Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I came across an interesting post on the Portland Architecture Blog (where I indulge my fantasy life as an architect) which muses whether Portland has grown beyond the minor leagues. The idea, in essence, is that Portlanders are no longer in minor league sports because we have become a major league city even without the major league teams. It is an interesting notion but it made me think about another aspect of the economics of sports.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
In the Freakonomics Blog, Robin Goldstein reports of coming to Portland and being unable to find an inexpensive used bike. He wonders whether the demand for bikes is causing an inflation in used bike prices. He imagines that there are simply not enough used bikes to go around and thus this scarcity is causing prices to rise.
Monday, August 17, 2009
OK, I have soccer on the brain after the Arsenal's magnificent 6-1 season opening victory at Everton ... on grass.
Friday, August 14, 2009
|Transport mode||Average passengers|
|Vanpool||6.1||1,322 BTU/mi||87 MPG|
|Motorcycles||1.2||1,855 BTU/mi||62 MPG|
|Rail (Commuter)||31.3||2,996 BTU/mi||38 MPG|
|Rail (Transit Light & Heavy)||22.5||2,784 BTU/mi||41 MPG|
|Rail (Intercity Amtrak)||20.5||2,650 BTU/mi||43 MPG|
|Cars||1.57||3,512 BTU/mi||33 MPG|
|Air||96.2||3,261 BTU/mi||35 MPG|
|Buses (Transit)||8.8||4,235 BTU/mi||27 MPG|
|Personal Trucks||1.72||3,944 BTU/mi||29 MPG|
|Toyota Prius||1.57||1,659 BTU/mi|| 69 MPG|
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
During the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama distinguished himself on the economics of climate change, speaking far more sensibly about the issue than most of his rivals. Unfortunately, now that he is president, Mr. Obama may sign a climate bill that falls far short of his aspirations. Indeed, the legislation making its way to his desk could well be worse than nothing at all.
Let’s start with the basics. The essential problem of climate change, scientists tell us, is that humans are emitting too much carbon into the atmosphere, which tends to raise world temperatures. Emitting carbon is what economists call a “negative externality”— an adverse side effect of certain market activities on bystanders.
The textbook solution for dealing with negative externalities is to use the tax system to align private incentives with social costs and benefits. Suppose the government imposed a tax on carbon-based products and used the proceeds to cut other taxes. People would have an incentive to shift their consumption toward less carbon-intensive products. A carbon tax is the remedy for climate change that wins overwhelming support among economists and policy wonks.
What Mr. Obama proposed was a cap-and-trade system for carbon, with all the allowances sold at auction. In short, the system would put a ceiling on the amount of carbon released, and companies would bid on the right to emit carbon into the atmosphere.
Such a system is tantamount to a carbon tax. The auction price of an emission right is effectively a tax on carbon. The revenue raised by the auction gives the government the resources to cut other taxes that distort behavior, like income or payroll taxes.
So far, so good. The problem occurred as this sensible idea made the trip from the campaign trail through the legislative process. Rather than auctioning the carbon allowances, the bill that recently passed the House would give most of them away to powerful special interests.
The numbers involved are not trivial. From Congressional Budget Office estimates, one can calculate that if all the allowances were auctioned, the government could raise $989 billion in proceeds over 10 years. But in the bill as written, the auction proceeds are only $276 billion.
How much does it matter? For the purpose of efficiently allocating the carbon rights, it doesn’t. Even if these rights are handed out on political rather than economic grounds, the “trade” part of “cap and trade” will take care of the rest. Those companies with the most need to emit carbon will buy carbon allowances on newly formed exchanges. Those without such pressing needs will sell whatever allowances they are given and enjoy the profits that resulted from Congress’s largess.
The problem arises in how the climate policy interacts with the overall tax system. As the president pointed out, a cap-and-trade system is like a carbon tax. The price of carbon allowances will eventually be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for carbon-intensive products. But if most of those allowances are handed out rather than auctioned, the government won’t have the resources to cut other taxes and offset that price increase. The result is an increase in the effective tax rates facing most Americans, leading to lower real take-home wages, reduced work incentives and depressed economic activity.
Most people I talk to don't really understand Cap-and-Trade and think it just represents a loophole for polluters. No, but I agree with Mankiw that these permits need to be auctioned and not given away. In fact this article described the sentiment of most economists I talk to (of all political persuasions). The differences in opinion among my conversants are in how much they are willing to compromise in the face of political reality. Has the Obama administration bowed too much? I think the most unfortunate reality is that people just don't understand what it is and what giving the permits away v. auctioning them means and for this I applaud Mankiw for a lucid description. I think if people really understood what was going on, the energy industry would not be able to hijack this process and we would see auctioning.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Beervana, the Blog has a nice follow up on the state of the Green Dragon, an independent tap house in SE Portland that was treasured by the beergnoscenti, but which ran into financial trouble and was bought out by Rogue. You might expect Rogue to transform the Green Dragon into a Rogue house featuring all or mostly Rogue beer. You would be wrong. They have kept it largely as it was and sometimes it can be hard to find Rogue beer there at all.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
And the kind of field is also under debate. Although nearly all the soccer-specific stadiums in the league have natural grass, it's unclear how well that would work for Portland's climate vs. the park's 1-year-old artificial turf.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tim Duy of the Oregon Economic Forum thinks it will happen this year - but it hasn't happened yet. The leading indicators he complies are still negative but this is due to the two usual suspects: residential construction and employment. These will lag the recovery and as the other sectors are up, it is likely we'll see a return to growth by the end of the year. I am still sticking with my Q4 prediction.
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