp costs results.
Optimist's bottom line: Swiss trains are a good deal
Pessimist's bottom line: Swiss cars are "uber-piggy-bank-breakers
Mar 28, 2010
Mar 25, 2010
But what about the opportunity cost of time? Taking this into account, the US train remains the better deal, but not by much, costing 0.22 CHF per km per hour instead of 0.26 CHF in Switzerland. One could argue comfort should also enter the equation, making the Swiss train a better deal after all. But then we could also include the Dunkin' Donuts at New Haven Grand Central. But that would be unfair competition.
CHF per km
CHF per km/h
New Haven - New York
Geneva - Lausanne
Mar 24, 2010
Mar 23, 2010
This week, five economists are coming: Keith Maskus, Colorado, Brownyn Hall, Berkeley, Keun Lee, Seoul, José Tavera Colugna, Perú, and Francois P. Kabore, American University. The roundtable will be chaired by WIPO’s Chief Economist, Carsten Fink and begins at 3PM. Will they offer pizza and beer? Check this link for more details.
Will China mess it up again as Google tries to stay alive in China? Or will it turn its back to the world, once again? This could be the beginning of the end...better stay cool...
Mar 22, 2010
One of the cited examples is in Ethiopia, where millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables are being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East. Ethiopian-born Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world plans to spend up to $2bn acquiring and developing 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia in the next few years. So far, it has bought four farms and is already growing wheat, rice, vegetables and flowers for the Saudi market. It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.
Isn't this great news?
Well, it seems that in many areas the deals have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of "land grabbing". There is no consultation with the indigenous population. The deals are done secretly. The only thing the local people see is people coming with lots of tractors to invade their lands. Thousands of people will be affected and people will go hungry.
But people have been hungry for the past decades, and local farmers refuse to use fertilizer! Land deals may be bad, but are they worse than the proper counterfactual?
Mar 19, 2010
“After writing my thesis, it became clear to me that the culture at these investment banks needed to change and that incentives needed to be realigned to reward more than just short-term profit seeking”. She's now a financial analyst at a large New York investment bank. Good luck!
Mar 18, 2010
Mar 17, 2010
Mar 16, 2010
Mar 12, 2010
Mar 11, 2010
"Ban Ki-moon quietly visited Hollywood this Oscar week, devoting an entire day to lobbying hundreds of the world's most influential actors, directors, and film producers about the potential benefits of storylines that portray his organisation in a positive light. Mr Ban's "Global Creative Forum" was attended by Anne Hathaway, Demi Moore, Mira Sorvino, Sean Penn, Samuel L Jackson, and director Jason Reitman. Ban Ki has grown weary of the organisation being portrayed as a bumbling bureaucracy and hopes to persuade film-makers to focus on the heroic stories behind its humanitarian work in countries such as Haiti, and peacekeeping missions in other global trouble spots."
What a great idea!
Mar 10, 2010
Deposits to the account shall be accepted, starting 5 March 2010, at the Head Office, the Branches, Outlets and Agencies of the Bank of Greece, as well as through commercial banks.
The details of the solidarity account are as follows:
IBAN: GR 04 010 0024 0000000026132462
For further information, please contact the Public Entities Accounts Section, tel: 210 320 2716 & 210 320 3376.
Mar 9, 2010
There is now a Jock Market run by Little Yim. You can provide financial support to talented athletes with the aim of receiving a return on your investment!
But it's not only athletes. Marginal Revolution has a post about Kjerstin Erickson, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate who founded a non-profit called FORGE that rebuilds community services in Sub-Saharan African refugee camps, who is offering 6% of her life’s income for $600,000.
This is actually an old idea from...Milton Friedman.
Mar 7, 2010
"Former rebel leaders told the BBC that they posed as merchants in meetings with charity workers to get aid money. They used the cash to fund attempts to overthrow the government of the time. One rebel leader estimated $95m (£63m) - from Western governments and charities including Band Aid - was channeled into the rebel fight." For the whole story check the BBC webpage.
While the numbers may be wrong the fact is likely to be true. The question about the usefulness of aid keeps reemerging: I think there are but two options: Either drop it altogether or tighten the conditionalities.
While the first is morally difficult (even though several aid projects have done more harm than good this is certainly not true for the entirety of them) the second option is likely to remain as flawed as the current situation.