Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 2)

This post continues the discussion from my last post, which raised the question: why has the Ebola crisis become so severe? One contributing factor: It’s hard to fundraise to fight Ebola. NPR’s Planet Money discussed this dismal fact in a recent episode. The main points of their analysis: + A sudden crisis garners more attention. For example, the Haitian Earthquake in 2010 generated a lucrative media spectacle. However, gradual-onset crises, such as famine or Ebola, are not as well suited for the sensationalist news cycle. + People like to donate to things that they can make better right away; no Continue reading Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 2)

The Economics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In case you’ve lived under a rock over the summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a campaign to encourage donation to the ALS Association, an organization that provides support to those afflicted by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised an enormous amount of money, and has many people talking about the economic principles behind donation – whether they realize it or not. First, Vox helped to dispel the notion that people shouldn’t participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge because it’s a waste of water. In fact, compared to productive activities which use water, the ice Continue reading The Economics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

New Faculty Interview: Lea Fortmann

As promised, this week we have an interview with Lea Fortmann, new Assistant Professor for the Economics Department. (If you missed last week’s interview, here is a link to the interview with our department’s other newest member, Peter Sullivan.) Where did go you go to college? Most recently I graduated with my Ph D. from Ohio State university so there I was in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics and prior to that I did a Master’s at the University of Washington in the Evans School of Public Affairs. So there I got my PMA and I did my undergrad Continue reading New Faculty Interview: Lea Fortmann

Player Stock from Fantex

A couple years ago, a company called Fantex announced that it would be having an IPO (initial public offering) of stock on Houston Texan’s running back Arian Foster. The goal was to offer about a million shares of stock in the earnings of Foster, the 28 year old star running back. Foster would receive $10 million up front, and the value of these shares purchased is linked to essentially 20% of the earnings associated with his professional brand (including endorsements and other business ventures). This would count any earnings from contracts for playing in the NFL, or any jobs later Continue reading Player Stock from Fantex

Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 1)

The symptoms of Ebola are terrifying. In its later stages it leads to internal and external hemorrhaging—this includes bleeding from the eyes and ears. It can have a death rate of up to 90% (although the current outbreak kills about half of its victims). In addition, there’s no vaccine against it and no particularly effective treatment. Scary, right? It even LOOKS sinister… but most viruses do. (Source: Wikipedia) Although the disease has certainly takes a terrible toll upon infection, in a transmission-sense the disease is rather mild. NPR’s Morning Edition interviewed Stephen Morse, a virologist at Columbia University, about his opinion on Ebola’s potential Continue reading Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 1)

Adverse Effects of Climate Change will not be Spread Evenly

We are probably all aware of the fact that the negative effects of climate change are escalating. One very important question is, which countries will reap the most consequences? A risk consultancy firm called Maplecroft released its 2014 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which uncovers which countries will be likely to suffer the most by 2025. The analysis is based on three main factors: the ability of a nation to combat the effects through policy, exposure to extreme weather events, and the sensitivity of a country’s citizens to these extreme conditions (ie. health, agricultural/industrial dependence, etc.). The risk levels range from low to extreme, Continue reading Adverse Effects of Climate Change will not be Spread Evenly

New Faculty Interview: Peter Sullivan

The Economics department this year welcomes two new members to the faculty. This week we have an exclusive interview with one of the two new Assistant Professors. Hired for his background in Macroeconomics, here is Peter Sullivan. So where did you go to college? “University of New Hampshire. I did all my degrees there.” And how many degrees was that? “The Bachelor of Arts in Economics, the Master of Scienc- or Arts in Economics, so the B.A., M.A., and Ph D. The program I did for the Ph D. gets you a Master’s degree after ten months.” What brought you to the Continue reading New Faculty Interview: Peter Sullivan

Uncle Timmy Bought You a Hip New CD

We all know the feeling when we get an unwanted gift, whether it is an unexpected pet fish, a candle to add to the pile, or Aunt Clara’s rabbit pajamas: sometimes people, even with the best intentions, miss the mark. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook, is currently facing a twitter-storm because Apple automatically credited a U2 album to everyone’s iTunes account, regardless of whether they wanted it or not. Many people are countering, saying that it’s extremely selfish to be upset about receiving a free album. “What kind of person would complain about that” or, “Who doesn’t love Bono!” they Continue reading Uncle Timmy Bought You a Hip New CD

Movement to Micro

The insurance industry is an integral aspect of the World Economy, but is currently not reaching a significant portion of the population. Buying insurance for your Chevy Malibu, or health insurance for your family have become things most of us do naturally. The word “insurance,” however, has little meaning in a country that may be functioning with an underdeveloped economy. Why is this? Well it would appear that those who provide these services (any insurance provider that you see in the commercials every day) have not seen the financial incentive to provide insurance in these areas, and therefore have not invested in the Continue reading Movement to Micro

All the Money in the World

To open a fresh blog season — and to put astronomical textbook costs into context– I thought it would be fun to scrutinize ALL the money in the world. Or at least sharing the work of someone else who did. Randall Munroe, author of popular webcomic XKCD, has embarked upon two fascinating examinations of this concept. In the first, which you can click here to access, he compares the scale of a staggering variety of expenditures in a highly visual and intuitive manner. Included in the packed infographic: side-by-side comparison of the marginal cost to launch the space shuttle, the Continue reading All the Money in the World