Why We Should Look More Closely At the Size of Our Soda

The 6-ounce bottle of Coke was the king of soda when an upstart company called Pepsi-Cola sold a 12-ounce bottle for the same price. The year was 1934 and the price was 5 cents. Pepsi’s competitive strategy has been called brilliant because its biggest costs were advertising, bottling…

Starbucks Drive-Through Economics

My new Starbucks has a drive-through. If you look at a high shelf near the window through which the baristas hand the coffee and food to drivers, you see a screen with little cars and numbers. Changing from green to yellow…

State By State Gender Pay Gaps

At 15 cents, the gender wage gap is smallest in Vermont and Nevada. It expands to 36 cents in Wyoming. Comparing all women to all men, though, is tricky. We have the single female professionals who have no gender wage gap and…

Innovation: The Cup Holder

Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.” I suspect that automakers were thinking like Steve Jobs when they gave us the cup holder. The story of the cup holder begins in 1950: A tough…

Marginal Analysis: How Much to Tip?

On Wednesday, I entered a cab on 55th Street near 5th Ave. in NYC. Although I was going to 30th St., the driver proceeded west and then north because it was illegal to make a left onto 5th and head…

Marginal Analysis: The Math of the Movies

During an interview at the Nantucket Film Festival last summer, film writer/director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give) said she was having a tougher time getting scripts approved. It was apparent that she preferred the intuition of one eccentric movie mogul…

A Pollution Tale With 2 Happy Endings

Sometimes green incentives can have unintended consequences. Our story begins in an airport. About to board a flight, an environmentally concerned individual purchases “carbon offsets.”  Yes, that flight will pollute the air but the offset could be used to fund…

Starbucks and the Clover

I just had a Starbucks grande coffee from their $11,000 Clover coffee machine. It was very good. Because the Clover makes individual cups, Starbucks can let the customer choose the bean. More choice, elite beans, and you have a recipe…

Wind Farms

What if peak wind for your wind farm equals peak demand? Good? Not necessarily. The key is timing. According to a NY Times article, certain wind installations have to “dump energy late at night…” because there is no demand for power…

Another Unregulated Market

Carbon offset markets are about thinking at the margin. Hoping to become the first carbon neutral state in the world, the Vatican bought carbon offsets. The U.S. House of Representatives funded an $89,000 purchase of carbon offsets. Before boarding, you can…