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Help me understand economics!

I was watching The Social Network yesterday when I realised that I don't know a thing about how economics work. What is stock dilution? What's a subprime? What are they selling in the stock market? Where can I find a simple, for-dummies guide to understanding modern economics? [more inside]
posted by Senza Volto on Oct 29, 2010 - 18 answers

Brazilian state budget blowout?

I was reading an article about fiscal responsibility legislation and the author referred to passing to (what I infer) was a spectacular budget blowout or deficit condition in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. The article was dated 1996 so whatever it was, it would have been before that. Googling turns up nothing useful. Does anyone know anything about this, or have any pointers to any further resources (in English please)? Thanks in advance.
posted by Logophiliac on Oct 28, 2010 - 4 answers

Statistics on the Alberta Oil Sands

So I'm looking for some hard data on the Alberta Oil Sands: Employment rate, type of employment, demographics, who owns what, etc. I'm finding plenty of opinion pieces, and plenty of environmental assessments, but not much hard data on the economics of it. Does anyone know where to look for this kind of information?
posted by Stagger Lee on Oct 25, 2010 - 6 answers

Back in the (Covariance) Saddle Again

I used to be a statistician. Now I work in Health Care IT. Help me unleash my inner RA Fisher and return to the land of skewness and kurtosis. [more inside]
posted by playertobenamedlater on Oct 18, 2010 - 3 answers

Whither Goes Dad's Recliner?

Everyone seems to agree that the middle class is disappearing in the USA. What (reliable) studies and figures back this up? [more inside]
posted by keratacon on Oct 15, 2010 - 15 answers

Are we at the start of the Greater Depression?

Is it just me, or are we at the start of the Greater Depression? Please either convince me I'm just paranoid, OR help me plan a reasonable course of action. [more inside]
posted by MikeWarot on Oct 1, 2010 - 39 answers

I need a data visualization of poverty and literacy. Help!

How can I overlay global literacy and economic (poverty) data onto a map? [more inside]
posted by k8t on Sep 28, 2010 - 8 answers

In Soviet Russia, data finds you!

Where can I find historical GDP data for the old Soviet Union? [more inside]
posted by moorooka on Sep 18, 2010 - 3 answers

Are 90% of economists stupid?

Economics: Is free trade good? 90% of economists say yes. But free trade depends on comparative advantage, and comparative advantage depends on capital immobility. And capital isn't immobile anymore; everyone invests everywhere now. So what gives? [more inside]
posted by Dec One on Sep 16, 2010 - 30 answers

Can and should the Federal Reserve assume public debts to stimulate the economy?

The US states are massively in debt, and public-sector layoffs are causing unemployment to stay high, even while the private sector recovers. The Federal Reserve can create dollars from nothing, and at the moment inflation is apparently a minor concern compared to deflation. What would happen if the Federal Reserve assumed much or all of the debt of the states? They could pay off the debts ex nihilo at a speed of their choosing, while allowing the states to create or save jobs. They could also simply grant money to those states that have relatively little debt. Does anything like this happen, and should it? [Not an economist]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Sep 14, 2010 - 22 answers

Is there an economic measure relating production or GDP to firm size?

Is there an economic measure that describes what proportion of GDP is produced by firms of different sizes? [more inside]
posted by nowoutside on Sep 13, 2010 - 4 answers

Marx - Labor Theory of Value

I'm reading Marx's "Capital" Vol. I and I'm looking for a "Dummy's Guide" to his economic theories. [more inside]
posted by facetious on Sep 11, 2010 - 14 answers

"Repairable" Cars, How Do They Work?

While looking at used Priuses on Craigslist (Minneapolis), I discovered a dealer in Faribault, MN that sells "repairable" cars. I started wondering where the money was in "repairable" cars and whether it was a scam or not. [more inside]
posted by radioaction on Sep 1, 2010 - 12 answers

Majors versus minors

Is getting a minor in college worth anything? [more inside]
posted by LSK on Aug 23, 2010 - 41 answers

Help me find this "skeptic Marxist"

Help me find the name of this "Marxist Sceptic" thinker. I remember reading on aldaily.com within the last few months about a Marxist thinker who essentially came to the conclusion that though desirable, no socialist system of government would exist in the immediate future. I'm not sure if it was an obituary or something else.
posted by atrazine on Aug 20, 2010 - 3 answers

Marijuana Policy Study

I'm going to be starting up a new research agenda on the economics of marijuana policy with an undergraduate student this fall, and I'm looking for materials which can help both me and my student navigate through the legal jungle that is US marijuana policy. I had a few questions. [more inside]
posted by scunning on Jun 30, 2010 - 11 answers

When my batteries die, I go to Wal-mart

Approximately how much of the productivity gains of the past 125 years has been a result of using fossil fuels? [more inside]
posted by TheOtherSide on Jun 30, 2010 - 11 answers

Should I drop this class?

