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July 31, 2008

Delays in childbearing

One of the biggest social changes in recent decades has focused on women. More and more women are now going to college and moving into careers that once were not open to them. But have these changes had implications elsewhere in our lives? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"They have, lots of them, and one of the most important I think is the implication we see in the fact that women are waiting longer to have children. Now a big reason is the economic changes you mentioned. More women are going to college, they are taking a career outside their home and they are waiting to get married and waiting to have children. Whereas a generation or two generations ago, a woman might go to high school, finish high school, graduate from high school, get married and then have children. Today they often wait until they finish college, and even then they may wait until they are established in their careers. So, I think what this shows is how economics -- and here we're talking about the economics of education, the economics of jobs and opportunities for women -- can have profound effects on even the most personal of decisions."

Posted by Dave at 09:05 AM

July 30, 2008

Benefits of cars

Today we hear considerable criticism of cars. We hear they cause traffic congestion and pollution, and now we're focused on the cost of operating them with higher gas prices. Does this mean we'd be better off without cars and trucks? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, I think this is one of those things where we've had cars and trucks and vehicles in general for so long that we've gotten used to them and we really have forgotten what it was like before we had those kinds of modes of transportation. One of the big things of course they provide is increased mobility. Think about your job. Think about how many more jobs that are possible for you to take by having a car and being able to reach those companies versus if you had to walk to your job. And so one thing that cars do is it improves the mobility of workers and lets them cast a wider net in finding and keeping a job. Same thing with shopping. What if you had to only shop at stores that you could walk to or ride a horse to? Again you'd be much more limited than having a car where you have many more stores that are in your range. So again that increases not only the availability of stores to you, it increases the competition between those stores and gives you a lower price. And then just lastly, think about pleasure. How many of us in North Carolina, of course we are very lucky to be in this state where we have both the beaches and mountains, how many of us could go to the beach and go to the mountains in a day's time if we live in central North Carolina without having a car? So yes, there are a lot of issues with cars and we don't want to downgrade those, but we also don't want to forget the big benefits."

Posted by Dave at 09:03 AM

July 29, 2008

Return sourcing

One of the biggest economic changes of the past decade has been outsourcing. This is where companies move operations and jobs out of the U.S. to countries where business costs are much lower. Now, with gas prices so high and the high cost of shipping, there's talk that some of these companies and jobs might come back. How likely is this? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, we are actually seeing some promising signs. For example, if you look at steel - the steel industry - U.S. steel production is way up, and imports of steel from China are way down. But I think economists say although there are positive inklings that some of this return sourcing might happen that we don't want to get real excited because there are a number of things that could slow it down. For example, you just don't pick up a factory, for example, in China, and move it to the U.S. It is very expensive to do that. Also, you are not talking about just a factory, you are talking about what economists call whole supply chain - all the other companies that are related to that factory. And again, you don't just pick up that entire chain and move it from one country to another. Thirdly, China, which of course is one of the main countries as a source for outsourcing, is partially countering higher fuel costs with higher labor productivity. So I think the bottom line here is, perhaps, what higher fuel costs might do - rather than causing all these companies that went overseas to come back - it might stem the tide of more of them moving out of the U.S. to other countries."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 28, 2008

The importance of banks in North Carolina

The financial sector, including banks, has had a rough time in the current economy. Should we in North Carolina be particularly concerned when this sector takes a big hit? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"We really should because I think it's fair to say that in the 21st century financial services is the new tobacco. People, I think, who have been in North Carolina a long time know that tobacco was the premiere economic sector in North Carolina for much of the 20th century, but it was certainly downsized in recent years. Now one sector that has come along to take its place is financial services. In fact, financial services in North Carolina now accounts for $51 billion of economic value through the state economy every year, several times larger than tobacco. And financial services share of the state economy has doubled in the last decade, from 6 percent to 13 percent. Now, of course, much of this sector is centered around Charlotte, but it's importance is really statewide. So we should definitely pay attention when we hear something effecting the financial services sector."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 25, 2008

