South-Westerns' Economic News Summaries
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EconNews Online is South-Western's service to provide summaries of the latest economics news stories. Review the brief summaries and, for stories of interest, select the full summary.
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Title  Brief Summary 
Chinese Toymakers’ Losses Are US Toymakers’ Gains
Full Summary 
In the wake of the massive recalls of Chinese-made toys that were discovered to have lead paint on them, US-based toy manufacturers are reaping the benefits of painting with lead-free paint.
(Updated August, 2007)
Can You Spare Another Dollar for Some Nickel? Or Oil? Or corn?
Full Summary 
In recent months, oil set a nominal record price of over U.S. $78 per barrel, and nickel passed $26,000 per ton for the first time in history. Copper prices are rising sharply. Even the price of rapeseed oil, corn and other agricultural products are reaching record highs. Are we in the midst of a "super-cycle"?
(Updated August, 2006)
Defying historical lessons, Hawaii sets gasoline price caps...again!
Full Summary 
Responding to soaring gasoline and natural gas prices, the Hawaiian legislature has taken the "preventative" step of setting a cap on gasoline prices, effective 1 September. Over the last year, the price of crude oil has increased 55%, and natural gas prices are up over 80% from last year.
(Updated November 2005)
Housing bubbles: all about supply and demand
Full Summary 
Housing prices have been increasing significantly over the last fifteen years as low interest rates made larger and more extravagant homes affordable. Is it getting to the point that no one can afford to enter the housing market anymore?
(Updated November 2005)
Do you know what tungsten is? Well, it's now more expensive...
Full Summary 
Tungsten prices worldwide have increased by over 100% since the beginning of 2005, rising from $9,000 per ton to about $22,000 per ton. What is tungsten? Why is its price increasing?
(Updated June, 2005)
It's getting harder and harder to find empty mall space
Full Summary 
For the top 62 U.S. shopping markets, vacancy rates in America's shopping malls stood at 5.3% for the fourth quarter of 2004, down from 5.5% in the third quarter of last year.
(Updated April, 2005)
The Economics of Nature Are, Unfortunately, Hard at Work in Indonesia
Full Summary 
Indonesians are discovering that the laws of supply and demand aren't put on hold, even in the event of catastrophe like the one recently visited upon their country and others in the region.
(Updated March, 2005)
A Christmas Tree Grows in Honolulu…sort of.
Full Summary 
A shortage of Christmas trees in Hawaii arose this past season, owing mostly to a significant excess supply in 2003.
(Updated March, 2005)
I have two words for you...plastics...and corn.
Full Summary 
The recent increase in oil prices is creating a surge in a different area: producing plastic from corn.
(Updated December, 2004)
If China doesn't like the market price, it just sets a new one
Full Summary 
Chinese-style capitalism takes a distinctly socialistic perspective, especially when the government thinks that market-based prices are wrong. It sets them itself.
(Updated October, 2004)
Gas prices may not come down anytime soon
Full Summary 
Our economy has seen oil price increases like this before, but this one may last much longer than any other.
(Updated October, 2004)
Not Only Can't You Find a Taxi in New York; Now You'll Have to Pay Even More to Not Find One
Full Summary
New York City is raising city revenues by selling more "taxi medallions," the little tokens (literally) that are required of all owners of taxicabs that serve the city.
(Updated June, 2004)
AIDS drugs just got more expensive - but only in the US
Full Summary
Pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories has decided to increase the price of its drug Norvir, a critical component in AIDS drug "cocktails," from $1500 annually to $7800. Consumer and AIDS advocates argue that this is price gouging at its most extreme.
(Updated June, 2004)
The Apartment's Great, But Will You Pay My Rent for Me?
Full Summary
In the last few years, low mortgage rates and the excess supply of rental housing has helped renters get bargains from landlords as landlords scramble to induce renters to sign leases.
(Updated April, 2004)
Want a job in advertising? Go to school.
Full Summary
The recent economic slump has caused the advertising industry to shed "tens of thousands" of jobs in the last few years, causing a number of students to conclude that they are better off in school.
(Updated November, 2003)
Can you help out Economics Ph.D.s who are down on their luck?
Full Summary
The supply of economists, as measured by the junior memberships to the American Economic Association, has increased by 14%, while the number of available jobs for economics Ph.D.'s, fell by 10% last year.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
Students Learn the Hard Way
Full Summary
Tuition at four-year universities is increasing due to reduced state funding. Enrollment increases offset some of the shortfall, but cuts in programs and faculty are still being made. Universities are giving students incentives to complete their studies quickly.
(Updated October 10, 2002)
Aid for AIDS
Full Summary
At an International AIDS Conference, former President Bill Clinton advised developing countries to negotiate lower AIDS drug prices with the drug producers and then ask rich nations for funding for prevention and some of the remaining drug costs.
