The economics of Bedford Falls (Part 1 of 3)

Upon it’s initial release in 1946, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life was something of a financial flop, failing to reach the break-even point of $6.3 million. Although it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it wasn’t until subsequent decades that it became recognized as one of the greatest Christmas film ever made.* The film is long overdue for another reappraisal, for it’s also one of the best films ever created about economics and financial services. Continue Reading...

Deck the halls with macro follies

During the holiday shopping season the media inevitably talks about consumer spending, and how it is vital to economic growth and job creation. But if people are buying more that means that are saving less. Continue Reading...

A ‘Pinocchio’ Rating for Pope Francis

Sandro Magister, Vatican correspondent for L’Espresso, notes in his Italian blog a recent TV program that “fact checks” the pope’s economics. Here’s a translation of the blog post: In his speeches Pope Francis often puts forth original theories of dubious foundations but that, for him, are of unshakable certainty and explain everything. Continue Reading...

The cost of Twelve Days of Christmas: $34,363.49

If you’ve been stuck at the mall listening to a song about ten Lords a-Leaping and eight Maids a-Milking you can blame the Jesuits. Rumor has it they invented the Twelve Days of Christmas song as a catechism in code for persecuted Catholics in 16th-century England. Continue Reading...

Subsidies or tax breaks, both are cronyism

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is the current governor of Indiana, struck a deal with United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, in order to save over 1,000 jobs from being sent from Indiana to Mexico.  Continue Reading...

Republicans and conservatives are trading free markets for cronyism

“Don’t forget, this is called the Republican Party,” said Donald Trump in an interview justifying his opposition to free trade, “it’s not called the Conservative Party.” When Trump made that statement six months ago it was still possible to believe a distinction could be made between traditional Republicanism—which tends to be pro-Big Business—and traditional conservatism—which has generally been pro-free markets. Continue Reading...

An economist’s Christmas: Is gift-giving wasteful?

During a season such as Christmas, where hyper-consumerism and hyper-generosity converge in strange and mysterious ways, it’s a question worth asking: How much of our gift-giving is inefficient and wasteful? For some, it’s a buzz-kill question worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge. Continue Reading...