About Brennan

Brennan is a fourth year economics major at the University of Puget Sound.

Wealth Inequality Part 2

This is a post is part of my continuing coverage of wealth inequality Wealth Inequality is one of the largest issues facing societies around the world today, with the consequences being societal unrest and dissolution. The true scale of wealth inequality is almost hard to imagine with disparities growing increasingly large. There are multiple ways scholars/policy makers have suggested to decrease wealth inequality, but I am going to focus on two direct ones: taxing wealth, and taxing inheritance. Wealth taxes, as discussed in the previous post, are direct taxes on the assets on citizens of a country. Inheritance taxes are Continue reading Wealth Inequality Part 2

An Economic Case for Government News

In the current media landscape it can feel as if there is no escape from clickbait/hyperbole, fake news, and sensationalism. These problems seem so large that many are demanding grand government, or private sector solutions such as censorship and monitoring of news/news-like creations.  However, if we look to the past there is a much easier method for correcting some of the model day problems: publicly funded news. In the early 1900s many newspapers engaged in tactics of story fabrication/embellishment, cheap gimmicks, and badly sourced stories, in order to engage audiences. These papers, called yellow papers, were then sold for a Continue reading An Economic Case for Government News

Should You Use a Umbrella?

Disclaimer: none of the views expressed in this post should be taken too seriously The answer is pretty simple if you live in most of the United States: yes, you should use an umbrella. However, if you are living in Washington, you need to factor in the weird weather patterns and the social ridicule. These are both important elements that can affect your choice in attire/accessories to deal with the weather. In Washington we have about three types of rain: a little stronger than a drizzle, a decent rain, and “its-below-freezing-oh-dear-god-why-can’t-it-just-snow-this-is-so-much-worse.” It is important to note that in Washington you Continue reading Should You Use a Umbrella?

A Taste for Cohabitation

In the past couple of decades the U.S. has seen a shift away from marriage, and towards cohabitation. The declining rate of marriages can be contextualized by the declining rate of religious worship given that marriage often a primarily religious act. However, marriage is also an economic act as married couples can enjoy benefits such as shared insurance benefits, shared pension/retirement benefits, shared social security, and tax benefits. These economic benefits are mostly marriage specific as common-law marriage is not very common in the U.S. This means that we can view these benefits as economic incentives to get married under Continue reading A Taste for Cohabitation

The Economics of Coffee Shop Art

Credit to “.nate” and the twitter emoji project If you have entered into a non-chain coffee shop in the last decade you have likely encountered an interesting phenomenon: ridiculously over-priced art from unknown artists. These pieces of art from postmodernist takes on the human form, to classical paintings of a bowl of fruit. However, they all share the common characteristics of costing enough to give any reasonable person sticker shock, and being the creation of an artist no one has ever heard of. Now you might suggest that the price of art is simply a way to signal value, and Continue reading The Economics of Coffee Shop Art

Patent Pools: Consumer Friendly Cartels?

Patent/intellectual property pools represent a key form of strategic cooperation, also known as cartel behavior. Before getting to far into it, what is a patent pool exactly? There is some variation within the concept of a patent/intellectual property pool, but generally, patent pools are organizations that are jointly owned by anywhere from a couple to a couple hundred companies that control intellectual property such as patents. These joint ventures allow companies to share patents, such as new technological equipment, thereby creating standardization across industries. While this may not seem beneficial, if we look to the specific example of the HDMI Continue reading Patent Pools: Consumer Friendly Cartels?

Wealth Inequality Part 1

When it comes to inequality there are a lot of phrases that get thrown around: wealth inequality, Income inequality, gini coefficients, etc. Therefore I am going to define a few of these terms to help to clarify the discussion. Wealth inequality is the difference in the distribution of assets (wealth) within the population of a country/society. The measurement for this difference in distribution is called a gini coefficient/index and goes from 1 to 100. Income inequality is a term referring to the differences in the distribution of income income within a society/country and is similar to wealth inequality. These terms Continue reading Wealth Inequality Part 1

Really Economics?: Ending Old Practices

Really Economics? I say this phrase as just this month, the hiring practices for all Economists has changed from occurring in hotel rooms to actual interview spaces. It is pretty astounding that it took until 2019 for the American Economic Association to realize it was not a good practice for young, female, post-docs, to be interviewed in closed hotel rooms (or for that matter young post-docs at all). Though it is astounding that this practice did not end until recently, it is not surprising: economics is a pretty homogeneous discipline. According to data taken from the census bureau, over 70% of Continue reading Really Economics?: Ending Old Practices

The Fed Can Fix It

Despite the name, I don’t just want to talk about the marvels of the Fed, but actually about how the Fed is a good model for other public agencies and corporations. The Federal Reserve has always been the target of criticism from all sides of the spectrum, but this is reflective of inherent strengths of the Fed that naturally can draw some ire from the Political space. The Federal Reserve has successfully led the country through over 70 years of economic hardships in way that no other governmental body truly could and this is due to its unique features that set Continue reading The Fed Can Fix It

The Market of Professors and Department Importance

Recently, I heard the argument that the best way for Universities to show respect for all fields of study, and show that they are of equal importance is to pay all professors the same wage. This caused me to think about what economics had to say about this idea. Given that there is a certain amount that the private sector will pay for individuals with a PhD and that this phenomenon influences what Universities will pay for PhD-holding individuals, it makes sense that there exists a market for professors. This market has different demand for different doctorates e.g. a professor Continue reading The Market of Professors and Department Importance