Study: Nature Walks Help ADHD

In the past few years, doctors have reported kids with ADHD being overmedicated. So I thought it was interesting that a recent study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that taking a 20-minute walk in a natural setting worked better than medicine in helping ADHD kids focus.

In the study, researchers took ADHD-diagnosed children on 20-minute walks in urban and natural settings. They found that those who took the natural-themed walks showed increased concentration. The concentration was as good as, or higher than, levels seen in the children when on medication for ADHD. While many studies have linked time in the outdoors with increased well-being, this is one of the first studies to link natural settings to better concentration. It also showed that time outside could help reduce all ADHD symptoms, not just concentration. "Children who have regular exposure to green spaces have milder symptoms overall," said Fraces Kuo, who co-authored the study. "So that's hinting that there may be a persistent effect." Translation: take your overactive kids outside. It's good for them.

Chart of the Day - 10.22.2008

CHART OF THE DAY....Via Alex Tabarrok, a trio of boffins at the Minneapolis Fed argue that the credit crisis is a myth. Using Fed data they demonstrate that bank credit is up, loans and leases are up, commercial loans are up, consumer loans are up, and interbank loans are up. This is all potentially interesting, but unfortunately they then proceed to ruin their credibility by saying blandly that "while commercial paper issued by financial institutions has declined, commercial paper issued by nonfinancial institutions is essentially unchanged during the financial crisis." Technically that's true, but commercial paper from financial institutions makes up 80% of the entire market, and Figure 6A shows it plunging over the past month like a barrel jumper at Niagara Falls. You'd think that might have been worth a more vigorous mention.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that using aggregate data like this somehow misses the story. It also probably doesn't take into account all the term facilities and loan guarantees that the Fed has put in place over the past year. Still, seeing some data that challenges the conventional wisdom is always worthwhile. Even if it turns out to be wrong, reading the explanation of why it's wrong should be instructive. Perhaps some enterprising econblogger will provide us with just that.

McCain's Focus on Pennsylvania Explained

The McCain campaign is pulling back in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota. The place where it appears to be rededicating itself? Pennsylvania. Pats, Packers, Broncos, and Vikings fans, you can now enjoy your Sunday football free of election advertising, which I'm sure you're thoroughly sick of by now. Steelers and Eagles fans, no such luck.

For a pretty solid explanation of the McCain campaign's move, which appears to fly in the face of recent PA polling, check out Open Left.

And for the record, John McCain isn't helping his own cause in PA. See this video, in which McCain attempts to respond to a claim by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) that Western Pennsylvania is "racist".

Most Expensive Campaign Ever? Not Really

Is 2008 the most expensive election ever? Not if you use real dollars. Yes, Barack Obama is raising more raw money than any candidate ever. And yes, this is the first time an election has surpassed $1 billion. But in 1896, William McKinley spent an astonishing $3.35 million to ensure populist firebrand William Jennings Bryan got nowhere near the White House. As Paul Krugman notes, "As a percentage of gross domestic product, it was the equivalent of more than $3 billion today, five times what the Bush campaign spent in 2004." And Krugman is just highlighting one example; he isn't conducing a systematic study of all election spending adjusted for inflation.

This isn't to say the campaign finance system doesn't need to be reformed. It does. But let's keep context in mind when you hear shrill media claims that every election is the most expensive ever.

The Market

THE MARKET....Stocks are down today:

Worries about the corporate sector sent stocks on Wall Street lower again on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrials dropping more than 400 points before recovering slightly.

....The problems have appeared in a range of industries. The aviation giant Boeing saw profits fall 38 percent last quarter. Merck, the pharmaceutical company, posted a 28 percent drop in net income and will cut jobs. The North Carolina-based bank Wachovia, which was recently acquired by Wells Fargo, suffered a $23.7 billion net loss.

Stocks have been swinging around pretty wildly over the past few weeks as investors have responded to the drama of the credit crisis, but it's worth keeping in mind that over the long term this is what really matters. If earnings reports stayed strong regardless of credit market problems, then the market would do fine. But that's extremely unlikely to be the case. We've got at least a year of weak corporate earnings ahead of us, and that almost certainly means we've also got at least a year of declining stock prices ahead of us too. Main Street's suffering is just starting.


