Sep 29, 2009

Econ as Humor

Bringing the funny.
This may be worth a look. You can pre-order it right here.

Sep 28, 2009

From the Classroom

I am certainly not an economist or "master teacher", but one of the great things about being more comfortable with the material is that you can begin to bring in more and more of the intricacies of economics into the classroom. In the past couple of years I have had a great time discussing more game theory in my regular econ classes.

I started with "The Prisoner's Dilemma" (Lesson 14 in Focus: High School Economics), then started incorporating this cartel game into our discussions of colluding oligopolies. Now I plan on incorporating "The Ultimatum Game", which I saw demonstrated in an FTE workshop several years ago.

The gist of this lesson is to see if markets promote ethical behavior or not. Give these a shot in your classroom and I think you will find them to be well worth the time and effort.


Sep 25, 2009

Weekend Reading

Detroit rock city.
Sinking like a sunset.

There's One for You, Nineteen for Me

Your Macro unit is coming up right? Stash this one away for the day you go over government taxing and spending. I always liked to list countries on one side of the board and tax rates on the other. Have the kids try to match up the countries to the income tax rates. I bet many of your students will think the U.S. has the highest income tax rates. Mine usually did. Be sure to distinguish between income tax rates, corporate tax rates, etc. as they are all over the place from one country to the next.

Sep 24, 2009

For Sale

I am going to hold off on buying until Arizona puts the Grand Canyon up for sale (assuming they can wrestle the land away from the National Park Service). Now that is one chunk of real estate I would love to own. The first thing I would do is put giant water slides all over the south rim.

Times are tough all over I guess. Maybe this will inspire Georgia to sell that gold dome on the state capitol building. I bet that would fetch a pretty penny. We could easily replace the gold leaf with an old school thatched roof.

Sep 22, 2009

Sugar Tax?

Grab yourself a Jolt Cola or maybe seven or eight Mountain Dew's, sit back, relax (until the jitters set in anyway) and digest this one.

Ask the kids what they think of this plan.

Uhh, You Did What to the Back Seat?

I challenge all of you to make a stronger case than this against the foolishness of protectionism.
A classic example.

From the AP classroom 5

After attending the AP reading in Lincoln this summer I realized my mantra would have to change. Here is the edited version: When all else fails graph, graph, graph, label, label, label, and CALCULATE, CALCULATE, CALCULATE! Can you tell what I have added? Have your students calculate the areas of consumer and producer surplus and dead weight loss. Recognition of these areas through the standard labeling will not be enough.

Also, they will need to be able to calculate elasticity using the total receipts test and/or the elasticity coefficient(use the midpoint formula) in order to prove which portion of the demand curve is being represented through a price change. It will not be enough to use an explanation of that principle. Lessons 18 and 19 in the 3rd edition of the Morton AP Microeconomics workbook will provide excellent practice for these elasticity issues.

While I have always had my students do these calculations and practice these extensively there was a general consensus at the reading that this was not the norm as evidenced through student responses on the exam questions this year.

Sep 21, 2009

From the Classroom

Clear the calendar.

I have mentioned before that I went on a wonderful German fellowship study tour this summer with the Goethe Institut. Well, the Georgia Council has been gracious enough to invite me to speak about the program and distribute Goethe materials (lesson plans, maps, etc.) at no monetary cost to you (I would say free but of course TINSTAAFL is always hanging around) at the GCEE "Economies in Transition-Europe"workshop being held on the campus of Columbus State University on September 29th.

Hope to see you there!


Sep 19, 2009

Weekend Reading

File this one under the "Tell me something I don't know" category.

And a Chicken Foot Shall Save Us

Chicken feet are in the news again. Well, maybe more like in the news for the first time ever. I guess the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" explains this one.

Godspeed lowly chicken foot. May you show us the light and save the world from a foolish protectionist trade war that nobody can win.

Now somebody please pass me the tobasco sauce.

Sep 17, 2009


The CPI numbers were released yesterday and it showed the smallest yearly jump in more than five years. What is the CPI you ask? The Consumer Price Index of course. Who gives a rip about that you ask? Well, every single student in Georgia that is going to take the EOCT that's who.

Yes, the CPI is in the standards. SSEMA1b to be exact. "Define...Consumer Price Index (CPI)..." You remember those pesky standards right? They can be viewed right here. Love them or hate them, the standards are not going anywhere so why not dive right in and teach the heck out of the things?

The cool part to all of this is making the direct economic link to the lives of your students. I can see the kids right now, just sitting there saying "But how does this CPI stuff relate to my life Mr./Mrs. So in so?" BAM, you come back with this.

Game, set, match.

A Market in Lincoln's

Do NOT try this at home.
Some trades are just not worth making.

From the AP Classroom #4

Thuthukani School for Special Learners is located in the Empangeni School District in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Its principal Martie Combrinck has devoted the past fourteen years of her life to the education of the special needs learners at Thuthukani, which means progress in Zulu. She knew all these young people by name and spoke their languages.

