King of Queens — A Wasted Tombstone

Arthur bought a tombstone a while back in order to save money and the salesman assured him that he would most likely be dead by 2000, so he pre-printed the “19” on the tombstone so that they would only have to fill out the end of the year. Fast forward to 1999 and Arthur finds out he has 8 months to die or else his tombstone will go to waste. This clip is a succinct enough clip to teach about sunk costs since the price of the tombstone has already been paid and Arthur wouldn’t be able to get his money back.

Construction Site in Thailand

A few years back there was a popular video of a human powered ferris wheel in India. I use that clip to talk about labor abundance in the Heckscher–Ohlin model of trade since India is so labor-abundant. Earlier we came across this fantastic video of a construction site in Thailand (another labor rich country). For small construction jobs, the workers will use manpower (literally) instead of machines to drive piles into the ground.  This clip could also be used in a labor economics setting if you’re talking about substitutes in production. Either way, this is a fun-video for class with a pretty nice beat from the tambourine-wielding foreman.

Los Angeles Clippers — Dynamic & Variable Pricing

The LA Clippers explain the difference between variable and dynamic ticket pricing, which are often confused by fans. Variable pricing refers to changes in ticket prices based on factors like opponent, day of the week, or time of the game. Dynamic ticket pricing takes things a step further and actually bases the ticket price off demand and supply for a particular game.

Always Sunny — Surrogacy Savings

Dee offers her womb to become a surrogate for a couple. In order to try and get a higher payoff, she offers  to have more children at a discount for the couple. She notes that savings really kicks in if the couple were to have multiple children at one time. She even offers to be an octo-mom. This could also serve as a fun example of second degree price discrimination.

Rick & Morty — What’s the Point of Automation?

Rick’s quote in this episode is as followed, “The point of automation is to reduce cost and labor!” He says this because his robot’s dialogue disappointed him. This directly relates to economics, labor economics in particular, as when a firm’s supply of labor becomes too inelastic they will substitute capital for labor in order to reduce costs and increase profits. The firm, or Rick, is substituting capital for labor as we saw when examining firms’ reactions to labor markets.

Thanks to Justin Cooper for the clip and description!

Adam Ruins Everything — Eyeglass Monopoly

Eyeglasses in the United States can cost hundreds of dollars and that’s probably because 80% of glasses are manufactured by one firm under different brand names. Because they produce both luxury and basic brands, they are able to raise prices well beyond a more competitive price. Luxottica even owns many of the sunglasses stores, which gives them buying power over inputs.

Newsies — Unionism & Profit-Maximization

When Mr. Pulitzer decides to raise prices in the distribution channel by forcing the newsies (the newspaper boys) to pay higher prices for a pack of 100 papers, the newsies decide to go on strike. Without raising the price to the final consumer, the price increase essentially just lowers the profits the newsies can collect. They decide to go on strike and create a newsies union to have more monopoly power in the process.

Ron White — Cost of Sunglasses

Ron isn’t sure how a pair of sunglasses can cost more than a color television. On a recent trip to the Sunglass Hut to pick up a pair of new sunglasses, he encounters a salesperson who tries to convince him that the elimination of UV rays makes the glasses worth their price tag. Ron, not so politely, disagrees.

Going Places (1948)

From YouTube:

Cold War cartoon defending the profit motive against anti-capitalist critics. The second of seven smart-looking animated shorts in the “fun and facts about American business” series. Its subject is “the profit motive,” and it stars “Freddie Fudsie,” a lazy soap maker who just wants to go fishing. He invents bar soap, makes some money, and is about to retire in peace and quiet when a sexy lady (the Profit Motive) walks by and Freddie — who suddenly needs more money to win her affection — never sees a fishing hole again. But that’s okay, because “the profit motive has been the driving force behind the growth of American industry” and “will make a better life for the children of tomorrow.”

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