The World Wide Web is home to a lot of drek, but there are also a lot of interesting little niches where you can be entertained or provoked or even learn something. Allow me to introduce you to the blog of two interesting economists. The blog is called "Marginal Revolution: Small steps toward a much better world" and is created by George Mason University professors Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok. Here are a few interesting topics they've touched on recently:
- The two professors report on many doctors' habit of prescribing "off-label" medications for patients -- that is, drugs that have been approved for a certain purpose being used for another, unapproved purpose.
They say that many people don't want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to go through the lengthy process of approving such off-label uses, yet the same people are fine with the FDA approving initial uses. They also point out the irony of the FDA not permitting "human trials" of some drugs while the same drugs are being used in real-life trials by doctors.
- Free trade proponents and opponents might note that Cowen links to another economics "blog," which reported on "a recent study showing that child labor and trade are negatively correlated. The statistical result is the following: as a country's measure of openness to trade increases by 1%, a measure of child labor is decreasing by 0.7%."
- For those intrigued by the possibilities of investing in companies operating in China, here's a tidbit that reveals how quickly China is changing: "China's electricity consumption grew by 15 percent last year and 10.4 percent in 2002 - a spike in demand he said was equal to total power consumption in Brazil." It was noted that "They are adding a middle-sized country every two years in terms of energy consumption." Wow. Still, Fools should think twice or thrice before investing in foreign companies, as few are based in nations with disclosure requirements as stringent as those of the U.S. Learn more in this article.
- Newspapers in Italy have found unexpected success selling discounted books, CDs, and DVDs -- through their distribution networks of tens of thousands of newsstands. Circulation has even increased a bit, while the sales have generated a lot of extra cash. This might give some profitable ideas to American firms such as The Washington Post Co.
(NYSE:WPO), The New York Times (NYSE:NYT), Gannett (NYSE:GCI), Knight Ridder (NYSE:KRI), and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). Cowen, however, notes that in America, cultural purveyors are more likely to be Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)than newspapers.
If you're interested in discovering more blogs or starting your own blog, drop by our brand-new Blogging discussion board, where you can share your favorite blogs or discover some nifty new ones. Our discussion boards (and we've got many hundreds of them) share some traits with blogs, such as permitting people to share their thoughts with multitudes. We're offering a free 30-day trial of our board community right now, so consider checking it out.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns share of Time Warner. And she went to high school with Tyler Cowen, though she owns no shares of him.