Moving water

It seems Mother Nature just can't get it right. Some areas of our country are receiving too much rain and are flooding, whereas other regions, like the Southeast, are still in a drought. Has anyone thought of ways of equalizing the distribution of water? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Interesting that you ask that question because this is actually being talked about more and more, about moving water from one part of a country to another. And indeed, China is actually doing this. China is building a water transfer piping system to move water from one region of their country where they get a lot of rain to another region where they are starved for water. And a big-time investor in Texas in the U.S. has talked about doing this on a much smaller scale within that state. Now, of course this all comes down to money. When you talk about moving something like water, you not only have to pay for the labor and the materials required to dig the trenches and lay the pipe and so forth. But one of the bigger costs sometimes can be acquiring the land, at least the right to the land. So you're talking about billions of dollars if you're doing this on a big scale. Now some people say that this has become such a problem that we need a new federal government commitment to do this, similar to the interstate highway system that was built in the 1950s and '60s. So we'll have to wait and see, but certainly the talk is percolating up about moving water."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 24, 2008

Big decisions for the Fed

Recently, the stock market took a big hit, and some say part of the reason was a concern over what the Federal Reserve might do next. What is it about the Federal Reserve that is troubling investors? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, first of all, people have to realize the Federal Reserve has two goals. They want to promote economic growth in the country, but they also want to promote price stability. Now, recently, they've been focusing on the growth part of the equation. With all the problems in the housing market, the credit markets, the slowdown in the economy, they have been trying to keep the economy out of recession and focusing on stimulating growth by cutting interest rates. Now, however, they are worried - they're shifting their focus somewhat to the other goal - and that is price stability, because they are worried about rising inflation. And so what the Fed recently did is they hinted - and it can only take a hint from the Fed to move markets - they hinted that somewhere down the road, in the near term, maybe the end of the year, the beginning of next year, they may raise interest rates, which would, of course, be totally contrary to what they've been doing over the last year and a half. Now, investors, particularly investors in the stock market, view this as bad because generally speaking higher interest rates hurt stock prices. Also investors are worried that we may not be able to have both of those goals or either one of those goals met, that we may actually get high inflation and low growth, something we call stagflation. So right now, a lot of focus is on the Fed, what they're going to do in the upcoming months, and that impact on the stock market."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 23, 2008

Living with high gas prices

It looks like we're going to be living with high gas prices for quite a while. Are drivers simply gritting their teeth when it costs them twice as much to fill up their tanks as it did two years ago? Or are we making changes to cope? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, economists would say that in every person a little economist lives, so people we would expect would make changes over time. Yes, we will complain about gas prices, but we will make changes. And what we will work on is part of the cost equation. What you pay for something is based on two things: price per unit of that something, like a gallon of gas, and the number of gallons, the amount that you buy. And what people are doing right now is they're working on getting the number of gallons they buy down so that they can keep their costs under control. And so we see data, for example, that show that drivers now are actually driving fewer trips per month. They're driving at lower speeds. They're actually improving their fuel efficiency, and, therefore, they're cutting back on the number of gallons of gas that they buy. Now, we perhaps don't like this, but we're doing it. And the result - very interestingly - is that over the last month, the aggregate amount spent by consumers on gas has actually held steady, and that's because - we can't do anything about the price - but we are cutting back on the quantity."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 22, 2008

Foreign inflation

The recent inflation rate in our country has been receiving much attention because it has been rising. Today's annual inflation rate is around 4 percent, compared to only 1 percent a few years ago. But are we alone in our battle against inflation or are other countries also having similar issues? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, if there is some good news here, it is that we aren't alone. Other countries are also experiencing rising inflation. Let me give you a few numbers. Europe - most of Western Europe - is experiencing inflation about where we are, a little shy of 4 percent. The latest reading for Europe is about 3.7 percent. However, you go to China, they're experiencing inflation of over 8 percent per year; India, 7 percent; Russia, 15 percent a year; and Venezuela, 31 percent annual inflation rate. Now, at the other end of the spectrum, there is one country that sticks out right now, having a very low inflation rate. That is Japan. Their current inflation rate is around 1 percent. In general, what we're finding around the world is countries that are growing very fast - and those would include countries like China, India, Russia, Venezuela - they are the countries that are experiencing the highest inflation rates."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 21, 2008

Perceived inflation

Most people think the inflation rate is much higher than the official rate reported by the government. Is this a case of mistaken identity on the part of consumers or are there valid reasons why people might overstate the speed at which prices are rising? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, fortunately most people aren't economists, so they don't look at inflation the same way economists look at it. The way economists look at inflation is we look at the rate of increase of prices of everything that we buy over the course of a year. And, for example, if we do that, we find that actually the inflation rate over the past year has been about 4 percent, admittedly much higher than a couple of years ago but no where near the record. Most people - again, who aren't economists - however, form their perceptions of inflation based on things that they frequently purchase, not everything but things they frequently purchase. So, for example today, if you look at gas - something most people buy every week - food - something most people buy every week - those items just happen to be the ones that are going way up in price. On the other hand, vehicles, which we don't buy every week, clothing, electronics - we may buy some of them over the course of the year (incidentally, those are all items where the prices are going down), we don't buy them every week. So the bottom line is, yes, I think there is a disconnect between the way economists look at inflation and the way the average person looks at inflation. Indeed, there have been studies that showed that when prices are rising, perceived inflation - that is, what people think the inflation rate actually is - can be five to six times higher than the actual inflation rate."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 18, 2008

