Does it Spark Utility?

Since her Netflix show “Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo has become famous for her KonMari method.  Marie Kondo has helped tidy households through her technique which places a high value on showing a deep gratitude for all of your belongings.  She urges people to keep only those items which spark joy. Things which do not spark joy are then thanked and discarded. When thinking of this method in terms of economics instead of asking if an item sparks joy, we can ask “does it spark utility?”  Utility is the term economists use to label the satisfaction or benefits consumers get from consuming Continue reading Does it Spark Utility?

Do Mathematicians do Economics Better?

In my optimization class we were talking about maximin problems.  A maximin problem is a problem that maximizes the lowest outcome (maximize f when f(x1,x2,…xn) = min{x1,x2,…xn}.  Our professor made the claim that “… economics is focused on maximin problems or should be focused on”. I felt like this statement grossly understated my major and the range of economics.  Even the optimization problems we face in economics have a wide variety such as profit optimization, game theoretical optimization, utility optimization, etc. not to mention the other sectors of economics that don’t include optimization.  However, he does deserve some credit. Maximin Continue reading Do Mathematicians do Economics Better?

Why Aren’t There Aliens? Why We Might Be Doomed

At this point in human history, technology has advanced far enough for us to see far beyond our solar system. We have the ability to classify various different types of planets throughout the universe, and we have identified that there are trillions of earth-like planets in the portion of the universe we have observed so far, which could potentially sustain life. In fact, after observing such a large portion of our universe much of the scientific community believes that the conditions under which life on earth developed are so common in other solar systems that it is shocking that we Continue reading Why Aren’t There Aliens? Why We Might Be Doomed

Optimizing the UPS School Year

This year, UPS is ending this semester’s classes and starting next semester’s classes a week later than usual. There were mixed reviews to this shift. In regards to starting classes later in the fall, there are less strong opinions and there is more general confusion. Changing the end date has caused more controversy, though. Supporters are glad that graduation is no longer on Mother’s Day, which was a common complaint from students. That said, when graduation was on Mother’s Day, those who weren’t planning on staying for graduation could be home in time to celebrate. Now, Mother’s Day is the Continue reading Optimizing the UPS School Year

Why The 2019 Oscars Could Change the Movie-Going Landscape

The Oscars are a yearly extravagance that many people enjoy from the comfort of their living room, hoping to see one of their favorite nominees win one of the highly coveted awards. Roma’s nomination for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars is notable for a number of reasons, but one could have major implications for the future of multiplex cinemas. Roma was a film produced by, and initially released on, Netflix. This might not seem special, but the film was nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars which is unprecedented for a streaming service’s original film. Not only that, Continue reading Why The 2019 Oscars Could Change the Movie-Going Landscape

Tariff Engineering and America’s Favorite Shoe

Beloved by 1960s basketball stars, weightlifters, skaters, and teenagers alike, Converse All-Stars have become an American staple. I love my Chuck Taylors (I have owned the same pair since seventh grade) and have worn the soles to bare treads. All-Star fanatics may notice felt on the sole of their shoes along the outline, toe, and heel. While at first glance the fuzzy lining seems deliberately placed, in reality it serves no functional purpose. Converse (now owned by Nike) uses tariff engineering to import shoes at a lower cost. As of 2015, the tariff on imported shoes in the United States Continue reading Tariff Engineering and America’s Favorite Shoe

To Wave or Not to Wave?

We have all been in a situation where we are unsure if we should wave at an acquaintance we see or to continue on with ourselves without waving. Whether this happens in the grocery store, on the street, or walking around your college campus it is all equally awkward and uncomfortable. There is that one moment, after you both make eye contact, that you must decide if you will send them a salutation or withhold. While we have all faced this we probably have not thought of this scenario through an economic lens, but we can use a game matrix Continue reading To Wave or Not to Wave?

Amazon Terminates NY HQ2 Plan

Just today it was announced that Amazon has ended all plans to continue with developing its second headquarters (HQ2) campus in New York. After facing weeks of complaints and aggressive questioning from locals online, in public, and in-person the Mega-Corporation has decided the $3 billion in subsidies and access to New York’s rising tech industry are simply not worth the harassment. This is only the latest in the long saga that is the creation of Amazon’s HQ2 that began in late 2017 with the promise of 50,000 (wow!) new jobs and plans to spend $5 billion dollars on local construction Continue reading Amazon Terminates NY HQ2 Plan

Liberty in the Name of Liberty: Forced to Bake a Cake, Eating It, and Having It Too

In 2012, two men approached Masterpiece Cakeshop to bake a cake for their same-sex wedding. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to bake this particular cake for religious reasons. The couple went on to file a formal complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. The initial ruling stated that Philips did not have a first amendment right to deny the gay couple’s request for a cake. The commission also “ordered Jack and his staff to either violate Jack’s faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes, which was Continue reading Liberty in the Name of Liberty: Forced to Bake a Cake, Eating It, and Having It Too