Feb 28, 2009

Look Out Below

You may want to save this graph for your Macro unit. Everyone knows that GDP is declining but this really does put it all into perspective.

If you go here you can find GDP quarterly changes since 1930. Have your students compare GDP growth rates over the years to give them a better understanding of what this 6.2% drop means.

10.1%? Holy smokes.

Feb 27, 2009

Georgia Economic History

Returning from a recent GCEE workshop, Economics in Georgia History, I promptly filed away all of my materials from the course neatly in a notebook, and contemplated tackling the daunting stack of papers on my desk from my students’ work with the substitute.

Within a day I found myself pulling out my notebook, looking for ideas. Rather than teach the Economics GPS in isolation, I try to incorporate them throughout the year and right in front of me was a lesson “The Least Likely Place for a Race Riot” which not only connected directly to our unit on Civil Rights, but also was an opportunity to teach about the incentive effect of profit and the influence of Robert Woodruff and The Coca-Cola Company.

Having the lesson documents in Word as well as .pdfs let me adapt the work to my classroom. The lesson focuses on the contrast between Atlanta’s peaceful desegregation and Birmingham and Montgomery’s experiences, so I included a video clip from this site to review the Montgomery bus boycott. It woke my students up a little with its dramatic images. Not surprisingly, students of all races are surprised and shocked by the brutality of the times.

*Post submitted by Liz Williams, Henderson Middle School

That's right, we even have workshops that cover economics in the middle grades!

Feb 26, 2009

From the Classroom vol 8

It is that time of the semester.

This cartel game from the Foundation for Teaching Economics is my favorite part of my micro unit.

By this time, the class has discussed how firms in an oligopoly have an incentive to collude, if allowed. This game demonstrates that, but also demonstrates the incentive for those firms to break that agreement. And that is where the fun begins. The students collude to drive up prices, but then recognize that if all the other groups follow the agreement and they do not, their profits will increase. A great way top off this activity is certainly to discuss OPEC and their quotas.

I feel confident in saying that if you give this activity a shot, it will become a favorite of both you and your students (once they get over being enraged by the deal-breaking.) So sit back, watch the backstabbing happen. The best part—the consumers benefit from every agreement that gets broken.

Feb 25, 2009

Feb 24, 2009

Paging Dr. Doom

Doctor Doom”, Nouriel Roubini, now beats the drum for government takeover of the most troubled banks. (Citi closed at $1.95/share Friday.) With Alan Greenspan and Senator Lindsay Graham jumping on this bandwagon is the dirty word, nationalization, a pending reality? Would temporary government ownership of these insolvent institutions keep us from facing a decade like Japan’s lost decade of the ‘90’s? Sweden did it successfully. Do we have the political will to follow their lead?

*Post submitted by Amy Hennessy, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School

Feb 20, 2009

A Million Silver Linings

It is time to start compiling a list of all of those "the economy is a complete wreck but this positive thing is happening" stories that keep popping up in the news. This one may be hard to top but I am going to kick this new feature off with it anyway. (Much like NASCAR starting the season with the Daytona 500, it just goes downhill from there.) Let us know when you find a good news/bad economy story of your own.

Now cue the theme from Jaws....

Watch the Banker Wizards

That explains some things.

Feb 19, 2009

From the Classroom vol 7

Our students use markets everyday and it is not usually a challenge to get them to notice this fact. It can, however, be a bit harder to get them to come up with real world examples of scarce resources not being allocated by markets. This is the time in the semester when I like to pick my "deputy."

The deputy (or Cap'n as I like to sometimes call him/her) is a member of the class who gets a "WINNER" medal and gets as many special privileges as you are comfortable granting. I give my deputy a wide leash to leave the room whenever he/she wants, settle disputes, and make important decisions in the classroom. The point is to give the office enough power to make it desirable.

The students come up with non-market ways in which we could allocate this very scarce resource and then vote as a class to see who should be selected. Foot races, spelling bees, rock/paper/scissor tourneys, raffles, and trasketball have all given me deputies over the years. Once the deputy is picked, we launch into a discussion of real world examples of non-market allocation. Kids learn econ and I acquire a big time ally that the students themselves had a hand in picking. I believe Michael Scott would call that a win-win-win situation.

