• turkey heads

    All You Never Knew About Turkeys

    Nov 24 • Businesses, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Economic History, Households, Labor, Lifestyle, Tech, Thinking Economically • 31 Views

    Although we had millions of turkeys dying from Avian flu, the Thanksgiving supply of birds is okay. You can decide why after we talk turkey for awhile.

    Big Birds

    Now more than 30 pounds, our average commercial turkey was only 17 pounds in 1960. The reason? Breeding has increased productivity. Birds with big breasts provide more ground turkey, turkey sausage and processed meats. So we get more meat from fewer birds.

    You can see below that almost a century ago turkey size was rather close to today’s largest chickens.


    Turkey productivity

    The largest turkeys are really big birds. Among the five types of commercial broad breasted white turkeys, the breeder tom is huge. Weighing 50 to 70 pounds, he can produce 1050 turkey chicks (poults) by artificial inseminating 10 hens during one year. The size of his breast precludes any natural mating.

    Next are the regular toms. No one’s dad, the regular toms reach 40 pounds in 16-19 weeks and then become ground or processed. Similarly, heavy hens do not become moms. They average 22-24 pounds and then are sold whole to become deli cuts, breast rolls or Thanksgiving dinners. The other birds that make it to our tables are the young hens that reach 11 to 16 pounds in 12 -14 weeks.

    Turkey States

    The three top turkey producers in 2014 were, in descending order, Minnesota, Arkansas and North Carolina.

    Turkey states and productivity

    From: National Turkey Federation

    The industry pretty much covers the whole U.S.:

    Turkey states productivity

    Bird Flu

    Killing 7.5 million turkeys, the Avian flu could have decimated the market. Instead all is okay. Prices for fresh birds went up minimally and the frozen birds were even cheaper. With retailers able to stock up when they suspected a problem and farmers able to get poults to replace what died, the market rebounded.

    Our Bottom Line: Productivity

    Spurred by incentive and supported by infrastructure, turkey farmers have a productive and resilient market that facilitated a speedy recovery.

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  • t rex

    The Power of the T. Rex Market

    Nov 23 • Behavioral Economics, Businesses, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Economic Debates, Economic History, Education, Entertainment, Government, Lifestyle, Regulation, Thinking Economically • 43 Views

    A Tyrannosaurus rex whose name is Sue was found on a ranch in the South Dakota Badlands in 1990. Described as a remarkably complete skeleton, she had teeth the size of bananas.

    This is Sue.


    Tyrannosaurus rex and the power of the market

    From: The Washington Post

    Where are we going? To the power of the T.rex market.

    Sue’s Story

    Peter Larson paid Maurice Williams $5,000. Larson said it was for Sue. Williams claimed the money was just for the right to look for fossils on his land.

    As a commercial fossils dealer, Larson hoped to sell Sue after one of his employees found her bones “dripping” from the side of a South Dakota mountain. Instead, the FBI showed up at his home one day and seized the dinosaur. The case wound up in court where a judge decided the rancher was the owner.

    This takes us to Sotheby’s, a 1997 auction, and $8.36 million.

    No one had accurately estimated the frenzy that Sue would create. Sotheby’s $500,000 starting bid was close to the top amount that a fossil had ever sold for. One benefactor thought he could get Sue to the Smithsonian for $2.5 million. Some believed Michael Jackson was a bidder. Towards the end of the auction, with only a private individual and Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History remaining, the numbers hit $7.5 million. At $7.6 million, the other bidder dropped out.

    Including sale-related fees, Sue cost the museum $8.36 million. They were able to afford the gargantuan sum because McDonald’s said “We’re in” when asked for the money and Disney agreed to help out too.

    Dinosaur Markets

    When the market for Sue moved to millions, both the supply and demand sides changed. On the supply side, public institutions and government suddenly had competition. The North Dakota Geological Survey was concerned that new specimens would leave the state. They also had to debate where government should have fossil property rights. In the field, specimen robberies were reported. One museum said that a donor had requested the return of his fossil. And everywhere, the scientific community worried that it would miss research opportunities if private buyers controlled fossil markets.

    Meanwhile demand expanded. Museums found themselves racing to secure corporate support as they bid against other institutions, private foreign and domestic buyers, and speculators..

    T. rex was hot and still is.


    Our Bottom Line: The Power of the Market

    Representing the power of the market, the eight million dollar price for a top quality fossil sent a new message to sellers and buyers.

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  • Ask Alexa Economic Advice from econlife.com

    Roommate Advice

    Nov 22 • Ask Alexa • 36 Views

    Dear Alexa,

    Netflix is my obsession. Once I sit down and start watching House of Cards, I can’t stop for another few hours. But, my roommate doesn’t share the same love for Netflix and wants cable TV. So, instead of sitting down together after a long day at work to watch our favorite show Quantico, we sit and fight about whether to enjoy Netflix or Cable. I just want to enjoy my binge watching again!

