Paper Tiger by the Tail

A rising middle class is the yardstick by which emerging economies are measured, and there is no more widely analyzed middle class than China’s. Since China opened in 1979 her economy has had the air of inevitability surrounding it. Analysts and economists trumpeted the arrival of the Chinese century and told the western world to prepare to be eclipsed in both economic and military might. It seemed that China had been unleashed and that its pan-pacific destiny was soon to be manifest. With such an unstoppable juggernaut what could possibly go wrong……Perhaps a phenomenon economists label the “Middle-Income Trap” (MIT). Continue reading Paper Tiger by the Tail

Equating Greenness to Goodness: The Illusion of Moral Virtue Drives Demand for Sustainable Alternatives

In recent years, the exclusive consumption of products marketed as “sustainable” has become popular among certain members of Western society, particularly those occupying the middle class. These goods and services encompass diverse sectors including food (ex. organically grown spinach), household goods (ex. reusable linen totes), and even hygiene products (ex. bamboo toothbrush), communicating a narrative that to live a truly “sustainable” life is synonymous with the replacement of conventional products with “sustainable” counterparts. For this reason, consumers often equate their sustainable consumption choices with moral virtue. This consumption trend is motivated by real environmental issues like plastic pollution, global warming, Continue reading Equating Greenness to Goodness: The Illusion of Moral Virtue Drives Demand for Sustainable Alternatives

The Brewer’s COVID Hangover: A Swig of the Pandemic Poison

Beer is considered a “vice” by governmental bodies at all levels. Yet this vice acts like a “normal good” in the face of economic downturn. During the economic turbulence of the COVID pandemic, the large mass-produced domestic beer market got off reasonably unscathed, though not untouched by the market forced which they found themselves subject to. According to the Beer Institute the industry lost 568,040 jobs, close to 22 billion dollars in wages, and close to 20 billion dollars in lost sales revenue. These losses were felt most profoundly by independent micro-breweries. The beer industry finds itself in a place Continue reading The Brewer’s COVID Hangover: A Swig of the Pandemic Poison

The Economic Case for Tech in Agriculture

The modern food system ensures provision of an enormous quantity and variety of safe, fresh foods to billions of people on a global scale. However, our current industrialized food system has in part arisen from and remains fundamentally dependent upon systemic global inequality. It will be impossible to increase agricultural production by the required 70% by 2050 if we do not make any effort to correct the expanding wealth divide between the global rich and the global poor. I believe this wealth gap can be bridged through the sharing of agricultural research. Any loss in economic growth Western countries suffer Continue reading The Economic Case for Tech in Agriculture

The Economics of Day Laboring as a Monopsony

Day labor, a form of contingent work that is available daily with no assurance of future employment or job security, is a critical segment of the United States’ labor market and domestic informal economy. Around 117,600 individuals in the U.S. are either competing for day labor jobs or employed as day laborers on any given day and 83 percent of which rely on this activity as their sole source of income. Foreign-born and minoritized workers are overrepresented among the prospective laborers looking for work next to open-air roadside markets, at busy street corners, in front of hardware stores, as well Continue reading The Economics of Day Laboring as a Monopsony

Pay-What-You-Want Pricing

Pay-What-You-Want pricing is probably the best pricing model if your goal is to run your company into the ground. This model is as simple as it sounds; a company provides a good or service, you consume it, then pay whatever you feel is a reasonable price. In this model, the consumer dictates the price of the good or service they are receiving, and the producer must accept it. For me, free is a perfectly reasonable price for everything!  The motivation for the PWYW model seems legitimate; buyers will theoretically trust producers due to their confidence, and producers have the chance Continue reading Pay-What-You-Want Pricing

Spatial Economics, Explained

Modeling tricks and approaches have removed key technical barriers to the study of geography and distance in economics. Revived research interest in where economic activity occurs and why as well as in the physical distribution of wealth and peoples has led to the rise of spatial economics. Spatial economics exists at the intersection of econometrics, geographic information science, and data analytics to identify and answer real-world concerns like the extent to which constructing inter-regional transportation infrastructures can help reduce inequality or integrating networks of suppliers, distributors, consumers, and community across spaces can increase the competitiveness of local food producers. In Continue reading Spatial Economics, Explained

Symbolic Value

“Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.”  – Sir Roger Scruton Over the last 50 years, there has seemingly existed an almost complete lack of symbolic value within contemporary art and architecture within the United States.  With that said, we know that there is a value to symbolic works of art and architecture (for we once produced them en masse in the past), but we can’t seem to figure out what that value is today. Because of that, today, we no longer seem to be able (or willing) to produce these symbolic Continue reading Symbolic Value

Externalities, Explained

Externalities are the external impacts incurred by an economic agent not involved in a transaction, which can be either a cost (negative) or a benefit (positive) and occur from either the production or consumption of a good or service. Thus, because externalities lead to a difference in the public impact from the private impact, a deadweight loss exists. A deadweight loss is an excess burden created by the lost economic efficiency when the socially optimal quantity of a good or service is not produced or consumed. To understand how social planners correct for this form of a market failure, an Continue reading Externalities, Explained

Loggers Live Green: Environmentally Conscious Decision-making

Throughout my time on campus, I have observed different individual behaviors motivated by environmental conscientiousness. Behaviors such as using a refillable water bottle seem to be very common. Similar to my peers, I like to think I am environmentally conscious, but do my actions align with my beliefs? How do we make decisions in order to minimize our individual impact on the environment? I believe that our environmentally conscious actions are not necessarily dictated by the benefits associated with those actions. For example, a student at this school would never dare use a plastic straw, but choose to fly home Continue reading Loggers Live Green: Environmentally Conscious Decision-making