What do Polish Pretzels, Parmesan Cheese, and Champagne Have in Common?

Polish pretzels sound delicious. Called “obwarzanek,” they are round, have a hole in the middle, are boiled, then baked, and can be sesame, poppy, salt or cheese. Although they resemble a bagel, there is one big difference. They have an…

How Firms Compete With Hidden Messages

Have you noticed the arrow in FedEx’s logo? Especially because, in class, we have been looking at how oligopolies compete, I appreciated what this BusinessInsider slideshow said about their logos: A competitive market structure shapes business behavior. For oligopolies, that…

Should the US Postal Service Be a Monopoly?

The 5-digit zip code is rather amazing. Introduced by the US Postal Service in 1963, it became the key to automation. Whereas a single person could sort, at most, a letter in one second or 3600 an hour, zip codes…

Demand and Supply: Should Congress Unbundle Cable?

If I pay $100 for a 50 channel cable package, then choosing the 25 channels I really watch should cost me $25. Yes? I suspect Senator John McCain agrees. But it might not work out that way if his legislative…

What Can You Learn From the Phone Book?

Among all of the innovations that changed our lives, have you ever thought about the phone book? The first phone book dates back to 1878. Compiled by the the District Telephone Company of New Haven, soon to become SNET, the…

A Blurry Customer Focus

Several years ago, I walked into my local bank branch at 5:55. Knowing that they closed at 6:00, I thought I had some time but they said I was too late. I said I had 5 minutes, they said no…

The Norwegian Butter Crisis

Reserves were low, demand was high and prices skyrocketed. No, not oil. Butter. Butter demand surged in Norway several months ago when a low carb high fat diet swept the nation. At the same time, the supply of butter plunged…

You’ve Got Mail?

While the U.S. had postal services since the 1600s, Ben Franklin transformed the system. Appointed Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies by the British, he established our first home mail delivery system, diminished to a single day the letter delivery time…

Amazonian eWarfare

By Mira Korber, guest blogger. The Amazon rainforest may be shrinking, but Amazon.com certainly isn’t. The superpower “e-tailer” has all but taken over, and it’s selling just about anything, but Amazon.com threatens one industry just as much as climate change…

Sounds Like Bell Labs

Google has a “secret” lab. Called Google X by the NY Times, it sounds like the old Bell Labs. Before 1984, when AT&T was a monopoly, their research subsidiary Bell Labs employed a battalion of scientists. For some, the assignment…