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.
UTILITY AND CONSUMER CHOICE 
Title  Brief Summary 
Technology Doesn’t Always Make the Price Fall
Full Summary 
Is it possible to be willing to pay more for something when you don’t realize that you’re paying for it? Are governments increasing tolls on roads with electronic payments because they can? According to one economist, the answer is yes.
(Updated July, 2007)
The Value of Beauty is in the Statistical Model of the Beholder
Full Summary 
What makes a painting by Gustav Klimt worth $88 million? A later Cezanne worth $37 million, but an early Cezanne for only $1.1 million? Usually those differences get chalked up to that aphorism about beauty being in the eye of the beholder. But an economist at the University of Chicago think that the value of the beauty can be statistically modeled.
(Updated January, 2007)
Do YOU Need Kidnapping Insurance?
Full Summary 
After Charles and Anne Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped in 1932, some insurance companies began selling "kidnap, ransom and extortion (K&R)" insurance to individuals and corporations. Such policies cover ransom and related costs, counseling, family travel costs, death benefits and lost wages. Sales of such policies are on the rise.
(Updated September, 2006)
Executive Options Are Like Medicine: We May not Like Them, but They're Usually Good for Us
Full Summary 
Recent scandals involving the "backdating" of stock options for executives has called the use of stock options to motivate top managers into question. This article suggests that, while some people have used the incentives for their own gain, we need not throw out the entire system when the system itself isn't flawed.
(Updated August, 2006)
Insurance Companies-Economics 101 and Policy Revisions
Full Summary 
2005's storm season with its star attractions Katrina and Rita-following on the heels of the very active 2004 storm season-- caused almost $55 billion in damage. This year's storm season is also predicted to be particularly active, though not as bad as last year. In the wake of huge payouts associated with past years' hurricanes, insurance companies are coming up with policyholder incentives as the companies revise their policy offerings.
(Updated July, 2006)
Don’t Judge a Piece of Art (Solely) by Its Frame
Full Summary 
Imagine that you have purchased a work of art, for what you believe to be a really good price. Now imagine that you hate the frame. It’s not original, doesn’t have that “special something” that makes the picture stand out. Is the picture really worth the price you paid if you hate the frame?
(Updated June, 2006)
Can you stop at the corner—I Need a Burrito, a Big Gulp, and a Flu Shot
Full Summary 
Now! In stores near you, clinics are beginning to pop up, offering walk-in health services at a fraction of the cost of visiting emergency rooms or your doctor's office. Approximately 100 such clinics around the country are already in business; parent companies hope to expand to over 2,000 mini-clinics in the next three years.
(Updated May, 2006)
Is Wal-Mart good for you?
Full Summary 
Wal-Mart earned over $312 billion in revenues last year, employed 1.3 million workers in the U.S. alone, and had 3,800 stores in the U.S.-and counting. So is it doing any good?
(Updated March, 2006)
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)
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)
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)
In America now, everyone's a millionaire...sort of
Full Summary 
While Wal-Mart and other mass retailers have struggled this holiday season, the high-end luxury market has flourished. Bergdorf Goodman's, Nieman-Marcus, Nordstrom's and a variety of high-end boutique retailers are seeing huge sales increases this season.
(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)
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)
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)
How Many Consumers Does It Take to Screw in an Energy-Efficient Light Bulb?
Full Summary
Energy prices are predicted to increase significantly in 2004, resulting from a significant increase in demand. Higher prices are prompting a move toward greater energy efficiency in the home and in consumers' purchases.
(Updated January 4, 2004)
Want People to Lose Weight? Tax Them
Full Summary
In an attempt to reduce the level of obesity in society, a lump-sum tax is imposed, out of which people can receive rewards for maintaining healthy eating habitss.
(Updated August 27, 2003)
Sales Slump
Full Summary
Retail sales are growing more slowly due to higher interest rates and spiraling gas prices. The trend is expected to continue, forcing clearance sales.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
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