An Economics Tool Kit: Unintended Consequences

Next to “no free lunch,” perhaps the most important idea in an economics tool kit is “unintended consequences.” Our story starts in Bogota, Colombia and a visiting professor who tells the Freakonomics people that his friends picked him up with…

“It’s Not Easy Being Green”

Hearing Kermit the Frog say, “It’s not easy being green,” Mexican environmentalists might agree. Since March 2009, Mexican households have been offered cash payments or subsidized loans for replacing refrigerators and air-conditioners that were more than 10 years old with new energy…

A Clunker Stimulus?

It would be so nice if we could say, “Yes, the 2009 stimulus was a good idea,” or “No, it was not.” Instead, the debate continues. Discussing his new book, journalist Michael Grabell tells us that we are unnecessarily dividing…

Incentive Matters

Economics always seems to relate to incentives. Whether looking at demand and supply, or health care policy, or international trade, always we can return to how incentives shape our behavior. This takes me to several good incentive stories. An op-ed…