Friday, December 20, 2013

House Lannister: Westerosi's 1%

By Alex Coonce

They dominate the Westerosi economy. Their unofficial motto is “a Lannister always pays his debts”. Just the name Lannister is synonymous with wealth. But how wealthy are the Lannisters, really? After taking in the state of the economy and the assets of other houses, are they truly as rich as everyone claims?
For those unfamiliar with the series Game of Thrones, House Lannister is one of the nine “great houses” of Westeros, a continent primarily occupied by the realm known as the Seven Kingdoms. Due to unregulated spending, a stagnant economy, and now a civil war, the crown has taken to borrowing money in order to keep up with its overindulgence while the rest of the realm starves. Much of this money is borrowed from Tywin Lannister, the Lannister patriarch  and owner of the majority of the realm’s gold mines. The Lannisters are shrewd and ruthless, and with Tywin’s (universally detested) grandson, Joffrey, on the throne, they have essentially rigged the system in their favour.

Knowing this, one would assume the Lannisters are, without a doubt, the richest house in Westeros. However, this is before taking into account the food shortage and devalued status of Westerosi currency. In a recent Slate article, Matthew Yglesias argues that the Lannisters aren’t all that wealthy in comparison to their on-and-off allies, the Tyrells. “The illusion of Lannister wealth,” Yglesias claims, “is based on the idea that we can take the marginal price of an ounce of gold, and then multiply that by the total quantity of the Lannister gold supply, and then conclude that the Lannisters are hyper-wealthy.” This, he argues, ignores the problem of inflation, especially when considering the devalued status of Westerosi gold.
House Tyrell, on the other hand, has more public support than the Lannisters by far, owns the largest army in Westeros, and provides the realm with the majority of its crops. The Tyrells have the means and the opportunities to earn long-run profits. In the event of a food shortage in the Westerlands (the region of the Seven Kingdoms owned by the Lannisters) and a gold shortage in the Reach (the Tyrells’ region), the Tyrells will be able to rely on their resources to get them by until they can find a way to sell them for profit. The Lannisters, on the other hand, will “find that if they try to trade a whole big pile of gold for a whole big pile of food that the price of food will skyrocket”. Gold itself, while a handy medium of exchange, is worth nothing in comparison to resources. 
Olenna Tyrell

In addition, Westeros is already facing hyperinflation due to a civil war and a disorganized economic system. To compensate, the crown resorts to placing heavy taxes on refugees seeking asylum from war, debasing its currency, and taking out large loans from foreign banks (the Seven Kingdoms don’t have their own centralized bank). Naturally, this does nothing to help the stagnant economy. Furthermore, because of the Seven Kingdoms’ reliance on a feudal system-- thus limiting any sort of social mobility-- the average citizen is unable to pay the crown’s increasingly heavy taxes or to provide the growth the economy so desperately needs. All in all, this creates a large dent in the Lannisters’ supposed wealth.
So, are the Lannisters really all that wealthy? Well, yes, when compared the impoverished majority of the realm-- but when compared to the fellow Great Houses, the Lannisters don’t quite live up to their reputation.


The Game of Thrones is a Game of Coins

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Americans Are Staying Put

By: Paityn Nelson
Why do we move? Jobs are eliminated, and new ones appear. We can’t afford a new mortgage; people won’t show an interest in the house for sale. There are many reasons why Americans today stay put, and most of them have to do with the tough economy. It is said that “According to Census Bureau data from 2013, about 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in the previous year. That is down from 5.7 million in 2006 and 7.5 million in 1999.” This slow down represents a shift in the economy and labor market. This has affected people in every age group, industry, and income level.  The poor and middle class are not the only who are having a hard time during this economy trying to sell or buy a new house.
When we look back in history it is actually quite impressive how brave people were back then. Imagine how much worse off the country might be if the 49ers had decided against making the trek to California or the sharecroppers chose to stay in the South. But even these people who were once so brave are now more likely to stay in the same home they have been in since they moved here. For this we can blame rising cost of living in the most desirable and fastest-growing areas of the country. Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, the real-estate website, recently indexed the “100 largest metro areas by their affordability, finding, not surprisingly, San Francisco and New York were at the bottom of the list and hollowed-out cities like Gary and Dayton were at the top”. Since the cost of living in the small towns is less expensive than living in the big city some people may choose to go there, but most will continue to put up with what they have to stay somewhere they prefer to live.

