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.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Title  Brief Summary 
Is Legalization and Prevention Better Than Getting Tough With Drugs?
Full Summary 
Three years ago, the British government decided to downgrade the legal status of cannabis (marijuana) from a Class B to Class C drug, reflecting attitudes toward the drug. Now the government, in the midst of a “get tough on drugs” campaign, is considering reversing the move. Is it a good idea?
(Updated August, 2007)
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)
Sometimes A Higher Price is Better for Sales
Full Summary 
While much of the country is seeing housing values fall from their recent peaks, the wealthy population is enjoying a very different dynamic: the value of their homes is rising.
(Updated July, 2007)
Iran, a World Leader in Production of Oil, Considers Rationing Gasoline
Full Summary 
Iran subsidizes its citizens' gasoline consumption, such that the price paid by consumers is only 1/5th the actual market price. But now it's considering not only removing the subsidy, but also rationing gasoline consumption. Why? Because while Iran has lots of oil, it's missing that middle step between crude oil and gasoline - refining capacity.
(Updated April, 2007)
Castro Suggests that US Ethanol Emphasis May be Bad Globally, and He May be Right
Full Summary 
Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro recently wrote an article chastising the US for its emphasis on corn-based ethanol as an alternative fuel. He argued that it was bad for world food production to emphasize this, and he may be correct.
(Updated April, 2007)
California Residents Spread Out Over Multiple States
Full Summary 
The term for it is strange: Californication. It's the term given to the process by which people leave California in such high numbers that the places where they settle tend to look much like the California they left. And it's not stopping.
(Updated March, 2007)
No One Wants to Visit the US
Full Summary 
Since 2000, the number of travelers to the US (excluding Canada and Mexico) has fallen by one-sixth. Further, despite a weak dollar, travel from Western Europe has fallen by 3% last year. Why? No one wants the hassle of coming here.
(Updated February, 2007)
People are Discovering that They Can Make Money off of Other People's Desire to be Fit
Full Summary 
Surveys document that 25% of Americans want to feel more "in balance" with their lives. And a 35 year-old is more likely to feel this way than a 65 year-old. Can we say, new industry? Yes, we can.
(Updated January, 2007)
Warmer Winter Helps the Little Guy, and Also Helps the Big Nation
Full Summary 
The warm weather we've been experiencing this season has significant repercussions across the economy, from allowing those with low incomes a little more to spend on other goods, to increasing uncertainty regarding our nation's agricultural production.
(Updated January, 2007)
How Do Steelmakers Spell Relief? I-N-C-R-E-A-S-E S-U-P-P-L-Y
Full Summary 
Since 2000, the price of a metric ton of iron ore has almost tripled, from about $30 per metric ton to over $80. And there's no relief in sight for steelmakers, the users of the ore.
(Updated January, 2007)
Rising Tide of Prosperity Lifts Some Boats, Consumes Others
Full Summary 
U.S. citizens are paying an increasing percentage of disposable income for shelter (homes) nationwide. Housing prices are rising in Manhattan, San Francisco, and Olathe, Kansas. Olathe, Kansas?? Isn't housing supposed to be cheaper in the Midwest?
(Updated November, 2006)
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)
U.S. Cotton Growers face Political and Weather-Related Storms
Full Summary 
Drought does terrible things to a cotton crop. In fact, cotton doesn't like rain; it doesn't like dry weather; it doesn't like too much water; it doesn't like too little moisture. American farmers are used to dealing with all of those factors. And if other nations can convince the U.S. to cut its cotton subsidies, American farmers have to deal with lower income and additional weather risk, as they become more susceptible to changes in world cotton prices and in the weather.
(Updated August, 2006)
VOIP Me Tonight, Okay
Full Summary 
In 2005, more than 5.5 million consumers subscribed to internet-based telephone lines-three times as many as subscribed the year before. By 2010, the industry projects that over ¼ of U.S. phone users will use the Internet to place phone calls. The downside? This year, landline usage fell by 150,000 calls per week.
(Updated July 2006)
Should we see King Kong for $8, or The Ring 2 for $4?
Full Summary 
Fly on an airplane, and you can bet that you didn't pay the same airfare as the person sitting next to you. Go to a restaurant before 5:30, and pay an "early bird" reduced dinner price for the exact same meal that someone else will pay triple that price for at 7:30. Why shouldn't the same pricing strategy apply to moviegoers?
(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)
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)
The Okies in the 30’s, the Mexicans Today
Full Summary 
In John Steinbeck’s classic novel of the depression called The Grapes of Wrath, Oklahoma residents wiped out by the dustbowl (the Okies) moved to California to earn their daily living picking agricultural products; today, it’s the Mexicans. Same story, same conclusion, apparently.
