Time is Money

Time and time again I’ve heard people say that economy is boring. Well, to that I have only one thing to say: like it or not, you’re living it. When you shop for groceries or clothes, when you buy coffee or dinner, when you go to the bank, pay the bills, bet on horses, work for someone or yourself, when you travel and even when you use the internet, you’re living it. Do you see what I mean? So, it’s better to accept this fact and adapt.

College was a life-changing experience for me in many ways I hadn’t thought it would be. For one, I thought I’d meet many people who were passionate about economics like I was, or at least driven, but there were so few of us. Nevertheless, we made a good group. During this time I learned a lot about myself and the world, but mostly about the value of time, and how much money wasted time could cost you.

This isn’t something you can measure with a really nice watch, no matter how beautiful it is. Like I said, time is money, and the less time you waste the less money you lose. People talk about budgeting money and all that, and that’s very useful and practical, but if it were up to me, I’d say to ditch all that, that’s plan B. I say, you should learn how to budget your time. It’s much more efficient and rewarding. This has never been a challenge for me, personally, because I’ve always been good at time management, but I’ve seen people around me struggle with it while I was at college, and it helped me develop some ideas which I think might help me in the future when I (hopefully) become an advisor to the President.

Here’s an example: you don’t get up on time in the morning, so you get ready in a hurry, and then you get to the coffee shop on the way, and want to get your favorite bagel for breakfast, but morning rush beat you to it and now you have to pay twice as much for a sandwich you don’t even like that much, then you take a cab to work because it’s faster, forget your water bottle at home and have to buy a new one just for the day, and so on, and so on…

So, here’s a little resource I found to help you get started, and I’ll catch up with you next time!

Influencing Demand to Increase Supply

I started studying economics when I was very young—just a kid. I read the business page of the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. I was acquiring a vocabulary that would impress any college grad. I knew names like Warren Buffet, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and more. I could rattle off a description of monetarism, supply side economics, and supply and demand. I knew about the gross national product and other key economic indicators. I was in heaven. It got better as I grew up and entered college. Let me share with you my passion. I hope to encourage more students to select this vital and interesting field as their major. It is all about what makes the world go around. You must know the meaning of capitalism, a free market, the dollar exchange rate, and how commodities work. If you know about stocks and bonds and the S&P, so much the better. I could go on and on.

Anyone in business wants to follow economic trends and gear their marketing tactics toward them. Otherwise you are wasting valuable advertising and promotion dollars. If unemployment is high, demand will fall as people have less excess cash. If foreign prices are low, American products will suffer as buyers rush to purchase abroad. The global marketplace is highly competitive. You must change your tactics to keep pace with new technology and innovation. For example, if you are selling a vacuum cleaner, it can’t just do what all the others say it can. You must change your strategy to attract these price-focused buyers by offering something new. You can market to a target audience of allergy sufferers, much like the this example about pet hair vacuums helping with allergies. Your website copy can concentrate on the big need to solve the problem of indoor pollution. By that I mean, dust and dirt as always, but also shedding pet hair. This can exacerbate existing allergies, prompting people to abandon the idea of owning a pet.

This is not an acceptable solution for most, especially animal lovers. The allergy prone can acquire a super powerful vacuum that has special attachments to grab and suck in stubborn pet hair. Air cleaners help and sometimes damp mopping, but it is not enough if the shedding is continual. I sympathize with people whose pets shed all the time and not just seasonally. They are always subject to an aggravation of their allergies. In some of the worst cases, you get oodles of fur balls that I call dog hair tumbleweeds. A good vacuum will quickly scout them out. Cleaning up after a beloved pet is part and parcel of the experience, and we all put up with it. If you are marketing a vacuum cleaner, why not address the allergy issue as an important benefit of buying a new appliance. It is clever marketing to reach a new audience and speak loud and clear to their specific needs.

