Monthly Archives: September 2015

Record Year-to-Date Acres Burned

Acres burned already exceeds the comparable figure for 2006, the previous record year.


Figure 1: Acres burned to August 22 (blue bar), from August 22 to September 25 (red bar) and to year-end (green bar). Source: NIFC1, NFIC2, author’s calculations.

Using the same regression (log acres on log acres ytd) used in this post, my estimate of acres burned has risen from 9.62 million to 9.76 million.

This in turn raises the estimated total expenditures from $2.27 billion to $2.29 billion.


Figure 2: Acres burned (blue, left scale) and total Federal firefighting expenditure in dollars (pink, right scale) predicted 2015 (pink triangle). Source: NIFC1, NFIC2, and author’s calculations.

I’ve only tabulated direct Federal fiscal costs; here is an article on part of the human toll. Further note that these costs do not include state level costs. Cal Fire’s total budget for the current fiscal year is about $390 million.[1]

“Walker…seeking to eliminate the state’s civil service exams…”

… replacing it with a résumé-based system for merit hiring.

I think I know what will be required on the résumés to be hired under the current administration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article continues:

Republicans have already made changes in recent months, eliminating the Office of State Employment Relations as part of the state budget and replacing it with a new Division of Personnel Management in which Walker can appoint the person responsible for the state’s merit hiring rules.

I wonder if an analogous measure could be profitably applied for university applications. Who needs to do math, or be able to read in order to learn accounting or physics or writing?

Update, 9/29: My colleague Don Moynihan has published a more formal argument for what should and should not be included in civil service reform.

The Return of Policy Uncertainty

From Hatzius et al., in Goldman Sachs Global Macro Research yesterday:

A federal shutdown due to a funding lapse looks no less likely than it did two weeks ago, and we believe the probability is nearly 50%. The Senate is expected to begin voting later this week on a funding extension, but the House looks unlikely to act until shortly before the September 30 deadline.

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Forecasting interest rates

There was lots of action in financial markets last week, with much of the attention focused on the U.S. Federal Reserve. The interest rate on a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond edged up 10 basis points early in the week in anticipation that the Fed might finally raise its target for the short-term interest rate. But it shed all that and more after the Fed announced it was standing pat for now.

Price of CBOE option based on 10-year U.S. Treasury yield; to convert to the Treasury yield itself divide by 10. Source: Google Finance.

Price of CBOE option based on 10-year U.S. Treasury yield; to convert to the Treasury yield itself divide by 10. Source: Google Finance.

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