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.
Family Guy — Volcano Insurance
A traveling salesman sells Peter an insurance policy to protect his home against a volcano eruption. He convinces Peter “a volcano is coming this way” despite the fact that Peter lives in Rhode Island, far away from any active volcanoes. He convinces Peter to purchase the policy by using the gambler’s fallacy and convincing Peter that Rhode is “due for one.”
If this were actually true, the premiums associated with this policy would be extremely high and likely be the same as the cost that an actual volcano would inflict on the town. Insurance markets function on the interaction between uncertainty, risk aversion in consumers, and risk neutrality for firms. If some horrible event were guaranteed to occur imminently, there would be little incentive to sell insurance.
Thanks to Alex Marsella for the clip submission and most of the summary!
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!
Superstore — Is Insurance a Pyramid Scheme?
Mateo comes down with an ear infection and Jonah comes up with an idea to create a store insurance policy. Originally, the store raised money for medical bills by putting a donation jar out for customers to donate spare change. When Jonah realizes that takes a lot of work, he proposes creating a pool of funds from the employees and have them contribute monthly to cover someone’s bills. Unfortunately, he’s created a semi-pyramid scheme that requires individuals to donate money to help one individual.
Fried Green Tomatoes — I Have More Insurance
Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is waiting on a parking spot, but a car jumps in front of her. Her parking lot rage gets a bit heater and she decides to drive into the parked car since she assumes she has more insurance than they do. If she didn’t have that insurance, she probably wouldn’t have been so reckless.