See picture below for the top states for domestic migration.

This is not only a short-term supply and demand issue or a side effect of the growing economy however. Kaplan and Schulohofer-Wohl won applause by many economics for developing a theory to explain why people have not decided to pick up and move. They say “earnings have become more similar across the country, meaning there is less incentive to move from one place to another in search of a raise”. Despite all of the actions that economists have taken they are still quote “a little unsettled”.  Finally Kolko says “if your job prospects don’t depend on having to move someplace else, the decline in mobility might be a good thing”.
There are many different views on how much people are moving, planning to buy, or wanting to sell but no matter how you look at it there is obvious question on how this will play out on the economy.


Lottery Problems

By Joseph Porter

          Money, we all want it in a huge demand but to have it supplied we must work hard for it or find new ways to find it. Ways that people are able to come across money can be dangerous and drive people mad with anxiety and rage. Everyone has heard the saying every dollar you receive has been earned, yet we do not truly realize the meaning of this quote. It means that there is no easy way to get large amounts of money just handed to you. However, the government has found a way to induce a psychological trigger that gives people hope and makes them believe they have a chance at an easy life, this is called the lottery.
          The first question we must ask is, has the government found a way to dramatically increase its power and impose a voluntary tax that gives the public hope? This being true, the economy is downfallen and people are losing jobs due to the lottery because everyone wants more than what they have and they will do anything to get it. Now some may argue that the lottery increases the wealth of the economy but they are talking only about the private sector in which is government run and supplied. The public sector has fell victim to this cruel game that induces people with the one thing that they want more that any material item. This causes an increase in the loss of jobs, causing the economy to fall, also out of all those who actually do come out on top with the lottery only about 5% of those people did not fall back into bankruptcy or go poor.

Lottery winners spending


          The point that most people miss is that the lottery is first and foremost a “voluntary tax”. The government makes millions of dollars from selling chances. It makes enough money to compensate all of the thousands of ticket retailers, finance a rather significant management infrastructure, do extensive television and radio advertising in the first and fourth largest media markets in the United States, pay cash prizes running into millions of dollars, and still justify its existence as a revenue source.  People are paying this tax, voluntarily, in the amount of millions of dollars every month.
          It is said that the majority of winners are "middle class", and that therefore they must be buying the majority of the tickets. And the poor would love to win, but they can only spend so much on the dream. Many of them spend ten dollars a day; some spend over a hundred dollars a week, on the dream. They scratch off instant lose tickets before they leave the store, and if they win a few dollars they spend it on more tickets. But most of the poor can't afford to buy handfuls of tickets every day, so the dream remains elusive.

Link to video:

Works Cited:

"Mega Millions at $400M: How to Avoid Pool Problems: Video." Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. <>.

"NewsFeed." NewsFeed The Tragic Stories of the Lotterys Unluckiest Winners Comments.  N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.

Poulos, James. "Not Just a Fairness Problem: Lotteries Warp Our Minds."Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Why the Lottery Isn’t the Answer to Your Problems." The Simple Dollar. N.p., n.d. Web.  16 Dec. 2013. <>.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Economy Crippled by Government Shutdown

By: Anthony Michalovitz

Many people already know that during October 1st through October 16th that the United States government collapsed. The government shutdown was due to Congress failing to come to terms on fiscal policy for 2014 nor could they come to terms on continuing resolution. Continuing resolution was finally put into action on the 16th of October, which is a fill-in or interim fiscal policy for the government to use if they can’t figure out their approach to the real fiscal policy by the end of the year to keep the government up and running.

The question is what happened to the economy during the 16 day span the government was shut down?

