Puerto Rico

Texas Man Invents Machine that Creates Drinking Water from Air

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/11/2019 - 2:17am in

This is pure Dune technology. This short video of just over 2 minutes long from RepsUp 100 channel on YouTube is a news report about a former ranger, Moses West, from Texas, who has invented a device that creates drinking water from the air. He invented his Atmospheric Water Generator back in 2015. West says of his machine that they’re at the point where they can talk about creating 50,000 – 1,000,000 gallons of water. The energy consumption is incredibly low. According to West, it’s far cheaper than groundwater and desalination. He has so far made eight of these machines. They’re in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Flint, Michigan.

According to West, the machines are federally approved and the water quality is tested by the Colorado Water Authority. Most of West’s devices were manufactured in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The news broadcast says that the townspeople should be proud, as one unit provides the town with hundreds of gallons of clean water. It also appears that it doesn’t cost the residents anything, as West works with organisations like the Water Rescue Foundation to cover costs. He also says that people were very happy that somebody actually cared enough to jump over the bureaucracy and do this on a private piece of land. His concern now is to plant these in Flint, Michigan, to help the people there.

I don’t think West’s idea is particularly new. It seems to be a variant on the domestic dehumidifiers that are used to clean the moisture out of people’s homes. Some of these, like the one in the video below from Unbox Therapy on YouTube, manufactured by Ecoloblue, create drinking water from the moisture collected. West seems to have just created a larger, industrial scale version.

It’s a great device, and West is right when he says that there’s a water crisis coming. Back in the 1990s the Financial Times ran an article about how climate change and increasing demands for water are creating conflict. It predicted that in the 21st Century, most wars would be over water. When I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D., I also went to a seminar by a visiting professor, who had researched the effect climate change had through the human past on civilisation. He too was concerned about a coming water shortage. Machines like this could help solve some of those problems.

However, the use of these machines also demonstrates glaring iniquities in the American water supply system. Flint, Michigan, became notorious a few years ago because the local council had allowed companies to pollute the town’s drinking water to truly disgusting levels. People in a superpower like America, the world’s richest country, should not have to rely on charities for their drinking water.

It is, however, very much like something from Science Fiction. I’m reminded of the technology in books and films like Dune and Star Wars to bring water to the desert planets there. Like the system of underground cisterns and windcatchers in Dune to irrigate Arakis, and the moisture vaporators on Tattooine.

Now if only someone would invent something else from Dune – the stillsuit. A suit that collects water from the wearer’s own sweat and urine, and purifies it, turning it into drinking water so that they can survive weeks, even in the deepest desert. And in the 1980s David Lynch film, looked really cool too.

Here’s a brief video from Dune Codex on YouTube explaining how these fictional suits work.

 

U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 9:00pm in

Jason Bram

U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds

Two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the two territories’ economies have moved in very different directions. When the hurricanes struck, both were already in long economic slumps and had significant fiscal problems. As of the summer of 2019, however, Puerto Rico’s economy was showing considerable signs of improvement since the hurricanes, while the Virgin Islands’ economy remained mired in a deep slump through the end of 2018, though signs of a nascent recovery have emerged in 2019. In this post, we assess the contrasting trends of these two economies since the hurricanes and attempt to explain the forces driving these trends.

Background

To put the two territories’ post-hurricane economic and fiscal situations into context, it is important to understand their respective trends over the past decade. Both had been in economic slumps since around 2006; in fact, from that time until just before the 2017 hurricanes, each area had sustained a roughly 16 percent drop in total employment as well as a sizable contraction in GDP. These protracted downturns were accompanied by high and rising public debt burdens, leading to a fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico and tremendous fiscal stress in the Virgin Islands. Severe disruptions in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria exacerbated these existing conditions, leading to a sharp drop-off in both employment and economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2017. This early-2018 New York Fed press briefing provides an overview of the two economies, both before and immediately after the hurricanes.

Assessing the Recoveries

Now, just over two years after Irma and Maria, we have a clearer sense of how deep and sustained the disruptive effects of the storms were on both territories. As shown in the chart below, the Virgin Islands suffered a much steeper initial drop-off in employment (19 percent) than Puerto Rico (7 percent), and subsequently a much weaker and slower recovery. By the twelve-month anniversary of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, private-sector employment was still down 13 percent in the Virgin Islands, versus just 1 percent in Puerto Rico—thus, more than 85 percent of the initial job loss in Puerto Rico had been reversed, compared with barely over 30 percent in the Virgin Islands. In fact, as of August 2019, employment in Puerto Rico’s private sector was actually slightly above pre-hurricane levels, whereas the Virgin Islands’ private-sector job count was still down more than 3 percent, based on the New York Fed’s early benchmarked estimates—the deepest sustained post-hurricane job loss in any U.S. area, except for New Orleans following Katrina in 2005-07.

U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds

In terms of total wage and salary income, however, the divergence is far less pronounced. This stems in part from the fact that the Virgin Islands sustained exceptionally steep job losses in two major low-wage industries (retail, as well as leisure and hospitality) and job gains in two high-wage sectors (construction, and professional and business services). This sizable shift in the job mix lifted average wages and thus mitigated the decline in aggregate wages. But even within a few major industries, there were some sizable jumps in wages seen in the Virgin Islands but not in Puerto Rico—most notably in construction. This may, at least in part, reflect a steep rise in the Virgin Islands’ minimum wage.

Why Such a Divergence?

