A Quick Overview of Japan’s Current Recession

Japan is in its second recession in the past two years, as its economy has contracted for the second quarter in a row. GDP decreased 1.6% from July 2014 to September 2014, despite forecasts of an increase of 2.1%. In 2013, Japan printed out hundreds of billions of dollars in yen to buy government bonds. It was an attempt to balance the budget, and while it gave the appearance of economic growth, it lowered the value of the yen. Merchants sat on the wealth and didn’t distribute it to workers. Japanese incomes began to stagnate and/or decrease. Lower wages, compounded with increased Continue reading

Santanomics

The impact of the holiday season on our consumer economy can hardly be overstated. In addition to elevated black Friday and other seasonal shopping, we might expect Santa Claus to be a major economic force. In that spirit, researchers have put together some interesting statistics on what Santa’s operations, were they structured as a multinational corporation, might look like. Based on his job’s description of pilot and industrial manager, insure.com estimates Santa would make a salary of $139,924. (If Santa were classified as CEO, that number would likely be much higher.) NPR’s Planet Money crunched the numbers to determine the elven workforce necessary if Santa operated Continue reading

Increasing Potential of Perfect Price Discrimination

In most microeconomics textbooks, perfect price discrimination is seen as more of a theory than an actual business method used by firms. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, perfect price discrimination, also called first degree price discrimination, is a form of nonuniform pricing in which a firm with market power sells each unit at each consumer’s maximum willingness to pay. The obvious issue with actually administering perfect price discrimination is that it is either impossible or financially infeasible for a company to acquire perfect information about each consumer, so they are unable to set a reserve price for each potential Continue reading

Solar Power, and Net Metering (Part 1)

Solar power in the United States is taking off quite vigorously, and installations of solar panels have begun to soar. This quarter, 53% of electricity coming from new installations this year is being generated by solar panels. From 2007, solar installations have gone up by 12 fold, and terms like ‘Gigawatts’ (one of which is enough to power 16 million 60-watt light bulbs continuously) are used on a quarterly basis to describe growth rather than as an end goal. This isn’t an industry, however, that has pulled itself up by its bootstraps so to speak: alongside significant tax incentives offered Continue reading

A Three Piece Portrait of Ben Bernanke

I am writing this post to follow up on a post from last spring, “Anecdotes at the Federal Reserve,” not–however much it may seem so–as an exercise in stalking Ben Bernanke. “Anecdotes at the Federal Reserve” examined Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes to evaluate the use of anecdotal evidence in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Those minutes shed light on the  the personalities and the institutional dynamics behind Fed policies. In that vein, I have three little snippets about the man who was Chair of the Federal Reserve in 2008 and the environment he worked in. 1) This BusinessInsider Continue reading

Coffee and Fair Trade

Hello, my name is Miranda Kraus, and I’m a coffee-holic. Ever since I thought it would be “cool” and “adult-like” to start drinking coffee my freshman year of high school, I’ve developed a physical and psychological need to drink at least a cup every day. Frighteningly, I’m not in the minority. The National Coffee Association reported that 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. The United States alone buys more than 22% of world coffee imports, which shows an interesting wealth polarity between the consumers and producers of coffee. Coffee is the second most valuable Continue reading

What is Snapchat doing with Snapcash?

For all of you Snapchat users, I’m sure you received a snap from the creators of the app informing you about their new direction for the app called Snapcash. This is the exciting new opportunity to send cash to your friends and have it disappear in 10 seconds!! Not actually, but thats what I thought when I heard of it first. Snapchat is teaming up with Square, the company who created the mobile credit/debit payment accessory for Apple devices, to offer a payment option through the Snapchat app. Snapcash will allow users to send payments from their account to their Continue reading

Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 7)

This article continues a series of posts examining non-biological factors contributing to the Ebola crisis’s severity. This week’s angle on the outbreak is humanitarian. Beyond social and economic factors that contribute to the disease’s spread, the real reason why Ebola “is so bad” is its terrible human toll. Although empirical, detached analysis is a valuable approach to understanding and addressing social issues, I believe an empathetic approach is equally important. To that end, I am wrapping up this series with two pieces of media that establish a human connection to the crisis.  This NPR article delves into the disease’s human toll, especially Continue reading

Net Neutrality

Over the past couple weeks, the issue of Net Neutrality received a lot of attention due to a clash of opinions between President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. For those of you who don’t know what net neutrality is, simply put, it is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the government should treat all data equally, meaning that no Internet Company can pay money for preferential speeds on the side of the consumers. This concept has been the soul of the Internet since its creation, and it has lead to the booming levels of innovation and easy Continue reading

Your Brain on Economics (Pt. II)

Although I didn’t intend to initially, I wanted to return to my blog post from 2 weeks ago. In that post, I attempted to address some points made by Brian M. Lucey on what happens to students who are taking more economics. His article is fairly concisely summarized by the following photo that he posted on his blog: So the question is: is this accurate? Do students who take economics become greedier and less inclined to cooperation than those who do not, based on the studies outlined in the post above? I think I unfairly smeared his point before, when I Continue reading