What We're Reading

Car prices:

Historically, it has been cheaper to buy a used vehicle over a new one, and overall that remains the case. But for some used models—mostly those with low mileage and bought in the past year or two—the differential is closing quickly.

For instance, the average price paid by a customer in June for a one-year-old vehicle was only about $80 less than the selling price of a brand-new vehicle, according to J.D. Power. That gap is typically closer to $5,000 or more, the firm’s data show.

“It just seems like we’re in fantasyland,” said New England auto dealer Abel Toll.

Productivity:

Our population increased from 75 million to 130 million between 1900 and 1940. In some countries comparable increases have been accompanied by famine. In this country the increase has been accompanied by more abundant food supply, better living, more leisure, longer life, and better health. This is, largely, the product of three factors - the free play of initiative of a vigorous people under democracy, the heritage of great national wealth, and the advance of science and its application.

Titles:

Why for instance should I be called “Professor Cowen,” but few people would address the person fixing their toilet as “Plumber Jones”?

For a long time I have insisted that my graduate students call me “Tyler.” My goal has been to encourage them to think of themselves as peer researchers who might someday prove me wrong, rather than viewing me as an authority figure who is handing down truth.

Tokyo Olympic budgets:

2013: bid projected $7.4 billion of costs

2019: official budget of $14.6 billion

2020: budget revised to $15.4 billion

2021: government auditors project total spending will be $28 billion.

Debt:

Banks say their wealthy clients are borrowing more than ever before, often using loans backed by their portfolios of stocks and bonds. Morgan Stanley wealth-management clients have $68.1 billion worth of securities-based and other nonmortgage loans outstanding, more than double five years earlier. Bank of America said it has $62.4 billion in securities-based loans, dwarfing its book of home-equity lines of credit.

Have a good weekend.

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