French Vacations, PPI vs CPI, Debt-to-GDP Ratio and Currency Depreciation

Listeners’ Questions, Peter’s Answers- September 8, 2011

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Ben from Long Island, NY
I hear that in France people take month-long vacations. How can France keep a trade surplus while their workers have all these special privileges?

Jonathan from San Antonio, TX
I am a recent college graduate who took out a significant amount of money in student loans. $5000 of that money was never used and will not incur interest over the next year. Do you think it’s smart to invest this money as the economy weakens and hope to get a higher return? Or should I pay the loan back as quick as possible?

John from London, England
How is it possible for the Producer Price Index output to rise faster than the Consumer Price Index output over a period of time and then government statisticians claim over the same period that corporate profits have risen? Isn’t this mathematically impossible?

Tim from Cedar Rapids, IA
I’ve heard that if a country is truly following the Keynesian philosophy, it should never have a debt-to-GDP ratio higher than 25 percent. If true, how can all these liberal economists call themselves Keynsians, while advocating the USA increasing its debt to GDP ratio over 100 percent?

Kristian from Diever, Drenthe (Netherlands)
My house is for sale for about a month now. I intend to buy silver and gold with most of the profit, which will be around 300 Euros. Yet from the moment I sell the home to when I actually receive payment, the Euro or Dollar could depreciate dramatically. I don’t suppose you see a way to secure myself against that possibility, e.g. getting paid in Swiss francs or gold or silver valued at the moment of signing the contract?