“Little Girl” and My Morning Coffee

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I would, without fail, purchase a large cup of iced coffee from the Annenberg cafe before heading to class. Personally, caffeine is not a necessity, but more for comfort as I often need that little push to get through the mornings. However, to many people elsewhere in the world, coffee is something they cannot get out of bed without. And this year, these caffeine addicts have all the reasons to get slightly worried as a “Little Girl” returns for another visit.

(Image of author’s favorite morning drink)

I am of course referring to the La Niña (Spanish for “Little Girl”) weather phenomenon. It is the opposite of the El Niño weather, which turns global climate a bit hotter. La Niña is when unusually cool water surfaces in the Pacific and causes global temperature to change as a result. It would mean that this year, the world would feel a little cooler, which may be a good thing for those who do not like hot weathers. However, it is a devastating news for farmers and manufacturers whose products rely upon a hot weather.

In a Guardian article, Sarah Butler introduces this dilemma global coffee enthusiasts are potentially facing. Coffee beans are a tropical produce, and they do not tend to react that well in face of a cooler climate. La Niña can, for example, bring in “severe droughts in key growing areas including the US midwest devastated crops while excessive rains in Columbia led to the spreading of a deadly coffee fungus”, which was what had happened in its last cycle 5 years ago. When the production of coffee beans is directly and negatively impacted, it is inevitable that the coffee price would surge upwards as a result, since by simple supply-and-demand economics we know that a reduction in supply would cause the market price to go upwards.

Of course, while the simple fact is that our coffee would become more expensive, global climate change can have more devastating effects. Floods and droughts can destroy cities and their economies, all the while taking lives of hundreds of thousands. This year, the United States had suffered from three major tropical storms and hurricanes, and the affected areas are only beginning to recover. With La Niña coming in and making weather patterns more unfavorable, the recovery efforts can be hindered.

Then, the economic damage would not just be a few extra cents on my iced cappucino.

The Unbalanced Pyramid: The Illicit Economy Behind China’s Lifting of One-Child Policy

Heralded as a powerhouse to propel the world into the future, China has long been regarded as having one of the most sound demographics to power its economy. Recently, the country has announced that it is lifting the controversial one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979 as a means to control the population at a time when China was still poor and undeveloped. However, remnant effects are being felt by the country in 21st century, in the form of a destabilized demographic.

What would happen when your family is told that you are only allowed one child, and in some cases at most one son after having a daughter, in a country where sons are traditionally viewed as being more virtuous than daughters?

(An old propaganda poster supporting One-Child Policy: “Executing the One-Child Policy Is A Part of the Country’s Foundamental Principles.”)


Some simple math will tell us that male babies born will outnumber the female ones, and this is exactly the problem Chinese Millennials and Gen Zs face as they approach adulthood. In his article, BC Cook outlined the threats he thinks the Chinese society faces as a result of the One-Child Policy. The most pronounced issue, he argues, is the problem of “online brides”, or brides from neighboring Asian countries who come over to be married to Chinese single men who cannot find a wife.

Now, online dating is not illegal, not even in China. “However,” Cook argues, “Chinese men finding foreign brides and starting families is exactly what the Chinese government was trying to avoid. So the one-child, male-only mandate from the government has backfired.”

On one hand, there is a markedly obvious imbalance in the “supply and demand” of domestic brides, as a direct result of the One-Child Policy. On the other, the Chinese philosopher Mengzi summarized in a proverb: “Dishonor to the family has three forms, and having no child is of the worst.”(不孝有三,无后为大)The Chinese traditional culture heavily focuses on the idea of continuing one’s lineage by starting one’s own family. To this day, this idea still permeates all levels of Chinese society. Where demand exists supply must be sought, and in this case, in the form of online brides from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

(“It sure would be nice to have a sibling, Mr. Xi!”)

Disregarding the ethical arguments, this aspect of the One-Child Policy’s remnant effects certainly has created social-political implications where the imbalance of a very sensitive supply-and-demand relationship sought balance elsewhere. “There is a limit to how much we can legislate human behavior,” summarized Cook, articulating his belief that the Chinese government has disrupted an instinctive economy of basic human needs.

