Economic factoids

Morgan Housel from the Motley Fool investment website recently made a list of fifty factoids about the economy that he says blow his mind. It showed up in my inbox in a spam message from the Motley Fools. I usually don’t read investment opinions, because it doesn’t seem to me like anyone at Zacks or Seeking Alpha or the Fool is right more than half the time on average. For the most part he does not cite sources, so there’s no guarantee these are accurate. But some of Housel’s factoids were interesting (he numbered them like a countdown):

49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, "Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent."

43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

47. A record $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Adjusted for inflation, that's 60% more than the 2000 elections.

That’s just criminal.

42. According to The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. refineries are producing more gasoline and diesel than ever. And Americans' gasoline consumption is at an 11-year-low."

12. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is now a net exporter of fuel products like gasoline and diesel.

So if not because of supply and demand, why are gas prices so high?

38. The Census Bureau now classifies nearly 1 in 6 Americans as living in poverty.

3. The combined assets of Wal-Mart's Walton family is equal to that of the bottom 150 million Americans.

Again, criminal.

28. Just five companies, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and Pfizer, now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.

21. Netflix is now responsible for about one-third of all Internet bandwidth.

So there’s a 1% and a 99% in the world of business, too.