Each time we entered a room their faces would light up at the sight of her, many coming to her for a hug. Three levels of learners make up the 350 in attendance. The most advanced spend a year training in a trade such as being a seamstress. We witnessed an interactive and affirming environment.

Our visit began with a delightful song and dance demonstration by the learners who are capable of performing at this level. Tremendous hurdles have been overcome to integrate these children into their culture enabling them to have much more fulfilling lives then previously was the norm. This was one of the most inspirational visits during our time in KZN.

Sep 16, 2009

From the Classroom

You need a hook. Your kids get the glazed over look in their eyes as soon as you start drawing the supply and demand curves yet AGAIN.

A couple of suggestions to apply those models:

*This lesson from EconEdLink that analyzes the shortage of human organs in market terms.

*This lesson on scalping Presidential inauguration tickets.

*Or this project about whether scalping sports tickets should be legal or not.


Sep 15, 2009

Bringing the Funny

An econ specific comedian. Now that is some serious specialization. Hat tip to Hephzibah High Econblog correspondent Fred Welch.

Sep 13, 2009

Tire Trouble

Why is this man smiling?

Anyone else catch this story? (more here) Do we really want to get into a protectionist snit with the Chinese? Why must we go down this road every couple of years? I love unionized American steelworkers as much as the next guy but come on already.

As luck would have it the official Econblog ride needs new tires right now (driving back and forth to Pelham so many times will do it) and I am in no mood to pay higher prices because of some political posturing.

Sep 10, 2009

From the AP classroom #3

Read about Rio Tinto in the news recently? If not there, then maybe here? Why do I ask? One of our stops on the study tour in South Africa was Richards Bay Minerals. This is a jointly owned mineral sands processing facility that produces 25% of the world's market share of titania slag, rutile, zircon, and pig iron. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are those owners. We spent two fascinating hours at the facility! While we expressed concern over the ecological impact of this process our fears were quickly allayed through the presentation and tour of the dune mining site. This was conducted by Gugu Ncanana, a former student of Sithembiso Tshabalala one of our South African tour facilitators.

Sithembiso Tshabalala

Sep 9, 2009

Looking Good Uzbekistan!

They (debt clock's) just keep getting cooler and cooler. Scroll over each country for the details and be sure to click on Zimbabwe for a look at some serious macro issues.

Looking at the map it is obvious that we do not have a monopoly on huge levels of national debt.

Sep 7, 2009

The Mother of All Bubbles

Now this "bubble" should have us all up worrying in the middle of the night. Please tell me this is all just a bad dream and that everything will be OK when I wake.

ps- make sure you get permission slips from parents if you plan on showing this article to students!

Sep 4, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Reading

This one is indeed dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Sep 3, 2009

True That

You are not alone. Supply and Demand really is a beast to teach.

The key is practice, practice, practice. Students need to draw, interpret and correctly label as many supply and demand curves as they can get their hands on in an average day.

SSEMI2 a: Define the Law of Supply and the Law of Demand.
SSEMI2 c: Illustrate on a graph how supply and demand equilibrium price and quantity.

Sep 2, 2009

Evening With The Fed

On Wednesday, October 14th, from 5:00pm until 8:30pm, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will be hosting "Evening with the Fed, a Presentation for Middle and High School Educators."

What is this program all about you ask? Well, this is what the Fed brochure I am looking at says:

This free program, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s head office and branches, provides a forum for school administrators and educators to explore current economic and financial topics that help them translate theory into real-world lessons for their students.

The evening’s presentation and discussion will feature Michael Chriszt, an assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Chriszt’s presentation will cover
• general economic concepts about labor markets and their connection to economic activity
• how the current recession has affected American workers
• the Federal Reserve’s actions to support the economy

I have gone to an "Evening With the Fed' before and I can tell you it was 100% top notch. You get to hear a great Fed speaker, you walk away with materials, new lesson ideas and on top of all that they feed you an outstanding meal. Sounds like a great night to me.

If you are interested in registering you can do it right here. This will fill up so do not wait if you are interested in attending. Tell them Econblog sent you.

Sep 1, 2009

From the AP Classroom #2

Thanduyise High School was the location of our first school visit in KZN province, South Africa. The lesson we were observing on globalization was being taught by Mr. GST Mabaso. Fifteen members of his class of 42 learners had been assigned various roles to assist in the delivery of the lesson. Mr. Mabaso managed to cover an amazing number of concepts in this introductory lesson on globalization by using a PowerPoint slide show that was being projected on to four sheets of paper that had been taped to his board.

After the lesson was completed we were able to dialogue with these bright and engaging 11th grade learners. By the end of the visit our tour leader Joanne Dempsey, director of the Illinois Council on Economic Education, had convinced the class to sing a traditional Zulu song for us. What an amazing experience! We all had tears in our eyes from the shear beauty of these talented young people. As we would find out later in the trip Zulu dancing is as incredible as their singing!