Property tax rates

This is the time cities and counties in North Carolina are setting their property tax rates for next year. But in counties that have gone through a recent property reevaluation, like Wake, it appears that rate increases on top of value increases can result in a large tax hike. Is this accurate? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"You have to be careful here. Of course the property tax bill - the tax you pay - is going to be a function of the value of property and the tax rate. And of course, as you said, in counties where there's been a recent reevaluation, your value of your property has definitely gone up. Now, when you hear about, however, your county or city increasing your tax rate, first you have to ask, What are they increasing it from? And usually what happens in counties and cities that have had a reevaluation is first, they will adjust the property tax rate to what's called a revenue-neutral rate. That's a rate that will give the tax bill that the average person pays no increase over the previous year. So then what happens if they say they're going to increase their tax rate, usually it's from that revenue-neutral rate, which is going to be much lower than the rate last year. So the bottom line here is that, yes, people may see their tax bill go up and they may look at the reevaluation and the tax rate increase and say, 'My gosh, this is going to be a gigantic increase.' But usually it's not, and it's because you have to be very careful in looking at that tax rate increase and make sure that you're looking at it from the basis of the revenue-neutral rate, which is going to be much lower."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 17, 2008

Between a rock and a hard place

This is a common phrase to describe a dilemma in decision-making where whichever option is taken, something bad happens. Some say the Federal Reserve is in such a situation. Describe it for us. Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, of course the Federal Reserve really takes the brunt of the effort to stimulate the economy when it's in dire straits, and to stimulate the economy typically the big ammunition the Fed has is to lower interest rates. So clearly the economy is still sputtering right now, so there would be pressure for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates so that people can go out and buy a lot of those homes that are on the market and buy cars and stimulate production. But the consequence of that - the negative consequence of that - is that, I think it's clear that part of the reason for higher oil and gas prices is due to the Federal Reserve's efforts to lower interest rates, which have led to a lower-value dollar. Of course, oil is priced in dollars, so as the Fed has pushed down interest rates, oil prices have gone up. So that's the dilemma the Fed is in. On the one hand, they perhaps want to consider lower interest rates. On the other hand, however, they know if they do that, that's going to send probably oil and gas prices even higher and spark even higher inflation. So this is why we pay those big bucks to those folks on the Federal Reserve Board, because there's not a clear answer. The Fed will have to choose what to do, and whichever way they go, there's going to be some negative effect."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 16, 2008

Who would have thought?

One of the ways our country will cope with high energy prices is to find new ways of providing power. Developing new ideas is one area where the American economy shines. What's a good example in this ingenuity. Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"I think this is a great story. A good example is solar canopies in parking lots. Now, what am I talking about? Well, if you look at the amount of parking lots we have in our country - you add them all together - they take up an area the size of the state of Connecticut. They're out there. They're usually open areas, a lot of sun. Of course, we see that in the summer. So one company has come up with the idea of putting what's called solar trees in parking lots to collect solar power, and we may use this power in the future, for example, for people to come up and plug in their hybrid cars to rev up the batteries. So anyway, you put these solar trees in a typical parking lot; it's estimated that that solar power could provide enough energy for 500 homes for a day. So, are we going to see this tomorrow? No, not all over the place. But I think the point is that this is an example of, I think, one of the big strong points of the American economy. There are people out there thinking - all right, energy is a problem, what can we invent, what can we do to cope with it - and I think the solar trees in parking lots is a perfect example of the brilliance of the American economy."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 15, 2008