A desperate college student needs your advice, and also needs his homework checked. [more inside]
posted by andrewsa on Jun 27, 2010 - 24 answers

Stock Options' Private Parts

How can a private company offer stock options? [more inside]
posted by spamguy on Jun 13, 2010 - 8 answers

Is this poll valid?

Is this poll bogus? A conservative friend has sent me a link to this poll, conducted by Zogby International (which appears reputable), that gives low scores on "economic enlightenment" to women, the less-wealthy, infrequent Wal-Mart shoppers, non-Nascar fans, the unmarried, union members, Obama voters, etc., and doesn't correlate it with college attendance. [more inside]
posted by rleamon on Jun 9, 2010 - 38 answers

Wasteland of material goods

Our stores are full of billions of items. What percentage of these things actually get bought and used? What happens to it all in the end? [more inside]
posted by serena15221 on Jun 4, 2010 - 10 answers

What effect will the change in US tax rates on dividends have on share prices and dividend payouts?

What effect will the change in US tax rates on dividends have on share prices and dividend payouts? [more inside]
posted by underdetermined on Jun 3, 2010 - 9 answers

Fair Trade Cars? Computers? iPods?

Can you think of examples where a firm tried marketing a more expensive "fair trade" version of a standardized manufactured commodity in parallel? [more inside]
posted by eagle-bear on May 19, 2010 - 13 answers

ICT for dummies

Where can I learn - in a hurry - the technological basics of the telecommunications/internet infrastructure? [more inside]
posted by moorooka on May 14, 2010 - 5 answers

Get financial planning internship?

How can I as an "economist" make the most of an extended internship interview with a financial planner? [more inside]
posted by handle_unknown on May 12, 2010 - 3 answers

Why doesn't the law of supply and demand seem to apply to certain professionals?

Why doesn't the law of supply and demand seem to apply to certain professionals? For instance, there seems to be an abundance of lawyers. I've never met a lawyer who was too busy and had to turn down work. Yet they all seem to charge $250-500 or more an hour. I've also looked for programmers and designers. It's extremely difficult to find anyone good, and when you do, they're almost always too busy to take any additional work. Yet they still charge much less than lawyers. What factors are causing this?
posted by lsemel on May 11, 2010 - 33 answers

Economics for physicists

Can anyone recommend a book which explains the basics of economic theory in a way accessible to physicists/mathematicians? [more inside]
posted by snoktruix on Apr 24, 2010 - 14 answers

Time to give up?

I'm 24 and I already have an undergraduate degree. Now I want to study something completely different: economics. Turns out it's a little trickier than I first thought [rant inside] [more inside]
posted by Zen_is_Lev on Apr 22, 2010 - 21 answers

PhD now or later

Is there an 'expiry date' on your studies when it comes to being admitted to a PhD? I'm thinking of working for a while first. [more inside]
posted by moorooka on Apr 22, 2010 - 16 answers

What happens if Hekla erupts?

The volcanic activity of this past week has revealed a significant weakness in our existing infrastructure. But what happens if Eyjafjallajokull's big sister Hekla erupts as it did in 1912? I am less interested in the most obvious impacts, but rather am fascinated by the unseen shifts that would have to occur in the background. [more inside]
posted by ghostpony on Apr 19, 2010 - 19 answers

Best books on articles on financial crisis?

What are the best articles and books that thoughtfully look back and analyze the financial crisis so far and its causes?
posted by shivohum on Apr 18, 2010 - 13 answers

Economic drudge report site?

Does anyone know of a quick hit economic dashboard where I can get all the economic data in a snapshot? [more inside]
posted by blahblah on Apr 13, 2010 - 3 answers

large recent increase in airfare?

I last flew in September and the price was 300 bucks for one way non-stop flight. Now, in April, it's 600 dollars for the non-stop, and the cheapest flight has a layover, AND is 80 (380) dollars more. Is there a reason for the large increase in flying costs these past 6 months? [more inside]
posted by symbioid on Apr 13, 2010 - 17 answers

Regression Coefficient Interpretation (OLS)

In an OLS regression the coefficient is b = cov(X,Y)/var(X). What is the plain english interpretation of this coefficient in terms of variations (ie. b is the variation in Y that can be explained by variation in X)? How does this relate to r^2?
posted by bucksox on Apr 8, 2010 - 2 answers

How can the weird advertising strategy employed by the walk-in tax prep places be worth it to the owners?