Studying Any Way I Can

I study economics, my passion, as I want to go places in the years to come in some capacity in this subject area. I love turning the pages covering John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman. I know the history of the Great Depression, the oil embargo, and Federal Reserve Board and each and every chairman and his policies. I relish historical economics as much as I do modern theory. What is going to carry us successfully into the future, who knows? There have been times of great crisis if I doubted we would survive a depression such as in 2008. I watched the country almost crumble. But basic principles prevailed miraculously in the long run and no doubt will keep us safe and secure in the future now that we have learned a great lesson.

So, I ponder the problems, domestic and international, and I ready myself for a career in the field. I hope to be no less than a presidential advisor someday. I am putting in my time now in preparation. It is particularly exasperating when the power goes out when I am in the middle of a fascinating chapter about Alan Greenspan. I have to resort to reading by flashlight which is not my preference. The AAA flashlight of have by my desk is small, but surprisingly effective. It is better, however, than an Itty Bitty Book Lite. The small flashlight, given to me as a gift since I only have an unwieldly large one, reminds me of when I read undercovers after the lights went out as a child. I was never ready to enter slumberland. I had to read at least a chapter of a story. This became a strong habit over the years, one which I never abandoned. I always felt a bit sneaky about fooling my parents, but that feeling of curse has gone. Now I use the flashlight in emergencies, and power outages are not infrequent. I am ready with the small tool at close hand all the time.

A larger flashlight feels too heavy and I can’t hold the book easily while I manipulate my source of light. I am always mindful to keep extra batteries around in case it is going to be a late-night study session. A power outage can destroy concentration and ruin your schedule. I usually plan to read to many pages at a time. Now that I am prepared to handle any sudden outage, I can stay focused and make my goal by the morning light. When I study with a friend and there is a break in the power, my flashlight is unfortunately at home. Thankfully, this does not happen very often. It is usually part of my personal environment. But, my friends, you can see from this blog that things are nicely under control. Get yourself a small AAA flashlight and see for yourself that during a power outage, you can take back control.

Everybody Loves Reagan


We studied Reaganomics last semester and it was quite interesting. Reagan’s plan tried to fix several huge economic problems. The economy was terrible when Reagan took office. Unemployment and inflation were high, and the country was deeply in debt. Here are some highlights to impress your friends with:

One thing that was destroying the economy was inflation. Reagan wanted to reduce inflation rates, so he restricted access to money. The Federal Reserve made interest rates so high that people couldn’t take out loans for cars or homes, and businesses could not expand. The idea was that if people couldn’t afford things, then the cost of those things would have to go down. It was incredibly painful to the economy early on. However, the plan worked. In 1983, when they finally lowered interest rates, the economy rocketed back up.

Reagan believed that deficit spending—spending money the government didn’t actually have—caused the country’s economic problems. His administration decided that best way to solve this problem was to reduce the amount of money the government spent. He cut or reduced several programs, but increased the military budget and canceled out much of the cuts. He did not manage to reduce government spending enough to offset the rest of his ideas.

The cornerstone of his presidential legacy, known as supply-side economics, was a reduction in the federal income tax and capital gains tax. The idea was that by taxing companies lessand, therefore, increasing their supply of money, they would put that money back into their businesses via expansion that added more jobs as well as improvements to production and service so that products were cheaper to purchase. By not taking as much money from individuals, the assumption was that they would able to spend more and contribute to economic growth.  Individuals would earn more, and pay taxes on that extra money, thereby replacing the government’s loss from lowering taxes. This is a controversial idea and opinions on the results are mixed. The general consensus is that any tax cuts need to also be reciprocated by reduced government spending in order to be completely effective.

Reagan also reduced government regulation. The goal was for thegovernment to take a backseat. He deregulated phone, gas and cable companies with the goal being “healthy competition”. Under his Presidency, the government also backed off from overseeing Savings and Loans companies. This gave those companies much more leeway in what loans they gave and what interest they could charge, savings and loan businesses could make incredibly risky investments. Many see this as what set the stage for the recent real estate crisis.