Inflation update

With rising food and fuel prices, inflation has now been pushed to a front page issue. A new inflation report for May was just released. Is it good or bad news? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"We're talking about consumer inflation, and I'd have to say the report was mixed. If you look at the overall inflation rate, what's called headline inflation, over the last year, from May of '07 to May of this year, the inflation rate was 4.2 percent, clearly higher than what we've gotten used to a couple of years ago but not devastating, certainly not double digits. But if you go inside those numbers, certainly some items are up much faster. Food prices over that year were up 5 percent. Transportation - led by, of course, gas - up 8 percent. However, outside of food and fuel, the inflation rate was a much more modest 2.3 percent. Some prices have actually fallen. Clothing prices are down over this last year. Car prices - not driving a car - but the price of a car is down. CDs, computers and other tech equipment, all those prices are falling. I think the problem though is that food and fuel are things that people buy every week. Sometimes, people buy them a couple of times a week. That's what they see, and they see those going up rapidly, and I think that's causing most people to think, gee, the overall inflation rate is much higher than the reported rate."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 14, 2008

Summer driving plans

With gas prices up so much, there's concern that households will scale back their vacation plans. Is this a real possibility? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"This is important not only because some people may not be able to take their vacation but because a large segment of our economy depends on tourism. We know that here in North Carolina you go to the coast or to the mountains, a lot of people depend on those tourist dollars, so this is very important stuff. Well, I think a couple of pieces of good news on this front. One survey showed - and, of course, we can't always rely on surveys - but they do show right now that a majority of households say that they're not going to let high gas prices stifle their summer vacations. They're still going to take their summer vacations. That's good news. The second piece of good news is that if you work the numbers, yes, gas prices are certainly up - a lot, over 30 percent this year - but if you compare, for example, driving 1,000 miles by normal car, compare the cost of doing that this year compared to last year driving 1,000 mile, it's going to cost you about $30 more this year. If you're driving an SUV 1,000 miles, it'll cost you about $40 more this year. So I think put in context, yes, people are going to spend more on gas for their vacations, but it's perhaps something that's manageable, and people are going to look at that extra $30 or $40 and say, 'Look, it's worth it, it's worth it for me to get away, get away with the kids, do something fun.' So I think the bottom line is that we may not have as bad of a vacation summer, and those businesses may not be suffering as much as you might think because of high gas prices."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 11, 2008

Why the slowdown isn't worse

Many analysts are trying to figure out exactly what condition the economy is in. Clearly, the housing and auto markets are in an upheaval. But how is the rest of the economy doing? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"This economic slowdown - and we don't yet know if it's a recession - has really been perplexing to economists because, actually, if you look at it in terms of the broad numbers, clearly we're not doing as well as we did a year or two years ago. But in terms of slowdowns, we're actually not doing that badly. And I think one reason is that most of the problems have been confined to the sectors we mentioned: housing and autos. So if you look at the economy outside of housing and autos, it's actually growing at a 4 percent rate, which is as high as any time in the last four years. I think there are two factors behind this good news. One is the export market. The export market is booming because of the low-value dollar. It's really helping our factories; factories would be in much worse shape if it weren't for the export market. And then secondly, most businesses have learned to keep inventory very low. Computers have helped in that regard. So that means when there is a slowdown, they don't have to send as many people home because they don't have to sell out of inventory. So I think the strength of the economy outside of housing and autos is one reason why many economists who look at these numbers say, well, the economy's actually doing fairly well, and job losses - again relatively - have been fairly light during this turndown."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 10, 2008

Agribusiness in North Carolina

Farming has long been important to North Carolina, but so too is the processing and delivery of those farm products. Economists refer to this entire chain as agribusiness. Just how big is agribusiness in North Carolina today? Listen


Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Again, to emphasize, what we're talking about here is certainly farming, but then what you do with those farm products, you process them, then you take them to a wholesale level, then you take them to the retail level. We're including all of that, and we're looking at it for the food products, natural fiber products and forestry products in North Carolina. So that's what we're talking about. And I actually generate these numbers every year, and they're very impressive. The most recent numbers we have show that industry - agribusiness in North Carolina - generated $71 billion (that's with a 'b')of economic output. That accounts for just shy of 20 percent of our total state economy. And those numbers - that percentage - has held rather steady over the last few years. In terms of jobs, agribusiness accounts for 644,000 jobs in North Carolina. That's 16 percent of all workers, so this is a gigantic industry when you look at what happens on the farm and take that all the way, really, to the supermarket counter. This is a big industry that's very, very important to our state."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 09, 2008

