How McDonald's Big Macs can explain the world

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  • E Sandy, UT
    Oct. 1, 2012 7:24 a.m.

    When I've eaten at American fast-food chains in Latin America, what has always amazed me is how many locals can afford to eat there. The food is usually about the same price it is at home, yet local middle-class wages are a fraction of those in the U.S. It costs me, say, 15 to 20 minutes of labor to buy a McDonald's meal, and for these people it's two hours. Yet the restaurants don't seem to be lacking for business.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Sept. 29, 2012 6:11 p.m.

    Big Macs can explain the world? Yes. They can. 1 word: obesity.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    Sept. 29, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    The profits are not evil, Mountainman, but that they make them off of near-slave labor puts a foul cast to it. Slave labor is evil. If India adapted fair-wage laws and an enforced minimum wage, they'd see the standard of living rise.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Sept. 27, 2012 11:18 a.m.

    My children worked at McDonalds and developed work skills that greatly benefited them when they started their current careers! McDonalds is successful because they produce a product that people are willing to pay for! Their profits are not evil!

  • Butch70 Spokane, WA
    Sept. 27, 2012 10:46 a.m.

    We go to MCDonald's to have breakfast and seldom eat lunch there.

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Sept. 27, 2012 10:42 a.m.

    "Ashenfelter's Big Mac study provides evidence for the idea that the gap between rich and poor countries comes down to worker productivity on tradeable goods." No mention of the fact that some Chinese factory workers get 1.50 per hour, sleeps in dorms attached to the factory, and are charged 1/3 of their pay for the cost of the dorm bed. If Americans worked to 1.50 per hour, we would have lots of factories. The real story here is that low-balling one's fellow man is a very consistent part of homo sapien's nature, and an ugly one.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Sept. 27, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    I write this sitting at a MacDonalds in a foreign country and find the insights very interesting. I'm sure there are variables that dilute some of the index, but have to laugh that a French-based professor thinks that only American tourists eat at MacD's!!

    I look around me now and don't hear any English at all...

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 8:11 a.m.

    What would that *accomplish*? Provide someone the opportunity to *throw rocks* because they don't agree with their business model?

  • Forgotten pilot Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 7:25 a.m.

    Having been in business myself for a long time, meaning I was running *the* company, not *my* company, I would say that it *sounds* like a good index, but essentially, goods are priced by companies at a level of, first, *See with how much we can get away with*, and second, *How much will the market bear?*
    We dealt a lot with *The Government*, and in most cases, you could not get away with making exorbitant profits ... If we made a clear profit of around 11% we were doing great !
    But ... , there was a lot of competition !

    I wonder ...
    Would McD be willing to make a public statement where they would fess up, and tell us what their *clear profit* (in each country) really is ?

  • che1968 Exton, PA
    Sept. 27, 2012 3:57 a.m.

    While travelling on business in Venezuela nearly 20 years ago, my local host and representative indicated that the locals judged the exchange rate between bolivares and the dollar by the price of the Big Mac. There was the official exchange rate, and then the BIG MAC rate. invariably the official exchange rate favored the government, but the BIG MAC rate was what the people had to live by. At the time, the BIG MAC was the equivalent to about $5.50.