Is ‘fair trade’ fair?

Most consumers have heard of fair-trade coffee, but have no idea how fair-trade actually works. In this video, economist Victor Claar covers the basics of the fair-trade model, and explores whether fair trade can deliver on its promises to help the poor. Continue Reading...

The economics of Bedford Falls (Part 3 of 3)

[Note: This is the final 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 and part two here.] Economist Don Boudreaux recently outlined ten foundational lessons that should be learned in every well-taught principles of economics course. Continue Reading...

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 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...