Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Other Worlds

What does it look like on Mars after an earth-originated craft crashes to the Martian ground?

One word: BOINK!

Picture courtesy of the Astronomy Picture of the Day.


Digital Clock

Check out this wayyyy cool, like really groovy and keen, digital clock. Thanks to the folks at Division of Labour for the pointer.


Opportunities for Women

Michael Rand has this in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune (thanks to Bumper to Bumper with Dan Barreiro on 1130 KFAN for the pointer):

Should women's college basketball teams continue to use male players in practice?

The NCAA's Committee on Women's Athletics took a long look at the topic at its tri-annual meeting two weeks ago in Indianapolis.

Though the committee arrived at no conclusions, chairwoman Darlene Bailey appointed a subcommittee to further investigate the issue.

The chief concern among committee members is that while allowing male practice players can improve the competition level, it reduces opportunities for female students to play a role in college athletics.

How does this affect the opportunity for women? Sure, it affects the outcome, but outcome and opportunity are two different things. At least D. Bailey appointed a committee. By next year, they'll have appointed a subcommittee, a quorum, and research group, a support group, and, maybe, a focus group (once again, thanks to B2B for the idea for this last phrase). Here's more:
Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said Tuesday the idea that female students are being limited is "a ridiculous assertion that's fundamentally bogus."

She explained: "People have to realize men and women are different, and we need the size and speed of those guys to emulate an opponent. There is no average woman on campus who can do that. What woman am I going to get on campus who can post up [6-1 forward] Liz Shimek? If she was on campus, she'd be one of my 15 scholarships."

Coaches who use male practice players said the main drawback is it takes away practice time from reserves. But most said it is worth it to simulate top opponents.

"I think it challenges you with the size, speed and quickness of the guys," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "It gives you valuable preparation."

Said Gophers coach Pam Borton: "The bottom line is we have to make ourselves better as a team. ... There are more positives than negatives."

Stay tuned. It could get ugly if the NCAA makes a decision opposed by a majority of coaches.

Hear hear, coaches McCallie, Summitt, and Barton!! The fact that this sort of stuff is even being questioned is ugly. The folks who are concerned about this are drawn from the same distribution as the person who became physically ill at Lawrence Summers' assertion that there might be an innate difference between men and women that is causing the "misrepresentation" of women in math and sciences - one that might even be worthwhile to critically examine scientifically.

Lastly, why is it fair to the team to use lower-quality practice opposition?


What If?

What if Lawrence Summers had treated the flap over his comments about women in math and science in a manner similar to how Mike Alden, the athletic director at the University of Missouri, treated the reaction to his decision to keep men's basketball coach Quin Snyder on the Tiger sideline?


Midwest Auto Industry Employment

Thomas Klier at the Chicago Fed has this paper on employment in the US automobile industry with attention on the industry employment in the Chicago Fed's region, specifically in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. While the employment in the light-auto portion of this industry has remained relatively constant in the rest of the US since 2002, employment in this portion of the industry has fallen off in the three states mentioned above - even though US production of light autos hasn't fallen off. Klier argues that a big reason for this is due to the loss of market share by the Big-3 automakers to foreign automakers, specifially automobiles built in the US by companies such as Toyota and Nissan. Another related factor is the movement of auto production from the "old line auto states" to the "southern end of the corridor", an area where unions have much less public support.

Link courtesy of the Unions-Firms-Markets blog.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tsunami and Growth

Sigh. Someone said it: the tsunami might be a economic growth engine and could therefore be good for the affected economies. Boo!!!!!


Eminent Domain and Sports Stadium

Philip Weinberg of St. Johns University has written a paper entitled "Eminent Domain for Private Sports Stadiums: Fair Ball or Foul" available here. It's written from the point of view of a legal scholar, but others may find it of interest as well.

Thanks to Jim for pointer.


Monday, February 07, 2005

The NHL Effect

Will the loss of the NHL season really cause Candian GDP to fall by $170 million. The Econoclast says no (and rightly so).

