@RusselNorman Why 1.3 billion people without access to electricity can’t afford to divest from fossil fuels

Primary Colors

Struggle for the Presidency

The movie Primary Colors is loosely based off the 1992 Democratic nomination for president. In this film, John Travolta portrays an inexperienced Democratic candidate for president, which can be presumed to be Bill Clinton but under the stage name Governor Jack Stanton. Stanton along with his running mate Richard Jemmons, played by Billy Bob Thornton, scheme their way to the possible candidacy throughout the movie by manipulating the media to make him seem like the wholesome, family man politician when in reality it is just the opposite. Henry Burton, the protagonist of the movie, is a first time campaign manager picked by Stanton to help win the Democratic nomination. At the moment, Burton is working for a politician who is hoping to be the first elected African-American congressmen. However when Stanton calls, Burton is ready for a fresh start in what he thinks will be a more professional atmosphere. However…

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The United States of Wal-Mart


Since it was founded in 1962, Wal-Mart has grown to be one of the most powerful corporations operating today.  The chain controls approximately 20 percent of the entire American retail business.  It has stores in the United States as well as in Mexico and Japan, and also operates in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and China.  Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the world, and made nearly $380 billion in revenues last year.  Driving across the country, it’s hard to miss the Wal-Mart Supercenters in each passing major town, and no matter how many you see, there are always cars in the parking lots.

The map above is from a paper entitled The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and Economies of Density, written by the University of Minnesota professor Thomas J. Holmes, on behalf of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  For each year since 1962, Holmes plotted the locations of all…

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Where the Greenies Live


“Green” economics is a major trend these days.  There are environmentally friendly cars, houses, light bulbs, and laundry detergent–all components of a larger green lifestyles.  But as with all trends, living green is more popular in certain places than in others.  Today’s map is drawn from a study that attempts to chart areas with large numbers of people who live environmentally conscious lifestyles.

The map above is taken from “Green Market Geography: The Spatial Clustering of Hybrid Vehicle and LEED Registered Buildings” by Matthew E. Khan and Ryan K. Vaughn, both economists at UCLA.  This map–a distribution of Prius registrations in Los Angeles County, California–is just one of several maps they include in their paper to show the distribution of the green lifestyle across the state.  Here, the darker the green, the more Prius registrations there are in that zip code.  Click here or on the picture above to…

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Minard on Immigration


What better way to start the week than with another map by Charles Joseph Minard?  Cartographers and students of graphic design generally idolize Minard for his ability to translate large and complicated data sets into easily understandable formats.  I have previously covered one of Minard’s other works, but this map is just as interesting and incorporates some of the same principles as his map of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

This map charts the numbers and destinations of emigrants from Europe, Africa, China, and South Asia for the year 1858.  Minard correlates the thickness of each line with the number of emigrants it represents, with one millimeter equalling 1,500 people.  He also overlays the exact number of emigrants (in thousands) over the lines themselves.  Minard carefully puts divergent lines together and pulls them apart to demonstrate the flow of immigration from major ports in Europe and Asia and toward different final…

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Poland’s Territorial Changes 1635-Present – Life, Death & Rebirth – Brilliant Maps

Poland has gone from being the largest country in Europe to being wiped off the map, not once but several times. The map traces the history of Poland’s borders from 1635 to the present day.

Source: Poland’s Territorial Changes 1635-Present – Life, Death & Rebirth – Brilliant Maps

Somali Pirates – Protection and the hijack v re-hijacking dilemma


You may have seen the movie “Captain Phillips” about the hijacking of a shipping container off the coast off Somalia by pirates. Recent research by Anja Shortland and Federico Varese mapped the locations of hijacked ships between 2005 and 2012 and found that:

1. Hijacked vessels were always anchored far away from regional trading routes
2. Big ports were not prone to piracy.

The rationale for this is that Somali clans directly influence local trade by issuing licences and also imposing informal taxes on imports and exports. Clans refuse to protect pirates because the income they get from trade is safer and more lucrative that those they can get from pirates. Clans that have little dealings in formal trade tend to offer protection to pirates in order to get a share of their spoils.

This was evident during the ban on Somali livestock imports imposed by Saudi Arabia between 2000…

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Libertarianism (Classic Liberalism) vs. Republicanism – A Defense of Libertarianism

Public, mandatory private and private social expenditure as % of US GDP, selected years since 1980


Source: OECD Income Distribution database.

Trade policy parallels @BernieSanders @realdonaldtrump @NZGreens? @nzlabour?

Source: Trade Policy Parallels | Econbrowser.

Note: PNTR is Permanent Normal Trade Relations, formerly “Most Favored Nation” status.

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