South-Westerns' Economic News Summaries
EconNews Online

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.
GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY
Title  Brief Summary 
Maybe Wanting the Global Population to Fall Wasn’t Such a Good Idea After All
Full Summary 
Demographers used to think that the global fertility rate – the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime – would fall below the population replacement rate by 2025. That’s already happened to about 45% of the global population. As a result, population growth will begin to shrink, but in some places of the world, population will actually decline. That may not be a great outcome.
(Updated August, 2007)
Can Africa Survive by Producing Like Asia?
Full Summary 
Africa, and especially Lesotho, has begun turning to textiles as a way of engineering economic growth around the continent. It has of late been insulated from competition with China as a result of some preferential trade agreements with the US. Can the economic growth continue without the trade sanctions?
(Updated August, 2007)
Cities See the Light (Rail)
Full Summary 
Portland, Oregon, is in an enviable position: The city is a leader in light rail urban transportation. In fact, its MAX system, begun over 20 years ago, is one of the country's largest systems with about 44 miles of track. Other cities are beginning to look at Portland's success, and are hoping to get on the successful train before it leaves the station.
(Updated October, 2006)
Why Is This 18th Century Relic Still Around?
Full Summary 
Britain has taxed property and stock shares for over two hundred years, and Parliament shows no signs of repealing it. A small tax, raising only about 0.8% of total government revenue, the stamp duty nevertheless has shown itself to be remarkably resilient over time.
(Updated October, 2006)
With New Regulations, Monopoly May Become Just a Board Game in Mexico
Full Summary 
The Mexican government recently voted to strengthen existing antitrust laws to increase competition among firms. The new regulations should have a significant negative impact on local monopolies, opening the doors for competitive U.S. firms.
(Updated June 2006)
Welcome Back to the Bosom of Society…and by the way, That'll Be $127,000.
Full Summary 
At this point, people who have been imprisoned have an increasingly difficult task to become productive members of society. And the discrimination is all legal.
(Updated March 2006)
Do You Have a License to Make Those Ice Cream Cones?
Full Summary 
Recent research indicates that a growing number of occupations require state licensing as a precondition for employment. In fact, twice as many people are now working in licensed positions than those working in unionized jobs, a big twist from 20 years ago. Why?
(Updated March 2006)
If the Feds won’t increase the minimum wage, some states will
Full Summary 
The last time the Federal government increased the minimum wage was in 1997, from $4.25 an hour to $5.15 an hour; subsequent attempts to increase it have stalled in Congress. Some states are now taking the initiative and raising their state minima instead of waiting for Federal legislation.
(Updated February 2006)
SUVs may become less likely to crack when they roll over
Full Summary 
Government regulators suggest increasing roof strength standards on SUVs that were formerly considered smaller, family style vehicles and requiring them to meet the same roof strength standards as larger SUVs must meet. Now, vehicles that weigh 6,000 lbs. must meet the same standards as those that weigh up to 10,000 pounds.
(Updated November 2005)
Katrina Packs Her Punch Far North on the Big Muddy
Full Summary 
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, agricultural commodity traders are still struggling to get their grains and soybeans to port to fulfill export contracts. But they can’t place all of the blame on Katrina.
(Updated November 2005)
This REALLY won’t hurt a bit
Full Summary 
Think about the benefits of being vaccinated against disease. Try to tally all of them up. Sound difficult? Two economists have tried to do just that, in a recently released study.
(Updated November 2005)
To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild (New Orleans): That’s the Economists’ Question
Full Summary 
After New Orleans’ total destruction by Hurricane Katrina, debate arises over what to do with the city’s site. Some have suggested turning New Orleans into a Colonial Williamsburg-type city. Others have suggested giving residents $10,000 and a bus ticket elsewhere, abandoning the real estate to its inevitable home as an extension of the sea. Still others, including the government, have suggested rebuilding to return New Orleans back to its pre-hurricane status.
(Updated October 2005)
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)
Does not smoking make you fat?
