For Free-to-Play Games, Balancing Digital Markets Can Prove Challenging

As so-called “free-to-play” video games continue to gain popularity, the business models funding them are undergoing significant scrutiny. Popular games like Dota 2 and League of Legends have somewhat similar business models, largely centered around the sale of digital cosmetics, sometimes known as “skins”. These items give in-game characters a different look of some sort, and for the most part can only be acquired with “real” money. For Dota 2, the cosmetic market is integral to the game’s existence, essentially keeping the free-to-play model a plausible way for publisher and developer Valve to make money. Artists and 3D modelers design Continue reading For Free-to-Play Games, Balancing Digital Markets Can Prove Challenging

The Ripple Effect of the US Sugar Quota

After taking a look at the development of a “soda” tax around the US, it seems relevant to place the magnifying glass over a different side of the market. According to Amy Brittain, investigative reporter for The Washington Post, there are some bitter feelings between sugar producers and candy companies. The US government has imposed a tariff-rate quota on imported sugar since the 1930s. The quota was first implemented to mitigate the effects of the Great Depression on the domestic sugar agriculture. But since then the quota has been in place and has had further effect on the sugar and Continue reading The Ripple Effect of the US Sugar Quota

Countries’ GDP Visualized

It can be difficult to visualize how big a country’s economy is. I decided to make an area chart to give us an idea of how much of the world’s output is done by only a small fraction of countries. From this, we can see that first 16 or so capture more 75% of the global GDP. That said, of these countries, some are also the largest population wise; China, India, the United States, Brazil, etc. That is a large reason why they command such large economies, but many of them are smaller, population wise.   I’ve also made a Continue reading Countries’ GDP Visualized

Scarcity: Focusing and Tunneling

After a long hiatus, we will be discussing Scarcity by Sendil Mullainthan and Eldar Shafir once again. In this post we will be looking at chapter 1, titled Focusing and Tunneling. This chapter discusses the benefits of scarcity and how much it costs to be in a situation with scarcity. One of the main points made in the chapter is about how people generally become more productive when they face scarcity from a time point of view. One of the examples used in the book is during meetings. Meetings are generally unfocused for the first half or so, and the Continue reading Scarcity: Focusing and Tunneling

Japan’s Struggling Labor Market

As with any growing country, the demand for labor in Japan is increasing. The problem in Japan, however, is that the labor force is having a hard time keeping up. Already, unemployment rates are dipped to 2.8% at the beginning of this year- the lowest it’s been in over two decades. On top of this higher participation, elderly people are coming out of retirement to fill the void, not exactly the productive labor force you would wish for in a blossoming economy. Any economist will tell you that this is cause for inflation. The scarcity of workers will demand higher Continue reading Japan’s Struggling Labor Market

Quinoa: The Dark Side of Demand?

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa, has surged in popularity in the last five years. As this shift in Western tastes has occurred, demand began to outpace supply in the traditional quinoa-producing countries of Bolivia and Peru. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) compiles prices received by producers. In Bolivia and Peru, price received per ton increased by about 33 percent and 131 percent, respectively. This also increased the price for consumers, most notably those producers who had traditionally relied on quinoa as a cheap, nutritious staple. As prices skyrocketed, this was no longer a simple matter. This concern prompted Continue reading Quinoa: The Dark Side of Demand?

Ethics in Environmental Economics: Coase Theorem

Environmental economics objectively looks at natural resources and environmental issues from a market perspective. In the traditional model, supply (private marginal costs) is equal to demand (social marginal benefits) that create a socially optimal equilibrium. When private marginal costs differ from social marginal benefits, an externality is produced. Transitioning from what an externality looks like graphically, “An externality exists when a person makes a choice that affects other people in a way that is not accounted for in the market price.” [1] These choices are generally based off production and consumption needs by an individual or firm and can be Continue reading Ethics in Environmental Economics: Coase Theorem

How Digital Ad Bots Bid for Your Attention

Have you ever wondered how the ads you see online are selected? When you’re shopping online or watching a video on YouTube, odds are you aren’t seeing a random advertisement, but an advertisement that has been specifically chosen for you through an auction process that happened in the fraction of a second it took the webpage to load. Many companies, including Instagram, YouTube, Google, and Facebook don’t just serve up ads that might be relevant to your interests, they hold an auction for your attention. Behind the scenes, the type and quality of the ad, your personal browsing history, and Continue reading How Digital Ad Bots Bid for Your Attention

Skewed Perception: American Attitude Toward Taxes

The word “taxes” can stir up many emotions for Americans. The general attitude of citizens toward taxes can be ambiguous and unclear. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a television series on FXX, captures this picture in one of their recent episodes. Two of the main characters become troubled after finding out the local mental institution has released its patients because of statewide cutbacks. One of the characters suggests that they must pay more in taxes to keep these hospitals open. The other character becomes angry and says, “How much do these vultures need? I already pay a ton in taxes… Continue reading Skewed Perception: American Attitude Toward Taxes

Trends of Hours Worked and Employment of G7

This week, I wanted to examine data to see if there was a trend with average hours worked and employment, as well as unemployment. We would expect that as employment increases, so would hours worked. I took data from the OECD from the G7 members, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US. seven of the major advanced economies in the world, Here are the results. So far, France follows the trend we would expect; employment and hours worked are mostly parallel. Canada also mostly follows this, but we can see a slight trend where employment has been Continue reading Trends of Hours Worked and Employment of G7