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Research Notes–October 2006

Featuring research published in September 2006


How Resilient Is the Modern Economy to Energy Price Shocks?
Economic Review Q3 2006
Using a model that incorporates energy use into the production function, the authors explore why energy price hikes had vastly different effects on economic growth from 1970 to 1985 than they have today.

Dollar Depreciates in August
The average monthly value for the trade-weighted dollar index of 15 major currencies tracked by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta declined 0.7 percent in August from the previous month.


The Federal Home Loan Bank System: The “Other” Housing GSE
Economic Review Q3 2006
Recent financial and accounting difficulties at some Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs) caught many observers off guard. This article analyzes differences in the FHLBs’ risk-taking incentives versus Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s.

One Proxy at a Time: Pursuing Social Change through Shareholder Proposals
Economic Review Q3 2006
This article provides a rare examination of socially responsible investors, using a comprehensive data set to categorize the investors and identify their objectives and the firms they target.

An Economic Explanation of the Early Bank of Amsterdam, Debasement, Bills of Exchange, and the Emergence of the First Central Bank
Working Paper 2006-13
By issuing money whose value was not directly tied to coin, the Bank of Amsterdam was the first true central bank. This innovation arose from the early Dutch Republic’s chaotic monetary conditions.

Regional Economics

The Energy Debate: Is Ethanol the Answer?
EconSouth Q3 2006
As global demand for oil has soared over the past few years, taking prices with it, the search is on for alternatives to petroleum. Some researchers champion ethanol as the fuel source that will reduce U.S. reliance on crude oil.

The Gulf Coast’s Tourism Comeback: Playing for Even Higher Stakes?
EconSouth Q3 2006
The region’s tourism industry struggled to rebuild after near-total devastation in 2005. Now, tourists are streaming back to the Gulf Coast and into new casinos and refurbished restaurants.

Hurricanes Spawn Insurance Rate Increases
EconSouth Q3 2006
Hurricane-prone Southeastern states are devising strategies for offering affordable insurance coverage to homeowners and businesses. Record claims stemming from recent disasters and insurers’ increased premiums complicate the task.

Katrina Update: One Year After
EconSouth Q3 2006
While much work lies ahead, the area devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is experiencing measured progress in cleanup, employment, and rebuilding.

Huntsville: From Rockets to Riches
EconSouth Q3 2006
For nearly 140 years, being Alabama’s birthplace was Huntsville’s chief claim to fame. But for the past 50 years, Huntsville has become known more for rocket science than for historic merit.

Newer Technologies Are Increasing the Ethanol Yield
EconSouth Q3 2006
An interview with Joy Peterson, an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Georgia, who conducts research on biomass conversions for producing fuel ethanol.

Smoking: Taxing Health and Social Security
Working Paper 2006-12
Smokers incur higher net marginal Social Security tax rates because of shorter life expectancies, the authors find. In addition, smoking works to widen the gap between low- and high-earnings workers.

International Economics

Official Dollarization and the Banking System in Ecuador and El Salvador
Economic Review Q3 2006
Ecuador officially dollarized in 2000 to help alleviate an economic and banking crisis, while El Salvador dollarized in 2001 to enhance already successful reforms. This article examines whether dollarization has brought the benefits expected.