Sounds Like Pistachios

“Remember the pistachios,” is a memorable line from a novel by economist Russ Roberts. In the first several pages of The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance, a teacher says you have been given a room filled 5 feet high with…

Calamity Markets

Some markets are distressed. For close to 30 cents on the dollar, firms that purchase distressed securities have offered to buy loss claims from victims of the Madoff fraud. Instead of waiting for the settlement process to unfold for undetermined…

Demand, Supply, and College Admissions

You might pay $1.50 to get a cup of coffee or $30 for a blouse. But what do students “pay” to get admitted to a college? And, at what “prices” will colleges accept people?  Several researchers developed a supply and…

Demand, Supply, and Knee Replacement

Hearing about knee replacement surgery from a friend, I soon realized it is about much more than an operation. It involves demand, supply, innovation, and the quality and cost of national medical care. First the facts: For knee replacement surgery,…

The Cost of a Corn Flake

Telling us that corn prices are soaring, NPR asked, “Why Not Corn Flakes?” After all, approximately 13 ounces of an 18-ounce box of corn flakes is corn. The corn, though, only adds close to 4 cents to the price. So,…

Mobile Home Ceilings

When the Ukiah California City Council said yes to rent stabilization for a local mobile home park, senior citizens said, “Thank you.” In NYC, 50% of all housing in Manhattan is rent regulated. Sixty years ago, concerned that the middle…

Supply, Demand, and Kimchi

The kimchi mini-crisis is a perfect tale of supply and demand. Kimchi, “a fiery cabbage-based staple of Korea,” is typically made from “seasoned, fermented napa cabbage”. Farmers supply the napa cabbage for kimchi and demand comes from restaurants and consumers.…

The Afghan Votes Market

In Kunduz Province, the price of a vote was $15 while in Kandahar, it was closer to $1.  Do we have a market? Just like shoes or shirts, it appears that the price of an Afghan vote was determined by…

The Housing Dilemma

Is it time for shock therapy? Since the housing bubble popped, from tax credits to mortgage modification programs, government has tried to support housing prices. The goal was to provide support and diminish foreclosures until the market stabilized. With housing…

Kidney Markets?

What should we be able to buy and sell? Alcohol? Land? People? Body Parts? In a Teaching Company lecture on organ transplants, Wake Forest economist Robert Whaples says that the answers depend on the market’s boundaries. And, he soon adds,…