Category: Economics

Watching Less TV Will Not Make You Rich

I like television. I don’t love it. Outside of baseball season I’m not a daily watcher. But it’s a nice thing to have in the house. I even think of it as a relatively cheap form of entertainment.Televison Takkk Much cheaper, for example, than its  closest analogue, going to the movies.

Apparently, I was wrong. Turns out, each hour of TV watched costs me $4 in increased spending. This from Juliet Schor, currently a Boston College sociologist:

"Television viewing results in an upscaling of desire. And that in turn leads people to buy." Her study found that every additional hour of TV viewing per week boosts spending by roughly $200 a year.

(This from Money Magazine at via Consciously Frugal via Fiscal Fizzle via ABDPBT. The opportunity to run a fourth generation link was  not the only reason I picked this topic, BTW.)

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Long Run House Prices Revisited

The start of a new year is a great time to pause, consider the big picture, and predict the future. So it’s time for me to update a chart I first ran a while back on house prices.




This is adopted from Robert Shiller’s work. He chained together a collection of house price indexes covering different periods, ending with the Case-Shiller Index Composite from 1987 onwards, and then adjusted for inflation.

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Was the Last Decade Lost?

This is the first post of the new decade. I can’t be sure, but I think that the recent two digit change in the Great Odometer has been a little underplayed this time around, relative to the buzz from, say, 1990.

(Fussbudgets who insist that decades start with years that end in 1 instead of 0 need to stop taking themselves so seriously. Yes, the conventional definition New_Year_Aftermath Crop is not entirely logical. Does it also bother you that fire alarms go "off" when they operate?)

Part of the under-buzz may be due to the fact that we never really got around to naming the decade that just ended. In fact, a large portion of what media coverage the decade got focused on this oversight. I have no helpful suggestions. Personally, I will always think of the 2000-09 period as the Really Fast Decade. Seriously, it feels like it lasted ten months, at most.

For investors and savers, one obvious nominee is The Lost Decade. My main objection to this is that the name is already taken, referring to the 1990s in Japan, where two generations of postwar economic expansion came to a sudden and bewildering halt on or about January 1, 1990. Compared to that, our last ten years wasn’t really all that lost. The Misplaced Decade?

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Theme of the Year #3: We Are All Nuts

By far, the most read item this year on Bad Money Advice was Swoopo: Entertaining Yes, Shopping No. It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to a post really going viral, accounting for about 4% of all page views on this site. No Thinking Chimp doubt it was the first thing many of you ever read here.

So I don’t need to recap what it says. But I will remind you all that I called Swoopo a sort of "commercial performance art in which it is demonstrated just how dumb we really are." But dumb isn’t quite the right word. Irrational is better.

And that is today’s year-in-review theme, that we are all nuts. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s just that we aren’t nearly as logical as we think we are.

Back in March I posted on a wonderful new concept discovered by two professors: saver’s remorse. The gist of it is that it is possible to regret saving instead of spending, just as you could regret the reverse. In a better world that would have been an absurdly mundane finding, but in our world it is pretty radical.

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Theme of the Year #1: The Great Recession

As winter rolls in and the season of office parties fades into the season of empty offices, it is time to pause and take stock. It is hard to imagine that we will be looking back on 2009 as the good old days any time soon, but things  could certainly have been worse.

Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895The end of 2009 also marks, more or less, the end of the first year of this blog. So it makes sense to review the year by reviewing the year in the blog. In the next few posts I will be highlighting a few general themes that emerged as the year went on. Today it is the most obvious of topics, The Great Recession.

What set off the GR was best discussed here at Bad Money Advice in a book review I wrote (in two parts) of the probably now forgotten The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It. I meant to do more book reviews when I started this blog.

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