Wendy’s — Choice is Good

This Wendy’s commercial picks fun at Soviet economics that were notorious for limiting options available to consumers in the name of efficiency, but monopolistic competition in a capital market thrives on product differentiation and the ability to cater to people’s preferences.

Thanks to Rob Szarka for the find!

Superstore — Incentives

 

Cloud 9 has divided employees into two teams to see who can sell the most stuff by the end of the day. The winning team will earn a pizza party, but Glen is surprised that employees aren’t participating. He didn’t reveal that the winning team also gets $100 per member, which is a much better incentive for the employee. As Amy notes, for incentives to be effective, they need to be announced before the start of the competition.

John Mulaney– Salt and Pepper Diner

 

John Mulaney describes a memorable experience of trying to play Tom Jone’s What’s New Pussycat 21 times in a local diner. It doesn’t take long for diminishing returns to set in at the diner as everyone but the waitstaff loses their mind. This is a great opportunity to queu up a song on Spotify and play the same song on repeat before class. Some of your students won’t notice, but many of them will raise and eyebrow on the 3rd repeat.

Thanks to Katie Klinko for the clip reference!

Superstore — A truck with no radio

 

Dina special-ordered a truck with no radio (even though it costs more) because she believes it will be less attractive to potential thieves. Assuming criminals are rational, a truck without a radio wouldn’t be worth the potential punishment of auto theft or larceny.

The Walking Dead — Property Rights

 

In the middle of being chased by walkers, Rick and the group decide to break into a home because they believe it to be uninhabited. To their surprise, a man is living in the home and because threatening to shoot them, which would attract more zombies to the area. The group is faced with a decision of whether to kill the man to save their own lives or leave his property and face eminent death.

Thanks to Brian Hollar for the clip suggestion!

Spongebob — World Domination

 

Plankton wants the secret recipe to the Krabby Patties and hires a hitman to help him. The problem? He tells the hitman that he wants a secret formula that will allow him to gain total world domination. Little does the hitman know that the Plankton believes the secret to world domination is total control over the fast food industry. While these may be correlated, it’s unlikely that total control over the fast food industry will cause Plankton to have total control over the world.

Thanks to Erin Yetter (and her kids) for the clip reference!

Orange is the New Black — State of Uterus (NSFW)

 

There is a feud waging between C and D blocks. It is C Blocks time for some revenge, so the leader “Badison” devises a plan to defecate on C Blocks clean uniforms. Meanwhile, the guards of the prison are involved in a  fantasy prisoner league (think fantasy football, but with points for things prisoners might do or get in trouble for). The guards see what is happening and have to decide to whether or not to intervene.

Asymmetric Information –  the two guards outside of the laundry room have access to information the other guards in the league do not. Further, their decision to intervene or not will directly impact points in the game. Could use this to talk about how asymmetric information can affect the outcome of negotiations, trade, games, etc.

Cost-Benefit analysis – the guard explicitly uses this term, which I love, when deciding if they are going to intervene. C Block will undoubtedly retaliate so is the possible ensuing violence worth the potential benefit of points in the game. The guards have the compare the options before making a decision.

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the clip and the description! Check our her website as well.

Narcos — Plato o Plomo

This scene from Narcos shows Pablo Escobar, infamous Columbian drug cartel leader, at the beginning of his career. Before he gets into drug running he smuggled stolen goods and jewels. He is attempting to cross a bridge with loads of merchandise when he stopped by the Columbian National Police (i.e. FBI).

It illustrates negative v. positive incentives. As the title of the clip implies, Pablo provides both incentives and lets the police chose. They let can let him through and he will reward them with stolen goods (plato aka silver) or they can try to stop him and he will kill them and their families (plomo aka lead).

You could also talk about the economic way of thinking from the point of view of the police. They had to weigh the benefits of a possible arrest and confiscation of the stolen goods against the cost of their lives and families lives. Ultimately, they decide the costs outweigh the benefits and let him through.

And then it could be used to talk about tradeoffs – when you choose one thing you are giving up another — so they chose to let him go, but that means they are letting him get away with criminal activity, forgoing the glory of arresting a high profile smuggling, doing something immoral, etc.

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the clip and the description! Check our her website as well.

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