Feb 16, 2009

From the Classroom vol 6

A casual remark by a world history teacher unsure about Adam Smith was all I needed. I saw my prey and dove towards it like a hawk. Within 15 minutes, I had three different lessons ready for him.

Virtual Economics 3 has entirely too many lessons for you to use, so spread the love. You may not have even glanced at the lesson books devoted to other classes--world history, US history, government, and world geography, but there are some very good lessons in there. Focus on World History has several good lessons on Professor Smith and the Industrial Revolution. Focus on US History has lessons about the economics of the Great Depression (and you may want to steer your colleagues to the St. Louis Fed if you are not using the materials.)

I believe that it is important for us to remember that in many cases our economic standards are also their history standards. So if there is a teacher in your department looking for lesson ideas, VE3 is certainly there to help you spread the good word. Good hunting!!

Feb 14, 2009

Drinking Our Way to Economic Prosperity?

Did anyone see this one coming? Let's see, many people (21 and up) in state X legally drink booze Monday-Saturday. State X says citizens cannot purchase the very same booze on Sunday. Economy of state X goes into the toilet. Some in state X suddenly look to Sunday booze sales as a source of new government revenue.

Others in state X say the solution to the revenue shortage is in gaming. Build one of these they say and watch the money roll in.

Should we let the market figure this out? Sell it on Sunday and/or let gamblers gamble and see if it truly is what the people want? Any thoughts?

Feb 13, 2009

Economy 1 Love 0

So if you blow it this year and give that special someone a real dud Valentine's gift you can just go right ahead and blame the economy for your lack of intelligent gift purchasing abilities. Chances are you will not be alone.

...and if you are getting grief for not bucking up for that extra special V-day diamond, just print out this story and give it to the person asking for the ice. It will make you look like a genius.

Feb 12, 2009

Good Bank Eh?

Please take out a pencil and a half sheet of paper, it's time for a quiz everyone. OK, here is the question: write down the first 5 things you think of when you think about/aboot Canada.

Is everybody finished? Here are my answers: The Great One, The Hip, The Falls, The Kids, and The Treat.
What are your answers? Let me guess, you thought of this, this, him, a guy like this and maybe her. Am I right? Did any of you think about all of those Canadian banks that are plugging right along in these difficult times? Probably not.

After reading this article maybe we should start thinking differently about our neighbors to the north. Sounds like they are doing a few things right in the banking industry. Who knew a 26 to 1 bank leverage could turn out to be a bad thing?

Feb 11, 2009

Globalization at the Fed

Spaces at the March 13th Globalization workshop are going fast so if you are a high school teacher interested in joining us at the Fed you may want to register sooner rather than later as this workshop will sell out.

Reasons for coming: the great Fed speaker, the great Fed resources, the three demonstration lessons, the Globalization publication itself (one of the few publications not on VE3). Heck, if nothing else come for the amazing Fed hospitality!

GCEE will reimburse your system for the sub, the Fed will feed you a great meal and you will walk away with 12 outstanding lesson plans focusing on a myriad of global economic issues. What a day! Hope to see you there.

*no repeat attendees please

Feb 8, 2009

Swapping Borsch for Matroyshka Dolls

If you are heading over to Russia anytime soon you may want to fill your suitcases with extra Dale Earnhardt #3 angel wing t-shirts and multiple packages of Double Stuf Oreos because bartering is in vogue once again from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod!

Probably not a good sign for the Russian economy that enterprising workers are looking to trade underpants for vehicles. How many Taganrog utility trucks can you get for 2,500,000 rubles’ worth of premium underwear anyway?

This story is chock full of economic concepts that are all over the GPS standards. Have your students read the article, give them a copy of the standards and then ask them to match the two. Quality stuff indeed.

Weekend Break

Dear Government,
If you give me some economic stimulus $$ I promise to spend every last penny at this south Florida resort, thus boosting the economy.
Yours in GDP growth,

Feb 7, 2009

Click on the graph for a look at the numbers of unemployed from the 1940's through today. This graph could be a great way to get your students thinking about business cycles and the frequency of recessions in the United States. This graph, and many others, can be found at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank's excellent website.

