ST. LOUIS — The January edition of The Regional Economist, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' quarterly publication of economic and business issues, features the following articles. (The publication is also available on the Bank's web site: http://stlouisfed.org/publications.)
- "The Taking of Prosperity? Kelo vs. London and the Economics of Eminent Domain." Widespread outrage occurred when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision regarding eminent domain in June of 2005 in the case of Kelo vs. New London. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution denouncing the court's decision. Since then, some 34 states have taken action to limit eminent domain. Economists Thomas A. Garrett and Paul Rothstein evaluate eminent domain and the consequences, intended and otherwise, that can flow from its use. They conclude that, more often than not, eminent domain hinders more than helps economic development.
- "Working Hard or Hardly Working? The Evolution of Leisure in the United States." Numerous economic studies suggest that between 1900 and 2005, the hours worked by the average American in a year have fallen by about 550 hours. So, presumably that means more Americans are enjoying more leisure time, right? Research analyst Kristie M. Engemann and economist Michael T. Owyang cite several studies that find that the answer depends on whose leisure time is considered. For example, one study shows that working-age adults have experienced an increase in leisure time, while another argues that for the entire population, leisure time has remained relatively constant. Engemann and Owyang conclude that although Americans report feeling more stressed than in the 1960s, their leisure time is, at worst, the same now as it ever was.
- "Barnyard Boon or Bust." The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently began implementing the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which calls for the registration of all premises involved with animal agriculture, tagging all farm animals, and tracking these animals through a system of producer-reporting and state-managed databases. Opponents of the program worry about data security and some object on constitutional or religious grounds. Small farmers, in particular, say NAIS will cost too much. Economist Michael Pakko describes a cost-benefit approach to the program using the program's User's Guide as a starting point. Assuming that the overall benefits of NAIS make its costs worthwhile, he concludes that a system based on voluntary participation is far more likely to result in an efficient distribution of costs than the mandatory approach that was previously pursued by the USDA.
- "Community Profile: Tunica, Miss." Tunica can point to several signs of prosperity: nine casinos, an expo center, a new golf course, an outlet mall and a recreation center. Glen Sparks, an editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, reports on how Tunica reshaped itself as a destination resort. The next phase in the town's transformation is more residential construction, as well as the attraction of more manufacturing jobs to the area.
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