Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Time.

Time is a slippery abstract concept yet it has a weighty tangible meaning in everything we do. The gravity of time has weighed on my consistency of late to publish something that I feel is meaningful to others, not derivative and something I truly care about. Yet the application of frustratingly finite amounts of time, like any other commodity, is affected by the forces of scarcity and shortage. So to my four two faithful readers –any posts following this one will be very, very rare, if at all. Look through the archives. Take what you want as this is the spirit in which it has been offered.

Demands from my own education take their share of time. I am pursuing a Master of Arts degree in teaching. I am also learning some advanced mathematics that compliment a number of my interests inside the realm of economics and extending well beyond that area into other subjects. Learning, I think, is more fun than "fun" (whatever definition you may place upon it) and that is something that will be at the focal point of my life. That act of communicating interesting tidbits on this crappy blog must simply slide off my pyramid of concerns.

Take a look at the right hand side of this page. Those blogs listed on the blog roll are well deserving of your attention and support.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

TED Talks: Charmian Gooch "Meet global corruption's hidden players"

From TED:

When the son of the president of a desperately poor country starts buying mansions and sportscars on an official monthly salary of $7,000, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In a blistering, eye-opening talk (and through several specific examples), she details how global corruption trackers follow the money -- to some surprisingly familiar faces.

Global Witness co-founder Charmian Gooch exposes how a global architecture of corruption is woven into the extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

My note: Tin-pot dictators in areas of the world that often escape media scrutiny are able to move illicitly acquired funds around the world to acquire property, hide in secret bank accounts and award themselves contracts through shell companies. They do not do this by themselves. They need help. Our global banking system is eager to help if money is to be made on the deal. Banks such as HSBC have profited greatly, even in violation of their own policy requirements, through aiding and abetting criminal enterprises worldwide.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"The Sum of All Human Knowledge"

The Wikipedia staff has worked very hard to rehabilitate its reputation from its early days as an unreliable source of information. I still caution students who rely too heavily on this source to attempt to verify the information before employing it.

As we should all be cautious in how we use information, to understand how we know what we know, Wikipedia stands as a good example of a collaborative system that, in the words of founder Jimmy Wales, attempts to be the "sum of all human knowledge."

How is this knowledge collected and edited? The work is done throughout the globe through the work of a small army of volunteers, some known, others anonymous. This segment from NPR's Weekend Edition explains how this works:

Below is a screen capture of the live map mentioned in the NPR story embedded above. Click on the image below for the live map in a new window.

As for mistakes, there will always be mistakes. The legendary Mortimer Adler who sat in the board of editors for the Encyclopedia Britannica admitted that mistakes were present throughout the revered collection of knowledge. Mistakes are just a component of a human construct.

A Brief History of Art Tatum

Friday, July 12, 2013

Minimum Wage: Staying Above The Waterline

The chasm between the minimum wage and a living wage continues to widen. Every year, as standard rates of inflation increase the cost of living, minimum wage workers sink further underwater just to afford the basics like food, energy and shelter.

The Economic Policy Institute's Heidi Shierholz offers some poignant observations that compare how productivity would factor into wages if the two had parity between 1968 and today.

If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity growth over this period, it would now be $18.67 per hour.

Most workers have not reaped the benefits of productivity growth for the last four decades. If the median wage had kept pace with productivity growth over the last 40 years, it would now be $28.42 instead of $16.30. In other words, an $18.67 minimum wage sounds shockingly high because the already affluent have captured most of the economic growth in the last 40 years...

It is not possible to raise minimum wage to this level from its current paltry federally mandated $7.25 per hour. Because politics. Nevertheless, an increase in the minimum wage should be a national priority.

So where have the benefits from increased productivity gone? This chart illustrates the lines of divergence among major income and productivity trends.

The heart of the matter is communicated through this chart:

A boost in the minimum wage translates directly into economic stimulus as presented in this white paper from David Cooper and Doug Hall (pdf). This would be the mechanism that triggers an honest "trickle down" effect that was postulated to happen magically over thirty years ago.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Don't We Do It In The (Abbey) Road

Why don't we do it in the Road? from chris purcell on Vimeo.

Troubling Unemployment Meanders in 7/12/2013 Claims Report

Not good.


In the week ending July 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 360,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 344,000. The 4-week moving average was 351,750, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average of 345,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending June 29, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 29 was 2,977,000, an increase of 24,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,953,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,970,750, a decrease of 3,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,974,250.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 384,829 in the week ending July 6, an increase of 49,778 from the previous week. There were 442,192 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.
The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent during the week ending June 29, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's revised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,768,879, a decrease of 16,079 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,784,958. A year earlier, the rate was 2.4 percent and the volume was 3,112,199.

Oh the monotony! The vacillating rates for initial and continuing claims are illustrated in this chart:

Chart from Briefing's report
We are still in a trough with regard to unemployment claims and far,far away from any number that would be remotely close to full levels of employment. For those who are unfamiliar with full employment numbers –there will still be an unemployment rate and weekly initial claims being filed. The difference between today's numbers (and those of the past several months, if not years) is that the amount of statistical churn in unemployment claims would be a faint echo to the statistics that describe job creation.

This report is even more painful for those in North Carolina whose nihilistic Republican state legislators and governor have thrown the jobless under the bus. In short, North Carolina has decided to solve issues related to unemployment by merely ignoring its existence.