What’s all the Fuss Around the TPP?

For those who aren’t familiar, there’s been increasing talk coming from the Obama administration about utilizing a fast-track path to get a wide-reaching trade agreement between several countries around the Pacific Ocean. These countries are, tentatively, Taiwan, Phillipines, Laos, Columbia and Indonesia, with several other potential members, including India. Together, this coalition makes up an overwhelming portion of total world-GDP, and helps to set some kind of trading rules in place with the idea that no individual nation ends up losing out too badly. The general wisdom of economics states that free trade is always a good thing, as was Continue reading What’s all the Fuss Around the TPP?

The Anti-Boomsday

Boomsday is a book authored by the famous satirist Christopher Buckley (most famous for ‘Thank you for Smoking) about a young blogger who gets fed up with the baby boomer generation’s excessive social security payments. In order to solve this mounting debt crisis, she proposes that the government provide incentives for people to ‘transition’ themselves when they reach the age of 70. This book was published only a few months before the beginning of the recession, and many people at the time were warily eyeing the exponentially increasing costs of social security as a problem down the road. While Social Continue reading The Anti-Boomsday

Why Recent Growth in the Board Game Market isn’t a Bubble

Anyone trying to go to a bar or coffee shop over the weekend may have been forced to wait longer in lines or found it harder to find places to sit because tables were full of people were sitting around tables playing board games. That’s because last Saturday was ‘International Tabletop Day,’ and tons of people came out to bars, coffee shops and other places to play games with friends or meet new people who enjoy board games. This idea was the brain-child of Wil Wheaton, who hosts the youtube show, ‘Tabletop’ where biweekly he brings his celebrity friends to Continue reading Why Recent Growth in the Board Game Market isn’t a Bubble

Seattle’s Traffic and the Urban Village

If you turn on the radio and listen to the local northwest radio stations, there seems to be a single conclusion about the region, and specifically Seattle’s future: profound economic growth. People are moving to the northwest in droves, some drawn in by the impressive array of job opportunities available, and others attracted by the sheer appeal of the region (even those without jobs at all.) However, there’s a problem with this rapid development, and that is traffic. While this may sound a little like that person who whines that ‘too many people like them,’ it’s not untrue, and Seattle’s Continue reading Seattle’s Traffic and the Urban Village

An Outside look In

Authors: Tesha Shalon and Connor Lennon Often times here, on this blog and elsewhere in the discipline, economics can be a little insular. We’re happy to take our models and insights to how our discipline applies elsewhere, but rarely do we bring in other disciplines to provide an opinion back. So we decided to ask non-economics professors and majors to tell us what they thought economics was. We posed a two part question to the group: 1.) What, in your own words, is economics? and 2.) Is economics useful, why or why not? Without further ado, these are their responses: Continue reading An Outside look In

Signaling and the Dutch East India Company    

About a month ago, NPR’s podcast planet money aired an episode on shorting the stock market, and specifically, the very first short in the stock market. This may be one of my very favorite episodes they’ve ever done, for two reasons. The first reason is that it represents the beginning of a very interesting (albeit dangerous) phenomenon in the stock market. The second is how signaling gave birth to many of the features of the modern stock market. This second part is interesting, and I’d like to give some explanation as to how it works, and then, how it birthed Continue reading Signaling and the Dutch East India Company    

Training and Wages

The Economic Report of the President was released recently, and in it was a sizable section on a trend of declining on-the-job training that identified a downward trend in it over the twelve years between 1996 and 2008. The last observation in the data was in 2008, but given the trends in the prior periods, there seems to be a distinct movement towards jobs with less on-site training.This is a concerning trend, however, when viewed from an efficiency standpoint. In economics, economists identify two basic types of training. The first type is general training, and can be applied across a number Continue reading Training and Wages

Snobby Beer

Aside from the actual game itself, this past super-bowl weekend carried with it an interesting development in a non-football related field that is quite close to my heart: beer. Budweiser aired this commercial during the game, to the annoyance of people who apparently like to spend lots of money on beer they don’t drink. Ninkasi, a northwest brewery located in Eugene, immediately shot back with a quite hilarious response video. The point is that for many years now, craft brewers and the big macro brewers like Budweiser and Coors have been increasingly competing for the same market share. While I can Continue reading Snobby Beer

Solar Leasing

Solar energy has been growing in popularity in the United States, and alongside its growth has developed a new business model for it: solar leasing. NPR released a new article about the decision to opt for a lease versus ownership. In the article, they go over some of the differences, but I wanted to add some background to these options because it’s interesting and some important issues were left out of the article. The way leasing solar panels works is rather than owning the panels outright, you pay a flat fee that increases over time and in exchange all of Continue reading Solar Leasing

Run the Ball!

I will admit, that being someone who was born and raised in Seattle, this weekend’s football game was a little upsetting. I lived through the disappointment that the Mariners of the early oughts brought with them when they lost, twice in a row, to the Yankees, forever cementing them (and possibly the entire state) as some kind of evil empire in my young mind. So it will likely come as no surprise that around 6:30 pm on Sunday I had all kinds of colorful language for Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and pretty much anything I saw when Russell Wilson, with Continue reading Run the Ball!