May 31, 2009

Russia's "GM"?

In April of 2006 I had the pleasure of traveling to Russia with a group of U.S. teachers to participate in a ten day study tour to the land of the Lenin, Tchaikovsky, and Sakharov. The trip, which was conducted by the Council for Economic Education, was easily the highlight of my professional career. While in Russia we spent one day touring the Khokhloma factory in Semyonov, which is located about 50 miles outside of our home base of Nizhniy Novgorod.

Walking into the factory was like taking a trip back in time. All of us commented that OHSA would have had a field day with the overpowering smell of paint fumes and lack of worker safety measures. Clearly not much had changed inside of the factory in the last few decades. Room after room was filled with Russian women who sat all day and hand painted amazing spoons, cups and nesting dolls.

Turns out that lately the Khokhloma factory has fallen on hard times as the global recession has taken its toll on the sale of souvenirs and collectibles. Not surprisingly, souvenir and craft factory owners are turning to the Russian government for help. While reading the Post article I could not help but think of what is going on right now in our economy. Substitute Detroit for Sergiyev Posad and you start to see numerous similarities. In both cities there is talk of saving a "way of life" that no longer seems very realistic.

May 30, 2009

Two All Beef Patties....

How did I not have the Big Mac Index linked from day one? As the cool kids would say, "my bad." Nice/easy way to look at exchange rates through the greasy goodness of, you guessed it, a Big Mac. So if you want to load up on a scrumptious Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun (or on flatbed truck) get yourself to South Africa right quick. At the same time go ahead and cancel that summer trip to Oslo because you my friend are going to be paying a lot for a Big Mac in that town.

Is it just me or are Ron's eyebrows the exact same shape as this structure? Any of you out there think you're man or woman enough to tackle this behemoth? Why in the world is McDonald's not selling these things on every street corner in America? That burger IS America.

May 27, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake (in two months)

A special tip of the hat to Henry Co. Econ Blog correspondent Becky Ryckeley for alerting all of us at the Georgia Council global headquarters about this great article dealing with cake futures. Seems like ol' Alex Blumberg was a bit ahead of his time.

I have said it before and I will say it again, you can teach just about all of your required econ concepts by using the school cafeteria as an example. The place is a goldmine. A goldmine that is often smelly, loud, and full of interesting people, but a goldmine nonetheless.

May 25, 2009

May 23, 2009

A Clean Sheet

Quick, name an American vehicle manufacturer that is booming right now. Still cranking out rides and turning a profit without asking for a government bailout. Can't think of any? I'll give you a clue. The vehicles produced by this company have a top speed of 9 mph and each one costs around $75,000. Still baffled? Maybe these Gear Daddies song lyrics will help-

Now the manager said Son, I know it looks keen, But that right theres one expensive machine And I got Smokey whos been driving for years About that time I broke down in tears
Cuz I wanna drive the Zamboni

Hey I wanna drive the Zamboni

Sure, they may be a bit boxy and they don't exactly handle like a Porsche, but a good Zamboni will last for decades. The Zamboni family has found their niche and are doing very well thank you very much. Proof that a vehicle manufacturer can make a profit in this country. Maybe Ford and GM should look to the Zamboni's for guidance and direction. A business model of not building it until you have a buyer sounds so crazy it just might work.

May 21, 2009

Getting Around

These 72 people need to get to work.

They can ride bikes, drive their own vehicles or take a bus. Look how much is needed for each option.

May 19, 2009

A Trip Down Stimulus Highway

Alright all of you Butts County readers, it's time to get angry. Pretty soon the good citizens of Wilkinson County and Gwinnett County will be driving their shiny new cars and trucks down freshly paved roads and crossing over sturdy new bridges while you will be stuck driving on the same old bumpy roads and crossing over those rickety bridges that were built in 1949.

Yup, it's time to look at the Transportation Infrastructure stimulus projects interactive map. This baby lets you see county by county projected stimulus spending for the entire country. Man, Harris County, Texas has it going on! $300,407,587.00 is real money! Houston, we have a (stimulus) problem.

Market 2 Yankees 0

In a follow up to a previous post I offer you this, loyal econ blog readers, the story of two Yankees fans who trekked all the way to Camden Yards to catch their favorite team and save some $$$ in the process.

Average cost for a family of four to see an O's game at Camden Yards: $163.00. Average cost for a family of four to see a Yankee's game at the new Yankee Stadium: $410.00. Charm City here we come!

...and if you ever find yourself watching a game at Camden Yards promise me you will visit Boog's Barbecue pit out in right field. If you are lucky you may even have the chance to meet the man himself.

May 17, 2009

Density-Equalising Maps Rule!

Caution: this website can be addictive.

Curious to find out which country has the most people living on less than $10 per day? Got you covered. Interested in knowing which countries have the bomb? Look no further. Maybe you just want to compare toy exports to toy imports. No sweat. Honestly, slum growth data never looked so interesting.

Go now and plow through some of these maps. Be sure to check out the animated maps as well.

467 Million Gallons

We all knew this already but it is still fun to see what we have turned to during the recession. Bring on the chocolate, guns and cheap booze!

How on earth could they write this story and not report on Ramen noodle sales?

May 15, 2009

May 13, 2009

2009 Annual Meeting Awards

Everyone at the Georgia Council would like to congratulate the 2009 Georgia Economics Teachers of the Year.

Ms. Shelby Garner of Spring Hill Elementary School in Fayette County

Ms. Linda Mosely-Jones of Church Street Elementary in Clayton County

Ms. Amy Hennessy of Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School in Richmond County

We would also like to congratulate the Gwinnett County Public School system for being honored as the 2009 Program of Excellence.

May 11, 2009

David Visits a Maquiladora

I just had a teacher friend of mine ask me for a good "trade" article that she could have her students read. I can think of a few but I suggested this article that I found in Rolling Stone magazine a number of years ago. It was written by a blue collar worker from Indiana, giving his take on NAFTA.

You can talk to your students about the costs and benefits of free trade until you are blue in the face and they still might not get the true costs. Benefits are very obvious. More goods, lower costs, greater selection etc. After reading this article they will have a firsthand account from someone who felt some of the costs of free trade.

Put down steering wheel factory worker in the "Jobs I hope I never have to do" column.

May 8, 2009

Weekend Reading

Banks, banks, banks. Is it just me or is that what every single news outlet in the country is talking about now? Had enough of stress test results? Me too. I've got other things to worry about. Like this for example.

Find out how banks got to be so huge in the first place.

May 2, 2009

il Associazione

Oh yeah, partnering with Fiat should save the day for Chrysler. After all, Fiat has given us this, this, this and this over the years. These designs will go over well in rural Texas! But on the plus side, Fiat did give us this well received Italian masterpiece.

One interesting aspect of the Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings is the role the United Auto Workers Union is going to play in the future of the company. If this pans out maybe we will have to put unions back into the Georgia econ standards.

Another interesting aspect of the deal is the fact that our neighbors to the north stand to gain from Chrysler's bankruptcy. Not sure how great of a deal this will be for Canada or the province of Ontario. Canada gives us this classic and Uncle Buck, we give Canada the K car and Michael Scott's ride in return.

No hard feelings eh?

How many of you knew that Ontario builds more cars than any other state or province in North America?