Middlemen: Connecting Consumers and Producers

Most of what people think about when the term “Middleman” is brought up, is somebody who doesn’t provide much value. Why hire a middleman when you could do the job yourself? Even today when the internet has lowered search and transaction costs, it seems as if the job of a middleman would soon disappear. But this notion may not be true. Middlemen provide a service of efficiency which does have value in itself, but some argue that this job will become obsolete as the internet is more widely available today. The cost of searching for an item has gone down Continue reading Middlemen: Connecting Consumers and Producers

Thesis Corner: Zander Biro

Alex Shaw (AS): First off, what is your thesis topic? Zander Biro (ZB): My thesis topic is essentially looking at developing social capital while in the institution of higher education and how the role of alcohol can actually be beneficial in lowering relationship costs in order to establish a more broad base social network. AS: I’ve heard there is a bit of a story from how your thesis started to what it ended up being, could you elaborate? ZB: It has definitely been quite the process. Starting in the fall, it started very broad as everyone says it will, and Continue reading Thesis Corner: Zander Biro

Public Opinion on Trade

The way that candidates on the campaign trail bat around the issue, one might think that trade is near universally accepted as a bane of the American economy. It is well known that a large majority of economists favor trade. I was surprised to discover that a slight, but not insignificant, majority of Americans currently favor free trade. NPR recently put up an article discussing data from Gallup that follows US public opinion on free trade matters over the last few years–what percentage of Americans many saw trade as a threat versus as an opportunity. Here is the chart NPR published: The chart suggests that public opinions Continue reading Public Opinion on Trade

The “Anything” You Can Do With an Economics Degree Part 2:  Economic Consulting

Consulting is another popular career path for recently graduated economics students; Puget Sound econ grads often go to work for firms like Hitachi Consulting.  So, what does a consulting position entail? wiseGEEK provides the following perspective on economic consulting: In general, economic consulting firms are founded by academics, usually in the fields of economics and business, who wish to apply their knowledge to real world situations by providing corporations and the public sector with research and advice on matters pertinent to their area of expertise. Essentially, economic consultants can apply their knowledge of economic theory and concepts directly to real Continue reading The “Anything” You Can Do With an Economics Degree Part 2:  Economic Consulting

The Why Axis Chapter 4: How Can Sad Silver Medalists and Happy Bronze Medalists Help Us Close the Achievement Gap

Gneezy and List take the book in a completely different direction in Chapter 4 when they use evidence from field experiments to suggest methods to reduce the infamous Achievement Gap in public schools. The authors begin by laying out the facts of the achievement gap, particularly between high income families and those living in inner cities. The U.S. spends the 5th most amount of money per capita on students – $11,467 – yet there is a 9% drop out rate for “low-income” students and drop-out rates of above 50% for inner city kids, compared to a low 2% rate for Continue reading The Why Axis Chapter 4: How Can Sad Silver Medalists and Happy Bronze Medalists Help Us Close the Achievement Gap

The X(?)Z Axis: Chapter 3

To what degree are the differences between men and women truly innate? To what degree are they culturally learned?–These are the questions that John A. List and Uri Gneezy have laid the foundation for in Chapter 2 of The Why Axis, but in Chapter 3 the two economists send a very clear message: “Don’t under estimate women. We may have socialized them into a society that suppresses their innate abilities, but they can over come that very easily. It is also profitable for companies and institutions to encourage women to be bold, competitive, influential leaders.” Perhaps we shouldn’t need List Continue reading The X(?)Z Axis: Chapter 3

The “Anything” You Can Do with an Economics Degree Part 1:  Financial Advising

For many graduating seniors, having a job or grad school admission lined up before you graduate is an important and stressful task.  Seniors are faced with finishing their thesis, handling their regular academic responsibilities, applying for jobs or to grad schools, and still enjoying their last year or last semester with friends they’ve made along the way. For senior economic students, things are no different.  However, as we go through the process of sorting out the beginning of our “real lives”, a lot of us hear this: “Oh, you’re graduating with an economics degree, you can do anything!” Not as Continue reading The “Anything” You Can Do with an Economics Degree Part 1:  Financial Advising

Bet Against Someone’s Life and Death with Extreme Mortality Bonds

After the events in Belgium, this post seems in poor taste – but I promise it was written before the tragic events at the beginning of the week, and still offers something interesting. Did you know you could effectively bet that someone won’t lose their life in a catastrophe? And if they don’t – you could make a substantial amount of money? Insurance companies know this – and they’re prepared to offer you a once in a lifetime (literally) opportunity to buy an EMB, an Extreme Mortality Bond. Extreme mortality events are events that result in a substantial loss of life (a Continue reading Bet Against Someone’s Life and Death with Extreme Mortality Bonds

The Economic Impact of March Madness

With March Madness happening currently (embarrassed with how my bracket is performing), it’s only relevant to talk about the economic impact of the flurry of college basketball games throughout the month. The general thought is that the economy would suffer, with firms paying their workers an estimated $1.9 billion in wages while they aren’t working. Workers are constantly checking their phones and computers for scores (some just watching the games), and The New Republic noted that 86% of workers will check the scores throughout the day. The idea would be to punish the workers, right? That’s not what some businesses have Continue reading The Economic Impact of March Madness

Why Study Economics? Interview: Layth Sabbagh

A few weeks ago I interviewed sophomore and economics major, Layth Sabbagh and got his take on economics. He discussed many aspects of economics that he liked and thought were interesting. We also talked about what pushed him to pursue a degree in economics and how he intends to use this knowledge in the future. Layth grew up in Dubai and lived in Syria for a few years, where much of his family is from. When I asked him about why chose economics, he said that he “likes the social sciences” and that economics “feels less intrusive” than other social Continue reading Why Study Economics? Interview: Layth Sabbagh