Apr 30, 2009

Your Vacation Getaway

It really is a good time of year to be a teacher. Unless you teach AP, most of the big testing is probably out of the way, the kids can see the end of the rainbow and you still have the yearly "field day" event to look forward to.

With only four weeks to go now is the time to start planning that summer trip. As summer vacation is the best perk of the job, it is important to take full advantage of it.

...and due to the cruddy economy flights everywhere are cheap and hotels are desperate for your business.

As a public service to you, I have taken it upon myself to help locate some cities that may interest you this summer. I am willing to bet the ranch that the best hotels in Norilsk can be had for a song. Many call it the Detroit of Siberia.

Not surprising to see that more than half of these locales are in former or current communist countries. Workers paradise my butt.

Apr 28, 2009

Market 1 Yankees 0

So it turns out that charging $2,500 to see a baseball game is a bad idea after all.

Gwinnett, Home of the Expensive Braves

The other day the AJC ran this opinion piece about the new Gwinnett Braves AAA baseball stadium. My first thought was, this cost $64 million to build? Really?

Seems like a lot of cash for a baseball diamond but it does sound like a bargain when you consider the cost of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium ($1.1 billion-ish), the new Yankee stadium ($1.3 billion-ish) or the new "Shea" stadium ($850 million-ish).

So many tax dollars. So many wealthy team owners. Now if I could just figure out a way to get the government to subsidize a plush new soccer stadium for an Atlanta MLS soccer franchise located within walking distance of my house.

Go ahead and ask your students if they are in favor of the government giving out "handouts" to people. When you are done discussing that question ask them if they are in favor of the government giving out subsidies to athletic team owners. See if their answers match up.

Apr 27, 2009

Southeast Region Champions (Yeahhhh!)

Today at the 2009 Southeast Region Economics Challenge Championship, Starr's Mill High School from Fayette County took home 1st place in the David Ricardo division. Coached by Mark DeCourcy and Michael Melvin, the SMHS Panthers led from start to finish, at one point opening up a 455 point lead on the 2nd place team.

Humongous congratulations go out to everyone from the Starr's Mill squad.

As winners of today's event, the Panthers each took home a $1,000 US savings bond and will now have the opportunity to travel to NYC to compete against three other schools in the national finals. Good luck Starr's Mill!

In other Econ Challenge news, the North Carolina School of Math and Science took home 1st in the Adam Smith division.

Apr 24, 2009

Weekend Reading

Let's see.
Professor at MIT.
Former chief economist at the IMF.
This guy just might know a thing or two.

Apr 23, 2009

Did Someone Say 11?

Cue the funeral music please.
Congratulations to the Spring 2009 Stock Market Game winners from Parkview High School in Gwinnett County!

Coached by economics teacher Tim Watkins, this group of students managed to turn their initial $100,000 into a whopping $389, 132.52 over the coarse of a ten week period. Pretty good considering what has been going on in the markets over the last few months.

These students, as well as all regional winning teams, will be meeting at the Atlanta Freight Depot on May 5th for the annual Stock Market Game luncheon, which is being catered by this bloggers favorite seafood restaurant.

In addition to the annual luncheon, the statewide winners, statewide runners-up, statewide middle school winners, statewide elementary winners and statewide teacher division winners (fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009) will be attending the big Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets clash at Turner Field that evening.

Apr 21, 2009

See the Job Losses

This interactive graph allows you to see the changes in national job creation/loss since 2008. Definitely gives an entirely new meaning to the whole "red" state "blue" state thing.

This should keep me up for a few hours tonight.

Apr 20, 2009

Fortune 500

It's good to be king.

The Fortune 500 is now out and available for all to see. Once again, energy (oil, gas, electric) and transportation (GM & Ford) is well represented in the top 10.

I wish I could be around 100 years from now to see what this list looks like once most of the global oil supply has been depleted.

...and will there be ANY car companies on that list?

Apr 18, 2009

My Sentiments Exactly!

I have been thinking along these lines since like, oh I don't know, maybe October 2008.

Maybe they will all get the next one right. But then again, maybe they won't. It depends right?

I mean, how hard can it be to predict the near meltdown of the world economy?

Apr 17, 2009

Weekend Reading

Love him or hate him, Nobel Prize economist/Princeton professor/NY Time op-ed columnist Paul Krugman has become one of the more outspoken critics of government economic policy. Enjoy.

Apr 16, 2009

How Much for Polar Research?

Boy do I feel like a fool. All along I thought the Tea parties were in honor of him. Sheesh, I need to start watching more tv I guess.

Any of you go to a Tea party yesterday? Your students? The closest I got was the small traffic jam I sat in right in front of the state capitol building. Many of the signs I saw related to taxes and spending others were a bit on the scary side. Doesn't need changed? Huh?

Now would probably be a good time to dig into government taxing and spending a little bit to see where the money is really going. Anyone care to guess how much we spend on Fusion Energy? Or how about NASA? The answers to these questions, and many many more, can be found on this terrific poster. Now, where to find an extra $407 billion to plug that looming budget deficit gap?

You can purchase the poster right here.

Apr 14, 2009

Score Another One for Education

If you do nothing else in class today please make all of your students read this article?