It is very unlikely that the Chinese government will step in to regulate the online dating industry as a result, because online dating has created an in-demand economy across China. Still, the influx of foreign brides, many of whom are still undocumented, has most definitely created implications for the government.

Not only does supply create its own demand. Demand creates supply where necessary, too.

Economics of Refugees – The Numbers That May Benefit America?

President Trump was elected into office a little over 10 months ago. At which time, his political platform differed vastly from the rest of the conservative candidates, for he was the only one to call for a radical, even extreme, stance against immigration and refugees. The reason for this, in his words, was to “bring jobs back to America”, a phrase that hints at the competition immigrant and refugee workers bring with them. However, a recent New York Times article respectfully disagrees, at least partially to the entire idea of that incoming workers may hurt the country’s economy.

The truth is, studies have shown that refugees do have a positive side to their hosting country. The article notes that, while the Trump Administration rejects this finding, the refugees will be “paying more in taxes than they consume in public benefits, and filling jobs in service industries that others will not.” In other words, the refugees may not create such a burden as widely imagined by the Americans upon the American economy, and will likely not cause tension within the already competitive industries.

Still, the rejection of this finding does not come as surprising, as anti-immigration is a core pillar supporting the Trump political platform. It is not uncommon for politicians to “selectively accept” findings that are convenient to them and deny the rest. The climate change debate that has been going on within the American politics for years, which has long become a laughingstock of the United States in other countries, only showcases this further.

Disregarding the debate of terrorism associated with refugees and looking at the matter purely from an economic perspective, the economic gain of cheap labor combined with a solidifying of the working force demographics could only benefit the United States. The States, like Canada, are both immigration countries whose very foundations were made up by immigrants from the 17th and 18th centuries. Unlike China and India, the United States never had a substantial domestic population to support its economy, and to turn away from immigration is to undoubtedly a move away from the foundation of this fine nation.

Perhaps, if President Trump truly intended to “Make America Great Again”, he should reconsider the basis of some of his policies.

Naw, this Evan kid is just fake news. Don’t listen to him. We’re good. We’re great. America’s great. America’s gonna be great.


Californian Magic Is Real – The GDP Says So

In many aspects, California has been seen as a unique case – at times an anomaly, even – of an American state. During the Rio Olympics there were many mentions of how many medals from the American roster belonged to California, and how that number would compare to other competing countries. When it comes to GDP, one can most definitely expect the similar kind of discussion taking place, especially in the current political atmosphere where the intensely progressive and liberal California stands among an overall right-leaning U.S.A..

The above graph shows California’s annual GDP growth since 2000. As the data suggests, California’s economy has remained largely healthy throughout the way, only taking a reasonable hit upon entering the 2008 Financial Crisis. However, as Bloomberg noted, California has seen a surprisingly speedy recovery compared to the rest of the nation, which the news agency accredited to the state’s liberal cultural-political environment, even going as far as saying that California “is the chief reason America is the only developed economy to achieve record GDP growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing global recession”.

The article attributed California’s “magic” to its left-leaning policies, such as securing a strong labor force through laws favoring immigrants. At a time where the President has been very outspoken against the topic, California strives to do the exact opposite, by exercising its autonomy on a state level. From raising taxes instead of lowering to encouraging companies to globalize rather than discouraging, California is almost a “rebellious child” in the eyes of the federal government. However, this rebellion has proven successful, as California’s real GDP growth maintained an upward momentum since climbing out of the recession until 2015, where it attained 4.4% while the entire country had only seen 2.6% that year.

There is no reason to believe that California would change course from what it has been doing and what has been working under the Trump administration. In fact, the President’s orders would act as the inverse-compass for the Californian economy. Despite having seen a dip in 2016, California does not seem to concern itself with this little hiccup, and from the looks of its policies, the state is set on remaining being that “problem child” in Mr. Trump’s classroom.