(Updated October 10, 2002)
Sweet Home Improvement Market
Full Summary
The home improvement market is booming due to the record number of homes changing hands, the growth in new homes, favorable financial conditions, warm weather, and an increasingly home-centered national mood.
(Updated June 15, 2002)
The Afghan Opium Drug Policy: Is It Poppycock?
Full Summary
Afghan farmers are being paid to destroy their opium poppy crop so that the illicit opium and heroin trade is restricted. It is doubtful whether the incentives are adequate.
(Updated June 15, 2002)
Wireless Phones Mean Landline Carriers Wire Less Homes
Full Summary
Cell phones are becoming the primary or only telephone for some. The price of cell phone service has decreased, and plans are more appealing. A potential problem is that the airwave spectrum is limited and additional cell towers are needed.
(Updated May 1, 2002)
Mexican Chutes and Ladders
Full Summary
The Mexican government has reduced subsidies on electricity and has increased taxes on various luxury items. Inflation is expected to rise.
(Updated April 1, 2002)
Travel Industry Travails
Full Summary
The prospects for the travel industry are uncertain. However, industry gurus have made predictions for the air travel, cruising, and lodging markets.
(Updated January 15, 2002)
Oil Producers Pump Up The Volume
Full Summary
Gasoline prices are collapsing. OPEC has failed to convince non-OPEC producers to join them in curbing oil output. Local retailers are competing for sales. However, large regional differences in prices remain.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Urchin Searching
Full Summary
Many Maine fishermen have diverted their attention over the last 15 years from lobsters and scallops to diving for sea urchins and fishing for eels to satisfy the demand from Japan. However, as stocks dwindle, fishermen try to interest the Japanese in other sea creatures, such as periwinkles and whelks.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Bush's Energy Plan: More Power? Or Hot Air?
Full Summary
The White House has proposed a plan to increase the supply of energy over the next twenty years. However, it is dependent on support from Congress, action by government departments, and the cooperation of the private sector.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting - But Not TV
Full Summary
Saturday night viewing of broadcast television is declining. Many young adults prefer to dine out, go to the movies, watch cable, or rent a video. Some say the problem is the networks opting to offer less attractive programming.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Cruise Companies and Others Swim Against the Economic Tide
Full Summary
The weakening economy is causing many producers to reduce prices, give incentives, offer free gifts, and introduce innovative products, in an attempt to restore sales levels and retain market share.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Horsemeat Lovers Breed Galloping Increases in Thefts
Full Summary
Horse stealing is increasing as the price of horsemeat rises. Consumers are buying more horsemeat due to mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease in Europe. Hi-tech devices are being used to trace stolen horses before they are slaughtered.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Ecstasy for Customs in the Drug War would be Higher Prices
Full Summary
In Britain, the prices of drugs are at a historical low, although there is wide variation. It is suggested that the war on drugs is failing because choking off supply should increase prices. Secret greenhouses inside Britain may be the cause of the apparent policy failure.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Pricing Power
Full Summary
Real-time pricing, which involves fluctuations in price through the day according to demand levels, may hold the key to California's energy shortage. Georgia's experience shows that large consumers of electricity reduce their consumption when demand is high and the price increases, reducing the probability of blackouts.
(Updated April 1, 2001)
Stadium Sticker Shock?
Full Summary
Phoenix is the latest jurisdiction to approve a tax increase on rental cars to fund a new football stadium. Car rental companies and the Travel Industry Association are not in favor. However, the Phoenix Travel and Sports Authority states that visitors will benefit from the stadium and that the tax will not be noticed by consumers.
(Updated April 1, 2001)
Managed Care Band-Aid Fails To Control Medical Inflation
Full Summary
Health care costs are out of control again due to new medical technology, legislation about minimum hospital stays, consumer resistance, and greater doctor and hospital bargaining power. The costs are likely to be passed on to the employee, and preventive care may be emphasized more.
(Updated April 1, 2001)
No-Brainer? Germans Cut Back on Beef Due to Mad Cow Disease
Full Summary
Mad cow disease has now been discovered in Germany. Consumers are deserting beef and replacing it with other meats or beef from other sources. Prices are falling. The German government is taking several steps to reassure consumers.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Jewelry Industry Hopes Marketing Campaign is Golden
Full Summary
Falling gold prices have led the World Gold Council to sponsor a marketing campaign designed to "re-brand" gold as a fashionable metal for jewelry. Council members are doubling their membership fees to fund the campaign.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Energy: The 1970s are Back
Full Summary
Increasing oil, gas, and electricity prices are stimulating consumers to conserve energy. Some are changing their source of heat and power, while others are using energy-saving thermostats, weather-stripping, and household appliances.
