What Causes Microbust Storms?

Note: This entry was initially written for Level 2 cadets at the 540 Golden Hawks Squadron. See other posts in this series.


An interesting weather phenomenon known as a “wet microburst”. which is when a lot of rain falls in a very small area, which causes a lot of winds as a result. These can look very cool, but are very dangerous to fly through!

Wet microbursts are a type of “downburst”, which happen during thunderstorms. A downburst is anytime cool air is forced out of a storm in a smallish area; if that air also has rain in it, and if the downburst is smaller than 4 kilometers in diameter, it becomes a “wet microburst”.

One way to think about thunderstorms is that they first need to “breathe in” by taking in warm air from the ground; and then as the warm air is cooled at high altitudes, the storm “breathes out” the cool air.

If the “breathed in” air is humid enough, and the high altitude air is cold enough, precipitation forms—which means the “breathed out” air can be either rain or hail. (This is why hail mostly happens in the spring.)

Thunderstorms — ANAC National Civil Aviation Agency - Brazil
Clouds first “breathe in” warm air, get bigger, then “breathe out” cold air and precipitation. Picture from the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil: https://www.anac.gov.br/en/safety/aeronautical-meteorology/conditions/thunderstorms

Most of the time, storms take in a “deep breath”, forcing the air to very high altitudes which also causes it to spread out, and then “breathe out” over large areas.

But sometimes, especially after a hail storm where the melting ice forms an area of much cooler air, the breathing out process starts much earlier—at both a lower altitude and before the air has had a chance to spread out over the sky.

This is what causes a downburst, and in effect it’s like dumping a huge bucket of water (or heavy air) from the heavens unto the earth. With gusts of wind that can travel up to 240 km per hour, you want to be very far away from one!

The RDA of Vitamin D is based on bad statistics

Vitamin D has been in the news lately, especially for its beneficial effects on immunity (as well as other benefits), and its potentially beneficial effects in preventing the development of COVID-19.

So how much vitamin D should a person be getting every day? The “recommended daily allowance” suggested by the Canadian and American nutrition authorities is 600 “international units” (equivalent to 15 micrograms).

A Brief History of the Modern RDA

Where did those RDAs come from? The answer is a 2011 report published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), called the Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Of particular note, it determined that Americans and Canadians require a daily vitamin D intake of about 600 IU per day by analyzing 32 studies of vitamin D supplmentation.

Their findings are explained and graphed in Chapter 5 of their report, pages 380-383 and figure 5-3: by supplementing with 600 IU of vitamin D per day, 97.5% of people will achieve adequate levels of vitamin D.

Continue reading “The RDA of Vitamin D is based on bad statistics”

Forget about the second wave of the virus, get ready for a recessionary tsunami

Originally published at the Hill Times.

In the midst of multi-phase re-opening plans, Covid-19 cases are back on the rise around the world. This has caused talks of a second round of lockdowns to circulate before this first round of unlocking. This is music to the ears of struggling business owners. Yet we shouldn’t expect a government-orchestrated economic plan to be harmonious. The new normal for businesses will still mean a cacophony of higher input prices and disrupted distribution networks. 

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fiscal snapshot delivered Wednesday predicts a very sharp recovery in GDP, with a gentle tapering of unemployment. This is a bad prognosis. With or without a second round of lockdowns, the economy will fall sharply ill again. Simply put, the global economy of the past few months has produced less stuff to use in trade, production, and manufacturing. What makes it worse is that these disruptions have happened at the arbitrary whim of bureaucrats. Even if demand returns to pre-Covid levels tomorrow, businesses may not be able to support their existing workforces or capital structure. 

The invisible hand of supply and demand will soon be greeting the market not with a socially distant salute; but rather with an invasive groping of revenue streams and supply chains. Investors and business owners must prepare for the worst. Expect more layoffs, store closures, and bankruptcies, as entrepreneurs unmask what the new normal will look like.

Politicians themselves will never admit to these problems. Many will tout that their decision-making has been prudent and shrewd, as they’ve been seeking expert advice. Officials tell us to expect the economy to bounce right back, even though these advisors are not economists themselves. Whether the recovery will look like a “V” or “U”, we should seriously question the alphabet soup of optimism that we’re being told to swallow. 

Foremost: politicians have no objective measure for determining what is and isn’t essential. The global supply and distribution system is, quite literally, unimaginably complex. The metaphor of a supply “chain” is misleading, as it implies a clear beginning and end. Since what may be a consumption good for one person may be a capital good for another, it’s more accurate to talk about an economic crochet—an intricate interweaving of supply threads and demand threads, coming together in an ever growing pattern of commerce. Plucking away at random threads may seem harmless at first, but it fundamentally alters the structural integrity of the whole economy. 

The impacts are already being felt. Scholars estimate an increase of over 253,000 cases of infant mortality this year due to the global lockdowns (compare that number to 550,000, the worldwide death total of Covid-19). 

Between overloaded mental crisis hotlines, deferred cancer testing and treatment, an increase in domestic abuse, disruptions in supplying pharmaceuticals, and a global food supply crisis that the UN’s World Food Programme says could lead to 270 million people being “acutely food insecure”, it will be years until the full effects of these lockdowns will be reckoned with. 