His policies were drastic and in some ways very effective at getting the economy headed in the right direction. Many herald him as a great economist who made the tough choices to get this country out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

I find it incredibly interesting that some of his policies were not nearly as effective as he wanted them to be, had what could be considered a questionable lasting impact, and yet there are people who completely swear by his presidency.

A Perfect Night

A night out on a date is a much-needed break from studying and you need them as often as you can. Economics can be absorbing and intense on its own. I welcome any opportunity to get away from the books and the theories and enjoy a nice meal by candlelight. Students don’t always have the luxury of romantic interludes—who has time?—so they can be few and far between such that an occasional dinner out becomes a major treat.

It is unusual enough to become the subject of a blog, in fact. I have to report a recent experience that was extra special to me, and it came at just the right time. I had been writing papers and reading new material that was difficult to absorb, and my brain was pretty overloaded. I also had been neglecting regular meals and exercise. When asked out for a restaurant dinner, I jumped at the chance. I actually put on some decent clothing, sparse in my wardrobe to be sure, and added a touch of makeup to the mix.

I was taken to a local French bistro known for its ambience. I had not been and was relishing the menu choices. This would be a far cry from my usual fare, and anticipation reigned supreme. Upon arrival, I noticed that the main dining room had a wonderful wood stove strategically placed for most guests. I gave my date that knowing gesture. I wanted to be seated right in front.

The maître d’ accommodated us to my great joy. The flames beckoned with all their enticing glory. It was cold outside and the warmth wrapped around me like a cozy cape. It was not too hot; but just right. Eating here was going to be the highlight of the year. It was going to be a night to remember, but for reasons other than the usual suspects.

I was not disappointed. The hearth added a lot to an already fine dinner. We had a divine coq au vin, a green salad served after the entrée in true French style, and a wonderful pasty dessert. I wanted to linger and ordered café at the end of the meal. My date was happy as a clam, but not as much as I was seated before a blazing fire.

What is it exactly that is so magical about a fireplace and a few logs? Since most students don’t have one in a rented apartment, it becomes a symbol of sorts. It stands for extravagance, comfort, ease, and contentment, among other things. Sure it provides warmth, but it is so much more than that. A fire is a breath of warm air, a provider of sustenance not akin to food. It is a focal point when it exists and a beacon of light. In short, it is just right for what ails you at most any time.

You can even have a gas log, mighty convenient, and still feel the fine effects of a fire. Your unit can be large and elegant or small and compact. As long as you get to sit entranced once in a while, it doesn’t matter the size.

Drip, Drip, Drip!

I am trying to focus and concentrate. Studying is not easy when there are distractions around. I like a quiet environment conducive to contemplation and thought. I don’t always get this in my apartment. It’s not the noisy neighbors or the traffic outside. It is not a distant lawn mower or a baking dog. Neither is it children playing in the street or the sound of music in the unit below. It is constant drip, drip, drip of the kitchen faucet, and I need a plumber to fix it right now. It’s not one of those cheap ones either – it certainly appears to be one of the Finest Faucets that money can buy.

A leaky sink is annoying, and you don’t need aggravation when a mid-term text is looming on the horizon. There is enough pressure involved. At his point in the semester, I am too busy to even call for repair. I try twisting the knobs tightly and hoping for a reprieve. Not going to happen. I put a bowl under the faucet, but the sound is even worse. I am going to have to resort to earplugs to continue my reading.

This is also not a viable solution as I cannot talk on the phone nor hear the doorbell. Sometimes the landlord comes calling or the postman needs a signature. You can’t anticipate, so you don’t want to take drastic measures that will interfere with daily life.

Drip, drip, drip. The drone goes on. I am going to go mad! I try putting on some music, first with my earbuds and then in the entire apartment. It should camouflage the recurrent sounds. It does, but in point of fact, I still know it is there—like Chinese water torture, it inflicts its damage. Now it is psychological and well beyond the annoying stage. It is taking its toll on my mind!

