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!

Young Sheldon — Haggling Skills

 

Meemaw is having a garage sale and have asked Missy and George to help out. When George questions the pricing decisions of the junk for sale, Meemaw explains that she starts prices high so that people can negotiate and feel like they saved some money, which is another way of arguing that she’s trying to let the customers experience some consumer surplus. When Missy & George try to negotiate for better pay, they realize that it may not work out.

 

Seinfeld — Soup Nazi

 

Superior products can provide companies with a short term barrier to entry in a market, but they aren’t usually long lasting. Beyond technological superiority, some companies may have service or quality superiority, as is the case with the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. Offering a superior product allows the owner to treat customers rudely, offer high prices, and restrict output as he desires.

This clip is available thanks to Economics of Seinfeld.

Stossel — Diamond Engagement Rings

 

In this Stossel segment, we learn about the history of the De Beers diamond corporation and their control of the diamond market. Stossel interviews guests and asks them to identify diamonds from knock-off rings, but most can’t tell the difference despite claiming to be capable.

Adam Ruins Everything — Diamond Rings

One of the textbook examples of monopoly power comes from De Beers Diamond Corporation and their control over the diamond markets since the end of the Great Depression. In this short scene, Adam Conover covers the history on engagement rings and discusses the monopoly power that the De Beers company had in the market.

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Seinfeld — Bottle Arbitrage

 

Newman gets the bright idea to take bottles from New York (where the deposit refund is 5 cents) and return them in Michigan for 10 cents. Kramer stops him quickly and let’s him know that this isn’t a good idea because he’s not thinking about the costs of transporting them. Newman quickly realizes he can get a truck at no cost from the post office, which makes the arbitrage scheme profitable.

The full clip comes from Economics of Seinfeld.

Seinfeld — Half a Can of Soda

 

Jerry is tired of how much food Kramer eats and doesn’t pay for, but Kramer has offered to keep a tab for himself and will write down every time he consumes something so he can pay Jerry back. Jerry discovers a half full can of soda in the fridge and asks Kramer if it’s his, but Kramer believes he can purchase just half a can of soda. Jerry has to explain to him that items like soda and fruit have to purchased in discrete units, not continuous units.

Thanks to Daniel Stone for the suggestion!

Hawaii 5-0 — Product Differentiation

 

In monopolistically competitive markets, sellers offer differentiated products, and this Hawaiian food truck is no different. While some people believe that food trucks should only offer a small range of menus, the chef argues that in order to stand out in such a competitive market that he has to offer variety. Introducing new substitutes will decrease the demand for others and eventually lead to zero economic profit.

Thanks to Hannah Canil for the clip suggestion!

Family Guy — Drive-Thru Externalities

 

Joe wants to go on a cross country road trip, but he’s being a bit of a bother. He isn’t taking into account his actions and how they may be impacting others. For example, his decision to goof off in the drive-thru line for food bothers Cleveland, but also the people waiting in line to get food. Negative externalities occur when an individual is making private decisions (like goofing off), but not considering how that impacts the people around them (like the others in line).

This clip was submitted by Isaac Messinger.

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