How do the economics of hiring minimum-wage sandwich board carriers work? [more inside]
posted by charmedimsure on Mar 27, 2010 - 13 answers

Was the "Townsend Plan" tried in Washington state?

I just read this in passing: "The State of Washington pretty well went broke on the Townsend Plan (during the 1930s) without getting the economic benefits it had hoped for. (I simplify, but it's a reasonable summary.)" I can find references to Francis Townsend, and his plan. What I haven't been able to find are any specific references to the state of Washington trying it out, with middling to bad effects. Anyone? Bueller? Thanks in advance.
posted by aurelian on Mar 22, 2010 - 11 answers

Simple economics simulation app for showing principles, forces and feedbacks?

Simple economics simulation for demonstrating economic concepts and instilling a gut feel for what various regulatory interventions would do? [more inside]
posted by ahaynes on Mar 12, 2010 - 1 answer

My Military Industrial Complex

Help me get my head around the rationale or philosophy behind the budget for the U.S. Department of Defense. According to my rough numbers, it is more than 10 times that of the Department of Education. What is the justification / business case? Jobs? DARPA? China? I don't get it. Please enlighten me.
posted by jasondigitized on Mar 8, 2010 - 42 answers

Why is there media mail?

Media mail doesn't seem to make economic sense, and I'm curious why it exists... [more inside]
posted by paultopia on Mar 5, 2010 - 23 answers

The American dream (made in China)

Economics for clotheshorses: Help me learn how consumer goods and services & manufacturing and business practices have changed for better and/or worse. [more inside]
posted by stuck on an island on Feb 25, 2010 - 10 answers

what happens if it's physical vs. fiscal

I've heard it said that (in theory) the advent of a cure for cancer would cause a serious financial crisis because of the vast scale of the healthcare complex devoted to current treatments. So, the obvious question: Is there any credible evidence that promising (not woo-woo) therapies for diseases such as cancer and diabetes have been derailed because of the sheer scale of financial and institutional resources invested in the status quo?
posted by dacoit on Feb 17, 2010 - 41 answers

making econ enjoyable?

How do I make microeconomics fun? [more inside]
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel on Feb 17, 2010 - 3 answers

What's going on with Greece capping the amount of cash one can spend?

From a Reuters newsreport about Greece's government response plan to their economic meltdown: "From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards" Are they doing this for any other reason than making it easier to collect a sales tax? How can they enforce it? What will happen if someone pays for an item with over 1500 euros in cash, will someone repossess it? Have other countries done something like this?
posted by Kattullus on Feb 15, 2010 - 6 answers

Please explain this equasion from a Game Theory lecture

I am watching this yale lecture on game theory and the Nash equilibrium. Please explain why the cost coefficient is exponential. [more inside]
posted by rebent on Feb 11, 2010 - 6 answers

This show taught me about making pro and con lists.

When I was in 4th (maybe 5th) grade, we were shown a series of educational programs where a dude with magical powers helped kids solve everyday problems (what leisure activity is the best? how should I invest my allowance to get what I most desire?) through basic ecnomic principles. What is this show? [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Feb 5, 2010 - 8 answers

Ok, what's *really* worth recycling?

After reading this old recycling thread, I wonder something..... [more inside]
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out on Feb 1, 2010 - 9 answers

corporate personhood around the world

The story of how Corporations became legal people using the 14th amendment is pretty famous. But that's a US phenomenon. How did it work out in other countries? Are corporations legal people in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia etc? [more inside]
posted by moorooka on Jan 22, 2010 - 11 answers

Mines or DU?

Help a student decide on a college: Mines or DU. [more inside]
posted by Wordwoman on Jan 19, 2010 - 14 answers

You too can help prevent brainwashing!

Enlisting Armchair Economists: Help me find articles on a variety of economic topics. [more inside]
posted by ropeladder on Jan 14, 2010 - 13 answers

Greed+Regulation is Good?

Profit has been an effective motivator for progress in a variety of areas in our society. But often when left unchecked by regulation or social norms, the drive for profits leads to exploitation and abuse. What are some examples of systems where profit is still an effective driver, but where regulations do a good job of curbing abuse?
posted by parallax7d on Jan 13, 2010 - 16 answers

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