Drip, drip, drip. I can hear it laughing at me insidiously. It tells me that I won’t pass that test or get that essay in on time. It tells me to get up and call the plumber, but I won’t succumb. I would just have to wait hours for him and not return to the task at hand until the job was done. No, there must be a way out of this water nightmare, and I have to think fast.

I plug up the faucet opening with a bit of cheese cloth I found in a kitchen drawer, but it acts like a sieve to no avail. I move myself to the living room in spite of the loss of my worktable of choice. I am not comfortable there. The light is better in the kitchen and much needed for concentration.

So what next? I have a small bedroom, not conducive to study. If I work while in bed, I always fall asleep. The bathroom is out of the question. I go back to the kitchen and start to look around. I find a small wrench too small for the faucet. I find a plastic bowl that may muffle the water-dropping sounds. I do a million things in my mind until I finally call the landlord. He kindly offers to call the plumber himself, and adds, “what took you so long?”

What do You Wear?

College students have their noses buried in the books most of the time, sometimes at the expense of their health. They stay up all hours of the night and forget to eat. They don’t know when to quit, thinking more is better when it comes to studying. They don’t sleep enough or even get a modicum of exercise. For me, a few extra pounds was the slap in the face I needed to wake up and start a new program. Was it those chips I loved to munch on in the wee hours of the morning when the stomach starts grumbling?

I now wear a fitness tracker that links to my bathroom scale, also new. It is a marvelous technical innovation that I have welcomed into my life. It is a symbol of my new commitment to self-improvement and a way to take mandatory breaks from intense study. The tracker will monitor my fitness level over a given period of time and will also record weight gain or loss most accurately. I can think of no better motivator when you are on a schedule and beginning a new regimen.

Most any exercise works for young people, even long power walks. Their muscles tone up fast and their metabolisms are already fast in most cases. Being overweight is not the norm. My program was modest but effective in intention and results. It combined a bit of the treadmill, weight circuit training, and aerobics. It let in some swimming (indoor pool of course) and diving. I didn’t need a huge weight loss as much as I needed something to help clear my brain and focus better on economics.

Tracking your workout makes you accountable, no matter what else it does in providing data to assess. It helps you stay on your selected program as you will want to beat the numbers and come out ahead. It is a test of wills. A poor set of readings means you are apparently not applying yourself. Ultimately, the digital bathroom scale is the benchmark of progress. Even a half pound can make you cringe. This is the nature of a regimen. When you commit to it, and really embrace it, it starts to become a bit of an obsession and will spur you on.

As a student, I have designated time for walks and workouts. They have to fit into my schedule. Since there is precious little time, and exercise is very compact, my tracking device is my companion and guide. It is there on my wrist as a reminder of my goals and purpose. It tells me if and when I have done enough. While I am in the zone, it does its job of informing me of my progress or lack thereof. When back to studying, it takes a back seat to the books.

I heartily advice any fellow students to buy this device or ask for one as a gift. It is not something you would have put on your wish list a while ago, but take it from me, it belongs there along with a new smart phone and tablet.

Why National Debt is a Problem


Think about the government the same way you think about your own budget. They “earn” money by charging taxes. They have “bills” that they need to pay, such as government programs, public subsidies, and make payments on loans to other countries.  The problem here is that the federal government does not need to balance its budget. It does not have to account for all the money that it spends but can’t actually pay for. If you want to see what we currently owe, check out this debt clock. At the time I’m writing this, each person has to make almost $58,000 more than they already are just to cover the amount of money the government has spent up til now.

This makes me angry. There are plenty of things that I want: a new rug for my ugly apartment, a fancy dinner out every once in awhile, a better computer, the newest iPhone. But these things cost money, and I don’t have enough. Plus I know I am incurring debt through student loans that I will have to pay off. I could use credit to get the stuff I want right now, but someone will come looking for the money. Because I won’t have it, I’ll have to file for bankruptcy. Yes, I might get to keep my new iPhone, but they would probably turn off my service and make it worthless. My credit will be so damaged that it will affect my job prospects and my financial choices.

