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

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?

American Political Parties are a Duopoly (Spoiler: Its not Symmetric)

In the United States we have effectively only two political parties to choose from, the Democrats or Republicans. Unlike in other developed nations that are characterized as two party systems, America has zero representation of third parties in national government while in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada the third biggest parties hold 14.4%, 7.52% or 5.38% (depending on who you count), and 23.9% of seats in national government respectively. Therefore, it is fair to say that the parties act as two firms unchallenged within a market for votes and thereby power within the American political system. Now this isn’t a shocking Continue reading American Political Parties are a Duopoly (Spoiler: Its not Symmetric)

How the Recycling and Oil Markets are Connected

When someone thinks about markets being connected, the oil and recycling markets aren’t the ones that usually come to mind. Yet, the oil market is significantly damaging the recycling market right now and it won’t get any better until oil prices rise again. According to a New York Times article from February, Waste Management (the main company that collects recycling) could sell a bale of plastic last year for $230. Now, the price is down to $112 for each bin. Why is this happening? Here’s an excerpt from the NYT article mentioned earlier: New plastics are made from the byproducts of oil and gas Continue reading How the Recycling and Oil Markets are Connected

Internal Effects of Saudi Arabia’s Oil Price Decline

If you’ve been following recent market trends, or if you drive a car, you know that petroleum and petroleum products (gasoline) have been getting cheaper for the past 18 months or so. The reasons for the decline are complicated to say the least involving OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and are a story for another time, but the truncated story is that Saudi Arabia is forcing prices down because they can produce oil much cheaper than any other country, causing other oil exporting countries to lose money for producing oil. However, this seems to have been having an Continue reading Internal Effects of Saudi Arabia’s Oil Price Decline

The Market of Reusing

Recently, I was talking to my mom on the phone, and she mentioned that my family was considering selling our suburban house and moving closer to the city. She then added that they weren’t completely sure if she was going to do it because if they did, our house would almost certainly get torn down. Our house would be nothing special to the housing market, but nevertheless, every part of my house has an intrinsic value that can’t be measured based on merely market values. So many aspects of my childhood would end up as waste: the walls of my room that were painted over countless times in order to find the perfect color, Continue reading The Market of Reusing

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