Thesis Corner: Making Sure We Are “Dam” Confident with Water Infrastructure

What were you doing when 9/11 happened? If you’re like me, you have a vivid snapshot of what you were doing and where you were when this tragedy struck. Not only is it a moment imprinted in our memories, but in history it represents a transformative event effecting almost every facet of American daily life. Fear and awareness of terrorism impacts everything, even (to some degree) the glass of water you gulped at the Sub. In his Economics thesis, esteemed UPS senior Alex Shannon testifies how the heightened perception of terrorism embodies significant political and economic ramifications with an unlikely commodity: water. His topic Continue reading Thesis Corner: Making Sure We Are “Dam” Confident with Water Infrastructure

Keystone XL Economics Part II

Following up on Collin’s article yesterday, I want to add an additional perspective on the economics of the Keystone XL pipeline. First off, while the State Department report on the Keystone XL pipeline suggested that the pipeline will probably not increase greenhouse gas emissions, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that the pipeline would increase greenhouse gas emissions anywhere between 3 and 21 million metric tons annually, assuming that the pipeline will accelerate tar sands oil production. This is mainly due to the fact that refining tar sands oil is far more energy intensive than refining normal crude oil. Another environmental Continue reading Keystone XL Economics Part II

The Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed pipeline construction project that would funnel crude tar sand oil from Alberta Canada to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. As this is a construction project that is both international and revolves around environmental issues, many interested groups are involved. Environmental activists argue against the project, saying that the construction is contradictory to progressive environmental standards. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and corporation TransCanada would see the pipeline put in tomorrow and say that construction will create jobs for and attract investment to the US. Ultimately, the decision is up to Continue reading The Keystone XL Pipeline

Fast Food Wages Part II

This post is a follow up to Tom’s contribution on November 5th about “Why Fast Food Wages Really Matter,” where he pointed out that “over 50% of fast food workers are enrolled in at least one public assistance program.” A few months ago, McDonald’s—the prototypical fast food industry player—posted some advice to employees on their website: “If you’re hungry, break your food into pieces. You’ll eat less and still feel full.” In the same vein, McDonald’s has also encouraged employees to consider food stamps to supplement their pay. These observations raise Tom’s question all over again: “Is that really worth Continue reading Fast Food Wages Part II

Many Mouths to Feed

Those that live in poverty spend differently than those with a higher income. In general, poorer individuals have a higher marginal propensity to consume and spend a majority of their income on food. The ability to afford food provides greater health and well being. Poorer countries often use subsidies to make food prices artificially low, but governments may find that subsidizing food costs for buyers can have significant benefits. Subsidizing food costs can push the supply or demand side of the market. When food subsidies go to farmers supply is pushed out; when they go to consumers, demand shifts out. Continue reading Many Mouths to Feed

Thesis Corner: YouTube’s Impact on the Video Content Market

Flashback to the Super Bowl in 2004. Remember who was playing? Neither do I. But this was a historic Super Bowl because it was when Justin Timberlake indecently exposed Janet Jackson’s breast during the halftime show. The day after, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, heard all commotion about the incident but missed it. Unfortunately, none of them could find a video of the episode, so they were out of the loop. This miniature tragedy helped plant the idea of YouTube, a realm allowing easy sharing of video content among users. Perhaps YouTube’s history gave you a chuckle, but Continue reading Thesis Corner: YouTube’s Impact on the Video Content Market

More Evidence on the Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage

Following up on Collin’s article “$15 Minimum Wage.. It’s Happening Now”, the CBO has recently released it’s report on the economic impact of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. A New York Times Economix Blog article pulls a few nuggets from the report: -An estimated 16.5 million low-wage workers will see their wages increase as a result of the minimum wage increase. -900,000 people who are currently impoverished will move above the poverty threshold. -Raising the minimum wage will reduce low-wage employment by roughly 500,000. The article even questions the employment loss estimates as being too high, noting that the most precise Continue reading More Evidence on the Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage

15$ Minimum Wage.. It’s Happening Right Now

We’ve all heard the hullabaloo about potentially raising the minimum wage in Seattle. Well as of January 1st, Proposition 1 went into effect in the City of Seatac, which endorsed a 15$ minimum wage and paid sick leave. Additionally, employers must promote part-time workers to full time before hiring more employees and retain employees for at least 90 days after a change in ownership. So why haven’t more people heard about it? Where are all the dramatic and radical effects that were predicted? A recent article from the Seattle times states that Prop 1 “has not created a large chain reaction of lost Continue reading 15$ Minimum Wage.. It’s Happening Right Now

Fantasy Economics

Bored with your fantasy football league? Ever considered switching its basis in sport out for something more exciting, like economics? This not-so-common fantasy of fantasy economics turns out to be a reality. It’s called the IDEAS Fantasy League  The league functions just like a fantasy football league except that instead of simulating a sports franchise, the league “allows you to pretend you are at the helm of an economics department.” The goal is essentially to stuff your team with economists whose publications receive the most attention: downloads, abstract views, and citations in other publications. Some interesting nuggets from the rules of Continue reading Fantasy Economics

GDP, the difference between a good tool, and the right tool.

News stations report on it, economist and statisticians analyze it, policy makers inform the public of it. The Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates this standard measure quarterly. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the level of all goods and services produced during a given time period. There are two ways of calculating GDP. One way is to add up the cost of all goods and services produced at the market price. This is not the units sold, but solely the units produced during that time period. This reflects the supply side of GDP, but does not take into account inventory from Continue reading GDP, the difference between a good tool, and the right tool.