Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Moscow is world's most expensive city to live in

You can read about it




One article says "In Moscow, a luxury two-bedroom apartment will cost an expat $4,000 a month; a CD rings up at $24.83; one copy of an international daily newspaper is $6.30; and a fast-food hamburger meal totals $4.80." Only two U.S. cities made the top 50, NY and LA (probably no surprise). The cost of living is 35% higher in Moscow than it is in NY. Another article says "rents in central Moscow can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per month."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sell Your Genes! Make Big Money!

A recent column by David Brooks discusses how people can sell their sperm or eggs for big bucks if they have the right characteristics. Smart, tall, healthy, athletic, well educated people can get the highest prices at sperm banks and egg banks. Apparently, the buyers want to make sure that their off spring will have the best genes. According to the article "An ad in The Harvard Crimson offered $50,000 for an egg from a Harvard woman." There seems to be a market (supply and demand) for just about everything. The article is America's new pastime: gene shopping.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Interesting Book: Stumbling on Happiness

Harvard Professor Daniel Gilbert has written a book called Stumbling on Happiness. Here are some exerpts from the article:

"our decisions about what will make us happy -- or unhappy -- almost always are clouded by inaccurate memories and over-reliance on present feelings."

"you can't rely on your past or present to predict your future because brains file away only a few cues to memory, mainly the highs and lows of an experience."

"Ignorance about the brain's defenses against unhappiness also distorts judgment"

"people of every age and every walk of life seem to regret NOT having done things much more than they regret things they did."

Since we assume in economics that people try to maximize their utility or happiness, this seems like an important book. Although he may be right that we don't always know what will make us happy, if we make mistakes, it does not mean we are not rational. Remember, to be irrational means we intentionally make ourselves worse off. So if you don't do the right thing to make yourself happier because you didn't know what it was, you are not necessarily irrational.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Want a gas well in your backyard?

Its happening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Oil and gas wells are being drilled in urban areas not too far from houses. But there is big money and some people and communities are getting royalty payments. According to a recent article "150-foot drilling rigs are rising over golf courses, churchyards, even tree-lined neighborhoods." Drilling causes "noise, vibrations and odors"." (not to mention environmental concerns) So is it worth it to have your neighborhood tranquility diminished? The article is called "Tapping wells of resentment."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Eating Healthy is Cheap

In my face-to-face class, we read a chapter from the book The Economics of Public Issues on how Americans have been gaining weight. It mentioned that food has gotten relatively cheaper over time and we lead more sedentary lives. But there was an interesting article in The Washington Post recently. The author, Tom Wolfe, says you don't have to spend much to eat healthy. Here is part of what he said:

"I began adhering to a $25 weekly food budget in early April specifically to test the economic feasibility of living on organic whole grains, dried beans and fresh vegetables. On that $3.57 a day, I have been able, through careful planning, to feed myself well -- with enough left over to prepare lunch four days a week for the five people on the staff of my store. Virtually my entire diet since April has been grains and beans grown certified-organic and a mix of organic and cheaper non-organic vegetables."

The entire article is here.