(Updated October, 2005)
Want a Job? Try Mining in Australia
Full Summary 
Would you want to work in an industry that requires specialized skills; demands long, sometimes, dangerous hours; requires you to work at remote, often deserted locations, and that suffers from uncertain effects from business cycles? Well, mining companies have jobs for you!
(Updated October, 2005)
Who wouldn't want a fridge that can hold a pony keg?
Full Summary 
The "Freezerator" refrigerator/freezer from Whirlpool has a tread pattern on the front for just over $1,000. A Ten50 fridge has Harley-Davidson flames and handles that look like motorcycle handles. It costs about $6,000. Who buys these things? Why, men, of course.
(Updated September, 2005)
Goodbye Y2K, hello DST
Full Summary 
When daylight-savings time expands by four weeks beginning in 2007, many electronic devices could give consumers big headaches. DVD recorders and VCRs may be programmed with current daylight-saving time zones, but not for the new, expanded daylight savings zones. Computer calendars won't immediately recognize the change, and some people may miss meetings or may find that their TVs taped the wrong shows.
(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)
Kodak Struggles To Learn From Its Past Mistakes
Full Summary 
Around 5 years ago, Kodak decided to move away from its core business of working with silver halide film, and enter the world of digital photography. It's learning that these may have been smart steps taken a little too late.
(Updated August, 2005)
The price of oil just keeps going up, up, up...
Full Summary 
Global oil demand is expected by grow globally by 2 million barrels a day in 2005, but supply will grow by less than half that rate.
(Updated July, 2005)
Mexican emigrants continue to take the majority of low-wage U.S. jobs
Full Summary 
The U.S. created 2.5 million jobs in 2004. Forty percent, or fully 1 million, of these jobs were filled by Latinos and Latinas. Eighty-eight percent, or 880,000 of the new jobs were filled by recent U.S. immigrants.
(Updated July, 2005)
Low-wage US jobs continue to drift to Mexico
Full Summary 
Last year saw 2.5 million jobs created in the US; 40% of those jobs were taken by Latinos. Of those million jobs taken by Latinos, 88% went to recent U.S. immigrants.
(Updated July, 2005)
Live by the coal, die by the coal.
Full Summary 
Chinese energy officials must rethink their country's reliance on coal as supplies of it begin to run out.
(Updated July, 2005)
In Britain, everyone wants to be a doctor. Really.
Full Summary 
Salaries for general practitioners in Britain have increased to around £90,000, or about US$170,000. This represents a 50% increase over the 2002-03 average salary of £61,000. Why? Thank the British government.
(Updated July, 2005)
Those people who need the avian-flu drug the most can't pay for it.
Full Summary 
For those who want to purchase a drug to combat the potentially deadly avian flu, wealth and income have become more important than need.
(Updated July, 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)
U.S. newspaper subscriptions are declining
Full Summary 
Daily newspaper circulation fell by 1.9% in the six months ending March 31, 2004: the largest drop in circulation in a decade.
(Updated June, 2005)
Be careful what you ask for; it may not be what you wanted
Full Summary 
In the constant struggle between economic interests and national security, American workers are concerned that foreign workers in this country will steal their jobs. However, imposing limits on foreign workers may have additional, unconsidered costs. The limits on H-2B work visas, which allow foreign workers to work in the US, are being reached with repercussions in a variety of non-related industries.
(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)
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)
A Postal Rate Increase? AGAIN???
Full Summary 
The US Postal Service will probably be seeking an increase in its postage rates to cover what it calls "inflationary pressures."
(Updated January, 2005)
Yes, Virginia, that is a cheap flat-screen TV!
Full Summary 
As the Christmas buying season gears up, one thing is notably heading down: flat-screen TV prices. Some TV's, such as Sharp 32-inch LCD TVs that debuted at the beginning of the year at $5,000 are now selling for $4,000 or less. Competitors are selling for less than $2,000.
(Updated January, 2005)
This flashlight uses…any battery you want!
Full Summary 
Energizer has come up with a new addition to the flashlight market: a flashlight that will work with any of three different sizes of batteries.
(Updated December, 2004)
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)
OPEC tries to prove that it's still the Alpha-leader.
Full Summary 
OPEC has agreed to increase its targeted oil production rate by 1 million barrels a day, and wants other nations outside the cartel to do the same. However, since OPEC already produces more than the "new target" of 27 million barrels, few consider the agreement to be anything more than a symbolic gesture.
(Updated November, 2004)
Conservation? What's That?
Full Summary 
Even though the price of oil has increased more than 40% since last year, U.S. demand for gasoline has not shown any sign of abating.
(Updated November, 2004)
Want an iPod? Buy a laptop.