Full Summary 
Since the early 1970s, the percentage of Americans who smoked has fallen from 37 percent to 22.5%; during the same period, the percentage of Americans over the age of 20 who are considered obese has increased from 14% to 30%. Is there a connection?
(Updated September, 2005)
It's sunny out. Turn on the solar panels, please...
Full Summary 
The cost of installing solar panels on one's house has been slowly falling, and the government's been helping to reduce the price.
(Updated August, 2005)
Government Considers A 'Botax' for Botox
Full Summary 
Some state governments are considering imposing a tax on a number of cosmetic surgery procedures, from face-lifts to liposuction to Botox injections. This has drawn protests from plastic surgeons who argue that they will be adversely affected by such a tax.
(Updated August, 2005)
Toll-road price increases are forcing people to ride together
Full Summary 
The amount of money people must pay to use particular roads in the US is increasing this year. On over a third of American toll roads, rates are increasing anywhere from 5% to 100%.
(Updated May, 2005)
Funeral directors conspire to fix casket prices.
Full Summary 
Consumer watchdog groups have filed suit against some of the biggest funeral home chains and the top U.S. casket maker, arguing that the organizations have conspired to inflate the casket costs.
(Updated June, 2005)
All the news that's fit to print--as long as it's from more than one publisher...
Full Summary 
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating proposed plans by some major newspaper publishers to buy additional newspapers.
(Updated April, 2005)
College education just got more expensive.
Full Summary 
Beginning with the 2005-06 academic year, the government seeks to save approximately $300 million by giving out smaller Pell Grants to recipients, and to eliminate funding for some prospective students.
(Updated March, 2005)
Brother, can you spare a cheap fare anywhere in the US?
Full Summary 
Southwest Airlines can fly anywhere it wants, as long as it's not more than one state away from its home airbase. Or so says the Wright Amendment.
(Updated February, 2005)
Give a kidney; cut your taxes.
Full Summary 
Donated organs are in short supply, and governments think they have a partial solution to the problem: offer tax breaks to donors."
(Updated February, 2005)
Europeans Discover That You Have to Live to Work so You Work to Live
Full Summary 
: Europeans have always chosen in favor of less work and more leisure. Compared to U.S. workers, European employees work fewer hours in the week and take more time for vacation. The average number of vacation days in the US is 12 days, while in Germany the average is 30 days, and in France it is 25 days. However, EU nations are discovering that fewer hours worked does not translate into more workers working, or into greater competitiveness globally.
(Updated August, 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)
Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg: Automakers Push a New Gas Tax
Full Summary 
While many politicians favor a new tax on gasoline to raise revenue and increase fuel standards at the same time, few have actually introduced measures to do so. Detroit auto manufacturers are supporting the idea of a $0.50 increase in the gas tax, however, as a means of instilling greater fuel economy in its automotive fleets.
(Updated June, 2004)
How Much is a Manatee Worth?
Full Summary 
A new book co-written by an economist and a law professor takes issue with the conventional notion of cost/benefit analysis, arguing that it is rigged in favor of lower regulation.
(Updated April 7, 2004)
AEP and Cinergy (Sort of) Jump on the Global Warming Bandwagon
Full Summary 
While the Bush Administration remains steadfast against any increases in carbon emissions regulations, some energy firms are increasingly recognizing that global warming is a significant problem for companies and their shareholders.
(Updated May, 2004)
Brazilians Get Paid to Go to School
Full Summary 
Brazilian parents who make sure that their children stay in school and get regular medical checkups now qualify for monthly cash payments. The goal is to ensure that families are investing in the future of their children, rather than having the children work during the day.
