Mile(s) High Economics: Spotting Economic Activity from Space

I want to share another fascinating Economic study with you... this one from Brown University. The three authors, J. Vernon Henderson, Adam Storeygard and David Weil, were looking for a way to track economic growth in regions which have poor geographic connections, poor statistics, or have other impediments to useful growth tracking. Using light (specifically, light coverage in satellite photos) as a proxy for economic activity ("Consumption of nearly all goods in the evening requires lights", they state), they show the growth in productivity in remote regions using nighttime satellite pictures.

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We'll Be Back...

California recently closed a $26.3 billion budget gap after resorting to issuing IOUs in lieu of checks on state contracts. The budget worked out to $15.5 billion in cuts and a transfer payment where California will take money from local treasuries toclose some of the gap. The rest is covered through various accounting gimmicks that would make Enron blush. California's budget compromises lead to many questions including the most important, "Does this fix anything?"

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Carnivals, Week of August 3

Our article "On Cigarette Laws and Pigovian Taxes, Part I" was hosted in the Money Hacks carnival for this week. Go check out the carnival, and the Moolonomy site!

The article "Use Irrationality Against Yourself!" is hosted at the Carnival of Financial Planning for this week, over on CashMoneyLife. There are some interesting articles there, check it out.

Go check out "Go Home Already! Congress vs. the Stock Market", hosted on ChristianPF for this week's Carnival of Personal Finance.

Our article "Know the Signs! Pyramids and Ponzis…" is featured on the 101st edition of the Carnival of Financial Planning! Visit the carnival, and the host, Watson Inc.

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Beige Book Reactions

There are 12 branches of the Federal Reserve Bank: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco. Eight times a year they get together and compile a report, the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, better known as the 'Beige Book'. On July 29, the most recent version of the Beige Book was posted. The summary reports, anecdotally, that conditions are moderating since the report issued June 10.

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Know the Signs! Pyramids and Ponzis...

Thank you Bernie Madoff! Bernie Madoff set the news on fire with a $50 billion Ponzi scheme for which he recently went to prison. Since then, a number of other financial schemes have come to light: Allen Sanford, Joseph Forte, even the Yacht scheme. But what are Ponzi schemes? How are they different from Pyramid schemes (and Matrix Schemes)? And, most importantly, what are the signs of each?

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Betting on Inflation: 2009 Inflation Expectations

In an earlier article, I detailed how you could check on inflation expectations using information publicly available from the Department of the Treasury. Using the data they provide, it is simple to calculate the market's expectations for inflation over the next 5, 7, 10, and 20 Year periods. Let's take another look not at the 2009 inflation rate, but the expected inflation rate of the future viewed through '2009' colored glasses.

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Exotic Investing: Closed End Funds

Oftentimes the best place to look for value is in a place few others know to look.

Go ahead and quote that; I just made it up. Closed end funds are an often overlooked place in the market for your investment funds. CEFs are mutual funds which trade on exchanges and lack the price arbitrage functions of Exchange Traded Funds. This means that Closed End Funds can be (and often are) priced significantly differently from their underlying assets.

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Carnivals, Week of July 20th

Our article "Jevon's Paradox, and More Ado About Gas Taxes" was featured in the OneMint Economy and Your Finances Carnival. Go check out the carnival, and the OneMint blog.

"Debt: Invest in Yours" was a featured article at LivingAlmostLarge, which is hosting the 201st Carnival of Debt Reduction. The site's host, LAL, poses an excellent question, however: "...if you pay off debt with a windfall, how do you know you won’t do it again?" If you know the answer, post a comment over there.

"Putting a Mortgage in Reverse" is included in the 74th edition of the Money Hacks Carnival, over at Suburban Dollar. Check it out!

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The Asset Allocation Bell Tolls

The way the financial community seems to be covering it, we are currently attending the funeral of Asset Allocation. Long live Asset Allocation!

A common topic on financial pages world wide web wide (a cheer for alliteration?) is about the supposed death of asset allocation. Asset Allocation is the idea that the best retirement play for most investors is to allocate financial resources among a number of investment baskets. Supposedly by spreading one's investments across a diverse set of asset classes it is possible to catch the hot performance in any corner of the market while absorbing any shocks in other corners. Of course, the uninspiring performance of asset classes during the 'Great Recession' seem to throw this theory into question. Read on and decide for yourself if we need to find some pallbearers for this financial heavyweight.

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When in Doubt... Sue Yourself!

Before I read this article, I could not imagine a scenario which would lead a company to sue itself. Yes; you read that correctly. Wells Fargo is suing itself in Florida in order to facilitate the foreclosure of a property in which it has multiple liens.

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Don't Quit Your Day Job...

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