    Please save me from these late night fights,

    Netflix Nancy


    Dear Netflix Nancy,

    I am obsessed with Orange is the New Black, so I totally understand how you are feeling! Netflix is definitely entertaining but the real problem that you should be worrying about is your relationship with your roommate. Instead of being constantly bothered by the pros and cons of each option, start thinking about how important a friendly, fun relationship is to you.

    To solve this problem, let’s take a look at the economic principle of opportunity cost. Under the principle of opportunity cost, when you take a certain action, you are missing out on the benefits of an alternative action. For example, the opportunity cost of making your own dinner is takeout (which normally wins in my house). It is important to recognize that takeout has benefits you sacrifice when choosing another option. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather relax with my family over some steaming hot pepperoni pizza than enjoy the homemade taste of burnt lasagna that took hours to make!

    Netflix may be your top choice and the cheaper option, but its opportunity cost is cable and the good roommate relationship that comes with it. Besides, in order to win the next fight over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, you need to get some leverage from this fight!  And believe me, once you start watching Monday Night Football, you won’t even miss binge watching House of Cards.



    A note: Although there is no Netflix Nancy, her problem is based on the writer’s experience.


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  • Cigarettes and Trans Pacific Partnership

    Why Cigarette Ads Affect the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

    Nov 22 • Behavioral Economics, Businesses, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Developing Economies, Economic Debates, Economic History, Economic Thinkers, Environment, Government, International Trade and Finance, Labor, Regulation, Thinking Economically • 54 Views

    When Australia mandated plain brown cigarette packs that were blanketed with health warnings, Phillip Morris International (PMI) sued. The firm says the issue is intellectual property. The country believes it has the authority to promote anti-smoking. So they wound up at an international tribunal in Singapore.

    It is easy to see why PMI opposes using this (below) packaging in Australia:

    TPP connection to Phillip Morris

    From: The West Australian via Yahoo News

    Where are we going? To the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    The Case

    ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) is at the heart of all of this. Included in approximately 3,000 international agreements, ISDS allows multinationals (MNCs) to sue governments. The process starts when the firm initiates a suit. With the firm selecting one arbitrator, the country the other, the two appointees then choose a chair. After the three decide the case, the tribunal dissolves.

    Protecting firms from nations that act arbitrarily, the process enables businesses to initiate an arbitration process through an international judiciary. In one of many ISDS resolutions, a bottling MNC won $455 million from Venezuela for seizing its property.

    Now PMI is claiming that Australia seized its property. Here though it was a brand. Using the language of a bilateral pact between Australia and Hong Kong, a Singapore tribunal will decide during the next several months.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    TPP includes ISDS to encourage the free flow of investment. Perhaps predictably, Australia said it won’t abide by that part of the deal. Others like New Zealand have noted exceptions. In the U.S., the right and left ends of the political spectrum oppose ISDS. Both say the government has the power to regulate but for different reasons. The former wants to see (what it considers) beneficial legislation preserved while the latter is defending U.S. sovereignty.

    So yes, ISDS is controversial. But it is just one chapter among 30 in a somewhat undecipherable 27,000 plus page TPP document with multiple annexes.

    Where does that leave us? With supporting free trade, comparative advantage and David Ricardo.

    Our Bottom Line: David Ricardo

    The economist who supported free trade with his explanation of comparative advantage, David Ricardo (1772-1823) said each nation should make whatever involves the lower opportunity cost. Because we are all doing what we do best, productivity is optimized through specialization and trade. Paying less, consumers have more money to allocate elsewhere.

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  • The econlife.com economics news summary

    Weekly Roundup: From Garbage Questions to Credit Card Costs

    Nov 21 • Behavioral Economics, Businesses, Demand, Supply, and Markets, Developing Economies, Economic Debates, Economic Growth, Economic History, Economic Thinkers, Education, Environment, Gender Issues, Innovation, Money and Monetary Policy, Thinking Economically • 38 Views

    Posts Roundup

    credit card winners and loser Sunday 11.15.15

    Credit card inequality…more

    Economic News Summary and Academia Gender Discrimination Monday 11.16.15

    How the media have a female academics bias…more

    economic news summary and Marriage Markets Tuesday 11.17.15

    Where to meet a mate…more

    scientific research accuracy Wednesday 11.18.15

    When to trust research results…more

    Economic news summary: and garbage incineration Thursday 11.19.15

    A better garbage solution…more


    Thanksgiving Economics Friday 11.20.15

    What we spend on Thanksgiving dinner…more

    Ideas Roundup

    • externalities
    • credit
    • expectations bias
    • behavioral economics
    • gender gap
    • assortative mating
    • supply and demand,
    • gender ratios
    • prediction markets
    • replication
    • tradeoffs
    • environment
    • inflation
    • nominal price
    • real price


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