To answer that question the economy was affected drastically, according to it cost the economy 24 billion dollars over a 16 day span (that’s 1.5 billion dollars each day!). Not only did it cost the economy 24 billion dollars but it also resulted in 120,000 fewer jobs created in the first two weeks of October. That’s not all, consumer confidence and business confidence were badly damaged. National parks had to be closed causing tourism to suffer, and military families had to survive with no childcare along with other military benefits. Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families were put on hold. The Food and Drug Administration had to stop their health and safety inspections. Even 4 of the 5 nobel prize winning scientists who work for the government had to put their work to a halt during the shutdown. The list problems goes on and on.

This is the first time in 17 years since the government shutdown and the only time it was shutdown due to fiscal policy not passing through Congress since 1982 when it was shut down for a day, not a ridiculous 16 days!

In my opinion the government needs to stop being so nit-picky over things such as their fiscal approach because as you can see the government is in control of a lot of things and if it collapses, the economy and the people working for the federal government are screwed. It’s extremely sad and embarrassing  to see the government shutdown, especially over something so routine and simple compared to other more serious problems Congress fight over. This shutdown could of have been resolved 16 days earlier by doing the following in the picture, “STOP ARGUING”.

VIDEO: Obama briefly explaining the government shutdown:


"White House: Shutdown Has Furloughed 4 Nobel Scientists, CDC Flu Surveillance." Mediaite White House Shutdown Has Furloughed 4 Nobel Scientists CDC Flu Surveillance Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Swampland." Swampland Heres How Much The Government Shutdown Cost The Economy Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown." The White House. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ireland Rises to Number One Country For Business

By Taylor Kaine

While many think that America is the ultimate land of opportunity, over the past several years a new country has risen to the top. Ireland is now ranked the number one country to do business in, while the U.S continues to fall. It is ranked 14 on Forbes' List of Best Countries for Business.   

Of the factors, the most important is the tax burden. Ireland is currently ranked no. 6 in regards to tax burden - the lower the number the lower the burden - compared to the US's 14. This is a result of Ireland's corporate tax rate being 12.5% compared to the US's 40%. The lower tax burden means two big things: first off, the companies gains are not subject to as high of taxation, making the cost of business go down which results with more money for the companies. This allows them to expand and hire more employees; it's a win, win, and the economy can grow at the same time (specifically GDP will rise as the more money being spent is driven by an increase in aggregate demand). Secondly, people will have more money; this is partly due to more people being employed in addition to people paying less taxes.

The second big contributor is monetary freedom -- essentially this is a combined measure of price stability (how much inflation has occurred) and price control (restrictions placed on the prices of goods/services). If a central bank pursues a large bond buying policy, thus pumping money into the economy, it runs the risk of inflation running rampant. This is exactly what the US Federal Reserve is continuing to do with the use of their policy. It creates a large increase in inflation. On the other hand, Ireland's Central Bank uses a policy that is less aggressive by using reserve transactions to both increase GDP while managing inflation. The second variable, price control, is simply what price interference does the government do instead of allowing all goods/services to be priced at the market clearing level. The US partakes in this far more than does Ireland, in this category, Forbes ranks Ireland 11th while the US pulls in at a solid 80th. This shows that when the government manipulates the price of something, a misallocation occurs and resources are not used in the best way possible. This results in a market failure and it makes it more difficult for the economy to grow or remain healthy.



By Kyle Knutson

          Gold is the money of the extremely rich, and a near irreplaceable yellow metal, but certain downfalls in the economy worldwide has caused for prices to begin to plummet. Gold prices were climbing up until 2011 and then something happened, gold prices started to drop and go down and down and in the past 2 years prices have dropped from nearly $1,750 to $1,250 per oz. This means a downfall of $500 per oz. These price drops could be attributed to the fall in the value of money or it could be that gold had hit the top of the price floor and had to self correct by going down. However gold had to show that gold has gone into a recession because it exhibited a loss for two consecutive quarters. This however isn’t the only bad thing that’s going on because like I said gold is the money of the extremely rich of for people that wanted a stable currency. But gold failed those people.

