zondag, maart 08, 2009

Sunday Reads And Listens, etc.

“When a place gets boring, even the rich people leave.”

somewhat fascinating study on how the crash will reshape America and some of the observations therein:

The historian Scott Reynolds Nelson has noted that in some respects, today’s crisis most closely resembles the “Long Depression,” which stretched, by one definition, from 1873 to 1896. It began as a banking crisis brought on by insolvent mortgages and complex financial instruments, and quickly spread to the real economy, leading to mass unemployment that reached 25 percent in New York.

During that crisis, rising industries like railroads, petroleum, and steel were consolidated, old ones failed, and the way was paved for a period of remarkable innovation and industrial growth. In 1870, New England mill towns like Lowell, Lawrence, Manchester, and Springfield were among the country’s most productive industrial cities, and America’s population overwhelmingly lived in the countryside. By 1900, the economic geography had been transformed from a patchwork of farm plots and small mercantile towns to a landscape increasingly dominated by giant factory cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo.

And, discussing the future, mobility and home ownership versus renting, flexibility and transience:

If anything, our government policies should encourage renting, not buying. Homeownership occupies a central place in the American Dream primarily because decades of policy have put it there. A recent study by Grace Wong, an economist at the Wharton School of Business, shows that, controlling for income and demographics, homeowners are no happier than renters, nor do they report lower levels of stress or higher levels of self-esteem.

And while homeownership has some social benefits—a higher level of civic engagement is one—it is costly to the economy. The economist Andrew Oswald has demonstrated that in both the United States and Europe, those places with higher homeownership rates also suffer from higher unemployment. Homeownership, Oswald found, is a more important predictor of unemployment than rates of unionization or the generosity of welfare benefits. Too often, it ties people to declining or blighted locations, and forces them into work—if they can find it—that is a poor match for their interests and abilities.

As homeownership rates have risen, our society has become less nimble: in the 1950s and 1960s, Americans were nearly twice as likely to move in a given year as they are today. Last year fewer Americans moved, as a percentage of the population, than in any year since the Census Bureau started tracking address changes, in the late 1940s. This sort of creeping rigidity in the labor market is a bad sign for the economy, particularly in a time when businesses, industries, and regions are rising and falling quickly.

Iva Bittova & Vladimir Vaclavek: "Sto let"


My Top 4 Favourite Tee-Shirts From Tee-Shirt Hell:

For the Welsh?

For those who've had enough?

just so...wrong


To where pretty much anywhere


More on British Scottish Drinking Habits

Maybe not. Whereas the French sip, Scotland, like the rest of Britain, gulps. A survey by Sweden’s National Institute of Public Health asked how often drinking sessions turned into binges (defined as one person drinking a whole bottle of wine or more). French men reported bingeing 9% of the time, Italians 13% and Germans 14%. For British men, 40% of drinking sessions turned into binges. Women were similarly ahead of their continental counterparts.

Bingeing is not unique to Britain: Nordic countries are almost as raucous, with Swedish men bingeing 33% of the time. But they don’t drink as much in total: annual consumption is less than six litres in Sweden. Britain’s special curse is to combine northern European drinking habits with southern European volumes.

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