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!

Jimmy Kimmel Live — 2nd Grader Explains Trade Deficits

 

 

With the recent stretch of tariffs being imposed on other countries (and other countries on us), Jimmy Kimmel uses some of his showtime to interview 2nd graders about the trade deficits. The basis of the segment comes from Trump’s misguided tweet regarding trade deficits and why a trade war won’t hurt the US:

Shiloh, our 2nd grader, explains the pros and cons of international trade, including the potential for lost jobs in the US and unsafe working conditions abroad. She also highlights the pros of trade by noting countries are able to buy more things, create jobs in exporting industries, and bring countries together.

Thanks to Abdullah Al-Bahrani for the post!

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