What We Can Learn From Competitive Speed Eaters

Bringing innovation to speed eating, hot dog eating champ Takeru Kobayashi displayed the characteristics of any entrepreneur.

Alcohol, Marijuana or Tobacco: Which is Most Harmful?

When government miscalculates the negative externalities of substances like marijuana and alcohol, they waste land, labor, capital, time and money.

How Music Affects Our Shopping Behavior

In a store or restaurant, music tempo is an atmospheric tool that firms engaging in monopolistic competition can use to increase customer spending and time.

Should Kids Get Paid for Grades?

What happens when you combine a $100 student payment with a teacher bonus for high A.P. grades, better lab equipment, free tutoring, Saturday classes and extra teacher training? At one Boston school, the results for the A.P. Statistics exam were:…

The Reason That Certain Quarterbacks Earn More

A 3.2 difference in a facial symmetry score can mean an extra $378,000 in  pay for a quarterback. According to research from economist David Berri on salaries from 1995-2009, if a quarterback is better looking, his salary will exceed others…

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…

Playing Chicken With China?

Yesterday’s headlines about the US taking China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for unfair auto and auto parts subsidies took me to chicken feet and The Economist’s Sinodependency Index. Knowing the major firms that depend on China for revenue…

Are You a Follower?

This sign in Arizona’s Petrified Forest was having little impact: “Your heritage is being vandalized every day by theft losses of petrified wood of 14 tons a year, mostly a small piece at a time.” However, after some sign experimentation,…

Does Luck Matter?

Whether looking at the World Series of Poker or the corporate world, skill plays a larger role than luck when achieving success.


Hearing Beethoven’s Fur Elise, a Taiwan resident knows the garbage truck is near. As described by a Washington Post writer, entire neighborhoods assemble with their garbage as the truck approaches. Called pay-as-you-throw (PAYT), through unit-pricing, people are charged for their…