COP21 and 2 Degrees

As you may know, government officials around the world are currently deliberating in Paris in an attempt to create a legally binding agreement to combat climate change at COP21. Beginning on November 30th, and lasting until December 11th, the UN Paris Climate Talks are aiming to build a “Paris Climate Alliance” capable of keeping the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius that is universal, flexible, balanced, and dynamic. Policymakers have been working away at a draft text that went from a lengthy 34,678 words and 1,609 unresolved brackets, to a current 19,733 words and 361 unresolved brackets. Although Continue reading COP21 and 2 Degrees

SoundCast – Episode 3: Black Friday

Royalty free music credits go to Bensound ( for the opener, and “Up on a Housetop” by Kevin MacLeod ( Full transcript (with links): NICKY: Hello and welcome to episode number three of Soundcast, the Econ Department’s official Podcast. I’m one of your hosts, Nicky Smit. COLE: And I’m host number two, Cole Driscoll, and have we got a topic for today. You guessed it, Black Friday. NICKY: And Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving and all these other days with big sales. There’s something of interest happening here, Black Friday sales went down. C: And so did in-store sales on Thanksgiving. This Episode Continue reading SoundCast – Episode 3: Black Friday

Police Seizures Balloon

Economimist Martin Armstrong recently claimed that the monetary value taken in by police seizures exceeded the monetary value of damages due to burglary. In 2014, around $4.5 billion dollars were seized by the police while only $3.9 billion dollars were lost by burglaries. As Martin writes, “this means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.” Now, this is a somewhat arbitrary comparison; the fact that one value exceeds the other doesn’t hold any inherent meaning in particular. A large part of police seizures come from drug trafficking networks and other criminal syndicates not directly connected to Continue reading Police Seizures Balloon

Summer Internship Opportunity!

As the fall semester winds down, keep in mind that it’s never too early to start thinking about summer internships. Here is an research internship through the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, on the economic impact of offshore fishing tournaments. This opportunity might be right for you if you have an interest in natural resource or environmental economics. Application information is here: credentials must be submitted by May 1, 2016, and expected internship dates are from June to September.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Really, Really Impure Altruism

I write about wealth inequality sometimes, it’s an important issue in the US (at least to me). The distribution of wealth is incredibly skewed. The US’ wealthiest people (400 of them) own more wealth than 61% of the country. I always wondered what would happen if some of them just gave up a bunch of their wealth to those less fortunate, and not in a controlled superficially-philanthropic way, but a massive Ebenezer Scrooge-ish dump of their assets. Mark Zuckerberg almost made my dream come true yesterday when he announced he was giving away 99% of his and his wife’s worth in Facebook stock, Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg’s Really, Really Impure Altruism