What will hockey fans do with the money they would have spent on hockey? Burn it? Very doubtfully.


Canadian Hits

The Econoclast posts here about the top Canadian hits of the 1970's. I'd have to vote for 2112 and La Villa Strangiato by Rush.


Too Young to Drive?

A 4 year old drove his mom's car to the video store. Reactions:

1. What does she drive? A Focus?
2. What video did he want to check out?

One of my neighbor's kids drove his little-kids' car from his home to his day care one day. His parents found him missing and he turned up 7 blocks away driving his little jeep to "school".

They sure do grow up fast, don't they?


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Comparative Advantage for Fruit

This weekend was shopping weekend. Yesterday I went to the butcher shop 8 miles up the road in Nicollet, Mn to get some fine meats and deli items. Today I went to Cub Foods to get the rest. My wife asked me to get some peaches and nectarines, and I found a display with some peaches and nectarines from South America. They were quite a bit more expensive ($1.58 a pound) than those we can get in the summer, but at least I had the opportunity to get them.

The fact that we trade with other nations makes this sort of pedestrian purchase possible. The other choices would be 1. to only have peaches and nectarines available in the summer 2. set up greenhouses so they could be grown domestically year round. Since no-one has done the latter, I'll bet that it wouldn't be cost effective to do this. The fruit would probably cost something like $4.00 a pound (I'm guessing). But by trading with the South American farmers, we get peaches and nectarines (no, not Peaches and Herb) year round and we free up some of our resources to do other things. In exchange, the South American farmers get income that they can spend.

Lastly, the example shows us that who has a comparative advantage in a good may change back and forth. At one time of year, the US may have it. At another time of year, another country may have it.


Upward Sloping Demand?

Principles students sometimes get confused when confronted with a situation that seems to violate the "law" of demand: the price of a good is higher but the quantity demanded is also higher. What is much more likely to have happened is an increase in demand. For instance, the University of Missouri's athletic department will charge higher prices for games against teams such as Kansas State, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas then they will against most non-conference opponents or teams like Iowa State or Baylor. But the games against KSU, NU, KU, OU, and UT will also be more highly-attended. These games are just in higher demand.

For more on demand in sports, I wrote here at The Sports Economist about this very thing.


Walter Williams on Job Destruction

Let's look at a bit of job-loss history. Anthony B. Bradley, a research fellow at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Acton Institute, has written an article on the subject, "Productivity and the Ice Man: Understanding Outsourcing." Citing the work of Forrester Research Inc., a technology research firm, Bradley says, "Of the 2.7 million jobs lost over the past three years, only 300,000 have resulted from outsourcing." Job losses and job gains have always been a part of our history.

Let's look at some of the history of job loss described in Bradley's article. We might also ponder whether measures should have been taken to save these jobs. In 1858, Lyman Blake patented a shoemaking machine that ultimately destroyed jobs hand making shoes. In 1919, General Motors started selling Frigidaire. As Bradley says, "This 'electric ice box' wiped out a whole set of occupations, including ice-box manufacturers, ice gatherers, and the manufacturers of the tools and equipment needed to handle large blocks of ice."

Auto manufacturers use thousands of robots for tasks that people used to do such as spot welding, painting, machine loading, parts transfer and assembly. Robots have replaced thousands of workers in electronic assembly and mounting microchips on circuit boards, reports Bradley.

We could probably think of hundreds of jobs that either don't exist or exist in far fewer numbers than in the past -- jobs such as elevator operator, TV repairman and coal deliveryman. "Creative destruction" is a discovery process where we find ways to produce goods and services more cheaply. That in turn makes us all richer.

Read more here.


Greenspan on Smith

Alan Greenspan gives props to Adam Smith. See here.


Iowa's Brain Drain Solution

Iowa lawmakers, trying to stem the flow of young adults from the state, are debating a bill that would effectively eliminate the income tax on people under 30 years of age. It's a start, but how is this going to improve the job opportunities that young people have in the state?