Adam Ruins Funerals

When a loved one dies, and we are in a state of grief, we often aren’t making the most informed decisions. Funeral homes know this and use this fact to charge higher prices. They can do so because our price elasticity of demand for end life services is high. There are few reasons for this. First, there is not enough time to “shop around” for better pricing on the goods and services provided as a funeral is often expected to take place quickly after a person’s death. Second, there is high asymmetric information about exactly what is actually necessity and what is more a luxury (the clip pokes fun of this with the casket featuring WiFi). Last, there are no close substitutes for end of life services – you only have two options: burial or cremation. For these reasons, we are less sensitive to price when shopping for end of life services for our loved ones and will pay a higher prices consequently.’

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the submission and description! Follow her on Twitter!

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.

Curb Your Enthusiasm — Strangers Have a Bad Reputation

Jason and Jerry make a surprise appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm to reprise their roles of George and Jerry to discuss the struggles of meeting strangers. There are people all around us that we’ll never meet, partly because they don’t want to meet us. They assume we’re bad people even though we know we may not be.

Thanks to Daniel Stone for the clip!

Adam Ruins Everything — Revealing Salaries

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.

In this video, Adam goes through notion that sharing salaries is bad for workers, but focuses on how this practice creates information asymmetry in the workplace and gives managers the power to lower wages since workers aren’t well informed.

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.

The Daily Show — Moral Hazard

 

Moral hazard occurs when a party that is protected from risk behaves differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. Here, the last line is a perfect example of moral hazard, when Aasif Mandvi says, “Hey man! You can get drunk and have a great time and it doesn’t matter ‘cuz you’ve got health insurance!” Now students can fall off of keg stands and get hurt but that’s ok, they have health insurance now!

Thanks to James Tierney for the clip and the description!

NY Times — The 1998 NFL Draft: A Look Back at the Epic Ryan Leaf Bust

 

One of the struggles with hiring workers is evaluating talent, specifically for college athletes considering the NFL. In 1998, Ryan Leaf appeared to be the top college athlete even with some questionable character flaws. The Colts, instead, chose to select Peyton Manning with their first pick of the draft despite some criticism. Manning went on to be one of the winningest QBs in NFL history while Ryan Leaf is considered one of the biggest NFL busts in the history of the league. This clip from the New York Time’s Retro Reporting division revisits that controversial decision.

Budlight Hitchhiker Commercial

When one party has more information about themselves than the other party, economists describe this situation as asymmetric information. We know a lot about our “true” selves, but we can use signals to send to other parties to either conceal our true selves or hide a characteristic we don’t want to reveal. In this clever Budweiser ad, the hitchhiker is trying to conceal his real intentions by carrying a case of Bud Light.

Superstore — Life of an Insurance Plan

When Mateo gets sick, Jonah comes up with an insurance fund to help cover employee medical bills because the store does not offer health insurance. The team members join the plan because it only costs $20 each month, but Jonah has promised to pay previous medical bills. Jonah and Amy quickly find out each team member, especially Sandra, has a lot of pre-existing conditions and they realize that they can’t cover everyone’s costs at one time. The two try to break the two groups apart, but the members in the pre-existing condition group will have to pay significantly more to cover all their costs.

Home Improvement — Asymmetric Information

Tim decides to hide a blow torch from his co-host, Al, in order to teach a lesson to his young children watching at home. Unfortunately, Al doesn’t know that the blow torch has been hidden and he believes he has lost the item on live television. Asymmetric information occurs when one party has more information than the other party in a transaction. When one party has more information, they are better able to make decisions and make take advantage of the unknowing party.

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