Archive for the ‘Written assignment prompt’ Category

Free Money   Leave a comment

free moneyLink:

Summary: This podcast discusses arbitrage (free money), using the example of used textbooks. Arbitrage (free money) is a risk-free way to buy low and sell high. You can find one thing that’s selling for two different prices, and exploit the mistake.

Original Air Date: November 7, 2014

Length: 14 minutes 29 seconds

Prompt: Imagine you find an opportunity like the one discussed in the podcast. Write an outline of how you would go about this discovery, and what your plan of action would be.

Discussion Question: A woman in the podcast said their practice was immoral. Do you agree or disagree? Is what these two men are doing wrong? Use economic thinking in your discussion.

How Do You Decide Who Gets Lungs?   1 comment


Summary: This podcast outlines the organ market or rather the non-existent, scarce organ market that doctors unfortunately have to face when they put their patients on an organ waiting list.

Original air date: May 18, 2012

Length: 15:11 min

Discussion Prompt (1): Consider the ten principles of economics that Mankiw discussions in Chapter 1.  How do they relate to the situation in this podcast?

Discussion Prompt (2): This podcast gives examples of how different systems for allocating lungs create incentives (for doctors, for patients) and thus impact choice.  How do you see that incentives, choices and outcomes are impacted if they allocation is based on: whoever is sickest? What if they allocation system is based on who is on the waiting list first?  What if the system was a market-based system based on ability to pay? Use examples from the podcast or your own thinking that expands beyond the podcast content.

Follow-up Prompt: You all make some good observations here and lead me to think that it is also important to think about the goal of the system – is the goal to be fair? is the goal for patients not to have to wait? is the goal to have the most number of patients live ? Is the goal to save the sickest?  How do you think that understanding the ‘goal’ helps us to see the problems and options for allocation?

Written Assignment Prompt: The podcast mentions doctors signing up patients for lung transplants before they need or are sick enough for them. What are the ethical issues associated with such a decision? Why don’t we see markets at work in this scenario? How might you create an alternate system for allocating this precious item?

The Cotton Wars   3 comments


A cotton farmer in the field

Summary: Presentation of the trade war in the cotton market between Brazil and the U.S.  Part of a series of podcasts inspired by Pietra Rivoli’s “Travels of the T-Shirt”

Original air date: October 29, 2010

Length: 31:28

Main story content begins: 1:45

Discussion Prompt: The US is the largest exporter of cotton—thanks to government subsidies—and is in direct competition with Brazil. Discuss how subsidies and protectionist acts by the government impact industries and consumers in the United States and in Brazil, and whether you agree with these policies by the U.S.

Written Assignment Prompt: In the podcast, Pedro describes the US as breaking the ‘rules’—which refers to a WTO agreement that Brazil, the US, and many other countries signed. Brazil fights back and wins! Sort of. Imagine you are a member of the WTO ruling on decisions such as these. Considering the outcome and impacts of this case in particular: how much power do you have over making rulings and forcing countries to follow them? Is there a way to make the US and others in violation of WTO rules comply?

The No-brainer Economic Platform   1 comment


A sign that reads elections ahead

Summary: Presentation of a hypothetical presidential campaign platform that economist from across the political spectrum would support.

Original air date: July 18, 2012

Length: 26:54

Discussion Prompt: One economic platform in the podcast is that the government should cut corporate, income and payroll taxes. How this might impact the economic environment of the country? Why were some panelists in the podcast opposed to cutting these taxes?

Written Assignment Prompt: Consider these economic platforms from a political point of view.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? If you were a political strategist, could you present these ideas in a way that the public would understand?

An Economist Gets Stoned   3 comments

packets of medical marijuana


Summary: Interview with economist Jeffrey Miron of the market for illegal drugs and the economic impact of ‘legalizing’ marijuana through implementation of medical marijuana laws at the state level.

Original Air Date: January 27, 2010

Length 19:03

Main story content begins: 0:00 (Planet Money indicator discusses contribution of marijuana to California economy)

Class Discussion Question: Discuss the conclusions reached in the podcast about the interaction of the elasticity of drugs and drug legalization. What impact do you think this would have on, for example, the marijuana industry when states legalize this product?

Written Assignment Prompt: Marijuana is California’s largest cash crop, with about 1,000 stores selling pot in LA alone.  Predict the supply and demand of marijuana for Los Angeles that would come with the legalization of the drug.

Revenge of the Tariffs   3 comments

image of tiresLink:

Summary: Discusses potential for a trade war between the U.S. and China. The U.S imposed a tariff on Chinese tires. China threatened a tariff on chicken paws (feet).

Original Air Date: September 18, 2009

Length 19:03

Main story content begins: 3:50

Discussion of Harmonized trade schedule: 1:23 – 3:50

Discussion Prompt (1): The United States has a Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which outlines all tariffs for the US. Discuss the impacts that you think come from this system of tariffs in the U.S. You might consider impacts on producers, consumers, ease of engaging in trade, and the trade balance.

Follow-up Prompt (1): Consider the complexity in the system of international trade that the harmonized tariff represents.  Do you think the U.S. is the only country with this detailed and complex system of tariffs? How do you think this system impacts firms that want to engage in international trade?

Discussion Prompt (2): With the increasing number and complexity of multinational firms that might be headquartered in one country, with research facilities in another, manufacture in one or multiple other countries, and sales all over the world, do you think there is such a thing as domestically produced product (along the line of Made in America) that it would make sense trying to protect?

Written Assignment Prompt: Countries are using the “you pushed me first” scenario, using international trade. Surprisingly, though, tariffs were diminishing with the promotion of free trade, except for just recently. Draft an argument stating your position on free trade or the use of tariffs, and the economic rationale for that position.