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 – 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.

Elf — Buddy’s Comparative Advantage

Buddy is a human living in an elf’s world. He finds there are a lot of things he’s not so good at compared to the other elves. Before getting too sad, the other elves point out a lot of things that Buddy is good at compared to them. Even if someone is good at everything, they can still benefit from trading their services with others. Trade is often based on each person’s comparative advantage. For Buddy, that’s changing the batteries in the smoke detector.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Aladdin: A Ring Exchange

In this scene, the King is desperate to find a suitable prince for his daughter, but Jafar offers to help. The cost? The king’s expensive ring. Despite a clear emotional attachment to the ring, the king offers to exchange the ring for Jafar’s services since he believes the Jasmine’s benefit will be worth the loss.

Community — Chicken Finger Trade

Abed is running the fryer in the cafeteria and is in charge of the most popular item on the menu: chicken fingers. The school’s Spanish teacher wants those tenders and trades Abed for a box of tenders. The exchange? A 10% bump in his study group’s grades. Exchanges can be achieved through a barter system when someone has something that the other one values. This double coincidence of wants is required for a successful exchange.

Castlevania — The Importance of a Ship Captain

Issac and his friends are in search of a ship and finds a captain who isn’t current sailing. Issac threatens to kill the Captain and take the boat, but the Captain reminds him of how important it is to have the captain on the boat since he knows how to actual sail the boat. Isaac thinks that sailing a boat can’t be that hard, but the Captain points out that sailors exist for a reason. He is willing to sail Isaac and his friends as long as he is paid and promised not the be murdered. This scene is a good example of the double coincidence of wants and the importance of specialization and trade. The Captain has years of experience sailing ships while Isaac does not. It’s worth it to Isaac to trade coins for the Captain’s skills.

Thanks to Bryan Sloss for the clip recommendation

American Express — Tina Fey

In this American Express commercial, Tina Frey highlights the economic concept of gains from trade. A man in front of her gets the last goat cheese garden salad, but she really wants that salad. She has to figure out what he might possible want from her. She offers to buy his movie and include her snack box if he’s willing to exchange the salad that he had just received. Both parties benefit from their ability to trade with each other.

Thanks to John Raby for the submission!

Adam Ruins Manufacturing

A lot of the recent discussion on the manufacturing industry has framed the loss of employment as a reduction in manufacturing capacity. The US manufactures more physical goods than ever, but it’s using labor as the primary input. In this segment of Adam Ruins Everything, we meet Hank who has recently been laid off from his job at the factory. In an earlier segment, Hank and Adam discuss major economic measures like GDP and Unemployment. In this segment, they discuss some of the misperceptions about manufacturing.

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy where host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common themes. 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.

In the Summer of 2020, the paper was officially published in The Journal of Economics and Finance Education, which you can read online.

Walmart — Negotiations

Each year, children collect their trick-or-treat goodies and then go about trading their candy with each other. This scene from a 2019 Walmart commercial illustrates the concepts of gains from trade, bartering, and mutually beneficial transactions. Each child only trades an amount they are willing to give up and aren’t forced to trade with each other. After the exchange, both are better off than they were before the meeting.

Thanks to Brian Lynch for the recommendation!

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