Monday, February 27, 2012

Abbot and Costello Explain Unemployment

Greg Mankiw posts a great piece from a colleague at the University of Chicago.

Generation Gap Alert: I just talked about this with my freshmen at one of the universities where I teach. None of them knew the Abbott & Costello routine "Who's on First?"  Consequently, you may want to skip this or show your students this clip first.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Economic Systems and Institutions

First, I know it's been a long time between posts - life isn't always what we want. I frequently come across items that should be brought to your attention. But due to other factors, I have to choose. It seems opportunity cost is an operative concept.

I don't know how many of you spend time discussing economic institutions and systems.  While many textbooks seem to bypass the subject or give it short shrift, I always try to spend at least one class period discussing them. And they are revisited throughout the semester. The rules that a society puts in place to influence or control decision-making are important if we are to understand the decisions.

Here is an excellent article from The Daily (HT to Arts & Letters Daily) that really brings the importance of institutions home. What I find particularly interesting is the aspect of traditional economies in a modern setting. One quickly understands how traditions can be an important mold for many choices. And attempts to change the rules, by issuing formal rules to replace informal rules, can have significant costs on many levels. I hope you take a moment to check the article out. And I hope you will share your thoughts.