Econo-Girl hears you, Iggy, but maintains there is no harm in asking. You don't get fired for just asking.

The kid in question would undoubtedly earn more as a waiter than the theatre job. And skilled, reliable people to run your box office don't grow on trees.

But that raises a temperment issue. Econo-Girl is known for her requests for more money. Sometimes quite substantial requests. As a former beau once said, "My, that's bold." And bold she is.

Econo-girl knows that women earn less than men do for the same work. This is true almost across the board. So she is never shy about wanting more and asking for it. She just assumes that somewhere there is a man in the organization that is making more than would be given to her. So she asks.

All that ties into the glass ceiling. Slate.com reviewed a book called:

"Blindsided Ambition - Diagnosing a crisis in young women's lives" by Christine Stansell

The book examines the glass ceiling and how women participate in sidelining their own careers. One salient point was that post-adolescent females in most white middle-class families are not applauded for their professional successes. So women start to get their applause somewhere else. The men are, but not the women.

In Econo-girl's family, performance evaluations are discussed at the Thanksgiving Day table. Not a joke, guys. Seriously. So we would be a marked exception to this generality because there are only girls in the family and a good evaluation is very much commended.

The book review talks about how women are loathe to be one of those pushy, demanding, credit-grabbing women. But that is what men do to get noticed and recognition. And somehow Econo-Girl tends to act like a man in this respect also. Yes, she certainly irritates those around her. But not getting recognition for what she has done feels worse.

Women in general are annoying because so many of them are deferential to men and can't even see they are doing it. They allow themselves to be interrupted. They allow their ideas taken by others. They are more concerned with being 'nice' than taking care of themselves. Like all these women who say they are not feminists. You're working, aren't you? Don't you want to be paid the same as your male coworkers? Apparantly not.


My Tenant, The Actor

No fooling. Econo-Girl's upstairs tenant is an actor. So when we ask for the rent or his share of the utilities, he looks like we are about to beat him with a two-by-four. It can be an effective technique.

Part of the arts scene is that 'I am starving' routine that they put themselves through. So Econo-Girl was talking to the kid about his job and why is he working nights again, and it comes out that he wants more money to do that. But get this, only 50 cents more an hour. He is being paid $9.50 now. So Econo-Girl told him to ask for $12.00. He was adament that he wouldn't get it. I said, don't quit before you try. These types all do. They are lousy negotiators.

You can ask, I told him. So he is going to ask.

It just burns Econo-Girl to no end that DC is stuffed with these non-profits that lie, steal and cheat the young people that work for them. AND they skim 10% off the top of whatever grants they get for their own pockets. Meanwhile the kids are starving. Something should be done, really.


We're Hitting the Wall

Econo-Girl has a truly dull job that she despises. But it is a safe job.
And if the folks who wrote this are any indication, the U.S., and the world,
is about to hit a wall:


Econo-Girl doesn't worry too much about her house being worth less than its
purchase price because it has doubled in 'value.' Put another way, if the
'value' of Econo-Girl's house declines that much there will be disaster on
everybody's doorstep and the house loss will be the least of it.

And with this gloom and nay-saying, exactly who out there is sinking money
into a house now? I mean, don't they read?

Since her Y2K consulting days, Econo-Girl has been a bit of a survivalist.
Not one of those nut jobs, although Leisure Lad may differ on that one. But
shouldn't there be a way to heat your home if all electricity and gas are
out? Shouldn't you have a plan?

What if instead of all infrastructure being inoperable, we sit through
another Great Depression? We have several rooms that we could rent out.
Our house has two chimneys, one of which has a pellet stove.

Or is all this musing only a distraction from total boredom? Leisure Lad
thinks I'm not happy unless I have something to worry about, and the end of
civilization is a more harmless preoccupation than most. So he doesn't

The Long Run

Recent data on house prices shows houses on sale for longer periods of time, and even downright reductions in home prices to get a house off the market. Econo-Girl is a bit upset that her thoughts are now mainstream. An article in the Washington Post gives really good examples of the real estate slow-down as it hits D.C. It seems people don't want to pay $1.9 million for a house and then have to rehab it. Imagine that.


Rational Actors

Special thanks to Rene the Rugrat for tipping Econo-Girl off about the following paper. Cite at bottom.

Econo-Girl is interested in the quotes of a drug-dealer in terms of practical economics:

“Would you stand around here when all this s— [shooting] is going on? No, right? So if I gonna be asked to put my life on the line, then front me the cash, man. Pay me more‘cause it ain’t worth my time to be here when [the gangs are] warring.” Econo-Girl can just see the street economist trying to break it down so the egghead understands.

