Russ Roberts spins a tale of a local bread market and wonders about the power of such a market. He hypothesizes the trouble that could occur if one person were given supreme power and became a bread czar. You can read the poem online as well, with commentary!
The dark orange goldfish excitedly explains to his light orange friend that he has invented a new board game. He goes over the extremely complex rules to the game and this conversation ensues:
Dark orange fish: Let’s play!
Light orange fish: What do I have to lose?
Dark orange fish: Just the next three days!
This would be a great intro clip to show for opportunity cost / implicit costs. Learning all of the very intricate rules and playing this game will be extremely costly for the light orange fish in terms of the time he has to give up to participate. What else could he do with his time instead?
In a “puff and paint” party, some patrons of a local dispensary have gone a bit too far in the describing the role of the Federal Reserve. While the stated goals of the Fed are price stability and full employment, this hallucination has the Fed at the center of a universe-wide conspiracy. Bloomberg has a podcast that looks at why so many conspiracy theories seem to form around the Federal Reserve.
My former student, Luke, sent me this clip. You should follow him on Twitter!
In this video, Lil’ Dicky interviews with Snoop Dogg for a position as a professional rapper. There’s one section early in the song that looks at the concept of opportunity costs. Lil’ Dicky (David Burd) was a college graduate from University of Richmond, but decided to become a rapper instead. During the “interview” with Snoop, he mentions that he actually had a lot to lose by becoming a rapper compared to other rappers who became rappers because they had nothing else to do. Another interesting application of the video could be in teaching unemployment and focusing on skills necessary for particular jobs. Lil Dicky needs to apply for a job with Snoop because other people haven’t appreciated his rap skills.
LYRICS (emphasis added)
So real shit you ain’t never had to struggle for much
I wouldn’t say it like that, we just had a different kind of trap
Well I ain’t never had a tool, but I had to be the man at school
Like I was doing shit I had to do so when I finished undergrad
I’m cool and I can get whatever job I wanted
But the job you wanted wasn’t all that bumping
Yeah, and I saw it quick all the flaws that be coming when you grow up like that
Know you been racing them rats, you ain’t been making them raps
Boo hoo what a hardship
How you paid to get the rap shit started?
Man, my Bar Mitzvah money
But don’t diss me buddy, I wasn’t one of them younguns up on the block who had nothing to lose
I must’ve wanted this a lot, I had something to choose
Check out the snippet of the entire song on this tweet:
— Jadrian Wooten (@Wootenomics) February 25, 2019
Lil’ Dicky shows the process of trying to make the most epic rap video of all time, but without spending much money. The entire song looks at a variety of ways that Lil’ Dicky tries to save money and avoids spending money on unnecessary expenditures “just to flex.”
In this Super Bowl ad, a bar patron tries to pay for a round of drinks with a lawn mower, but this has apparently been an issue before as the bar has a sign that lawn mowers aren’t accepted. This clip is a good, quick introduction to the role of money in an economy and why bartering would be hard to accomplish.
Thanks to Brittany Pifer for the video
Things seem off in The Good Place, but it turns out that the as the world becomes more complicated, seemingly identical actions (like giving flowers) can have unintended consequences that most people don’t realize. Our private actions can have social costs that we’re unaware of and would probably try to avoid if we were fully informed of their costs.
A CIA agent creates a fake Hollywood production in order to fool Iranian terrorists into releasing a group of U.S. diplomats based on the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis. In this scene, Tony (Ben Affleck) presents the concept of Argo. The CIA will eventually grant the proposal, but they want to know if there are any other bad ideas that could be better.
The concept of “the best bad idea” helps explain why some firms may operate in the short-run despite suffering a loss. While firms would love to earn a positive profit, there are a few loss situations available as well:
- (WORST) Firms can produce below AVC and lose both their fixed costs and some of their variable costs
- (BAD) Firms can shut down when prices are below AVC and lose their fixed costs
- (BEST OF THE BAD) Firms can produce as long as prices are above AVC and lose a little bit of money
Some students always want to divert to shutting down if firms face losses, but there’s a “better bad idea” as long as prices are above average variable costs.
Thanks to Darren Grant for the clip suggestion!
Darren also has a new book out entitled Methods of Economic Research!
This Stella Artois commercial features Sarah Jessica Parker reprising her “Sex and the City” role and Jeff Bridges in his from “The Big Lebowski.” Both of their characters had their respective go-to drinks. The cosmopolitan for Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw and a white Russian for Bridges The Dude. We first see Parker choosing to order a Stella Artois, which means she gives up her next best alternative the cosmo. This is a surprising choice, so much so that the entire restaurant comes to a halt. We then see Bridges enter, and the bartender assumes he is going to have his usual white Russian, but instead he also orders a Stella Artois (comically mispronouncing it as well!). Show this clip and have the students identify what the opportunity costs of choosing the Stella Artois is for each character.