Posts Tagged ‘Comics’

I don’t think we have posted this one yet [ht:jm]:

But actually it is quite well done and fairly witty. And it gets to some important points about inflation that have been discussed by others: there are winners and losers. That is, economic actors are affected differently depending on their position in the economic system.

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via The Onion [ht:cr]:

Upending more than two centuries of free-market theory, leading economists across the globe announced Thursday that the fundamental principles of capitalism had been “irrefutably disproved” by the continued existence of the designer fruit-basket company Edible Arrangements.

According to experts, the Connecticut-based franchise, which arranges skewered pieces of fruit into displays vaguely resembling floral bouquets, has defied all modern economic models, expanding continuously for the past decade despite its complete lack of any discernible consumer appeal.

“In theory, the market should have done away with Edible Arrangements long ago,” said American Economic Association president Orley Ashenfelter, who added that one of the crucial assumptions of capitalism is the idea that businesses producing undesired goods or services will fail. “That’s how it’s supposed to work. Yet somehow, despite offering no product of any worth whatsoever, this company not only makes payroll every week, but also generates strong profits.”



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Supply and Demean

Stephen Colbert offers a great economic analysis of income disparities in his “The Word” segment from March 1st.

The main focus of the segment is on income disparities in the U.S., starting with a recent Mother Jones issue which called the U.S. economy a “Vampire Economy.” Mother Jones also provides a neat webpage with “eleven charts that explain everything that’s wrong with America.” The same Word segment also references the January 2011 Atlantic article called “The Rise of the New Global Elite” and points out the fact that nearly half of the members of the U.S. Congress are millionaires.

This is an impressive amalgamation of important economic data presented in an extremely entertaining way.

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Check out Round Two of the viral Keynes vs Hayek  rap, “Fear the Boom and Bust,” followed by a panel discussion with the creators of the video [ht:ok]. I must say, I do appreciate this non-traditional method of encouraging pluralistic economic discourse!

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Max U at the Firm Level

Julie Nelson, a foremost feminist economist, has a new paper in the GDAE Working Paper series. The title is, “Does Profit-Seeking Rule Out Love? Evidence (or Not) from Economics and Law”. As anyone who has taken introductory microeconomics knows, our dear friend “Max U” for individuals has it’s firm-level counterpart, profit maximization. Remember that these are not tested observations, but assumptions underlying neoclassical theory. Nelson problematizes “Max P” by arguing that it need not preclude altruistic actions from firms toward society. She points out that the distinction between money and love is an unhelpful abstraction at best, and at worst,

 Rather, this essay will demonstrate, the idea was invented and has maintained its power to shape our thinking through mutually‐reinforcing historical, social, and political processes. The rhetoric of profit maximization serves to distort, rather than illuminate, our social reality

The essay is fascinating- Nelson traces the roots of Max P, as well as challenging ideas that it completely dominates empirically or is legally mandated. She concludes by serving some alternative approaches to economics, particularly emphasizing a view of the economy as relational. Most importantly, she problematizes the idea of commoditatization, arguing that we should not assume that something has become commoditized once it has entered a market. Instead,

Commercial relations, in fact, are often themselves saturated with social meaning and relationality. Rather, it is the entry of narrow, profit-maximization values and related specific structures that, by reducing the value of everything to its contribution to a “bottom line,” threaten to drain human meaning.

Nelson’s paper is a helpful reminder of some ways in which our economic models of the world shape the world.

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Not even the invisible hand

Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” testified before a House subcommittee on the rights of migrant workers.

[photo: Drew Angerer/The New York Times]

After spending a day picking vegetables on a New York farm, Stephen Colbert testified on Capitol Hill as part of a panel on legalizing undocumented workers. Colbert made a case for the worker in his characteristically satirical style. NPR provides a neat summary of highlights, which includes his reason for testifying:

Mr. COLBERT: I like talking about people who dont have any power. And this seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but dont have any rights as a result. And yet, we still invite them to come here. And at the same time, ask them to leave. And thats an interesting contradiction to me.

…and a jab at the “invisible hand”:

Mr. COLBERT: Normally, I would leave this to the invisible hand of the market. But the invisible had of the market has already moved over 84,000 acres of production and over 22,000 farm jobs to Mexico, and shutdown over a million acres of U.S. farmland due to lack of available labor, because apparently even the invisible hand doesnt want to pick beans.

Watch the entire testimony here.  (It is well worth the five minutes.)

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