Q: A 25-ounce box of cereal costs $4. The manufacturer shrinks the size to 22 ounces but charges the same $4 cost. Does inflation data in the Consumer Price Index reflect the increase as 12 percent?
A: This is factored into the CPI as about a 12 percent increase, Steve Reed, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said in an email. “The question comes up a lot, which is understandable, as small size decreases seem to be fairly common these days,” he wrote.
BLS researchers who gather price data check every specification of the items being priced, including size. “If anything changes, it is noted and a decision must be made about what to do about it,” Reed wrote. “For small changes in size, the usual solution is to calculate the price change per unit.”
Q: I have read many stories in the press about the four Americans killed in the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, but I have not read exactly how each died. Were they shot or did they die in the fire while trying to escape?
A: Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and Sean Smith, an information management officer, died of smoke inhalation during an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in September. CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, former U.S. Navy SEALS, were killed by an exploding mortar shell while manning a machine gun post during the second wave of attacks.
Q: Can you give us a history of Nike and how the Swoosh became associated with it? Is most of Nike equipment manufactured in China or other countries? Do leagues have contracts with Nike or individual teams?
A: Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, and Phil Knight, a runner who graduated from Oregon and earned his MBA from Stanford, formed Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and began selling Tiger running shoes made by Japan's Onitsuka Co.
Bowerman took apart the shoes to see how he could improve them and began testing them on his runners. They brought in Jeff Johnson, who came up with the name Nike in 1971, and designed several early shoes.
Portland State student Carolyn Davidson was hired to do design work and came up with several “stripes” for the shoes. They picked the one “which was the least awful,” Davidson told Salon.com in 2011, and it became the familiar Swoosh.
The new footwear, with the Swoosh, debuted at the 1972 U.S. Track & Field Trials, where it was a hit. Bowerman died in 1999, and Knight is the chairman of the board of the directors for Nike.
Most Nike shoes and apparel are made in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, The Oregonian reported last year.
Some leagues, like the NFL, have exclusive contracts with Nike. The company replaced Reebok as the NFL's supplier for licensed on-field apparel before the 2012 season. Nike also has deals with the athletic departments of many universities and colleges and supplies uniforms and apparel to those schools.