The Ethics of Locavorism

13Aug

Consumers who "buy local" often cite the environmental benefits of reducing food miles, the economic effects of keeping money in the area, and the fostering of community ties through in-person commerce. Do the perceived benefits of buying local match up to the realities? When it comes to ethical food consumption, how important is it to buy local relative to other efforts? Carson Young of the University of Pennsylvania joins us for a fascinating discussion on locavorism.

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The Euro’s Growing Pains

13Apr

Bringing areas together under a common currency can increase labor mobility and decrease transaction costs. However, currency unions also bring with them a loss of monetary autonomy and difficulty regarding political, cultural, and legal integration. As the Euro Zone struggles to get back onto a steady path of economic growth more than six years after the onset of the financial crisis, it begs the question - does the Euro Zone work as a currency union?

**This is part of an upcoming series from the NYU Eurocrisis Discussion Group Podcast Series**
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Pedagogy and Homer Economicus

11May

We know economics is all around us, but spotting everyday examples and understanding the intricacies aren't always immediately obvious. Could economics be more effectively taught if the "invisible hand" has four fingers? Is there such thing as a free Duff? We talk with Joshua Hall of West Virginia University about his new book "Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics" and using popular media like The Simpsons to help teach students about economics. 
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Games of Drones

30Apr

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or "Drones" have been an increasingly contentious issue in American foreign policy. While their cost and ethical nature are relevant topics for debate, we focus instead on analyzing drone policy through an economic framework called Public Choice. Abby Hall of George Mason University discusses the difference between public choice and public interest, the policy atmosphere surrounding drones, and how the incentives of the participating groups interact to craft policy.

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Harry Potter and the Laws of Muggle Economics

6Apr

Despite the amazing abilities of the witches and wizards in Harry Potter, the characters are still bound by many of the fundamental economic principles we observe in the muggle world. But would Harry be better off facing Voldemort on his own rather than hanging around characters like Ron and Hermione? Is the ownership of house elves rational? If we reject trade, are we bound to go down a road to becoming Lucius Malfoy? We talk with Marta Podemska-Mikluch of Beloit College about the economic themes found in the Harry Potter series and see how many of the problems Harry faces can be observed through an economist's lens.

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Droughts, Olympics, and Wilt Chamberlain

29Mar

Can water shortages like those in California be left in the hands of the market? Is it beneficial to host the Olympics? Where does the name Upset Patterns come from? We reach inside our mailbag and answer listener-submitted questions in this special episode covering three mini-topics.

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Bitcoin

10Mar

Our concept of money is so engrained in our day-to-day life that it's hard to imagine money in any other form. Unlike fiat paper currency, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that instead of being printed by a central bank like the Federal Reserve exists only on an electronic ledger of transactions. Its proponents point to its ease of exchange and independence from the manipulation of governments. Opponents find it unstable and unlikely to realistically compete with existing currencies. We talk to William Luther, Assistant Professor of economics at Kenyon College, to figure out how Bitcoin works, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what its future looks like.

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Aparkalypse Now

13Feb

We have become accustomed to free or cheap parking in American cities. Rather than letting prices coordinate how to use scarce land, governments set seemingly arbitrary mandates dictating how much space businesses and residences must devote to parking. This causes cities to become largely car-dependent, creates sprawl, and indirectly raises prices for businesses and residents. What are the costs of this inefficient use of land? Is it possible to live with a "right" price for parking and not have cities turn into chaos?

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The Economics of Festivus

23Dec

In a season 9 episode of Seinfeld, George's father Frank resurrects a holiday from George's childhood called Festivus. Among other traditions, Festivus refuses to participate in the commercialization common in other gift-giving holidays this time of year. Although gift-giving generates important revenue to retailers, value can be lost from the imperfect information a gift giver has about its recipient. Could we all learn something from Festivus? Is it really "the thought that counts?" Find out how an economist might find Frank Costanza's sentiment beneficial to society.

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Obamacare and the Invincibles

27Nov

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as it's usually known, is the biggest overhaul of the American healthcare system in nearly fifty years. Its potential success or failure is uniquely in the hands of the so-called "Invincibles" - young, healthy individuals that would otherwise not purchase health insurance for various reasons. We discuss the main provisions of the law and their intentions, what effects are speculative and which are more certain, and the different ways a 24 year-old will be affected. Get past the politics and figure out what's really going on with Obamacare.

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