ZZZZZZ....An apparently well known jihadist has posted a message suggesting that al-Qaeda should mount an attack on the U.S. in order to help the election chances of John McCain:

The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

...."If al-Qaida carries out a big operation against American interests," the message said, "this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaida. Al-Qaida then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it."

Yawn. I imagine that al-Qaeda will continue mounting attacks on the United States whenever it's actually capable of doing so and regardless of who's president. Screw 'em.

Bachmann Fights Back

bachmann.jpgWith her career in jeopardy because of her McCarthy-esque comments on Hardball, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) is in full spin mode. She's telling everyone who will listen, "Chris Matthews laid a trap, and I walked into it." And she's trying to raise money off of the episode. Here's an email she sent to supporters:

Palin's $150k Wardrobe, Compliments of the RNC

So much for hockey mom and Joe six-pack, huh? Sarah Palin's wardrobe bill, Politico reports, has come to a cool $150,000 since she arrived on the national scene in late August, and the Republican National Committee has graciously picked up the tab. Working out to an average cost of about $2200 per day on the campaign trail from the RNC convention through election day, Palin's designer duds cost more per day than many people's monthly mortgage payments.

McCain campaign spokesperson Tracey Schmitt was apparently unfazed by the $75,000 Nieman Marcus bill, the $50,000 Saks bill, the $5,000 September cosmetics and hair bill, and the assorted other few thousand dollar bills--small change--at a Macy's and Barney's here and there: "With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses." (When legal issues about the reported arrangement were raised, the campaign issued a statement saying of course Palin won't keep the clothes when the campaign is all over--which is a shame from a purely aesthetic standpoint at least given the seemingly custom tailoring.)

But I'm not sure the McCain campaign has laid the groundwork for quickly neutralizing this story. After all, it was McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis who said just a few weeks ago on national television that as far as the McCain campaign is concerned, "this election is not about issues," but character. And it's not unreasonable to note that one hundred fifty thousand dollars spent on Palin's wardrobe in six weeks does say something about not just her expensive tastes but her character, and suggests something of a disconnect between who Sarah Palin says she is (ordinary small town hockey mom who will come to Washington to fight the entrenched interests) and who she actually seems to be (here's my Visa bill, can you take care of it?). Seriously, did the RNC put the Saks buyer on retainer? I'm having a hard time getting my head around 150 $1000 clothing item purchases in fewer than 60 days. This may call for some investigative journalism shoe-leather so to speak by Vogue.

McCain's NEW Biggest Liability: Palin

Heading into the summer, it was clear that George W. Bush was John McCain's biggest liability. Of all the negative characteristics polled about the candidates at that time, the one that drew the most concern from voters was McCain's similarities to Bush. It was more problematic than Obama's connections to Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, even.

Today, that's changed. Sarah Palin is now the heaviest anchor around the neck of John McCain's sinking campaign. From First Read:

...her numbers have plummeted in our poll. For the first time, she has a net-negative fav/unfav rating (38%-47%), the only principal to carry that distinction. What's more, 55% think she's unqualified to serve as president if the need arises, which is a troublesome number given McCain's age. (Have worries about McCain's age risen because of Palin? Seems to be the case). In fact, her qualifications to be president rank as voters' top concern about a McCain presidency -- ahead of continuing Bush's policies. (Who would have ever thought that Palin would be a bigger problem for McCain than Bush would?)

The distinction to make, of course, is that McCain couldn't really do anything about his similarities, real or perceived, with Bush. He brought Sarah Palin on himself.

Rat, Meet Sinking Ship

RAT, MEET SINKING SHIP....The New York Times reports that the McCain campaign has stopped making "hybrids," ads that are jointly sponsored by both McCain and the Republican Party. The official reason is that the law requires hybrids to promote both the presidential candidate and the rest of the party, which muddies the McCain campaign's famously laserlike messaging machine. Henry Farrell isn't buying:

While mixed messages are a significant problem, I (as an admitted naif on these issues) would have thought that getting completely swamped by your opponent's advertising is a rather bigger one. Isn't a more plausible interpretation of this decision that the RNC are finally pulling the plug on their subsidization of the McCain campaign, and the McCain folks are trying to put the best face that they can on it?

That sounds like a pretty plausible interpretation to me. After all, the RNC can read poll averages as well as the rest of us. The latest from RealClear Politics is below.