“Ain’t no way nobody gonna come ‘round here looking for their rock [crack] if they know they gonna get shot. People got too many options, man, they got too many n------that they can buy they s— from, so why come to us if we can’t keep s— safe for ‘em?”

“You think I wanta be selling drugs on the street my whole life? No way. But I know these n------ [above me] are making more money, and it’s like, people don’t last longdoing this s—. So you know, I figure I got a chance to move up. But if not, s—, I get me a job doin’ something else.”

The cost/benefit analysis is sad. They don't value living enough to stay clear of drug dealing altogether. They accept the risk of death to make a little more money. And what this article shows is only a little more money and the chance for a lot more is what people deal drugs for.

"It's a war out here, man. I mean everyday people struggling to survive, so you know, we just do what we can. We ain't got no choice, and if that means getting killed, well s---, it’s what n------ do around here to feed their family."

All these excerpts were from An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances
by Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh
NBER Working Paper SeriesWorking Paper 6592

Econo-Girl Dream

Econo-Girl had a dream last night that she got a notice in the mail that her major student loan had not been paid for eight months and she owed $2300 on it. In the same dream, Econo-Girl had to sell her house because she no longer could afford it.

Leisure Lad encouraged reporting of these dreams because of the bizarre specificity. He said his dreams were only little babies playing on the floor who turned into a dozen little men running around the room.

So who's weirder?

The odd thing about Econo-Girl's dream is that she paid all her student loans off over a year ago. And if she rented most of the rooms in her house, she could mostly pay the mortgage. Wonder what this all means?

Perhaps it is because she read The Economist again, I've said it before but it bears repeating: those people need anti-depressants. While Econo-Girl herself confesses to a bit of catastrophizing for dramatic effect, those Economist people are pathological.

A sample:

"As if to complete its transformation from drug-dealers' playground to mainstream metropolis, Miami also has an all-American property boom."

See? They can't say anything nice without being nasty.

"That is a fair tribute to a place that has put a lot of effort into smartening itself up. But even the world's greatest cities can have property crashes."

Or read this on America's current accound deficit: "The inevitable correction, when it comes, is likely to be all the more painful. When financial conditions tighten, investors are sure to become more discriminating. Sooner or later, the traffic lights will turn red."

You just know they are panting for the disaster. Well, so is Econo-Girl, truth be told. But am I that bad? Let's hope not.


Our Side Of The Border

Mexico. Drugs. Blame. Scapegoating.

There is a great book that was reviewed on NPR called "Down By The River" or something. It outlined all the information related to the execution of a DEA agent by someone, we don't quite know whom. Econo-Girl gave the book away to some bonehead, a big mistake.

And basically, the book talked about how the U.S. Government did not really do anything about the killing. It also says the U.S. never mentions how the drugs get from the border to Chicago or New York. And while it is fun to blame others, there needs to be some accountability there on the part of the U.S. Government.

George Bush, a fool in most respects, hit the nail on the head when he brought up the issue of U.S. consumption being the driver of the entire problem. It's true. If no one here wanted cocaine or heroin it wouldn't be a multi-billion-dollar business.

As an aside, the U.S. dollar has long been the exclusive currency for drug dealing internationally, but it is being replaced by the Euro.

Personally, Econo-Girl thinks that efforts to arrest the small-time personal-use buyer would have the most impact. But people get really wrapped up in Mr. Big Dealer. Getting that asshole isn't going to stop anything. A real impact could be made on the DEMAND side of the equation by arresting regular people. When Joe Suburb hears that his neighbor down the street is going down for a ten-year stretch, he will think twice about his casual use. Of course, that would mean middle class people would be filling our prisons. So it will never happen. Wouldn't want to slam someone just like us, would we? Let's just blame the Mexicans and slap them all with the 'corrupt' label. It will make us all feel better.

Economics is at the heart of the drug war. Where are the illegal trafficking economists?


Would Your Rent To Her?

We are renting our downstair apartment out and got this e-mail:

Good morning! I wanted to know the exact address for the property listed at Columbia Heights. Furthermore, do I need to make an appointment to see the property or is it OK to just stop by. Thank you, xxxxx.

I think it's the "furthermore" that really got me.



What Is Inflation Made Of?

My, my. Take a look at the wisdom of an expert:

"Energy is a killer, but if you don't use it, you're not seeing a whole lot of inflation," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, a consulting firm in Holland, Pa.

Wow. Don't you feel better? Many of Econo-Girl's friends use no energy at all. Of course, they are dead, but that doesn't count, does it?

