Posts tagged with consumption

projections and history of US petroleum-product usage and production

by the US government via C-SPAN

  • huge projected growth in natural gas usage
  • Marcellus Shale obviously making a huge impact
  • increased profits to primary sector, but this will not hugely change GDP

Energy consumption per person since 1820. by Gail Tverberg


Most advice for young people is so terrible it makes me want to throw heavy objects at the adviser. Like

But the founder of Wikipedia has chosen advice related to (a) making money and (b) other people trying to get you to give it to them. Maybe it’s his experience with diverse Wikipedians that helps him think outside the rich-person bubble?

In my experience, costs are easier to control than revenues.

Wales’ advice to young people is also similar to advice my great-grandfather gave to my grandfather about work and money.

And it’s similar to my favourite equation from economics, which I summarise as:


I know many of you tumblr readers are young and some of you are interested in hearing advice from older people. If you read Wales’, let me know what you think?

people at three different socioeconomic levels in Mumbai


Persuasion, Initiative, Freedom, Desire

  • @isomorphisms: Econ 101 leaves out persuasion. What fraction of business (/politics) is persuasion?
  • @isomorphisms: Of course that's only part of the problem with lacking a theory of where utility surfaces come from.
  • @isomorphisms: People choose careers, (spouses?), and clothes based on narratives someone else wrote. Whether it's the YC type "entrepreneur" narrative or Puma's "sleek" narrative, or sci-fi narratives of technological progress.
  • Where did economists themselves get the idea to become professors? Could it have been from 17 years of schooling???
  • @isomorphisms: It's rare for people to initiate their own dreams or be 100% originators of their goals or preferences.
  • @isomorphisms: Which presents a problem for the Edgeworth-box story of lonely individuals trading with each other.
  • @isomorphisms: But the story Don Draper told about Lucky Strikes is, I think, the same one as the fMRI Pepsi/Coke experiment. #neuromarketing
  • @isomorphisms: It's that ∄ difference between "lies" and "truth": perception is reality. It's that pleasure and preference themselves are malleable and being moulded by others all the time. (Or at least they're trying to mould it.) Even besides "marketing types" or essayists trying to influence your unconscious or conscious thoughts as their job, plenty of people reflexively enforce social norms and expectations without a strong desire or benefit
  • @isomorphisms: The story of Don Draper and the Lucky Strikes makes us individuals out not as free-willed inventors of ourselves, util-seekers and comandantes of our own pocketbooks--but as dull voids with no idea what to do with the incomprehensible freedom we enjoy in a society where incomes so far exceed subsistence.
  • @isomorphisms: It puts us as templates onto which meme-smiths paint their work, searching for 1 that will stick and replicate itself.
  • @isomorphisnms: It's somewhere in that spirit, I think, that persuasion in the workplace, in the store, on the TV, can be modelled. And without an effective theory of persuasion I don't see how economic theory can take an honest accounting of choice, preference, or "optimum".
  • Bike ride through streets named Brookside (nowhere near a brook), Ridgeview (not on a ridge), Westminster (none of their corpses will be entombed there). A tennis court on Buckminster Drive.
  • Ironically, this sign: "NO SOLICATIONS ON THE PREMISES". The real estate developers and bankers involved have already done all the selling, thank you. Now we need these people to obediently and consistently rise for work every day and pay OUR due, without YOU fingering their pockets as well.
  • Even "Alan Rickman Reads Proust", the suggestions of what to do with freedom--trips to India, faling madly in love, "On The Road" type life--aren't original ideas, those come from stories which we have no better idea than to live out.
  • But why point out the unoriginality of others when I have so much to draw on myself?
  • My first business was, literally, a copy of one I'd worked at in another locality. My dreams to become a quant? 100% seeded in the insinuations of my professors.
  • Or even my unclever insults above aimed at the ownership society. Did I invent those myself? No. Umpteen movies and stories and poems railing against suburban culture. Any surprise that Millennials want to walk to small shops whereas their parents preferred driving to the mall? Was it that something about cars and roads and shops changed? Or that a generation worth of artists told a nasty story that changed the demand functions.
  • This is depressing. I need a cigarette.

I had nothing but ideas.

O.K., they weren’t strictly mine, in the sense that these ideas were acquired, arranged, styled, photographed, published and distributed by entities bearing no relation to me whatsoever.

The Equation of Life
s/rent/mortgage/ or
s/rent/landowner's share of tenant's crops/
et cetera, et cetera, mutatis mutandi, et ceteraaaa, et ceteraaa

The Equation of Life

  • s/rent/mortgage/ or
  • s/rent/landowner's share of tenant's crops/
  • et cetera, et cetera, mutatis mutandi, et ceteraaaa, et ceteraaa


I can afford to consume each of

  1. chocolate
  2. cheese
  3. tea/coffee
  4. fruit

multiple times per week. I think that qualifies me as Pretty Goddam Lucky.

Random thought. If end-of-life health care costs eat up 33% of US health care spending = $850 billion, then that means that if you could make people less afraid of dying and more willing to accept it, you would save = make a colossal amount of money. (In fact $850bn = roughly ten years of revenues of US President Obama’s optimistic projection if he raises taxes on the richest Americans.)

In other words, changing people’s attitudes could add 10% to the GDP of the biggest economy in the world.

Random thought #2. If we’re interested in maximising utility across the economy rather than increasing production levels, then perhaps the most important field of research is not bioengineering but the psychology of satisfaction. If you could figure out how to make people appreciate the things they have and not covet the things others have, then gross utility would shoot way up. How much? Billions? Maybe even on the order of the entire economy itself?


  • same hopes & desires
  • same choice of stores
  • the same houses and the same decorations in those houses
  • fruit from the other side of the world

part II

  • Do our sexual norms derive from the invention of chimneys in the 14th century?
  • the invention of table manners
  • furniture, music, buttons, wainscoting, and intellectual pursuits — all due to the Little Ice Age?
  • lower and upper classes slept in the same hall, with the animals, around a fire, in the manor-house days. And had sex right in front of each other! omg! Economics begetting morals (I mean seeing thru to the 19th century)
  • So the Little Ice Age was the beginning of privacy. Speaking of not having sex in front of each other, maybe it contains as well the roots of abortion as well as the roots of Victorianism. Privacy norms were made law in 1979 in the United States, to the chagrin of anti-abortionists. Since then and before, appeals to privacy as a fundamental human right have been made to justify any victimless crime (homosexuality, libertinism, drug use … some of which are no longer criminal). What if our conception of this “natural human right” is just a function of the history of global temperature?

part III

  • Jamestown, VA versus charcoal
  • Economics before capitalism. Sounds like the ruler had the economy’s interest at heart — a growing economy means more to tax.

part IV

  • before trains, each village was more-or-less a genetic island. Not that no-one swam the waters to marry someone from the next town over, but genetic interchange among geographically dispersed humans was slow. As transport became cheaper and faster, procreation between Poles and Germans, Lyonnaise and Bretagnes, Spanish and Portuguese became more common.