If I was the federal government, though, it would not matter. If I were the government, I’d have a few choices. I could print more money so that I could pay off all my debt, causing inflation. If I didn’t want to do that, I could just raise taxes and make other people cover my debt so that I broke even. Another option would be to offer bonds. Kind of like that saving bond your grandma got you for your 8th birthday. Investors bid on the bond and whatever they pay for it is what the government earns. The problem with this system is that the loan will eventually come due. With interest. So the government will end up owing even more than they raised. If tax revenue has not increased, they will be unable to pay off the now-due loan. They will be presented with the same three options as before. So they will issue another bond. And it will go on and on.

Eventually, though, nobody will want to buy the bond because it will be too big of a risk. And if you don’t think that is a possibility, look at Greece. Then the government would be forced to either print more money—and make the dollar basically worthless—or raise taxes to a dangerously high level that could force companies out of business and people out of work.

It is a vicious and dangerous cycle. It worries me, and it should worry you, too.

Never Leave Home Without It

Books on economics can be weighty tomes. When they need to be transported, you need the right item for the job. I am fortunate to have a good, spacious backpack for such toting purposes. I couldn’t lug my thesis around, either, if it weren’t for this functional fellow. I have had it for ages—since high school actually—and it has never let me down. It keeps everything clean, dry, and wrinkle free, which means protected and preserved.

I didn’t know what I would be doing with this original item when I first forked over the cash some years ago. I wanted to be like everyone else and just have one over my shoulder. I was careful about the appearance and size, however, so that I would not regret my choice later on. I wanted a stylish (but not too) but workhorse model. I apparently was spot on. I still love its many hidden compartments, the adjustable strap, the roomy interior, and the waterproof and sturdy fabric. It is well made and will no doubt live to see many a new day ahead as my ubiquitous companion. It is a survivor to be sure.

Economics is my passion and I study it in its macrocosmic context as applied to the western world. But I have my own personal sort of economics as well. This has to do with staying frugal and avoiding an unnecessary strain on my meager budget—at least for the moment until after graduation. Thus, my reliable but cool backpack serves me well. It fulfills its purpose and I don’t have to start saving for a new one any time soon. I could recite a paean to it: it is that good. It wasn’t that expensive either; just looked well-made and dependable. I was right!

My books have found a happy home within its cozy confines. They seem to fall into place like magic. I can fit most all my books inside along with a fold-up rain jacket, my cell phone, a wallet, and some cosmetics. Yes, all that in one medium-sized model. I love the way it never shows dirt as it is a dark grey, almost charcoal, color. I wouldn’t care if it did. It is all about sturdiness and reliability. Frankly, if I had to get a new one, I am not sure what I would select.

So I never leave home without it. It goes to the movies, restaurants, class, on vacation, to the gym, shopping, to mom’s house, and more. It has a constant place at my side. It replaces the need for a handbag or fanny pack. It does double duty as a mini suitcase as well. It is all purpose and totally utilitarian. Practicality is its middle name. If I had to advise students of one item to splurge on before starting college, it would be to purchase a great backpack for their every need. As one for high school graduation at the very least and have it ready to do its work freshman year.

There’s a Reason it is Called a Pedi-CURE

I walk a lot and in all kinds of weather. Sometimes, I never know where my day will take me. I try to be vigilant about good footwear to avoid the pitfalls of ill-fitting shoes and bad weather. However, there is another kind of problem that plagues the feet and that is fungus. Yes, that unsightly, itchy condition that can happen to anyone. I am focused on not having it happen to me!

I bring this up because I was having a pedicure recently and looked over to the chair next to me, as I often do, just to make eye contact and perhaps have a chat. The woman ensconced before her manicurist had the worst case of toenail fungus I have ever seen. Her toes were a blackish yellow, brittle, and unsightly. The big toenail looked yellow and about to fall off. It gave me a scare. How did she get that way and how could I avoid it? Would I be next?