State economic growth

The national economy has been slowing, but the individual states often grow at their own pace. How is North Carolina's recent economic growth compared to the growth of other states? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Of course, this is very, very important right now, not only because we're in a national slowdown - a recession - but because obviously a state's economic growth has an impact on the state budget. And of course we have legislators in town in Raleigh now talking about and making decisions about the state budget, and how much money they have available is due in part to how the state is doing economically. So that all said, the news is actually very good for North Carolina. In 2007, we were in the top 40 percent of states in term of economic growth. If you look at the 12 southeastern states, and that's ranging from Louisiana up to Kentucky and Virginia and down to Florida, North Carolina, among those 12 states, had the fourth fastest rate of economic growth in 2007. Now, in terms of which state was the fastest and which state was the slowest in 2007, actually, interestingly, New York state - New York - had the fastest rate of economic growth for any state in 2007. And not a surprise, Michigan, due to problems in the auto market, had the slowest rate of growth. But this, indeed, is good news for North Carolina. Typically, during economic slowdowns, we don't do very well, but we're actually doing fairly well comparatively during this slowdown."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 08, 2008

North Carolina's cost of living

Many costs outside North Carolina can be different, especially for housing, utilities and taxes. Do we have any measures of where North Carolina ranks with other states in a comprehensive cost of living index? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"We do. Fortunately, there's a private group that puts these numbers together. They actually put them together every quarter. The costs include all the major consumer costs: housing, food, clothing, transportation, taxes. And what this group does is they rank states from the lowest cost to the highest cost, and they also compare them to a national average. The latest data, which was actually for the first quarter of this year, shows that North Carolina ranks 25th, right smack dab in the middle among all states in terms of a statewide cost of living. We actually had a cost of living slightly under the national average, about 3 percent under the national average. In terms of the components, we are lower on housing costs and utilities costs compared to the nation, but we're slightly higher on groceries and health care. The lowest cost of living state on the first quarter of this year from this organization is Oklahoma. The highest cost of living state right now is California."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM

July 07, 2008

Costs of raising a child

Children provide much love and pride to parents, but they do cost money. Each year the government updates estimates of what families spend raising their children. What do the latest numbers show? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, I'm going to warn our listeners to hold on to their wallets and their pocketbooks, because we're going to talk about some big money. Each year the government does put together numbers estimated to be related to the costs of raising a child. They look at a child from birth to age 18, and they look at costs related to - obviously - food, clothing, medical, entertainment, plus the government does take a share of the price of a home and vehicles, with the notion that bigger families need more vehicles or bigger vehicles, more home, so you should apportion some of that cost to the children. And the government also does assume in looking from birth to age 18 a 3 percent inflation rate each year. So we're talking in economics lingo about nominal dollars, the dollars that actually go out the door. And the last thing the government does, they have three standards of living: low, medium and high. Here are the numbers. To raise a child that would be born today through age 18, if you had a medium standard of living, $269,000 over that time period. If you had a lower standard of living, it's estimated to be $196,000; higher standard of living, $393,000. Now, this is for one child. If you do have multiple children, then the numbers, you wouldn't necessarily multiply by two or three because there are some economies of scale of raising more children, some things need to be shared. But clearly, these are large numbers, and I think that's one of the reasons why raising children today is so challenging."

Posted by Dave at 10:52 AM

July 04, 2008

Will we permnaently change our driving habits?

We're driving less, buying less gas, using more mass transit and purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles. All of this is in response to high gas prices. Will these changes persist if gas prices ever fall? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, of course, many people are saying, 'Will gas prices ever fall?' in the first place. But I think if gas prices do fall - and there are some economists that think they will - and people think they'll stay at that lower level, then yes, I think we would go back to some of our older habits. People would drive more. They'd move away from fuel-efficient vehicles. Fewer people would use mass transit. So what this has done is actually sparked some debate about whether the government needs to do something to keep these changes that people have made in their driving habits permanent. And what's been talked about is a floating gas tax. That is, the argument would say we're never, we're never going to allow, say, gas go below - oh, we'll pick a number - say $3.50 a gallon. If it does, we're going to automatically increase the federal gas tax to keep it at that point. And therefore, this is going to motivate people to do all the things that we've talked about, many of which, for example, those who are concerned about the environment applaud. Now, wouldn't this make us all worse off, keeping gas prices at some high level. Obviously yes, but here's the second part of the plan. The extra money the government would collect would be rebated - maybe on a monthly basis - back to drivers in terms of checks. So in terms of your household budget, you wouldn't be worse off. Now, wouldn't people just take that money and buy more gas? No, that's where economic analysis comes in. Yes, they'd take maybe a little bit, but most of it they would spend on other things. And so the notion is that we'd sort of have our cake and eat it too. We would have all these changes that people have made kept permanent, and yet economically we wouldn't be worse off. This is a big idea. I don't see it being implemented anytime soon, but it is being discussed."

Posted by Dave at 08:00 AM