Full Summary 
Across college campuses nationwide, students are increasingly purchasing Apple computers.
(Updated November, 2004)
My shrimp tastes better than your shrimp!
Full Summary 
U.S. shrimp producers are trying to stop the onslaught of imported foreign shrimp by giving U.S.-caught seafood a personality. Florida shrimp has "a distinctive Florida taste," while imported fish has an "iodine-y aftertaste."
(Updated October, 2004)
My French-Mocha-Vanilla-Double-shot-Latte-Espressochino with non-fat milk and cinnamon is going to cost HOW MUCH?
Full Summary 
For the first time in 4 years, Starbucks is raising its prices across is menu by 4-5%. The good thing - for Starbucks - is that most people probably won't care about the additional 10-15 cents that their treats will cost.
(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)
Rental Cars: They're not just at airports anymore
Full Summary 
The biggest growth in car rental agencies isn't coming at airports; it's coming instead from the suburbs. Lining up next to coffee shops and bank branches in strip malls in suburban landscapes, rental agencies are quick to take space in the suburbs.
(Updated September, 2004)
Brazil is quickly becoming America's bread-basket
Full Summary 
Brazil's ability to produce many agricultural products at low prices is making farmers in other countries stand up, notice, and start to fear the worst. Already the largest exporter of soybeans, Brazil is quickly becoming a world leader in production and export of sugar, coffee, orange juice and cattle products.
(Updated September, 2004)
"What Would You do For a Kick-(the)-Khat Bar?"
Full Summary 
The average cost of a public university education will increase by about 9% next year, compared to about 14% last year. The average private-university cost will increase by about 6% for the 2004-05 academic year.
(Updated August, 2004)
It's Getting a Little Cheaper to Attend School - But Not Much
Full Summary 
The average cost of a public university education will increase by about 9% next year, compared to about 14% last year. The average private-university cost will increase by about 6% for the 2004-05 academic year.
(Updated August, 2004)
The Vacation Party's Over
Full Summary 
Business travel has begun to pick up after a three-year lull, and with increased business travel comes the end of discounts and travel packages designed to encourage people to take vacations.
(Updated August, 2004)
With Health Care, US Learns That You Don't Always Get What You Pay For?
Full Summary 
Recent studies demonstrate that while U.S. citizens spend far more than any other country's citizens on health care services - about 14% of GDP compared to 8% for other developed nations - U.S. consumers receive fewer services and lower quality health care in some health concerns.
(Updated August, 2004)
Stadiums are Good for Making Your Home More Expensive, but not for Helping People Find Work
Full Summary
Economists have tried repeatedly to justify or refute politicians' claims that building new sports stadiums will positively affect jobs, tourism, and local economic growth. However, they have never been successful. They have, however, found a positive relationship between sports stadiums and the cost of housing in the area surrounding such stadiums.
(Updated July, 2004)
It's Getting Easier to Be Green - and more profitable, too
Full Summary
More and more builders in the Boston area are efficiently using natural resources and energy in mind. So-called "green" projects have gained encouragement not only by the public sector, but by private firms and individuals as well.
(Updated July, 2004)
I'll Replace That Hip for $49.95!
Full Summary
Apollo Hospital Enterprises in India now boasts a new service in its 37 hospitals spread across Southeast Asia: providing cut-rate health services to foreign individuals looking to save money.
(Updated July, 2004)
Airlines are in for a Long Road This Summer
Full Summary
The airline industry as a whole is anticipating a brutal traveling season this summer, as it faces increased fuel costs, increased operating costs, and increased competition from low-cost carriers.
(Updated June, 2004)
Hey, Hon! Get me a Happy Meal while you get one for the kids!
Full Summary
In response to changing consumer trends toward healthier eating, McDonald's announced that on May 6, 2004, it would roll out Adult Happy Meals, called "Go Active!" meals, in all 13,600 U.S. domestic McDonald's restaurants.
(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)
Yeah….Um…. I Want to Return $1.6 Billion in Planes?
Full Summary
As consumers shift away from air delivery of goods to less-expensive ground delivery, UPS is negotiating with Airbus to cancel up to US $1.6 billion in A300-600 aircraft orders.
(Updated April, 2004)
It May be Efficient; I Just Don't Want to See It
Full Summary
While many people support the use of solar power, they don't want their neighbors to use unsightly solar panels to collect solar energy.
(Updated April, 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)
The Railroads
Are So Busy, They Don't Know if They're Coming or Going
Full Summary
Years of retrenching in the railroad industry is coming back to haunt it. Reductions in demand for railroad freight transportation over the last few years caused reductions in personnel and equipment. This year, as a result of the surge in agriculture and in the economy overall, the industry is struggling to keep up with increased demand for transportation of bulk goods.
