No one knows how to make a pencil: Globalization and interdependence

Consider the following question: If you…wanted to…go into the forest naked and create something from scratch, anything, what do you think you could pull off? The latest Freakonomics podcast points out something very unexpected; no individual knows how to create a pencil.  While it may seem unimportant that we won’t have artisanal pencils in the future, it raises some interesting questions about globalization and the interdependence that it has created in the production processes of even simple goods. We have evolved into a highly specialized and widely globalized society.  Each piece of a pencil, for example, is made in different places Continue reading No one knows how to make a pencil: Globalization and interdependence

Negative Interest Rates

On January 29th, Bank of Japan announced that they would lower their interest rate past the traditional 0% – into the negatives (-0.1% to be specific). I initially wrote this off as more Abenomics, but as I looked further into the concept I discovered that Bank of the Japan was not the only bank to adopt a negative interest rate. The US Federal Reserve had a near 0% interest rate for about a decade to encourage growth and take the edge off the 2008 recession. But what does a negative interest rate mean for banks? Bloomberg asked 63 economists, that focus Continue reading Negative Interest Rates

Venezuela’s Crisis

Since 2005 Latin American countries have seen an increase in economic growth, but now there seems to be a stall in poverty reduction. One country that is experiencing disastrous poverty and inflation rates is Venezuela. The country has been devastated from inflation rates at 140% and a poverty rate that jumped up to 32.1% in 2013. On top of economic distress, the extremely low price of petrol oil has been hurting Venezuela and it is now becoming apparent. Due to this economic decline the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, has increased the price of exported petrol oil from $0.01 to $0.60 Continue reading Venezuela’s Crisis

Campaign Spending Per Vote: Part II

After last week’s post on cost per vote figures last week, I decided to keep the ball rolling. Here are some more figures, compiled from various sources. US Presidential Elections 2012 The Cato institute estimates that, in the general election, the Obama and Romney campaigns directly outlaid $10.37 per vote received and $7.11 per vote received, respectively. Factoring in allied spending, these figures rise to $16.73 per vote received and $20.09 per vote, respectively. Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 The BBC reports that a total of £6.7m was spent by campaign groups in the lead up to the referendum. Around 3,620,000 people cast Continue reading Campaign Spending Per Vote: Part II

Internal Effects of Saudi Arabia’s Oil Price Decline

If you’ve been following recent market trends, or if you drive a car, you know that petroleum and petroleum products (gasoline) have been getting cheaper for the past 18 months or so. The reasons for the decline are complicated to say the least involving OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and are a story for another time, but the truncated story is that Saudi Arabia is forcing prices down because they can produce oil much cheaper than any other country, causing other oil exporting countries to lose money for producing oil. However, this seems to have been having an Continue reading Internal Effects of Saudi Arabia’s Oil Price Decline

Should We Ban Tipping?

Returning to US after having been abroad for six months required me to retrain my mind in a number of different ways regarding social norms. One of the main things I noticed while traveling was that tips are not a mandatory part of eating out, and were sometimes even seen as rude. They serve more as a signal to the waiter to convey out of the ordinary, outstanding service. This made me think about how in America the price that is advertised to us is often never the price we pay, while in most parts of Europe taxes are incorporated Continue reading Should We Ban Tipping?

100th Year of Daylight Savings Time!

The 100th year anniversary of daylight savings time will be on March 13th, so to celebrate I thought that it would be helpful to gather a few fun facts about the event and also ask some important questions as well. Like most people, on Monday March 13th at 6:59 a.m. I will be asleep, and I will not recognize when the minute passes and the clock jumps an extra hour ahead. At the premature 8:00 a.m. I will be groggy, disoriented, and dissatisfied with our modern society. And as I drink an unusually large cup of coffee I will ponder along with the rest of Continue reading 100th Year of Daylight Savings Time!

The Economics of Our Candidates, Part 3

Welcome to part three of my three part series on our presidential candidates’ stances on economic issues. In case you missed it, here’s the first on taxation and the second on financial reform. Again, we lost some candidates since last I posted. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina will be sorely missed, as well as Jim Gilmore, I guess. For this final week, the issue is the Fed! First, a woefully short description of the Federal Reserve (aka the Fed). They deal with monetary policy, playing some role in deciding the value of the dollar by controlling the federal funds rate. Banks and Continue reading The Economics of Our Candidates, Part 3

Economists and Tinder: Why economists don’t find each other on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and in a recent article from The Economist, it was asked why more economists don’t find love with other economists. Would economists benefit from a dating app made just for them? Perhaps this would maximize efficiency in the dating market, or perhaps there’s a reason economists aren’t drawn to each other. They explain that the first obstacle for love between economists is that the market is not thick enough—economics is a field dominated by men. For an “economists only” dating app to work, the market would have to be thick enough to generate network Continue reading Economists and Tinder: Why economists don’t find each other on Valentine’s Day

Alumni Interview: Ryan Tate

I interviewed alumni Ryan Tate over Skype about his experiences after UPS and his startup, Venture Equity Exchange. Ryan has a great perspective on entrepreneurship and startups, an often overlooked option for economics graduates (but a potentially very rewarding one if you’re willing to take the risk and put in the work). I’m no dictation machine so I’m going to be paraphrasing Ryan’s answers and our discussion to the best of my ability. Ryan came to UPS (graduating in 2009) from San Diego partly because his father lived nearby in Silverdale and because he appreciated the uniqueness of the school. He majored Continue reading Alumni Interview: Ryan Tate