Annals of global warming: Would you worry if it shrinks your paycheck?

October 26, 2015

Then worry.

Scientists estimate the impact of climate change on the world economy - from Nature Magazine

Scientists estimate the impact of climate change on the world economy – from Nature Magazine via MarketWatch

MarketWatch’s Silvia Ascarelli wrote:

Your grandchildren may pay a bigger price for global warming than you thought.

A hotter Planet Earth will cool down national economies, according to fresh research from scientists at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Average U.S. income could shrink 36% by 2100 because of climate change from what it would be without global warming, they say. That is more than other, earlier studies have suggested.

But not all countries will suffer. Russia, Canada and countries in Northern Europe should benefit from warmer temperatures, according to the scientists’ models, because they have yet to reach what the scientists called the optimal average temperature for an economy — 55 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly where the U.S. is now.

“We were surprised at how important temperature is for the global economy,” said Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at Berkeley and one of the co-authors of the study along with Marshall Burke, an assistant professor in earth system science at Stanford, and Edward Miguel, Oxfam professor in environmental and resource economics at Berkeley.

Global per capita gross domestic product will be down 23% at the turn of the next century if global warming isn’t slowed, the study found. The impact will be more severe in China — average income will shrink 43%—and Mexico, where average income could plunge 73%.

More at MarketWatch.

Should we worry? Can we afford global warming?


Think you have health insurance? Wrong

August 7, 2009

Baseline Scenario lays out the facts: People fear government reform of health care because they think it will interfere with their own health insurance.  Such people need to understand that they don’t have health insurance, and a broader government plan is the only saftey net they have to protect them from going naked against major health expenses.

Right now, it appears that the biggest barrier to health care reform is people who think that it will hurt them. According to a New York Times poll, “69 percent of respondents in the poll said they were concerned that the quality of their own care would decline if the government created a program that covers everyone.” Since most Americans currently have health insurance, they see reform as a poverty program – something that helps poor people and hurts them. If that’s what you think, then this post is for you.

You do not have health insurance. Let me repeat that. You do not have health insurance.

Just one more point in a series of misconceptions, misperceptions, and unwarranted listening to false claims about health care and legislation designed to save our tails.  James Kwak and others at The Baseline Scenario do a good job explaining economics in the U.S. today.  In this piece he makes the point that in terms of health care, we are all among “the poor” (save for those few of you who make more than $1 million a year and have done for the past decade).

Ask not for whom the health insurance reform bill tolls; it tolls for you.


Libraries as safety nets and counselors

April 2, 2009

“I guess I’m not really used to people with tears in their eyes.”
ROSALIE BORK, a reference librarian in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Read the story here in the New York Times, “Downturn Puts New Stresses on Libraries.”


Economics: Tracking layoffs

January 28, 2009

Economics students doing reports or projects on employment or unemployment rates?

Need something depressing?

Check out Layoff Daily.

Let’s hope they run out of news, very, very soon.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Californian in Texas.


Recession, or depression? Judge Posner sez . . .

January 12, 2009

Why beat around the bush?  Judge Richard Posner said at his blog:

I suspect that we have entered a depression. There is no widely agreed definition of the word, but I would define it as a steep reduction in output that causes or threatens to cause deflation and creates widespread public anxiety and a sense of crisis.

He has some interesting, and puckering, things to say about Bernanke’s actions, and Obama’s plans, too. His blogging colleague, Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker, has more tentative, still-Friedmanian remarks about crowding out tendencies of government spending.

It’s fun to read good economists trying to make sense of all of this.

I attended a session at the Dallas Fed a few weeks ago.  The VP who gave the main presentation talked about a meeting in which someone asked Bernanke, the great scholar of depressions, a highly technical, academic and potentially embarrassing question about the Fed’s work.  Bernanke closed off with an eye-twinkling comment:  “This would all be very interesting, if it were not happening to me.”

Yeah, if only it weren’t happening to us, now.


Killer county budget: “People will die”

November 27, 2008

How bad is our economic mess?

Ask county officials in Hamilton County, Kentucky (across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio).  According to Cincinnati.com, the website for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

County Administrator Patrick Thompson said Monday that the county may have to slash another $2.3 million from its already bare-bones budget proposed for 2009 because of tumbling sales tax collections and reduced funding from the state.

That means that the county will have to find more cuts on top of the more than $40 million it’s already cut from departmental requests.

