The G Word with Adam Conover – Importance of Financial Stability

A stable financial system is an important component of an efficient market. Ensuring financial stability allows markets to allocate resources, assess and manage financial risk, and maintain employment levels close to the natural rate. When a bank has failed, the FDIC works to ensure that there are no major disruptions of financial transactions and that economic agents can continue to operate with confidence. With a strong market, the FDIC doesn’t need to intervene often, but the agency was very active during the Great Recession when a lot of banks failed. When a bank failure does occur, the FDIC works to transfer assets of one bank to an acquiring bank or they will take on those assets themselves until the find a suitable acquirer.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Run for Your Money

In the early 1900s, the banking system wasn’t as stable as we might have hoped. Banks loan out money to borrowers, but are susceptible to a panic when a lot of customers want their money held in savings. A bank run occurs when a large number of a bank’s depositors attempt to withdraw their money simultaneously because they believe the bank will become insolvent. This happened frequently enough during the Great Depression that it put pressure on the President to create an insurance program.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Lemonade for Pictures

In order for bartering to be a successful payment of transactions, both sides must want what the other is offering and be willing to trade for it. Unfortunately, the seen above shows the difficulty of meeting the condition known as double coincidence of wants. Even though the man has Johnny Cash headshots, the young entrepreneur is only willing to accept US cash.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Rent-Seeking in Weather

When companies engage in rent-seeking behavior, they are engaging in behavior that is intended to increase their wealth without a subsequent increase in productivity. Private weather companies use government-funded data and resell that data as if it were proprietary. The same companies have also engaged in lobbying efforts to reduce competition from the National Weather Service and prevent the agency from acting as a substitute.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Weather Forecasts as a Public Good

Public goods are defined as products that are nonrival and nonexcludable, like weather forecasts in the United States. The nonrival nature means that it isn’t costly for the government to provide the service to an additional user and the non-excludability component means that anyone can access that service even if they haven’t paid for it. Weather forecasts were traditionally provided as a public good, but some companies have been working to change the excludability criterion to turn weather forecasts into an artificially scarce good.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Weather Forecasts as a Club Good

Club goods, also known as artificially scarce goods, are defined as products that are nonrival, but excludable. Previously, weather forecasts were widely available to everyone, even people who didn’t pay for the information, but private companies have limited the National Weather Service’s ability to provide that information. These private companies still use the data from the NWS, so it doesn’t cost the company to provide service to one more user (nonrival), however, they can withhold that information from people who don’t pay for the premium experience (excludable). Club goods create a deadweight loss to society because the price of the product is greater than the cost of production.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Local Pork

When it comes to disaster relief efforts, states are not treated equally but rather based on their representation on FEMA’s oversight committee. Pork barrel, or simply pork, is a metaphor for the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district. The results are often worse when a natural disaster happens during an election year. Read more in this NYT article by the late Alan Kreuger.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Subsidizing Farmers

A domestic production subsidy is a government payment to firms in a particular industry in an effort to increase production. This can be done as a form of monetary policy in response to recessions or in an attempt to increase trade. Countries might also want to subsidize industries that it believes are important to the growth of the economy. One problem with such subsidies is that they may not necessarily go to their intended recipients. While farming subsidies may have helped smaller farmers during the Great Depression, they are mostly going to large corporations today.

The G Word with Adam Conover – Externalities & Regulation

Whenever an action creates a negative externality, the private individual allocates too many resources toward the production of that item. This happens because the producer is focused on their own profit maximization problem and is not accounting for any external costs associated with production. When it comes to meat packing or factory farming, producers don’t take into account the external costs of pollution or the potential risk of bacterial infection. Regulating such industries can mandate that firms take into account the social costs of production rather than the private cost of production.

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