Freakonomics — What’s in a name?

 

A summary of the labor market impacts for naming children with “distinctively black names.” Researchers conduct resume studies in Chicago and Boston to determine the frequency of callbacks for two identical employees with different-sounding names. This subtle form of discrimination lengthens the spells of unemployment and creates a gap between white and black workers. Not hiring a worker because an employed believes the applicant is African American is a form of employment discrimination.

The Pajama Game — 7 1/2 Cents

Asking for a raise is tough, but even a modest raise in wages can have a huge impact on worker salaries. In this scene from The Pajama Game, we see how a 7.5 cent raise can impact a worker’s wage. The cast goes through the calculations of what they could earn with additional income, including an automatic washing machine, a year supply of gasoline, and a vacuum cleaner.

Assessment idea: This is a neat opportunity to calculate real wages and see what 7.5 cents would be worth today versus 1953. The BLS has a calculator so you don’t have to wait!

Looking for more: Do you want to see more economics in Broadway shows? Check out BroadwayEconomics.com

Thanks to Mark Sammons from the University of Arizona for sending this clip in!

Get a Job — Ironic

Our main character Will Davis is searching the internet for job listings. He has just been let go from his internship because there were no available paying jobs and his time had run out. He is looking for the right fit, or really any fit that would make sense for him, but he’s realizing that he lacks the skills for many of the job postings he’s finding online. His friends joke that the skills he’s good at can’t get him paid.

Clip submitted by Kate Lecea

Argo — The Best Bad Idea

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:

  1. (WORST) Firms can produce below AVC and lose both their fixed costs and some of their variable costs
  2. (BAD) Firms can shut down when prices are below AVC and lose their fixed costs
  3. (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!

Moneyball — What’s the Problem?

The study of economics is often boiled down to the allocation of scarce resources, and few media clips illustrate that better than this iconic scene from Moneyball. The Oakland A’s scouts discuss the selection of players based on their appearance, but Beane recognizes that it’s too difficult to replace players using the old method.

ESPN 30 for 30: Broke — Paying Self First

 

Athletes become broke after retirement because of overspending, unexpected expenses, poor financial advice, but also feeling guilty about not helping others around them. One of the early tips of financial advice was to pay oneself before paying others. It’s easy to look at the purchase of houses or unexpected as something that can be prevented, but helping family and friends is something that isn’t as easy to give up.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani and Darshak Patel have a great paper in the Southern Economic Journal that looks at using ESPN 30 for 30 to teach economics.

ESPN 30 for 30: Broke — Risky Investments

 

Athletes become broke after retirement because of overspending, unexpected expenses, and poor financial advice from third parties. Because of the prominence of reporting athlete salaries, distant friends and family pitch business ideas to athletes, most of which have no knowledge of the risk involved in starting a business. Safer assets are not viewed as exciting or sexy, despite their considerable safety. One way to help secure financial futures is to seek out financial advice from professionals who are educated in the field.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani and Darshak Patel have a great paper in the Southern Economic Journal that looks at using ESPN 30 for 30 to teach economics.

30 for 30: Broke — Unexpected Expenses

 

One reason why so many athletes become broke after retirement is overspending, but a secondary issue is the unexpected costs associated with earning millions of dollars each year. This segment of the ESPN 30 for 30 special looks at the taxes and unexpected costs associated with earning millions of dollars per year. For many athletes, this may be the first real job they have held, which means they are unaware that they are now part of the highest tax bracket, so approximately 40% of their millions is withheld. A secondary issue is that athletes play in multiple states and countries, which means that they owe state and federal taxes in more than one jurisdiction. Because of the complicated tax situations, many athletes need a financial advisor in addition to their agents, who also take a percentage of the total income.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani and Darshak Patel have a great paper in the Southern Economic Journal that looks at using ESPN 30 for 30 to teach economics.

ESPN 30 for 30: Broke — Budgeting and Spending

 

Young professional athletes are essentially lottery winners once they’ve signed a contract with a team. Seemingly overnight they become millionaires. One reason why so many athletes become broke after retirement is not for a lack of income, but rather a misunderstanding of needs and wants. Many athletes struggle to budget their income appropriately and don’t consumption smooth between in-season and offseason.

Common spending patterns include:

  1. Buying a home/car for self and family members
  2. Jewelry/clothes/shoes

The issue that many athletes face is the lack of realization that most professional careers are short term, but the costs of those items have lasting impacts.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani and Darshak Patel have a great paper in the Southern Economic Journal that looks at using ESPN 30 for 30 to teach economics.

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