The news comes as the county sheriff and other public safety officials say even the current recommendations will devastate their ability to do their jobs.

“It’s downright dangerous,” said Michael Snowden, director of Hamilton County’s Emergency Management Agency. “People will die. It’s as simple as that.”

He was referring to a recommendation to withdraw funding for the Greater Cincinnati Hazmat team, which responds to hazardous material spills.

The budget for 2009 has already been cut $31 million below the budget for 2008, to $241 million total.  Recommendations are already in place to lay off 500 workers.

What to do?

Project lower sales tax revenues.  Already done.

The county previously predicted $65 million, or a 0 percent growth, in sales tax receipts next year. Sales tax revenue typically accounts for about 25 percent of the county’s general fund budget. But because of the credit crunch and bailout fallout, all of which just came to a head in the past few months, spending has plummeted and the holiday shopping picture looks bleak. Thompson asked the board to revise that number to $63.9 million, a decrease of $1.1 million.

Maybe the state government can help out?

He also recommended reducing the amount of local money the county would receive from the state by 5 percent, or $1.2 million, to about $22.8 million because the state is in a similarly tough budget situation and likely won’t be able to fund the county adequately.

At least make sure that the public safety offices get funded.

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis said the cuts will have a “dramatic impact” impact on his department. “In my career in law enforcement, this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said after the meeting about the budget situation. “We’ve got major problems.”

He said he may decide to cease providing security at the county buildings rather than take deputies off the road. If the county closes the Queensgate jail, 84 corrections officers and 25 support personnel would lose their jobs and 450 inmates would be released, said Leis. Because the county’s main jail has long been out of room, the Queensgate jail, meant for only low-level inmates, now also houses some of the more serious offenders, he said. Inmate charges include burglary, robbery and drug abuse.

“We do have violent offenders down there,” Leis said. “They’re not choir boys.”

The county says it can’t afford to staff or maintain the aging jail, which it leases from a corrections company.

By law, the Hamilton County, Ohio, budget needs to be locked in by January 1, 20 days prior to the inauguration of the new president. No one is talking about bail-outs for state and local governments, yet.

What would you do?


Recession or depression: Anecdotal evidence

October 23, 2008

Schools and teachers in Dallas still scramble to deal with the layoff of just over a thousand, including several hundred teachers.  At our school, schedule changes will be effective Monday, we hope.  Hundreds of students will have new schedules; in one case, we’re abandoning one elective entirely.

Teachers, staff and administration are shaken at best, bitter in worse cases, struggling to catch up everywhere.

About a dozen other teachers now have dropped by my classroom, asking about comparisons to corporate layoffs, an area where I have more experience almost all on the survivor side.   If I had to typify their reactions, I’d say the corps of teachers in Dallas is just scared.

Other economic stories don’t help.  Supplemental retirement funds have been hammered by Wall Street’s woes.  I hear teachers saying they had hoped to retire in a year or two, but can’t now, especially with a child or grandchild in college and tuition costs rising.

Also, locally, Dallas is supposed to lose a score of Starbucks locations (600 across Texas).  The first to close was the closest to Molina High School, last spring.  Last night Starbucks shuttered the first location south of the Trinity River in Dallas, a partnership with Magic Johnson, on Camp Wisdom Road.  It’s about four miles from here, a site I visited often when it first opened, but lately only when I get the tires rotated at the shop across the street.

Both of my parents lived through the Great Depression.  My mother graduated from Salt Lake City’s West High in 1932, and plunged into the grim job market.  She said that, on the farm, they had little awareness of the depression.  On farms in the late 1920s, everyone was poor.  Off the farm, things were a lot worse.

My father spoke about catching the first job that comes along.  His series of jobs in the Depression came from big businesses collapsing about as often as he got a better job from jumping.  He said it was possible to stay in employment, but once one got knocked out of the employment market, it was very difficult to get back in.  He was happy to have the skills to get a job behind a drugstore or cigar store “fountain.”

What was the difference between a depression and a recession?  They couldn’t say.

Tuesday I dropped into our remaining local Starbucks (may it remain open) for the weekly purchase of the New York Times featuring the science section. The woman barista noted my identification badge.  “My husband was just fired from that school,” she said.

I said I was sorry, I said we miss him badly (true in all cases).  I told her I hope he finds something soon.

Then I had to leave fast.

She’s working in a location condemned to close.  He’s just been laid off.  I didn’t ask about children.


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