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Cyril Morong: Dangerous Economist

Cyril Morong, who teaches economics at San Antonio College, is the Dangerous Economist. Cyril picks up on some very interesting articles in the news with his own comments. This blog is very easy to read and great for people wanting to see how economic principles appear in everyday news.

How Odysseus Started The Industrial Revolution

Factory work may have been a commitment device to get everyone to work hard. Odysseus tying himself to the mast was also a commitment device. Dean Karlan, Yale economics professor explains how commitment devices work: "This idea of forcing one’s own future behavior dates back in our culture at least to Odysseus, who had his crew tie him to the ship’s mast so he wouldn’t be tempted by the sirens; and Cortes, who burned his ships to show his army that there would be no going back.Economists...

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How Economists Put A Price Tag On Your Life

By James Broughel. He is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center. Excerpts:"One common metric economists rely on is the value of a statistical life (VSL), which is a measure of how much money a group of individuals is willing to pay to reduce the probability of its members dying. For example, workers in a relatively dangerous industry like construction receive higher wages than they might otherwise get elsewhere. Given the statistical realities involved, one can add up the...

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When Money Is No Object

Sure, using a credit card is easy, but paying with invisible money makes saving harder and spending easier. People behaved differently when they saved—and spent—cold, hard cash. By Jason Zweig of The WSJ. Excerpt:"Nowadays, zooming through with digital toll technology like E-ZPass, you may have no idea how much you just paid. Once money is dematerialized, using it doesn’t feel like spending. “As we move away from paying with those gross motor movements,” says Kathleen Vohs,...

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The ariline industry looks competitive

See Air Travel Prices Have Barely Budged in 25 Years. (It’s True.) by Scott McCartney of The WSJ. Excerpts: "In the first quarter of 1996, the average domestic airline ticket cost $284, according to the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Twenty-five years later—the first quarter of this year—the average domestic ticket cost? $260. Adjusted for inflation, air travel in the U.S. has gotten much cheaper. That 1996 ticket in today’s dollars would be...

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Energy Prices in Europe Hit Records After Wind Stops Blowing

Heavy reliance on wind power, coupled with a shortage of natural gas, has led to a spike in energy pricesBy Joe Wallace of The WSJ. In one of my classes this week we are reading the chapter about green energy in the book The Economics of Public Issues. It mentions that back up power (usually fossil fuel) is needed for when the wind does not blow. These backup power stations have to start and stop as the wind blows and that causes more pollution than if they ran constantly. Excerpts from the...

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Is There Economic And Political Meaning In “The Wizard of Oz?”

To get a handle on this, you can read Money and Politics in the Land of Oz By Quentin P. Taylor.  Below is an excerpt from the Taylor paper: "Dorothy, the protagonist of the story, represents an individualized ideal of the American people. She is each of us at our best-kind but self-respecting, guileless but levelheaded, wholesome but plucky. She is akin to Everyman, or, in modern parlance, “the girl next door.” Dorothy lives in Kansas, where virtually everything-the treeless prairie,...

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U.S. Population Growth, an Economic Driver, Grinds to a Halt

Covid-19 pandemic compounds years of birth-rate decline, puts America’s demographic health at riskBy Janet Adamy and Anthony DeBarros of the WSJ. Excerpts:"America’s weak population growth, already held back by a decadelong fertility slump, is dropping closer to zero because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In half of all states last year, more people died than were born, up from five states in 2019. Early estimates show the total U.S. population grew 0.35% for the year ended July 1, 2020, the...

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Another Semester Has Started

 Welcome to any new students. The entries usually have something to do with a basic economic principle that is related to a recent news story.Here is something I wrote for The Ranger (the school paper of San Antonio College where I used to teach) back in 2011 titled "Why is college so hard?"Students might wonder why college, and SAC in particular, is hard. This might sound trite, but I think the faculty at SAC want students to achieve success in life and that means that classes have to be...

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Is Storytelling Important For The Economy?

"It's the economy, stupid"-James Carville, strategist for Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential campaign"The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor."-from the book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt.Wouldn't it be great if there was a blog that looked at the intersection of the economy and storytelling or mythology? Well, there is! See Dollars and Dragons.Here is one example of how storytelling and...

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The ariline industry looks competitive

See Air Travel Prices Have Barely Budged in 25 Years. (It’s True.) by Scott McCartney of The WSJ. Excerpts: "In the first quarter of 1996, the average domestic airline ticket cost $284, according to the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Twenty-five years later—the first quarter of this year—the average domestic ticket cost? $260. Adjusted for inflation, air travel in the U.S. has gotten much cheaper. That 1996 ticket in today’s dollars would be...

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