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!

Rick and Morty — Bartering for Bread

 

The clip shows a good example of the double coincidence of wants and how a barter system is difficult to maintain. The seller of bread needs somebody to take care of his kids and the guy who can take care of his kids wants extra bread. They need what the other has and have what the other wants. The trouble is determining how much work is appropriate to get a loaf of bread and then managing the system to make sure everyone gets paid.

Thanks to Mathew Abraham for the suggestion

Boss Baby — Gains from Trade

 

Tim doesn’t like green beans, but his baby brother sure loves them. Whenever the parents leave the kitchen, the boys realize there’s an opportunity for trade. The Boss Baby knows he needs a favor in exchange for eating his brother’s beans because he isn’t just giving away his services for free.

Thanks to Catherine Madrid for the reference!

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