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Foreign aid gains support from American politicians

19 December 2001
Polls have shown that Americans view foreign aid with suspicion – with some convinced that sending their tax dollars abroad is a waste of resources. The result is that the share of the federal budget devoted to foreign aid has declined steadily since World War II. But the terrorist attacks of…

Higher rewards from longer working hours in U.S.A. than in Germany

19 December 2001
Are Americans obsessed with putting in more hours at the office? That's the general opinion among many Europeans, although the evidence points to a decidedly dollars-and-cents explanation. The United States is a country with relatively high wage inequality – one in which pay increases and individual living standards are…

Even Enron’s demise has not stopped power deregulation

19 Dec 01  
While the collapse of Enron Corp. has reduced enthusiasm for electric power deregulation among some in the United States, many other countries are moving ahead with plans to free up their energy markets and introduce more competition among suppliers. These efforts are transforming what were once tightly regulated, state-owned industries…

Deflation and zero percent interest rates

19 Dec 01  
The Federal Open Market Committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve may cut the federal funds interest rate by another 25 basis points (0.25 percent), reducing it from 2 percent to 1.75 percent, its lowest level since 1961. Lower interest rates should increase borrowing, investment and consumption, thereby stimulating economic growth. However,…

Dollarisation might save Argentina

19 Dec 01  
As has been widely reported, Argentina has become an economic basket case. Just last week, the government imposed controls on bank withdrawals in order to stem a run on the banks. Economists say Argentina's only way out is either crippling devaluation or dollarisation of its currency. The International Monetary Fund expanded…

Investment risk reduction through diversification by country now less effective

19 Dec 01  
Traditionally, international diversification has been the most effective way to reduce the risk of a share portfolio. It has been superior to other strategies, such as diversification by industrial sector. However, globalisation has reduced national barriers and affected investment strategies. Nations are acting more and more in unison, while…

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed

19 Dec 01  
Constitutions and the purpose they fulfil seem to vary according to who does the interpretation. Just north of our borders there is a constitution that is a pliable tool to grant legitimacy to anything the ruling president wishes to do. If he has a sudden need to violate a legitimate…

Costs to develop new drugs soar

19 Dec 01  
It is two-and-a-half times more expensive to research a new medication now than it was in 1987, even adjusting for inflation. That is the conclusion reached by researchers at the Tufts University Centre for the Study of Drug Development in the U.S.A.. On average, it now takes $802 million, including…

Some U.S. sectors benefit from increase in unemployment

19 Dec 01  
A year ago, U.S. unemployment stood at a 30-year low of 3.9 percent, and employers were beating the bushes to find workers. Now it stands at 5.4 percent, and employers in certain sectors of the economy are snapping up the talent that is suddenly available. Workers with general skills – rather…

Nurses benefit from competition

19 Dec 01  
There is plenty of evidence that competitive, private sector delivery of health care allocates resources more efficiently than systems that give a public system a health care monopoly. One way this is manifested is in wage rates – which tend to be low for health care professionals in monopolistic health…

Research and development makes medicines expensive – but is necessary

19 Dec 01  
While some denounce pharmaceutical companies' profits as obscene and earned at the expense of the sick, economists point out that the physical ingredients of the medicine are its cheapest ingredients. The ingredient that costs millions of dollars is the knowledge gained from years of expensive research and development and trial…

How closely should radiation be regulated?

11 Dec 01  
People are constantly exposed to radiation from natural sources. But government regulators typically act as if every bit of exposure to man-made sources of radiation – such as from nuclear power plants – is potentially hazardous. So the question arises as to how much radiation exposure is harmless – and at…

Hypocrisy of intention to override patent drug property rights

11 Dec 01  
In the wake of the anthrax scare, U.S. politicians pounced on the patent property rights of the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer, maker of the antibiotic Cipro. Ironically, Cipro's most important use is not to treat so-called "inhalation anthrax," for which there are alternatives (doxycycline is one), but to treat bacterial…

Growth rates of small firms substantially improved by lower taxes

11 Dec 01  
Many entrepreneurs and policymakers believe that the tax system is an obstacle to the establishment and growth of small businesses. To date, however, there has been little hard evidence to support this notion. However, a recent study provides evidence that income taxes do exert a significant influence on firm growth rates. Researchers…

Bangladesh Grameen Bank microloan business experiencing problems

11 Dec 01  
With its launch in Bangladesh in 1976, Grameen Bank pioneered the practice of giving tiny loans to poor people so they could launch businesses. The bank was innovative, fulfilled a real need – and was successful. To the surprise of many people, borrowers grew their businesses and fulfilled their repayment…

Education experts sceptical of technology use in poor schools

11 Dec 01  
As part of its antitrust settlement, Microsoft has agreed to contribute more than a billion dollars' worth of software, computer equipment, technology training and cash to some 12,500 impoverished schools. But education experts question whether the gift technologies will really help children from low-income families learn. The 1996 Coleman report found…

Turning waste heat into electricity

11 Dec 01  
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a small Utah company, Eneco Inc., say they have developed a technology that can efficiently and inexpensively transform waste heat into electricity. The researchers say their device is in a primitive stage at present, but a cheap and practical device could be…

Patents don’t limit access to AIDS drugs

11 Dec 01  
Are patents on antiretroviral drugs impeding access to lifesaving treatment for the 25 million Africans infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)? If a drug is not patented in a given country, one may freely manufacture, import and buy the brand-name drug or its generic equivalent. Activists blame patents for creating monopolies…

Restrictive energy policies cause U.S. dependence on foreign oil

11 Dec 01  
The remedy for energy price spikes and control of U.S. energy prices by the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC), says economist William L. Anderson, is the repeal of restrictive U.S. energy policies that have exacerbated our dependence on OPEC oil. Among his recommendations: Do away with policies aimed at…

Is nuclear terror a serious threat to America?

11 Dec 01  
No one wanted to even bring up the subject prior to Sept. 11. But Osama bin Laden has now stated that his al-Qaeda network has nuclear weapons, and Americans are forced to confront the possibility of a nuclear attack on a major U.S. city. How seriously do U.S. authorities…

Older American suburbs rejuvenating themselves

11 Dec 01  
Contrary to the myth that older suburbs inevitably become the victims of further urban sprawl, some experts point out that many older American neighbourhoods are actually transforming themselves into thriving, ethnically diverse cities. While some established suburbs are showing real signs of decline, other older areas are thriving. For…

Economic problems of deflation

04 Dec 01  
A number of economists have warned for years that deflation is an economy's most serious problem. Deflation is negative price inflation, or a simultaneous fall in a broad range of prices for many goods and services. A sustained deflation has serious economic effects: For instance, it raises the real interest rate…