Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Kitchen Manager has ordered 80 pounds of pasta. A gallon vanilla extract. I don't know what else.

When I bring pasta for lunch, I usually have about 0.44 pounds (precooked weight), so 80 pounds is enough to feed me for 180 workdays. The vanilla extract a good deal longer.

(Pasta from Sysco is about a third the cost of HEB [which I guess is cheaper than Costco].)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

(Potentially relevant link)

Greg Mankiw's latest blog post asks (for classroom discussion) the macroeconomic stimulus difference between a bank using bailout money to pay Joe the Plumber to renovate their own bathrooms vs. lending the money to Bob the Baker to hire Joe the Plumber to do the same in his own home.

This is posed in response to Obama's complaint that the banks are using bailout money in the former, 'wasteful' way.

I don't know macroeconomics, but I'm pretty sure the point of the bailout wasn't straight-up stimulus--we use tax breaks and government infrastructure improvements for that. The point was to save the banks from going under.

In doing so it was hoped the banks would be able to loan people money in the short term, but there's more to it than that. In fact, no one really talked about that detail until much later (when it didn't happen).

If the bailouts were our screwed-up way of stimulating the economy, Mankiw's question would be relevant, as hiring people to renovating their bathrooms stimulates the economy. What it doesn't do is help keep the banks afloat. And if the money isn't being used to save the banks, maybe we should be giving the money to someone other than the banks.

To go back closer to Mankiw's question, I can tell you the difference on a less-macroeconomic level: safe loans--and nowadays they're pretty cautious about risk--to Bob the Baker results in future cash flow for the banks. Renovating the bathrooms is probably not going to bring in new money or or reduce future costs. The difference is that the former helps prevent bank failure or need for future bank bailouts, which I'm sure has some notable macroeconomic impact. I don't know how the two options differ stimulus-wise, but the loans seems like the loans would be better for increasing GDP just because more money gets handed back and forth. I just don't really see that as particularly desirable.

Friday, January 09, 2009

GM says this:

19 of our 2009 models have an EPA estimated 30 MPG highway or better2 — more than Toyota, more than Honda.

For 2009, we offer more hybrid choices than any other manufacturer. We currently have six hybrids available.

Well...yeah. Toyota and Honda made a few really good models. GM makes a million so-so models. Some of them are reasonably fuel-efficient. ('11 of our last 13 new-product introductions have been fuel-efficient cars or crossovers.' -- Okay, a bunch of them. Now stop wasting time and money on all those older models that get 6-20MPG.)

37 of our 2009 models have five-star frontal crash safety ratings.

So you have at least 37 2009 models. 19/37 = 0.513513514. But you clearly have more than 37 models or you'd say 'All of our 2009 models'. So probably far fewer than half, in the end.

From a consumer point of view, choice might be good. From a forced-new-owner of the company, it's not so good.