Governments around the world have been almost uniform in their response: hand out money to seemingly anyone who asks for it. Where did all this money come from, in a time when many are working and earning less? The central banks. Yet printing money to prop up financial assets devalues the currency overall. Ultimately, all of us will be forced to pay higher prices for everyday goods and services. 

Although this pandemic is novel, the laws of economics remain unchanged. Prices are determined by supply and demand, and enterprising individuals will find a solution to anything profitable. Understanding these principles will be the key to a healthy prognosis for recovery. The only complication to worry about is more meddling by politicians, which has a simple cure: civic vigilance.  

Human Action in One-Syllable Words

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises — in one-syllable words (inspired by the summaries of famous philosophical works by Jason Brennan). Here is a short summary, before launching into a part-by-part treatment:

You can choose. With this true face, we can use just our wits to learn some more true facts: like you act in time, you have doubt about fate, and that you give up your least liked piece of a thing to get more of what you want. If you live with a group that you trade with, you should each own the goods you use to make things with and trade them for cash. The cash math will help with your growth plans. If you don’t, your group will break and rot. If any bank makes fake cash and lends it out, it will cause a boom and bust. Folks are blind to these facts; you must help them see.

Continue reading “Human Action in One-Syllable Words”

Understanding the Fed’s Bond ETF Program

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve did something it’s never done before: purchasing exchange traded funds (ETFs) that are invested in corporate bonds. As a brand new program, this has generated a lot of confusion on behalf of the public. Why is the Fed buying bonds? Who is the Fed helping by buying corporate bond ETFs?

I’ll try to answer these questions (and more) in this article.

Continue reading “Understanding the Fed’s Bond ETF Program”

The Collected Works of Ludwig von Mises

MisesLibrary.jpgIt always struck me as strange that such a great and important thinker as Ludwig von Mises, whose last posthumous work was published in 2012, did not have a dedicated and comprehensive anthology. Since I personally have a significant interest in “what Mises said” on this or that topic, it also frustrated me that there was no simple online resource available where I could do this—despite so much of Mises’s works being available online.

Thus, I’ve used my time during the COVID-19 lockdown to create this compendium: over 8600 pages, 36 separate volumes, 200 megabytes.

Find it under the Free eBooks section of this website, or simply click here. This version was last updated May 12th, 2020. 

The list of titles of the collected works include:

Title

CTRL+F

Pages of the PDF

A Critique of Interventionism

KZ01

4-143

Bureaucracy                                                                                

KZ02

144-272

Economic Freedom and Intervention                                                     

KZ03

273-585

Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow                                  

KZ04

586-682

Human Action (Scholar’s Edition)

KZ05

683-1635

Interventionism: An Economic Analysis                                               

KZ06

1636-1764

Liberalism                                                                                  

KZ07

1765-1973

Liberty and Property                                                                    

KZ08

1974-2028

Marxism Unmasked                                                                       

KZ09

2029-2154

Memoirs                                                                                     

KZ10

2155-2303

Money, Method, and the Market Process                                            

KZ11

2304-2658

Nation, State, and Economy                                                             

KZ12

2659-2883

Notes and Recollections, with the Historical Setting of the Austrian School         

KZ13

2884-3068

Omnipotent Government                                                                 

KZ14

3069-3421

Planned Chaos                                                                            

KZ15

3422-3465

Planning for Freedom (and other essays)

KZ16

3466-3658

Profit and Loss                                                                             

KZ17

3659-3718

Selected Works Vol I                                                                     

KZ18

3719-4151

Selected Works Vol II                                                                    

KZ19

4152-4608

Selected Works Vol III                                                                   

KZ20

4609-4929

Socialism: An Economic Analysis                                                           

KZ21

4930-5524

The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality                                                          

KZ22

5525-5613

The Clash of Group Interest and Other Essays                                       

KZ23

5614-5650

The Free Market and Its Enemies                                                       

KZ24

5651-5769

The Theory of Money and Credit                                                       

KZ25

5770-6306

The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science                                         

KZ26

6307-6451

On the Manipulation of Money and Credit                                                                       

KZ27

6452-6676

The “Austrian” Theory of the Trade Cycle                                                                          

KZ28

6677-6689

Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth                                                     

KZ29

6690-6780

Money and Inflation                                                                                

KZ30

6781-6874

Epistemological Problems of Economics

KZ31

6875-7123

Entries for the Encyclopedia Britannica

KZ32

7124-7134

Theory and History

KZ33

7135-7529

Human Action (Liberty Fund Edition, volumes 1-3)

KZ34

7530-8442

A Critique of Bohm-Bawerk’s Reasoning

KZ35

8443-8451

Glossary (“Mises Made Easier”)

KZ36

8452-8602

Three Short Stories on Housing Economics

Originally published on Notes on Liberty. 

Do you love housing economics but have struggled to get the basic ideas across the younger generation? Yes, you get excited about reading 60-page reports, but kids these days have better things to do.

That’s why I wrote these three, action-packed, short stories which you can read to any child (or child at heart).

So without further ado, here are three stories about how the supply of housing affects the prices of housing.

Continue reading “Three Short Stories on Housing Economics”