I vowed to take care of my feet. I selected a salon that used sterilizing equipment. I promised not to wear tight shoes and to put only waterproof ones on in the rain. I heard that excess moisture can be the culprit when it comes to contracting fungus. I bought some foot powder as a preventative and possible cure. I was on the lookout for any telltale signs. A smelly goo was a tipoff to be sure.

A pedicure for me became a pedi-cure, or a therapeutic procedure that I felt was now required. It is a great excuse to indulge often in something pleasurable in the interests of food health. I is no longer an infrequent treat. I justify the expenditure this way and keep it at the top of my budget. It is not a discretionary item that is optional and that can be shoved aside when you are busy. Plus, it is a great way to perk up the spirits when you are feeling down.

Young people don’t get many diseases. At best, they suffer from the flu or a cold. Thus, foot health is something concrete you can do for yourself that applies to people of any age. There is no limit as to whom may be afflicted, but from what I read, I know you can protect yourself. Keeping my feet attractive and fungus free is a newly found goal that is spurring my interest. I have done my research and at the top of my game when it comes to spotting signs and symptoms.

The ads on TV are pretty funny when it comes to toenail fungus. The levity might work for product sales, but it is no laughing matter. I have visions of that women in the salon in my nightmares! I also know that cures are iffy at best and take a long time. There are prescription medications, but they are hard on the liver. Topical treatments are a daily chore. I am bound and determined to avoid such recourse by taking care of myself.

It Doesn’t Matter What You Call It.

Because states—and Washington D.C.—have the right to tax its residents however it sees fit, it can vary greatly from state to state. In some states, there is no income tax at all. The following states do not tax individual income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas,Washington, and Wyoming. In addition, Tennessee and New Hampshire only tax things like interest earned from stocks and bonds. It sounds like a good deal and that people should be flocking there to keep more of their earned money in their pockets. But is that the whole story? Of course not.

States need money. It has to come from somewhere. Even if you aren’t paying income tax, it is coming from somewhere. Some states, like Alaska and Nevada, have other ways to make up for their loss in revenue. Nevada has gambling money, and Alaska has oil money. Other states use one or a combination of sales, corporate, and property taxes to generate capital. Most places even let governments on the local level get in on the action.

In other words, they’re still getting your money. They just call it something different. For example, Texas and New Hampshire both made the top 10 list of states with the highest property taxes. So maybe they don’t take your hard earned cash right out of your check every week but the land your house is sitting on is going to cost you. Wyoming and New Hampshire are in the top ten for vehicle taxes, too. Texas and Washington also break the top 15 of states with the highest sales tax rates. Wyoming’s tax base is 99% and is so different that I have to study it separately, and it taxes its residents enough that it ends up taking the 4th highest amount in the country. But, you know, no income tax.

Be smart, America. Don’t get suckered in by relocation sales pitches. When they throw things like “no sales tax,” “no income tax,” or “corporate tax breaks and incentives” at you, take a look at what they mean. Do real research when you are debating a move. If you have a choice on where to go, think about what you want your future to look like. Are you planning to buy a house or a car? Are you looking for somewhere that is small business friendly? What about if you are near retirement age? There is a lot to consider when you look at the tax implications. Look not just at how much they plan on taking out of your check. Look into how much they plan on getting out of your checking account, too. Some of these places might end up seeming too good to be true. You might change your mind and pick somewhere else. That low priced real estate they’re trying to sell you on might eat you alive in property taxes. Look at the state and local sales tax rates. You might be surprised.

You don’t have a choice about the cost of taxes at the federal level, but moving to a different county or state can impact how much of your money you get to keep. Don’t forget that.

Where is Your Money Going, America?


This is an interesting question. Believe it or not, the White House actually tells you.

Since social security and medicare are collected separately and itemized on your W-2, these are the big ticket items. But they are obvious because they’re listed clearly on your tax forms. You can go back and look for exactly what you are paying into these.

