# Economics

The Nature of Iowa's Economy - Prof. David Swenson/Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Professor David Swenson of Iowa State University is a regularly featured source in newspapers/reports across the state.  He recently penned an article on the economic benefits of conservation in the Iowa Heritage magazine – from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.  You can find the piece after the jump, but a quick blurb:

When linking our natural resources with our economy, Iowans too often limit the discussion to recreation and tourism – sometimes casting nature as a mere springboard for commercial development. However, a healthy Iowa environment is not a means to an economic end, but rather the end itself – to which all sustainable economic activity must conform.

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Congratulations to Paul Krugman

who just won the Nobel Prize for economics:

“What are the effects of free trade and globalization? What are the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization? Paul Krugman has formulated a new theory to answer these questions,” the [Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences] said in its citation.

“He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography,” it said.

Although Krugman wasn’t honored for his op-ed pieces in the New York Times, I will always be grateful that he remained unafraid to criticize George Bush and his policies, even at the height of Bush’s popularity in late 2001 and 2002.

In case you weren’t aware, Krugman has a good blog too.

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Women need to be aware of family financial matters

I cannot imagine what Maureen Boesen has been going through, trying to deal with her husband’s suicide while parenting four children who suffered a shocking bereavement.

Compounding her grief is a lawsuit from a creditor trying to claim most of her husband’s $3 million life insurance policy:

Maureen Boesen testified that she didn’t know for sure she was in a Great Western Bank office at 10101 University Ave. in Clive or what kind of documents she co-signed with her husband in May.

“I can’t say for sure what I signed,” Maureen Boesen said. “My husband said I was there just to sign some documents because some banks need the wife’s signature on them.”[…]

Great Western officials claim they are entitled to the large majority of the insurance payments because fraudulent documents were used to obtain the loan.

Executives for the bank insisted Maureen Boesen be held responsible for her husband’s filing of false statements to obtain a $3.5 million loan even though they acknowledged she probably didn’t know they were fraudulent. The lawsuit said the bank “does not allege Mrs. Boesen engaged or devised the acts” of falsifying documents.

In many households, the woman keeps track of the family finances. However, many families operate like Ed Boesen’s: the husband handles money issues, and the wife plays little role. It’s easy to see why Maureen Boesen didn’t ask any questions before signing those papers.

When I was growing up, I remember my father warning me many times not to give a future husband total control over the family money, and not to let my husband invest too much into any risky business scheme.

He also taught me that “the most optimistic person in the world is the guy on the brink of bankruptcy,” because he always hopes that the next deal will turn things around.

The Boesen story is making the news because Ed Boesen was a prominent local citizen and died owing an unusually large amount of money. But reckless borrowing by one partner sends plenty of families into bankruptcy every year.

A woman whose husband is the sole wage-earner for the household is particularly vulnerable in this situation:

Maureen Boesen became choked with emotion at one point during Friday’s testimony, when she was asked about her children. The Boesens, who had been married 23 years, have four children, ages 22, 19, 16 and 13. During her examination, she repeatedly insisted she knew little of her husband’s financial world and centered her attention on her family. She said that she would seldom pick up the family’s mail, and all bills were sent to the family accountant.

“I took care of things at the house,” she said. “Ed was at work all the time and he took care of the work part of it.”

Parents, please teach your daughters not to cede total control over family finances and not to sign financial documents without understanding them.

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Renewable Is Not a Synonym for Sustainable

Cross-posted from the blog — cman.

This is a good mantra for the times.  Keep reciting it to yourself… Renewable  is not a synonym for sustainable. Letter to the Editor of the Des Moines Register from Dale Shires of Iowa City.

One of my dad’s maxims was “never buy or sell hay.” Buying hay might bring in the seeds of weeds we had spent years trying to control; selling hay removed tons of nutrients without replacing it with commensurate manure.Thousands of years of unharvested prairie had built the rich silt loam. The first 75 years of diversified, value-added farming saw mainly livestock and livestock products leave a nearly-level farm, using no commercial fertilizer, yet with ever-increasing yields.

We began raising soybeans during World War II, rotating and covering about one-fifth of the acreage each year. By 1954, soil tests showed a need for phosphate fertilizer. (The southwest Iowa soils were high in potassium and we inoculated the beans for nitrogen fixation.)

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