If you need a graph related to pretty much any macro related concept the chances are pretty good that the Fed has just what you are looking for. The more you expose your students to charts and graphs the better off they will be come EOCT time.

Here is a list, along with links, of all twelve Fed branches: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, San Fransisco. For my money the Fed is one of the best places to look for economic data.

Feb 6, 2009


January job losses... 598,000

Job losses from Nov-Jan... 1.8 million

Current unemployment rate... 7.6%

Number of unemployed workers... 11.6 million

Feb 5, 2009

30 Years On

Very interesting article from CBS News. How much has media changed in the last 30 years?

Consider this, Facebook didn't even exist five years ago. It now draws more than 200 million visitors. Or this, every minute ten hours of video are added to YouTube.

How much has teaching changed in the last 30 years? How can teachers use the latest technology to get through to their students?

What will media look like 30 years from now? What will teaching look like 30 years from now?

Feb 3, 2009

The Crash of 2008: Cause and Aftermath

Hello visitors. Over the course of the last few weeks we have been asked by many of you for ideas and resources on how and what to teach about the current economic "difficulties." One great resource can be found right here. After reading the paper you will see that the authors have done a very thorough job explaining many of the intricate details of the "Crash of 2008". Along with the reading comes a wonderful classroom-ready PowerPoint presentation that can be found right here. These materials should help you answer the "Are we going to have another Great Depression?" question I'm sure many of your students are asking lately.

If these economic materials look beneficial in any way, shape or form, please visit commonsenseeconomics.com for additional teaching resources.

Feb 2, 2009

From the Classroom vol 5

The collapse of the Soviet Union was a huge event for us, but (to paraphrase Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused) we get older and our students stay the same age. The only thing these 90's kids know about the Soviet Union is what their US history teacher told them and, of course, Rocky IV.

The inefficiencies of central planning are not self evident to students born after the Fall of the Wall, so it falls to us. Luckily there are several great lessons out there to help us. A colleague of mine likes to use "A Parking Lot Full of Incentives" from Economies in Transition (available on VE3) to introduce the concept to his students. There are also lessons in Economic Systems (lesson 4 and 5) that might be of assistance.

For the past few years I have enjoyed using lessons based on the Foundation for Teaching Economics Demise of the Soviet Union (lesson 3) to really drive home the perverse nature of command economies. Resources are certainly available to help you teach this "ancient history."

From the Classroom vol 4

Just a quick note on an outstanding program. The Korea Society is an organization whose purpose is to raise understanding and cooperation bewteen the United States and Korea and I was lucky enough to be selected as a fellow in the 2007 Summer Fellowship in Korean Studies Program. I and 19 other American educators were given an all expense paid opportunity to spend a couple of weeks studying Korean history and culture in Seoul and around the rest of South Korea. The deadline for this year's fellowship is Februrary 16th, so check out their site and apply for this tremendous opportunity.

Feb 1, 2009

Curse You Supply & Demand!!!

It's Super Bowl Sunday and THE big story is not taking place on a field in Tampa, FLA. Instead, it's taking place in cities, towns, and hamlets all over this great nation of ours. I am of course talking about the ongoing, and increasingly scary, CHICKEN WING SHORTAGE of 2009! (cue doom and gloom music)

By now we should all be hunkered down in front of our 97 inch flat screen t.v.'s watching some nine hour pre-game show with the chips, the dip, one of these things, maybe a pizza or two, and a huge pile of deep fat fried goodness purchased from your favorite wing joint. Instead many Americans have been forced to leave their homes to forage near their local chicken processing plants for tasty hot wings.

The clock is ticking people and this author thinks it is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. Super Bowl Sunday without Buffalo wings is like the 4th of July without blowing stuff up. It just aint right! Somebody please stop the madness! Call your local elected official and demand immediate action. What do we want? A chicken wing bailout! When do we want it? Now!

See how this looming national disaster may impact you here, here, here, here and............. here. Enjoy the game everyone.