Econo-Girl does not believe that something as systemic as fuel costs for electricity and gasoline can be dismissed so easily when measuring inflation. Because once the fuel-cost increases, eventually the price of everything else will increase also. So the rising fuel costs are future indicators of inflation that is being sown into the economy. Somebody tell Bush.


Mmmmmm. One of the sexiest things about being an economist is the words you get to use. Macrodata. Mmmmm.

If my little dumplings will notice, no less than The New York Times is calling for a real estate slowdown. Click on the link for the title of this post to see the article.

For those of you who remember, Econo-Girl predicted that the real estate bubble will pop in September and the eggheads will notice in October. That's because they only look at macrodata. Poor little economists. To know the real deal, shoe leather is required. The linked article does a good job of summing that up.

The article also downplays a doom scenario after the bubble pops. It mentions that housing will stay on the market longer, making for less competition and no upward pressure on house prices. True enough. However, the article does not mention the effects of a CONTINUED oversupply of housing. People will start listing their houses at prices below market to get them to sell. It won't happen right away. And like the article mentions, yes, sneaky realtors will pull a property off of the market rather than have buyers know how long it sat unsold.

All these tricks will only delay the inevitable crash. And then what? People will not be inclined to spend more than they earn anymore. We might even save, and will certainly pay down debts. So a recession looms, I'm afraid. And other countries, most notably China, will be propelled into recession also.

Prepare for silly fools unloading their houses and discounted prices in about a year or so. The exact timing is dependent on interest rates.

And hats off to the Lazy Iguana, who reminded me to stay the course when I began to waver.



Econo-Girl is doing what she does only a few times a year. She is hiding indoors. The heat just dashing from the car to the grocery store was enough to cause heatstroke. Econo-Girl has had heatstroke before and it was not pleasant.

Water is essential in the dire heat. In fact, water is essential no matter what the weather is.

It isn't unreasonable to think that batteries and advancements in solar panels will relieve the U.S. appetite for oil. Imagine the Middle East situation when no one cares about them at all. Imagine still further that water was increasingly in short supply. Econo-Girl smiles at the thought.

Fights over water are already erupting in the Nevada desert. Which is why Econo-Girl would sell any Las Vegas real estate NOW. The current population levels are not sustainable.

In Africa, water wells are being poisoned by natural minerals. Usable water is increasingly in short supply.

The idea is people fighting for life, not mere economic growth. Ooooh. It should be ugly.



We are officially saving NOTHING in the US. Doesn't it feel good? Does it somehow feel like the Roaring Twenties before the Great Depression?

Economists, when surveyed accross large periods of time, have been shown to be overly pessimistic. Econo-Girl can concede her attraction to doomsday scenarios. After all, isn't it a good feeling to be superior in one's perspective relative to others? Isn't it fun to be saving up that "I told you so"?

So the mice of international balance are gnawing at heels of Americans. How long can we keep it up?

The big implication in the No Savings For Americans news is that a reversal in employment will really have severe impacts on people. They will lose their houses, cars, etc. Kids will be thrown into the streets. People will become Democrats overnight, suddenly seeing the benefits of a social safety net.

Econo-Girl believes that this news must shift the focus to employment figures as a bellweather for the economy, much more so than it has been in the past. It seems EVERYTHING is dependent on Americans keeping their jobs, what with no savings and all. And if we stop spending, then no one will be buying those goods from Asia.

The final question is: how far will self-interest and self-delusion go? There are a LOT of people who are needing the current balance to work.


Econo-Girl is finally doing what she should have done from the beginning. She is looking elsewhere for a job. Her goal is to join the capitalist wilderness as a beast of the night. That is the long run. For now, she is going to be an employee.

So Great Britain is going to lower their interest rates. This is interesting and maybe a warning to us all. The Economist had a great article on how consumer demand was flat in Britain and lowering the interest rate would spur demand. And then the article asked, what about when the same thing happens in the US?

That is indeed the question. When US consumers no longer feel rich from their house prices, they won't spend. Or when all those credit card bills come due. It is all going to hit the fan some time. Then consumer demand will fall, and then what? It is the US consumer that is floating the world economy. We are the only ones really buying what the rest of the world is making.

But what The Economist doesn't address is how invested EVERYONE is in continuing the balance the way it is: the US consumer borrowing money from overseas to pay for stuff that otherwise would not be bought. No one else is buying right now. It isn't the European consumers, for sure.

Until the Next Big Thing comes along, this debting thing may continue for a while. When the US consumer starts to live within their means, it will trigger a global recession.

We truly live in interesting times.