"...education remains the best antidote against unemployment."

From the Classroom volume 17

Flabbergasted is the only way to describe how I felt after a conversation I recently had with a teacher new to the profession. He told me that he felt bad about using other teachers’ activities and lessons, and therefore, refrained from it.

Are you kidding me??

With all the demands upon our time, the sports to coach, parents to contact, retirement portfolios to obsess about, newspapers to read (just in case a student wants to actually talk about current events in her social studies class), and occasionally spend time with our own families, the last thing I want to do is re-invent the wheel.

So I thought there might be some teachers out there, particularly ones new to teaching Econ, who do not yet have an EOCT study guide for their students to complete. It might not be the flashiest wheel ever created, but it correlates to the GPS and you are certainly welcome to it.

Apr 13, 2009


So you are back from spring break. Tan, rested and ready right? What do you have left, like 35 days? You can do it. Eyes on the prize. You have turned the corner and you are heading for home. Summer vacation is so close you can almost smell it.

Whether you are gearing up for the EOCT or the CRCT the state has plenty of helpful information that is worth a look. Look here and here for some handy study guides.

If you are reading this and you have any test prep ideas you would like to share please pass them along.

Apr 11, 2009

Weekend Reading (with microfiber technology)

Tired of talking about Bill Gates and Ray Kroc when giving examples of entrepreneurship? Now you can point to Kevin Plank. Chances are good that someone in your classroom is sporting some of his gear right now.

Apr 7, 2009

Masters 101

Last week I was in Augusta doing some Council work and I could sense the building excitement that surrounds the Masters golf tournament. To many of us the Masters is a tournament that we follow for three or four days each April. We talk about the sandwiches, the jacket, and even a little golf, then we move on. For the residents of Augusta it is way more than that. Our Econblog Augusta correspondent Amy Hennessy files this report on what the Masters means to her.

The azaleas are in full bloom at Amen Corner, the Masters’ traffic signage is in place, and the houses are clean and ready for their temporary inhabitants! Masters week is upon us! Having prepared my home for my mother-in-law and her disabled siblings who stay with us while she rents her home to the executives of CBS Sports, I know she is feeling more fortunate than most. The recession and the perception of corporate excess has extended a menacing tentacle toward Augusta.

The Masters Tournament brings thousands of fans and millions of dollars into the Augusta economy each year. I am a product of such largess. Every year my mom farmed us out to friends while she rented our bedrooms to sports writers from around the country to earn some extra spending money. I worked as a gallery guard for five years because my best friend’s father was the manager of this group of mostly older men who wanted a chance to play the course for their week’s work. My oldest daughter served the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as a waitress for a local caterer who did all the PGA social events. Yet as I have made my way down Washington Road recently I have known things were looking bleak. Where are the normal badge seekers? And what has happened to the hottest ticket in sports? Never fear though, we are resilient and things will look up again. After all we made it through the Martha Burk year!

Thank you Amy and best of luck to all of our friends in Augusta!

Apr 6, 2009

From the Classroom volume 16

As I get ready to begin my personal finance unit, I find this activity, "Job Jungle", to be helpful in teaching my 18 year old students (who tend to have a pretty high regard of themselves) that workers are only worth what someone will pay them. The point of this simulation is to demonstrate that a firm will hire them only if they contribute marginal product and that their pay increases only if they become more productive.

Can you think of a more important lesson to teach young people who are about to enter the workforce in times like these?

Apr 4, 2009


I can think of one business that is booming. Facebook is signing up nearly a million new members a day. Now if they could only find a way to employ those 663,000 people who lost their jobs last month.

Apr 3, 2009

The Picture Project

A picture can be worth a thousand words. Maybe that is why I like photography so much. This morning I came across this article in the NYTimes that combines economics along with photography.

If I was still teaching I would ask my students to go out into their communities to take pictures of subjects that document the current economic times they are witnessing. I would then compile the photos into some sort of art exhibit that could be displayed somewhere in the school.

Have your students write an explanation of each photo and how it relates to economics and you have yourself a nice little project that many of your students will really enjoy doing.

Apr 2, 2009

Are You Smarter Than A Fed Chairman?

It sure is easy being critical of Bernanke and Greenspan. Anyone could do a better job than those two guys right? Here is your big chance. You may find that this simulation is rather addictive so do not start unless you have a few minutes to kill. This would look cool projected on the big screen in your classroom. Put it up and let your students decide what to do with the Federal Funds rate.

*Props to Chris Cannon for alerting me to this.

Apr 1, 2009

From the Classroom volume 14

It’s getting close to the end. Not much time left before the EOCT, even less time before Spring Break. Is there a more perfect time for a student centered cooperative lesson?

I open my discussion of exchange rates with a small auction using two currencies (an example can be found in the Capstone book, Lesson 42) to get the students familiar with the concept of floating exchange rates. Then, I reinforce this with a lesson based on “Foreign Exchange Rates” in International Economics.

Although I have updated much of the material and strengthened the section on why currencies appreciate/ depreciate, what appeals to me (the guy lucky enough to be paid to teach international trade to seniors counting down the hours ‘til graduation) is the idea of declaring some of them “experts” and making them responsible for disseminating that info.