Friday, November 16, 2007


I've just been admitted to the PhD program at the U of M--and assigned to the advisor I requested! I start in January :-)
Weird thing about universities, though: I was emailed a form for "Residency Reclassification" to fill out before I discovered (only through logging in to my online ap) that I had been actually been admitted. The same thing happened to me when I was admitted to Stanford--I received an email from a "Stanford buddy" and a list of dorms to choose from before it was finally "admitted" that I was "admitted."
I'm still really excited to begin...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Accounting for Diamonds with the GAO

According to the Government Office of Accountability, the US is EXPORTING more diamonds than it imports! This, of course, presents a fascinating problem, since the US does not have a single working diamond mine--ergo, we should logically be importing more than we export. In addition, the US is not a "cutting center"--Israel, India, and Antwerp are the main locations for cutting (so there is really no viable reason that the US should be exporting so many).
According to the GAO, in 2003, there were 3 million more carats exported than imported in the US. By 2005, the US Census reported an excess of 300,000 carats over our number of imports.
This suggests either that:
1) The US is laundering diamonds (don't think I'm being melodramatic here--the GAO suggested it first!)
2) The US's manner of accounting for diamonds is totally off
or 3) (my own idea of what's going on): since the US method of accounting for diamonds does not include the stock surplus of what is already in America, perhaps jewelers, wholesalers, etc. are EXPORTING their current stocks to make diamonds seem rarer than they actually are, in order to maintain current pricing (i.e., if the supply seems small, the demand should logically go up).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homeless vets and Housing

Veterans of foreign wars are disproportionately likely to become homeless, despite holding higher levels of education and a higher socioeconomic status than the general population. Veterans represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older. This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population. The number of homeless vets is likely expected to rise with the return of recent veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While vets will not be immediately face homelessness (i.e., there was some delay before vets of Vietnam became homeless), perhaps the impending scenario can be prevented through good policy.
It is highly ironic that, at a time when foreclosure rates are soaring from the subprime meltdown, veterans should be homeless. While government spending can prop the economy up (as witnessed by the WPA projects of the Great Depression), in this case it can solve two problems at once: what I propose is this--rather than allowing lenders to purchase the homes at fire-sale prices off the auction block, perhaps the government should start purchasing these homes in strategic locations to use as group homes or for homeless vets to use, while getting on their feet.