Stylized Facts and Inequality Discourse


Generalized trends in real world observations can be boiled down to what are sometimes called "stylized facts," empirical regularities in search of theoretical and causal explanations. Simple statements like "democracies rarely go to war with each other" or "the share of income going to the top 1% has increased" enter into public discourse and eventually shape public policy. The process by which stylized facts go from raw observations to academic discourse to the public eye can be messy but incredibly influential on policy. Discourse regarding income inequality in the United States has specifically been shaped by the stylized facts that came out of available data during different periods. Dan Hirschman of Brown University discusses this process and its effects on public policy.

Nepalese Migration and Family Outcomes


Political discourse on migration tends to focus on how the wages of natives in the receiving country respond to long-term migrants. In the case of Nepal, the story is a little different: a significant number of Nepalese men migrate temporarily to Gulf countries, sending remittances home but leaving women to run the households on their own. How does extra income affect the role of women in Nepalese communities? What does it mean for educational opportunities of the children? Nell Compernolle of the University of Michigan discusses the effects of this under-appreciated migration story and what insights it gives the world overall.

The Ethics of Locavorism


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.

The Euro’s Growing Pains


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**

Pedagogy and Homer Economicus


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. 

Harry Potter and the Laws of Muggle Economics


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.

Droughts, Olympics, and Wilt Chamberlain


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.



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.

Aparkalypse Now


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?

The Economics of Festivus


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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