(Updated February 1, 2001)
Care Costs Climb
Full Summary
A federal advisory has concluded that Medicare health care costs will rise faster than assumed. The reason is advances in technology. Managed care is unlikely to curb the adoption of new technology.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Chuan Chuan's Chow Not Cheap
Full Summary
In Shanghai, bamboo, the staple food of pandas, is hard to find and is expensive. Government subsidies to zoos have been reduced. Zoos are trying to raise money in other ways and are accepting donations of bamboo.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
E-victions Accompany E-boom
Full Summary
The high-tech expansion requires new buildings and allows workers to buy fashionable homes. Lower- and middle-income groups and small businesses are being displaced. In the political backlash, some cities are placing moratoria on new commercial development.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
Hotel Building High in New York City
Full Summary
New York City has a very high hotel occupancy rate. This is resulting in more hotels being built. The room rates will vary according to the comforts provided. A glut is doubtful because the number of visitors continues to grow.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
Lower Cruise Prices: Will Cruise Lines Sink or Float?
Full Summary
Cruise prices are falling and are at historically low levels. The reason is a rapid growth in industry capacity. Cruise lines hope that the low prices will attract first-time passengers who will then return in the future.
(Updated October 1, 2000)
The Fall and Rise of PC Prices
Full Summary 
PC prices had been falling, but are now rising slightly. The reasons are increased component prices, less competition between suppliers, and consumers' desire for additional features such as DVD drives.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
Oil Price Hike Mystery: Was it Done Using Control Over Crude Oil Supply in the Middle East By OPEC?
Full Summary 
Oil prices have risen threefold over the past few years. Inflation and growth are threatened. Western governments are pressuring OPEC to increase oil production. OPEC says that the blame is misplaced - taxes and government regulations are also behind the high oil prices.
(Updated August 1, 2000)
Three and Four Star Restaurant Prices Shoot Heavenward
Full Summary 
New York City restaurant meal prices are shooting up due to better ingredients, more expensive rents, and more experienced staff and chefs. The growing income and wealth of New Yorkers means that restaurants are still full, although that may not last.
(Updated July 1, 2000)
"Video Killed the Radio Star" - then "DVD Killed the Video Star"
Full Summary 
VHS video sales are relatively flat while DVD sales are increasing fast and will dominate the market by 2002. This trend is due to a growing number of consumers owning DVD players, buying more DVDs per person, and responding to falling DVD prices.
(Updated June 1, 2000)
Some NASDAQ Millionaires Are Now Half-Millionaires
Full Summary 
The plunge in the stock market has reduced paper wealth. Consumers are spending less, workers may quit technology firms, and investors are likely to invest less.
(Updated May 1, 2000)
Antiques Fair Well? It Depends on the Size
Full Summary 
The antiques and collectibles market is growing due to TV shows such as Antiques Roadshow and web sites such as that of eBay. While large antique shows are prospering, small shows are not, because large shows are able to charge dealers less and attract more customers.
(Updated May 1, 2000)
Dog Treat Company Unleashed
Full Summary 
Three Dog Bakery sells gourmet dog treats. Its business has expanded rapidly due to the strong economy and adoring dog lovers, combined with inexpensive equipment and use of the Internet.
(Updated April 1, 2000)
Foreign Luxury Cars Perform Better
Full Summary 
American dominance of the luxury car market ended in 1999 as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus overtook Cadillac and Lincoln. Foreign cars apparently look and drive better, and more are offered at lower prices. The American companies are responding by trying to offer similar cars at cheaper prices.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
Home, Expensive Home
Full Summary 
House prices are rising fast, the average now exceeding $200,000. House buyers want more space and amenities, and can afford to pay for them. The cost of materials and skilled labor is rising also.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
Tobacco Sales Down: Who Is To Blame?
Full Summary 
Tobacco farmers are selling less tobacco. Public-health groups emphasize that cigarette manufacturers are buying more tobacco from overseas. The industry retorts that smoking restrictions and higher cigarette taxes should share the blame.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
It's All Uphill for Most Ski Resorts
Full Summary 
Lower snowfall is reducing skiing opportunities. Skiers are canceling or going elsewhere. Resorts are responding by cutting lift ticket and accommodation prices, and are engaging in more aggressive marketing.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
School's Out - of Teachers?
Full Summary 
There is a debate over whether there is a teacher shortage. One side argues that teachers exceed vacancies in most areas, while the other states that over the coming decade the growth in enrollments and teacher retirements will cause a shortage, especially in some subjects.
(Updated November 1, 1999)
Coca Leaf Prices Reach a High
Full Summary 
In 1995, the Peruvian Government shot down planes suspected of trafficking drugs and caused the price of coca leaf to fall dramatically. However, the emergence of new trafficking routes, a reduced supply in Bolivia, and a greater demand for cocaine, has caused the price of coca leaf to rebound.