Do you know where the rest of your money goes?

At least back through 2008, defense and healthcare have been the top two. They occasionally flip-flop for the top slot. But with the ACA being in full effect now, it probably is no surprise to anyone that healthcare is the biggest money grubber at a little over a quarter of all remaining funds collected. Nearly half of the money going into healthcare goes to Medicaid and CHiP.

As I mentioned, defense takes up the next biggest piece of thepie, at 24%. However, out of that total, less than 6% goes toward military pay and benefits. That is health care, insurance, and pay for members and their families. We are talking .015% of total budget. This is not a large amount. Equipment and supplies are the big ticket item here at nearly 10% of the defense budget. How much of that do you think are huge government contracts that senators push for projects in their respective states? I bet it’s an impressive number.

After that, most of your money goes toward federal pensions and public services. Which is not very surprising since congress can make back up to 80% of their pay for their retirement, and they get paid handsomely. You only have to serve five years—in contrast most companies and public service make people work 20—and senators are elected for six, so it is a done deal for them. They still have to wait for retirement age, but still.

The next thing your tax dollars pay for is interest on money that the government owes on bills they aren’t paying back or have not finished paying. Nice, right?

Rounding out the bottom are things like VA programs, the justice system, state parks and other natural resources, science and space programs, and natural disaster funds.

I know people who really like getting a large tax refund at the end of the year. I do not. Here’s why: If you get a lot of money back, you are giving the government an interest-free loan for whatever they want during the year. Then you or someone you hire has to navigate confusing tax code—all to get as much of your money back as you can. If your deductions were set up properly, the government could only take what it actually deserved. You would break even at tax time. Granted, it is not as fun anticipating a zero balance. But which would you rather have: that money in your accounts all year helping you pay bills or earn interest, or letting the government borrow it interest-free?

Think about it.

So how is the Thesis Going?

That is all anybody seems to ask lately. It is “Hi, What’s up? Oh, you’re writing a thesis, right? How’s that going?” I don’t know if people are just trying to be nice or what because they likely don’t care. People don’t actually want to hear anything about economic policy. Usually, they get all glassy-eyed or fall asleep and start to drool. And I get it. This stuff isn’t for everyone. I think it is interesting, but then again, of course I do. I learned early on that economic theories aren’t something you bust out with at parties. It would be nice if I could talk about it a little more, as I am going to have to defend the thing at some point, but that’s why I’m a teaching assistant, right? Guaranteed audience that has to sit there and listen to every word I have to say.

But anyway, back to the thesis. I am still in the work phase, so I am elbow-deep in global economic studies. My thesis centers on using Greece as a cautionary tale to argue against moving toward a more global economy, particularly with a unified currency. Printing additional currency, while it increases inflation, is an important tool in the economic arsenal of a nation when they need to get out of a recession. If you take that ability away, dangerous things can happen. Imagine what the country would be like if we literally ran out of money. Other countries who shared our currency would be able to interfere with, and potentially dictate, our ability to recover.

Sometimes my thesis keeps me up at night. My brain gets caught up in creating all these terrible scenarios. The problem is that they are so believably terrifying. It makes me wish I had picked a topic about kittens or interior design—a hobby of mine. Granted, my econ professors would not like it but it might helpmy insomnia. Then I go back to the library and hit the stacks again, and find out something really interesting, and I am happy with my topic again.

I know myself and how I jump from research lily pad to research lily pad—much like other people fall into YouTube wormholes, so when I write, I actually disable my internet access. It helps to keep me focused on the information I’ve already gathered.

I am going to take some time out to design some imaginary global currency. Aside from being fun to do, I think it will add something to the actual report. I am thinking yellow and purple. This is what I think about when I get writer’s block. It is a good way to ease myself back into the topic, and it is fun to think about making your own currency.

If you had the chance to make your own, what would you call it? Mine is still nameless.