The economics of Bedford Falls (Part 2 of 3)

[Note: This is the second post in a series highlighting some of the financial aspects and broad economic lessons of Frank Capra’s holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. You can find part one here.]  George’s Life Savings in a Life Insurance Policy George attempts to secure a loan from Potter based on his life insurance policy. Continue Reading...

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 films ever made.* The movie is long overdue for another reappraisal, for it’s also one of the best films ever created about economics and financial services. Continue Reading...

Reimagining work in the coalfields

The American coal industry is facing serious challenges. In states like West Virginia, the effects have been particularly painful, causing many communities to struggle under a projected 23% decline in related jobs and leading vast numbers of residents to leave the state altogether. Continue Reading...

The awesomely boring future of driverless cars

As fears loom about a future filled with robot overlords, innovation continues to accelerate at breakneck pace. When it comes to self-driving cars, for example, tech companies are making significant strides with the technology, even as the masses continue to fret over a handful of related accidents and the potential for human abuses. Continue Reading...

The numbers game: Has the middle class made any economic progress?

In the Age of Information, we face an overwhelming barrage of high-minded studies and reports that claim to offer the final word on this or that. As it relates to matters of economic policy, we are pressed to lend ever increasing amounts of trust to the power of statistical analysis and the reliability of research from a variety of academics and economic planners and soothsayers. Continue Reading...

The cost of Twelve Days of Christmas: $34,558.65

  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...

Against canned food drives: When gift-giving is wasteful

During a season such as Christmas, when hyper-consumerism and hyper-generosity often converge in strange and mysterious ways, how much of our gift-giving is inefficient or wasteful? It’s a question that economists continue to ponder, but to which many a gift-giver is prone to shrug. Continue Reading...