An easy way to see the difference in strength between the U.S. and Asian economies is to look at boring GDP figures.

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An easy way to see the difference in strength between the U.S. and Asian economies is to look at boring GDP figures.

A more enjoyable way would be to check out the beaches of Hawaii.

Honolulu is nearly halfway between the mainland U.S. and Asia: 4,230 miles by plane from Chicago, and 3,810 miles from Tokyo, according to WebFlyer.

In June, the number of domestic visitors to Hawaii sank by 16 percent from the prior year to 439,895, according to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The number of international visitors, meanwhile, fell just 4 percent to 140,967.

Ignorance isn’t bliss

Are Americans really this ignorant? Among examples John Budd cites in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper are: 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth, and 35 percent can’t identify Germany as the Allied forces’ D-Day enemy.

In his paper, the University of Minnesota professor found that many Americans also have no idea about their employment benefits, but that may be their employers’ fault.

For example, 23 percent of employees covered by profit-sharing plans aren’t aware of it.

“Put simply, how can incentives work if employees are not aware of their existence?” Budd asks.

Fantastic farm values

Not all U.S. real estate is suffering.

Farmland values in the lower 48 states, including land and buildings, surged to a record high of $2,350 per acre in 2008, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Healthy gains in grain and meat prices have helped push up farmland values, with the highest percentage gains coming from the Dakotas and other northern Plains states.

But the surge reminds Citi Investment Research strategist Tobias Levkovich of the housing market earlier this decade.

He also warns against jumping on the “dot-corn” bandwagon — buying stocks that benefit from agricultural growth, such as fertilizer makers that have been on meteoric runs.

— The Associated Press