A number of factors may have contributed to the territories’ contrasting economic performance. First, the physical damage associated with the hurricanes may have been more widespread and severe in the Virgin Islands than in Puerto Rico. Two weeks before Maria, Hurricane Irma made a direct and devastating hit on St. Thomas and St. John—the northern islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then Maria hit St. Croix head on, as well as Puerto Rico. It is not clear whether Puerto Rico’s much larger “footprint” (area) was a help or a hindrance—on the one hand, the southwestern and western parts of the island were on the backside of Maria and did not experience quite as much wind damage; on the other hand, many interior parts of Puerto Rico were inaccessible for a long time.

Second, and perhaps more important, are the respective compositions of the economies. While Puerto Rico’s economy is fairly diversified, with some sizable industries engaged in manufacturing, business services, and so forth, the Virgin Islands’ economy is much more based on tourism. In the aftermath of the hurricane—and as is typically the case after major local disasters—tourism-related industries like accommodation and restaurants were the hardest hit and the slowest to come back. In contrast, Puerto Rico’s professional and business services sector has seen substantial job gains since the hurricane. In fact, employment in that sector this year has been at record highs.

But it is more than just industry mix. Even within specific industry sectors, glaring contrasts exist between job trends in the two territories. In the vast majority of cases, Puerto Rico has seen significantly stronger job trends than the Virgin Islands. Many sectors—most notably leisure and hospitality and retail trade, both of which are key drivers of the Virgin Islands economy—have experienced far bigger job shortfalls in the Virgin Islands than in Puerto Rico since before the storm, as shown in the chart below.

U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds

A number of other differences may also help explain the sharply contrasting economic trends. One possible contributor is hotel capacity. As noted in this July 2018 post, there has been virtually no new hotel construction in the Virgin Islands for more than two decades, and hotels in Puerto Rico were much quicker to reopen after the hurricanes than those in the Virgin Islands. [At the time that post was written, nearly 90 percent of Puerto Rico’s hotels had reopened versus just 60 percent of those in the Virgin Islands.]

Another possible contributor is the minimum wage. While Puerto Rico’s minimum wage has remained at the federal threshold of $7.25 an hour, the U.S. Virgin Islands ratcheted its minimum wage up from $7.25 in the first half of 2016 to $10.50 as of June 2018—a 45 percent rise—with the most recent increase coming when the territory’s economy was already severely disrupted by the hurricanes. Although recent research on adverse employment effects from minimum wage hikes has been mixed, it is plausible that such hikes may have exacerbated the disruptive employment effects of a natural disaster like the one-two punch of Irma and Maria. But the steep hike in the minimum wage and its upward effect on average wages may also help explain why the divergence between the two territories was much narrower for overall wage and salary income than for the job count.

Jason BramJason Bram is a research officer in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

How to cite this post:

Jason Bram, “U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, October 2, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/10/us-virgin-islands-....




Disclaimer

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.

Just Released: The New York Fed’s New Regional Economy Website

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2019 - 1:01am in

Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings

The New York Fed today unveiled a newly designed website on the regional economy that offers convenient access to a wide array of regional data, analysis, and research that the Bank makes available to the public. Focusing specifically on the Federal Reserve’s Second District, which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the new site also features information about the Bank's community engagement and outreach efforts across the region. With today’s release, we are providing new regional economic précis for local areas in our District—that is, short reports that give an overview of economic trends in each location; these reports will be updated regularly as new data are released.

Below is a snapshot of the newly designed website, as well as a description of its four main elements:

LSE_2019_regional-economy-website_abel_460_art

Calendar of Releases and Events
In this section of the website, we identify upcoming reports and data releases from the New York Fed that focus on the regional economy. We also highlight past and upcoming regional economic press briefings and other events we hold across the region.

Regional Economic Indicators
Here you will find links to data and other timely information we produce on the regional economy, such as our monthly business surveys and the

Beige Book. In addition, you can click on local areas within our District to see economic information about that area. Each area’s webpage includes a table of descriptive statistics, as well as a short briefing package (here’s one for Albany, for example) that presents charts on employment growth, population growth, and unemployment rates, among other measures. These charts will be kept up-to-date, so you can return regularly to see the latest trends in the regional economy.

Regional Research and Analysis
In this section, we provide links to our economists’ Liberty Street Economics blog posts about the region, as well as other Federal Reserve reports and research papers on regional economic issues. Some recent research topics include

regional wage inequality, partnerships between community colleges and employers in New York State, and economic developments in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also will post reports about regional business issues, such how firms are being affected by the increase in New York State’s minimum wage, as well as updated information on local credit conditions and trends among small businesses.

Community Engagement
Here we provide information and reports about community development, such as assessing businesses’ access to capital, as well as reports in support of the Community Reinvestment Act. We also have a section that details workforce development issues for our region. Finally, we provide information about regional visits by our Bank president, and post presentations our economists make on regional economic conditions across our District.

We hope our new website will be useful for those interested in learning more about the regional economy, or monitoring economic conditions for local areas within the Federal Reserve’s Second District.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Abel_jaisonJaison R. Abel is an assistant vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Bram-Jason_90Jason Bram is a research officer in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Deitz_richardRichard Deitz is an assistant vice president in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Hastings_jonathan
Jonathan Hastings is a research associate in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

How to cite this blog post:

Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings, “Just Released: The New York Fed’s New Regional Economy Website,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), April 18, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/04/just-released-the-....