Pump Action Worldwide - 3/30/12

How fuel prices changed in a year.


Goodbye to Newspapers - 3/30/12

Advertising revenue for print newspapers in the U.S. fell to $20.7 billion in 2011. Adjusted for inflation, that’s the lowest annual advertising revenue for newspapers since 1951, sixty years ago. It took 50 years to go from about $20 billion in inflation-adjusted annual newspaper ad revenue in 1950 to $63.5 billion in 2000, and then only 11 years to go from $63.5 billion back to about $20 billion in 2011.


Pension Bonds: Bad Idea Lives - 3/29/12

States and cities are increasing their use of borrowing to finance pension fund shortfalls, even though the practice has been disastrous for most governments who have used it in the past.


Scary Hockey Stick Graph - 3/29/12

What are we to make of the following chart showing how the U.S. federal government is running up its own debt for the sake of loaning out money to college students?


Natural Gas Prices Worldwide - 3/27/12

In January, Methanex Corp. of Vancouver said it would relocate a plant to manufacture methanol, used in making plastics and other materials, to Louisiana from Chile. At the time, Bruce Aitken, the company's chief executive, cited "the outlook for low North American natural-gas prices" as key reason for the move.


Inequality, Taxes and Education - 3/25/12

There have been a number of reports published recently that purport to show a link between rising inequality and changes in tax policy - especially tax cuts for the so-called rich.These reports seem so intent on proving a link between tax policy and inequality that they overlook the major demographic changes that are occurring in America that can contribute to - or at least give the appearance of - rising inequality; a few... More

Pigovian Taxes and Smoking - 3/25/12

Once upon a time, economist Arthur C. Pigou proposed that by imposing taxes upon things that might create excess social costs, those costs could be reduced. If Pigou's taxes really work, we should see the consumption of tobacco products fall as the taxes imposed on them are raised substantially enough to affect the purchasing decisions of... More

Public Pensions: Wanted, Dow 31,000 - 3/25/12

Government union leaders as well as their political allies around the country have often blamed the state and local pension crisis, in which governments have built up some $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities, on the 2008 market crash, not on unaffordable pension systems. They see themselves as a victim of Wall Street machinations. But David Crane, a California Democrat who served as an adviser on pensions to Gov. Arnold... More

Best Countries For Business - 3/23/12

If you want to attract business to your country, you have to have the right parameters for business to operate. Specifically, your country has to offer access to markets and freedom to use this access to the greatest degree possible.


The Law School Bust - 3/22/12

The number of Law School Admission Tests administered this year declined by 16.2%, the largest drop in more than a decade, the Law School Admission Council reported. The numbers reflect widespread pessimism about the value of a legal education today.



States Where Taxes Are Soaring - 3/21/12

These are the six states where tax revenues are soaring.


The CBO On ObamaCare - 3/18/12

According to a new government report, it turns out that more people than first expected will end up getting healthcare through the subsidized insurance exchanges and Medicaid rather than through their employers.


The Math Behind Buy and Rent - 3/18/12

Thanks to lower home prices and higher rents, the return one can reap by buying and renting out a home has risen to a level last seen well before the housing boom. Economists at Goldman Sachs estimate that the average U.S. rental yield stands at about 6.3 percent, up from 4.8 percent at the peak of the boom and higher than 2000 or even 1990.


History of the Income Tax - 3/18/12

From the Civil War until today.


How Transparent Is Your State? - 3/18/12

In the past few years, state governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals. These government-operated websites allow visitors to view the government’s checkbook – who receives state money, how much, and for what purposes. Most of these websites are also searchable, making it easier for residents to follow the money and monitor government spending of many... More

Gas Price Hot Spots - 3/12/12

Energy markets are resiliently local, as the patchwork quilt of gasoline prices illustrates. A flood of relatively cheap oil and gasoline is washing through parts of the American heartland, but it’s barely reaching consumers in the rest of the nation.


Health Care For Life - 3/12/12

The financial struggle of Stockton, Ca., provides a reminder of another big fiscal woe that states and cities are allowing to build up without much in the way of reform, namely the staggering cost of providing retirees with health care for the rest of their lives. Many places like Stockton, which has an astounding $417 million in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care, have done little to set aside funds for... More

Student Loan Debt By Age - 3/12/12

Two-thirds of student loan borrowers are under 40 years of age (with a total of about 40 percent under the age of 30), though as many as 17 percent of student loan borrowers are older than 50.


Gas Prices and Unemployment - 3/08/12

A story in two pictures, covering January 1976 (the earliest year for which we have average inflation-adjusted monthly retail motor gasoline prices in the U.S.) through February 2012.


STEM Stall - 3/08/12

The U.S. has a remarkable track record of innovation and continues to lead the world in the development of many new technologies. Why, then, isn't the nation's science-and-engineering work force -- the people responsible for much of that innovation -- growing?


Property Tax Burdens By State - 3/07/12

Median property tax rates displayed as a percentage of property value for each state.


Housing Bubbles: Japan Vs. US - 3/06/12

Americans who are feeling the extreme pain of a burst housing bubble are finding it hard to regain lost optimism and, more concretely, are facing the realities of lost wealth, less availability of credit, and less mobility given struggles related to selling a house that is “upside down”—with the mortgage greater than the value of the house. As painful as America’s burst housing bubble has been,... More

Cost of Energy Mandates - 3/06/12

Motivated by a desire to reduce carbon emissions, and in the absence of federal action to do so, 29 states (and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) have required utility companies to deliver specified minimum amounts of electricity from "renewable" sources, including wind and solar power. But this patchwork of state rules—which now affects the electricity bills of about two-thirds of the U.S. population as well as... More

Russia's Growing Middle Class - 3/05/12

A richer and more vocal middle class has sprung up in Russia, accounting for 25% of the population and nearly 40% of the workforce.


Natural Gas and the Environment - 3/05/12

In 2009, when the United States fell into economic recession, greenhouse gas emissions also fell, by 6.59 percent relative to 2008. In the power sector, however, the recession was not the main cause. Cheaper natural gas prices were.


The Mancesssion Ends - 3/02/12

For 61 consecutive months starting in December 2006 and ending in December 2011, the monthly jobless rate for men exceeded the jobless rate for women, by as much as 2.7%.
Now, as of January, the "mancession" has officially come to end.


Location Matters for Firms - 3/02/12

The bottom-line tax liability for businesses in every state.


Global Poverty Falls - 3/01/12

The past four years have seen an economic crisis coincide with a food-price spike. That must surely have boosted the number of the world’s poor (especially since food inflation hits the poor hardest)—right? Wrong.


Chart: College's Rising Unaffordability - 3/01/12

How much has the average cost of college at a four-year degree-granting institution risen since the 1976-1977 school year?


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