(Updated January, 2004)
You Can't Afford to Get Sick Anymore
Full Summary
The price of health care rose by 13.9% this year, and there are no signs that the increase-or rate of increases in the future-will be temporary.
(Updated November, 2003)
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)
Here to Work, and Here to Stay
Full Summary
Increased U.S. border security has created an unusual problem - migrant workers who entered the country illegally are finding that they can't leave, and so are staying. This increase is taxing the public sector programs in communities in which illegal immigrants live.
(Updated October 17, 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)
The Blackout of 2003 May Increase Gasoline Prices
Full Summary
As a result of the recent blackout that affected 50 million people and seven gasoline refineries in the US and Canada, prices of gasoline may rise by as much as 10 cents a gallon.
(Updated September 10, 2003)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game, but Not on the Weekends
Full Summary
Baseball teams are turning to "variable pricing," in which ticket prices vary by anticipated demand.
(Updated September 10, 2003)
AT&T Wireless Cuts Costs to Gain Long-Run Profits
Full Summary
AT&T hopes to become more efficient and more profitable by continuing to shed its workforce and cut costs elsewhere.
(Updated August 27, 2003)
Lumber Prices Rise To Help Slumping Industry
Full Summary
Lumber prices have staged a rebound of late, increasing as a result of increasing demand and reduced supply.
(Updated August 27, 2003)
Early Release
Full Summary
United Air Lines filed the largest bankruptcy in aviation history in December of 2002. Now, only five months into the new year, the company is talking about operating outside court protection much earlier than expected..
(Updated June 2, 2003)
Baseball Prices Cause Home Run
Full Summary
The cost of attending a New York Yankee game has spiraled to $197.09 for a family of four. Increasingly, some fans prefer to stay at home or watch the game in sports bars.
(Updated October 10, 2002)
PC Price Cuts
Full Summary
Computer sales showed a surge over the holiday season of 2001, stimulated by steep price discounts for computers and related products, in spite of the recession and the growth in popularity of home entertainment systems.
(Updated January 15, 2002)
What a Difference a Day Makes
Full Summary 
The market for bio-terrorism products was insignificant before September 11, 2001. Costs were high and consumer interest was low. Following the attacks, the government and consumers are seeking treatments and vaccines.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
Real-Time Pricing Produces Real Savings
Full Summary 
Time-of-day electricity pricing encourages consumers to use appliances at off-peak times. Utilities therefore do not need to buy as much power on the expensive spot market and fewer power plants need to be built.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Detroit Depopulates
Full Summary 
The 2000 Census reveals that Detroit and some other cities declined in the 1990s due mainly to downsizing in manufacturing. But other parts of Michigan grew as other industries expanded.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
That Sinking Feeling
Full Summary 
Retail sales figures for February provided further evidence of a weakening economy and decline in consumer confidence. The weakness in retail sales could provide added reason for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates again.
(Updated April 1, 2001)
Air Traffic Growth Loses Altitude
Full Summary
Air traffic growth slowed in October 2000 to just 2 percent over a year before. The causes are stated to be consumer fears of operational problems and Middle East violence, fewer discounted tickets, and cuts in travel budgets.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Is Oil Well in Texas?
Full Summary 
Oil production in West Texas is booming again now that oil prices have risen to the levels of the early 1980s. It is economic to open new and old wells that were uneconomic before. However, activity has not rebounded to prior heights due to uncertainty about the future.
(Updated October 1, 2000)
Racetrack Owners Have Fences to Jump Before The Home Straight
Full Summary 
Attendance at racetracks has been slumping for decades due to the popularity of other sports and alternative forms of gambling. Nevertheless, betting is increasing. Track owners hope to bring the betting back to the track by turning their facilities into entertainment centers and by providing shopping plazas.
(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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Refugees Return to Rising Prices
Full Summary 
Refugees returning to Kosovo are finding that food prices are double or triple their previous levels. Staple foods particularly are in short supply. .
(Updated August 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)
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)
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)
Pecan Buyers to Shell Out More
Full Summary 
The heat and floods of 1998 are threatening the supply of pecans from Texas. However, distributers are buying nuts from other states and Mexico, while producers are releasing nuts from 1997 that have been kept in cold storage.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Video Games Competition Heats Up
Full Summary 
Sony and Nintendo have decreased the prices of their video game systems. Sales have increased significantly. The trend may be short-lived, however, as new hi-tech products come on to the market and computer prices fall.
(Updated October 15, 1998)
Cocaine High is Over: Farmers Have Withdrawal Pains
Full Summary 
Bolivia is attempting to stop the illegal growth of coca plants by giving grants to communities and training to farmers in return for the destruction of their coca fields.
(Updated August 18, 1998)
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