(Updated November 1, 1999)
Cell Phones Sell Well
Full Summary 
Cell phone usage is increasing, causing some consumers to give up their home phones. The reasons are the lower prices of cell phone plans and the growing quality of the product and its call coverage.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Chinese Construction Curbed
Full Summary 
China is experiencing deflation and authorities have therefore banned new construction of factories that make consumer goods for the domestic market. It is uncertain how well the ban will be respected as previous measures - minimum prices and lower interest rates - have been ineffective. Devaluation may occur in the future.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Car Leasing Runs Out of Gas
Full Summary 
Car leasing reached a peak in 1998, but is now decreasing as buying and financing car purchases regain popularity. The reasons include the strong economy and the diminished availability of cheap lease arrangements.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Managed Care Costs Becoming Unmanageable
Full Summary 
A decade ago, the growth of managed care resulted in steady or lower health care costs. Now the price of health care is rising at a rate of 7 to 11 percent a year for large employers, more for smaller employers. Many employees are also dissatisfied for reasons other than price.
(Updated July 1, 1999)
Kuwaitis Queue and Wait
Full Summary 
Kuwait is suffering due to a reduction in oil prices and revenues. Government deficits are necessitating new charges for driver's and business licenses. There are long waiting lists for housing. Businesses are closing or laying off workers.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
Disequilibrium at Disney
Full Summary 
Long lines for attractions at theme parks are a major headache for visitors. Disney is experimenting with timed tickets. Other ideas include higher park admission fees and VIP package with queue-jumping privileges. Now, visitors can avoid lines by staying at an on-property hotel and gaining early entry.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
Higher Gasoline Prices Fuel Debate Over Causes
Full Summary 
Gasoline prices have risen sharply in recent weeks. Refiners have been able to increase the price of refined oil because of strong demand. An industry economist claims that the higher prices reflects the higher price of crude oil, but OPEC has not yet finalized its plans to cut output. Consumers and businesses are seeing their costs increase.
(Updated May 1, 1999)
A Tale of Two Countries: Hemp Farming
Full Summary 
Wheat and tobacco farmers are worried because of rising costs and falling prices. In Canada, farmers are able to grow hemp, a non-intoxicating cousin of marijuana. However, the drug enforcement authorities will not permit hemp growing in the U.S.
(Updated May 1, 1999)
Cruise Sales
Full Summary 
Cruise prices are soft due to an increase in the number of ships and lower costs. Demand is increasing as a result, but also due to cruise loans, improved marketing, and the unbundling of the cruise, air connections, and extras. The downside is that cruise companies are charging more for drinks, tours, and other extras.
(Updated April 1, 1999)
Air Fares Have Difficulty Taking Off
Full Summary 
In 1998, airlines' yields were reduced due to customer resistance and the Northwest pilots' strike. Only cost-cutting enabled net income to increase. Continued soft domestic demand and an increase in the number of jets are likely to restrain airfares in 1999.
(Updated March 1, 1999)
Sports Card Producers' Defensive Moves Neutralize Effects of Basketball Lockout
Full Summary 
The basketball lockout is not disrupting the sports card business as it might have done in past years. Heeding the lessons of oversupply in 1991 and 1994, producers have reduced card shipments, and increased interest in baseball cards is helping maintain revenues.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
The Golden Age of Cars 'n' Trucks
Full Summary 
Auto sales in 1998 were the second-highest ever. Unlike the 1950s, when the growth in demand outstripped the supply, the current golden age is characterized by an abundent supply, prompted in part by new technology and lower costs.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Swiss Fear Tourists May Visit for Alpine Highs
Full Summary 
The Swiss are voting on a constituional amendment to legalize drugs, which may reduce illegal street drug trade, but may prompt more traffickers and users to visit Switzerland. Passage is doubtful die to the magnitude of the drug problem and worries over legalizing hard drugs.
(Updated January 1, 1999)
Butter Brings Bakery Blues
Full Summary 
Bakery prices are rising because butter prices are increasing. The increase is caused by a decline in milk production along with a long-term and seasonal increase in tastes for butter.
(Updated December 1, 1998)
China Gasses Up
Full Summary 
China is seeking to change its energy mix to rely less on coal and more on natural gas. However, pipelines are operating at less than full capacity because most homes are not hooked up for gas use. There are also concerns about the size of China's gas reserves.
(Updated October 15, 1998)
Ice Cream in Distress
Full Summary
Butter prices are rising due to a smaller supply of milk, subsidies for butter exports, and a growing appetite for sweet products, resulting in higher prices for products like ice cream and cheese.
(Updated August 12, 1998)
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