Brooklyn 99 — Moneyball

Captain Holt and Lieutenant Jeffords want to streamline the department and improve efficiency across the precinct. Jeffords is concerned that Capt. Holt is getting to greedy and can’t make many more improvements, but Capt. Holt believes he’s taking a Moneyball approach to the department. The film is his favorite and he finds the statistical analysis beautiful.

While he may be improving efficiency through his new statistical approach, the two should be concerned about diminishing returns. Productivity can increase with revised strategies, but additional productivity may require a significant increase in cost. In order to determine the optimal outcome, the two should focus on marginal analysis.

Moneyball — What’s the Problem?

In Greg Mankiw’s favorite textbook (and one of the best-selling principles textbooks worldwide), he introduces students to the notion of “thinking like an economist.” Across the start of most economics textbooks exists a section about thinking strategically by using the notions of opportunity costs, scarcity, and rationality. Moneyball can be used as a starting point for discussing the assumptions of economic thinking.

In a scene from the movie, Billy Beane is seen in a boardroom full of scouts discussing replacing former players and evaluating potential draft picks. This scene serves as a great opening dialogue to economic issues of scarcity and rationality. While the A’s would like to keep Jeremy Giambi, they do not have enough space in their budget to keep him and must let him sign with other teams who are willing and able to pay more for his services. The resounding question that Beane poses to his scouts is a question that can be integrated throughout almost any economics course, “what’s the problem?”

Battle of the Sexes — The Press Release

Billie Jean King left the United States Lawn Tennis Association because of the promoter’s  refusal to compensate the female players the same as the male players. Promoter Jack Kramer (played by Bill Pullman) argues that the men are paid more because they are stronger and faster. His colleague argues it from a reservation wage standpoint, that men needed to be paid more to attract them to the circuit. King (played by Emma Stone) argued that women should be paid equally based on marginal revenue product theory since the women sell the same number of tickets as men.

This same issue has been recently discussed regarding the US men’s and women’s national soccer teams.

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