337 (3 October 2018)

Welcome to week 337!  The articles below caught my attention this week.  What are intended to be relatively objective “briefs” are preceded by dashes (——–), whereas additional material or relatively subjective comments are preceded by asterisks (********).  Article titles preceded by [SR] require a subscription to be read in their entirety, although complete articles might be found by an Internet title search.

Please let me know if you have questions or comments.

This week has been disrupted a bit.  Rather than delaying “publication,” I have decided to send out TIF Weekly with minimal description and commentary.

(10 September 2018):Review of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, by Sarah Smarsh.”

——–Raised by those who voted against their interests, “Smarsh is an invaluable guide to flyover country, worth 20 abstract-noun-espousing op-ed columnists.”  Her book “is one of a growing number of important works—including” Evicted by Matthew Desmond and Janesville, by Amy Goldstein.  Perhaps these books “merit their own section in nonfiction aisles across the country: America’s postindustrial decline.”

********Matthew Desmond’s recent article (September 11th) in The New York Times, “Americans Want to Believe Jobs are the Solution to Poverty.  They’re Not” relates well to Smarsh’s book.  He makes a good point when he writes: “If you believe that people are poor because they are not working, then the solution is not to make work pay, but to make the poor work—to force them to clock in somewhere, anywhere, and log as many hours as they can.”  To counter this all-too-familiar attitude, he argues that “When it comes to poverty, a willingness to work is not the problem, and work itself is no longer the solution.”

(26 September 2018): How Dixon Ticonderoga has blurred lines of where its pencils are madeThe Washington Post

********That “Made in America” pencil probably isn’t given a common-sense view.  I found it interesting that there was a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil on the dining room table when I read this article.

(27 September 2018):The Metal That Started Trump’s Trade WarBloomberg Businessweek

********This is an opportunity to learn a bit about the U.S. aluminum market and the role of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which is being used to rationalize the imposition of tariffs in the name of national security.  Few companies are happy with the tariffs—the auto industry and brewers are especially unhappy—but Century Aluminum, whose larger shareholder is Switzerland-based Glencore Plc, is very happy as it means its massive stockpile of foreign-made aluminum in the U.S. as worth much more and its manufacturing prospects are looking up.

********Of related interest is “The Real Pain From Trump’s Tariffs Trickles Down to ConsumersBloomberg Businessweek.

(1 October 2018):Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for LifeThe New York Times

********Small changes in neighborhood, for roughly the same geographical area, can make large changes in life (earnings) outcomes.  The Seattle Housing Authority is offering vouchers to enable families to move to better neighborhoods.

(1 October 2018):The World’s Most Beautiful BatteryBloomberg.com

********High in the Alps, the Kaprun hydroelectric station stores water that can be released to generate power.  Time-of-day energy prices makes this a profitable practice, especially at a time when the use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind are expanding their contribution to the energy supply.

(2 October 2018):Monopsony: When there’s only one employer in townMarketplace

********When there is only one employer, or there is one very powerful employer, wages will be less—this typically is an issue in rural areas and tends to affect women disproportionately.  Monopsony is especially common in (1) retail and tech, (2) K-12 school districts, and (3) franchising with “no-poach” rules.

May you have a good week!

Bruce

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