Economists: Coffee Consumption Explains the Recent Surge in U.S. Productivity

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Chinese Green Tea Doesn’t Count

December 26, 2010

A team of three Cornell University Economists has demonstrated that rising coffee consumption explains the recent growth in U.S. labor productivity.  The study, which took eight years to complete, and another eight years to work its way through the peer review process, proceeded in four steps.

The team hired “student workers” to complete a task which quickly demonstrated that when work effort is reduced to zero, output also falls to zero.

Using the aid of a street coffee vendor, the Cornell team then showed that purchases of “wet” coffee by  is  followed by consumption of “wet” coffee.

These two dramatic breakthroughs led the economist/vendor team to stake its first two claims:

—More work produces more output.

—People purchase coffee in order to drink it.

Economists around the country hailed the initial findings of the Cornell/vendor team, claiming that such research proves the need to provide additional funding for economic studies across the country. However, several economists cautioned that they would need to see the data themselves and evaluate the Cornell team’s methods before making a statement about the reliability of the first two claims.

The Cornell/vendor team did not stop there.

Using sophisticated statistical methods and an advanced mathematically technique called digital hand counting; the team measured the number of minutes in an eight hour working day.  Combining this result with the first two findings led the team to develop a technique for measuring labor productivity which consisted of the following four steps:

Using one hand they:

–added up the total output of goods and services

Using an old hand at computation they:

–divided total output by the total number of hours worked

Folding both hands into prayer position team members:

–closed their eyes

And then:

–open their eyes to view the resulting labor productivity estimate.

Many economists insisted the Cornell team should have outsourced the study’s hand-i-work to hands located in India or China.  Dr. Frumper Greenstein of UCLA:

“The Cornell team should have included the other hand; the hand outside our economy to do its digital counting.”

Dr. Keithly Kuchler of Washington D.C.’s “Economic Rationalize Your Bias Service” (ERYBS):

“Assuming that outsiders did not do the digital calculation work, the Cornell economists are, in part, measuring their own work.”

Dr. Kuchler tried to clarify his explanation:

“Assume when businessmen see an economic forecast they, then,  just go out and do it. That is, an economic forecast is part of the economic forecast.”

Dr. Greenstein attempted to clarify his explanation with additional comment:

“Like it or not, this statement is part of the U.S. economy. It may increase or decrease national output. I assume it will get one of my hands outsourced to China.”

Ignoring the assumptions and criticisms, the Cornell team proceeded with a second paper in which described:

–how underpaid research assistants counted the number of disposed coffee cups from garbage dumps in fourteen U.S. cities.

–how the Starbucks Tall/Grande/Venti exaggeration method was used to project urban coffee consumption for the nation.

–why rural consumers and farmers were assumed to hate Lattes, pastry shops, and economists.

–how rural coffee consumption was scientifically “calibrated” by calling Danny-Hank Johnston, a hog-farmer, in Esterville, Iowa and asking him how much coffee he drank each month.

Economists around the country hailed the secondary findings of the Cornell/vendor/farmer team, claiming that such research proves the need to keep underpaying research assistants.

The team then used modern “outsourcing” methods which allowed a Chinese team to apply the digital hand counting technique to calculate aggregate U.S. coffee consumption.

Dr. Frumper Greenstein:

“Well at least they took my advice and used on the other hand for the second half of the study.”

Dr. Keithly Kuchler:

“On the other hand, I don’t think the team should have switched to the other hand. That is, if they started the study with the first hand they should have finished the study with the first hand.

That is, you should assume a serious economist does not switch to the other hand until—after– he or she makes the concluding statement about his or her result.”

Dr. Frumper Greenstein:

“Yes, by using up both hands early on in a study, economists can’t make a concluding statement, and then hedge it by going back on their concluding statement by saying: ‘on the other hand’.”

That is, if the team tries to hedge their concluding statement they will be forced to refer to their right foot.”

Dr. Keithly Kuchler:

“On my right foot, I assume the Chinese did a good job counting up the number coffee cups in the United States.”

Dr. Keithly Kuchler:

“On my other left foot, the Chinese can be assumed to have added in green tea consumption without telling anyone.”

In part three of the study, the Cornell team took the aggregate coffee consumption estimates and labor productivity estimates and sent them to Danny-Hank Johnston, the Iowa Hog farmer-who then passed the data onto an USDA extension agent, who outsourced the data to Chinese graduate students at Iowa State University, who quickly switched from drinking green tea to drinking coffee before taking exams.

Within months Chinese graduate exam performance at Iowa State University improved sixty percent.

The Cornell team quickly declared their result:

“Improved coffee consumption explains the increases in U.S. labor productivity.”

Economists around the country hailed the findings of the Cornell/vendor/hog farmer/ graduate student team, claiming that such research proves the need to allow more Chinese graduate students to obtain U.S. visas so they can do the dirty data work for economists across the country.

Dr. Frumper Greenstein:

“Without my intervention we can assume no one would have thought to outsource the data to the Chinese graduate students.”

Dr. Keithly Kuchler:

“We should assume that Dale-Hank Johnston will get a Noble prize for thinking to outsource the data to a third set of hands.”

Dale-Hank Johnston:

“My hands were full with them hogs. So when I saw them labor productivity numbers and coffee stains on the same sheet of paper, I thought the USDA extension man must of dropped his extension sheet into my hog-slop feeder. “

In the fourth step, the Cornell team issued the following statement:

“On the other hand, we cannot assume how Chinese exam performance correlates with the working performance on American workers. “

A spokesman for the Cornell team said he would refrain from making more statements about productivity-coffee study in order to avoid putting his right foot in his mouth.

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