Archive for November, 2008

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Korea mortgages conservatively

November 30, 2008

From “South Korea’s High Household Debt Adds Financial Woes” WSJ Nov 29-30 ’08

South Koreans are forbidden by law to engage in high levels of borrowing for real estate…loan-to-value ratio of South Korean real estate is 47%, well below the 90% and higher ratios seen in parts of Europe and the U.S.

Apparently this doesn’t prevent heavy borrowing, which is “rooted in high housing and education costs.”

One would think that, if in fact Korean real estate is less leveraged than elsewhere, they’d be less affected by economic instability.  It would be nice to know more.

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“Progressive” income tax discourages paid work

November 27, 2008

That’s no news, but this seems to be a paper that confirms it. Abstract says that the proportion of “potential” income realized as actual taxable income by high income households declined when tax rates increased, while that of low income households grew when their tax rates dropped.  That is, folks work more or less hard, depending on what proportion of their income they’ll get to keep.

This seems to be what the paper says, but it’s behind an ssrn screen so I can’t actually get a copy. Abstract from taxprofblog.

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Federal Reserve Banks disagree about financial crisis

November 22, 2008

Minneapolis says the crisis affects only financial firms but other companies can get along OK, but Boston says no, it really is a serious crisis for everybody tho it’s hard to see. The article is from a couple of weeks ago, one way or another recent declines in retail sales and employment seem to mean the crisis has become real. Maybe ’cause folks are worried about what the government will do next.  Thanks to Tasgall for the link.

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Philadelphia needs land tax, too

November 22, 2008

Henry George Foundation’s Josh Vincent had a nice op-ed in Thursday’s Philadelphia Bulletin, noting that there is a good case for cutting taxes on work and investment, and a good case for increasing the budget to pay for needed services.  His point is that this doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.  By taxing land adequately, taxes can be cut and service maintained or improved. No great revelation to Georgists, but it’s good to see it in a major newspaper.

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Henry George books are on line

November 21, 2008

All of Henry George’s major works are now available for free download, but not all from the same place.  Here are the links.  Many of the speeches and articles have also been posted but I don’t know if anyone has inventoried the links.

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Free fertile farmland!

November 19, 2008

I’ve said for quite a while that if you want to build a factory, unless it’s particularly noxious, you can probably get free land, or equivalent in benefits, from any number of economic development organizations.  Turns out that the same can be true for farmland.

You, or I, couldn’t do it, but Korean conglomerate Daewoo can, 1.3 million hectares (that’s half the size of Belgium, says FT), in Madagascar.  Apparently this is an above-board legitimate deal, and Madagascar “will simply gain employment opportunities.” Daewoo doesn’t get fee title, but a 99-year lease.  The produce will for the most part be shipped to Korea.

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Personal rapid transit

November 12, 2008

PRT International has an elegant new web page.  If you’re interested in how technology can be effectively applied to the problem of urban transportation, the site is worth more than one visit.  This is the system that Chicago’s RTA should have evaluated instead of the Raytheon fiasco.  Although its construction would provide many jobs, its operation wouldn’t need a lot of the semi-skilled labor employed by the current system.

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Henry George pops up in all sorts of contexts…

November 9, 2008

Here’s a proposal to fund education in “developing” countries using the increased land value which results as the general level of education improves.  Nothing wrong with that, but why limit it to countries where governments are likely to be dishonest and the quality of assessment may be poor?  Why isn’t it equally applicable in, well, Canada, where these people seem to be, or Chicago, or anywhere else where funds for education are needed?

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Location still matters

November 8, 2008

We still hear sometimes that, in the Internet age, one can do business from anywhere.  Simply not true, for a lot of reasons, and here’s another: Big server farms are best located where electric power is cheap, which in the U. S. can mean the Columbia River basin. Amazon is building a $100 million facility in Boardman, OR.  Another source says that’s just for the computer equipment, the building is an additional $35 million. Google already is in the general area at The Dalles, where its facility employ 200.

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Henry George on election reform

November 3, 2008

Henry George was “the most zealous American champion of the Australian [secret] ballot,”  writes Jill Lepore in the  Oct. 13 issue of the New Yorker.  Rock, Paper, Scissors: How we used to vote, reminds us that vote fraud is nothing new and there are two (or more) sides to every public issue, including voting rights.

Thanks for Howard Rutiezer for the link.

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