(Updated February, 2004)
You Really Gotta Love Driving to go on these Roads
Full Summary 
Japan's highway system is made up entirely of toll roads. The only problem: The tolls are too high for people to want to use the roads.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
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)
Sotheby's President Going, Going, Gone
Full Summary 
Sotheby's president has pleaded guilty to fixing commission fees in a conspiracy with Christie's auction house. They also agreed not to make charitable donations to potential sellers, and not to give interest-free loans to sellers. The Department of Justice emphasized it would prosecute price-fixing wherever it occurred.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
No Net Taxes
Full Summary 
A national commission is recommending that there should be no new internet taxes, thereby benefiting consumers and "the new economy". However, some members are concerned that sales tax revenues will be reduced, and traditional retailers will be disadvantaged.
(Updated May 1, 2000)
Deliverymen Do Not Carry Home the Bacon
Full Summary 
Certain grocery and drug stores in affluent New York suburbs are facing a lawsuit accusing them of underpaying deliverymen who carry shopping home for customers. They should be paid $354 for their 69-hour weeks, but in fact make $60 to $120.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
Sewage in Paradise
Full Summary 
The water around the Florida Keys is polluted. The cause is antiquated sewer lines, which have not kept pace with a rising population and tourism. The Key West City Commission is asking voters to approve borrowing to fund a new sewer system.
(Updated December 1, 1999)
Messing About On the River
Full Summary 
Waterway accidents are increasing due to increases in the number of boats, water rage, drunk-driving, inexperience, lack of regulation, and decreased Coast Guard resources. In response, harbors are increasing patrols and sobriety checks and states are requiring licenses and insurance.
(Updated November 1, 1999)
Tax Revenues Go Up in Smoke
Full Summary 
Anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices are causing cigarette sales to fall in Florida. As a result, the state's cigarette tax revenues are falling, with the effect that local governments are receiving smaller transfers from the state.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Duty-Free Sales No Longer Free
Full Summary 
The European Union has banned duty-free purchases of alcohol, cigarettes and other goods on air and sea journeys within the Union. The restoration of taxes is expected to lead to losses of revenue for whisky producers and ferryboats among others.
(Updated August 1, 1999)
Paying the Price of Pollution
Full Summary 
Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules require each auto maker to sell a mix of vehicles that meets a minimum fuel efficiency standard. Some foreign producers of large cars treat the fines as a cost of doing business, while US firms try to avoid being prosecuted because of possible lawsuits from angry shareholders.
(Updated August 1, 1999)
American Airlines' Tactics Alleged To Be Un-American
Full Summary 
American Airlines has been accused by the federal government of engaging in predatory pricing in order to force low-cost competitors out of certain markets. American counters that it was only trying to offer competitive prices.
(Updated July 1, 1999)
Raised Wages, Erased Jobs
Full Summary 
Alan Greenspan testified to Congress that the minimum wage should not be raised. While employers might be willing to pay it now, later, if the economy slows, they would lay off less productive minimum-wage workers, especially teenagers.
(Updated April 1, 1999)
Tortilla Troubles
Full Summary 
The Mexican government is planning to end subsidies on tortilla production and to remove price controls. There is skepticism whether the government will be able to save any money as a result.
(Updated February 1, 1999)
Debate Over Patients' Bill of Rights Costly
Full Summary 
Congress has been considering giving health maintenance organization patients more power. This has led interest groups to spend huge amounts of money on lobbying, advertising and political support.
(Updated January 1, 1999)
Florida Fees Frustration
Full Summary 
Construction fees are levied in parts of Florida to help pay for congestion costs and transportation improvements, but in St. Petersburg, businesses are being deterred at a time when the City wants to generate more employment opportunities.
(Updated January 1, 1999)
Maximizing and Minimizing the Minimum Wage
Full Summary 
The U.S. Senate has voted against an increase in the minimum wage. Lobbyists and Republicans thought it was 'too much, too soon'. The political damage to the Republican Party in forthcoming elections was expected to be reduced by the approval of tax cuts.
(Updated November 11, 1998)
Market Meddling
Full Summary 
Some Russian territories have introduced price controls to curb inflation and panic buying. However, businesses are finding it hard to cover costs, and consumers are suffering shortages as goods are sent to uncontrolled markets.
(Updated November 11, 1998)
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