Facebook Struggles with the Future of Digital Ads Despite Massive Revenue

This is a continuation of our ongoing series investigating unblockable online advertising. Last week we took a look at Twitch.tv’s successful attempt to rework their site to support unblockable ads, and this week will be examining Facebook, the challenges they face, and their less-than-successful attempts to circumvent adblockers. Facebook boasts a tremendous number of active users, surpassing 1.86 billion in the 4th quarter of 2016. A recent article from TechCrunch (linked at the end of this piece) states that Facebook earned $8.81 billion in revenue in Q4 2016, vastly exceeding analyst estimates. Despite this tremendous success, Facebook has warned that Continue reading

US Immigration: “The Best and Brightest to the Front, Please”

Immigration is one of the most talked about political topics in the US and seems to dominate every speech around election time. Political figures have tried to find the “perfect” immigration system (the newest one being a $15 billion wall). But what do economists think about this issue? NPR’s Planet Money asked three different economists for their ideal immigration system for America’s borders. One of these economists came up with a plan titled, “the best and brightest.” The first plan was given by Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. His “dream system” for American Continue reading

Better Life Index

Once a week, the writers of Sound Economics meet to talk about our ideas for the blog. Recently, we came up with the idea to include a section that links to websites that we believe would be interesting to our audience. Even more recently, I learned about from Kate Stirling in my Economics of Happiness Connections course about the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Better Life Index, which ranks its 38 member countries with a combination of 11 categories: Housing, Income, Jobs, Community, Education, Environment, Civic Engagement, Health, Life Satisfaction, Safety, and Work-Life Balance. These categories are each Continue reading

Uber’s Surge Pricing: Is it Ethical?

Uber has been popping up in the news quite a bit recently, not really for anything good either. They were criticized heavily when they stayed active (only shutting down the surge pricing) right after the Muslim ban was announced, despite the fact that taxi drivers around the JFK airport protested doing any driving in effort to show their disagreement with the ban. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick made a statement condemning the ban right after and removed himself from Trump’s economic advisory council due to heavy pressure. Kalanick’s statement can be seen below. “I also let him know that I would not be able Continue reading

Bribing Kids For Better Grades

Education is an investment for children. This is much more apparent in higher education as college students pay top dollar to get a degree that will hopefully provide them with a higher salary in the future. This reasoning still holds true for younger kids. Even through elementary school and high school, students offer up their time as opportunity cost for education. We know that as a society, we all profit from the external benefit that comes from education. But we also know that we value future benefits less than we value current benefits. So how can we encourage society to Continue reading


If you’ve spent any time at UPS, you’ve probably thought at some point, “Is there actually going to be anything good at the SUB today, or should I go off-campus?” While the connection between economics and going to the SUB may not be clear, just remember that economics is the study of how people make choices. I’m currently taking an Economics of Online Dating class (Econ 341), which has a large focus in economic model building. A couple weeks ago, we were asked to create a model of decision-making under risk. Risk is defined as a situation in which all possible outcomes and Continue reading

Sound Economics Book Club: Scarcity

Over the course of this semester, the Sound Economics class will be reading a book called Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. As we read, we will take turns updating you, our readers, on the general themes of the book, along with the specific themes of each chapter. I was given the opportunity to provide the initial overview, and introduce the introduction. The introduction begins with some anecdotes from the authors about personal experiences with scarcity, and examples of scarcity: a person who recently lost their job, a busy professional, or the extreme Continue reading

The Rise of Unblockable Advertising on Twitch.tv

As our avid readers may recall, this is a series intended to examine the changing face of digital advertising in the era of ad blocking software. Some companies have recently taken up arms against the increased use of adblockers, and are beginning to invest in technology to bypass this software and ensure that their ads are reaching as many eyes as possible. Currently, two groups, Facebook and Twitch, seem to be frontrunners in this new trend. Following its acquisition by Amazon in late 2014, many wondered if the streaming service Twitch.tv was really worth the $970 million that Amazon eagerly Continue reading

A Solution to Millennial Skepticism

The word “Millennials” has been tossed around much in the last decade. It is used to describe individuals born between 1980-2000 by other generations as they have closely watched this young portion of the population to see the direction our world is headed in. After being labeled as lazy, entitled, and addicted to technology, millennials have now been criticized for a loss of faith in democracy. First World countries known for their democratic systems have seen a decline in political participation from their youth. The US, Poland, and Britain saw less than half of their under-25s come out and vote Continue reading

Some Miss Out on Minimum Wage

Many states have been following the push to increase the minimum wage, with the hope of increasing the standard of living, and make the minimum wage a “living wage.” Yet many workers are still missing out on wage hikes because they work for tips. Many state minimum wage laws provide some sort of exemption from workers who receive tips. There is a minimum wage, and a “tipping minimum wage,” where the minimum wage for employees whose income partially comes from tips is typically lower than the minimum wage for employees who don’t get tips. In fact, only seven states mandate Continue reading