10 year gold price per ounce

          As shown in this chart above gold went from under $500 an ounce to going up steadily for a solid 7-8 years and then it hit its peak and fluctuated for a year or two but stayed at that price which seemed to be the ideal price for gold. People were happy to have the amount of gold they had and if they bought it in 2004 for the hopeful investment they had a $1,250 money gain per ounce. That is almost unreal. People often don’t end up buying gold in one ounces but the fact of the matter is that people buy gold often in bars and ingots which made people make millions off of gold prices rising. Consumers then bought spastically which might have attributed to the gold price downfall. So many people took gold off of the market because they bought and bought and bought which made the price rise and rise which then brought down the demand because per ounce it was too expensive for common day people to buy which is leading to the down turn of gold.

          Simple supply and demand laws have led to the downfall of gold in my opinion. The demand for gold has decreased as the price has gone up. People will most likely make the price of gold go back up and rise once again because of how safe people believe gold investment to be. People often believe that gold is the safest investment that often gives returns but as of right now it clearly isn’t doing that but rather it is taking people’s money daily by the millions. Prices will rise once again once the price hits a point where people will want to invest and try and make money. Gold might be experiencing a recession right now but many people including myself believe that this is only temporary and the price of gold will self correct itself and once again go up fluctuate maybe go down a little bit again but it will remain somewhat stable after this downturn.

Increased Spending During the Holidays

By: Brenna Murphy

          Christmas has been the largest commercial holiday in the United States undoubtedly and the best season for retail business. This post-Thanksgiving holiday leaves many shoppers feverishly searching for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. More and more businesses are willing to face the odds to drag in more sales during this time and customers are reciprocating this by increasing their spending on presents, decorations, and parties.
          In 2008, a devastating recession hit the United States, and holiday costs dropped significantly due to the high unemployment rates. During this time, “the average American spent 29% less on Christmas gifts than in 2007” ( Since this time, the economy has slowly begun to recover, and spending has gradually increased. Now, in 2013, the average American is spending an average of $801 on presents, roughly 53% more than in 2008. Also, on average, families will spend roughly $42 on a Christmas tree, $47 on decorations, $27 on Christmas cards, and $100 on food/candy ( Here is a website that further describes the many prices of Christmas:

Displaying ChristmasSpending.png
           Businesses strategically advertise for their best sales, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this leads to a greater chance of impulse buying and overspending. According to, “Online shoppers will spend about 22% more than shoppers in physical stores” due to vast amount of savings they receive. These extravagant sales increase consumer demand, therefore leading to an increase in supply. Since demand is so high, businesses will supply more for lower prices. Consumers will begin to buy more and
more items for the cheaper prices. This eventually will begin to add up, and soon enough, families will be spending vast amounts of money on Christmas presents. While this can appear overwhelming, “many Americans may be more willing to spend this year after years of scrimping” ( This consumer confidence is benefitting the economy greatly and certainly shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
          Although buying presents for friends and family is a thrilling task, overspending could be a problem. Even though it is beneficial for the general economy, it sometimes isn’t good for each family’s income. Because people tend to go overboard on spending, “people are still paying off last Christmas’s credit card debts” ( Because of this, families could be unable to fulfill their shopping desires during the holiday season of the next year. To avoid this, “make a budget for the total of your Christmas spending and a list of who is getting what before you venture near a shop or website” ( By doing so, you won’t be tempted by more expensive presents, because that could lead to buying expensive presents for everyone on your Christmas list, and that could add up very quickly. It is necessary to be firm with yourself and limit your spending so everyone can be pleased with the outcome of the shopping spree.
           I personally think that businesses should continue to promote Christmas deals throughout the holiday season. I feel that this makes shopping much easier and overall pleases everybody. People just need to have some self-control and budget themselves so they don’t go overspend and end up regretting it later.

"Average Cost of an American Christmas." Yahoo Finance. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

"Consumer rights - Christmas trap can leave you heavily in debt." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <>.

"INFOGRAPHIC: Americans Are Spending A Whopping $704.18 On Gifts This Year." Business
Insider. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <

"Sign up for a account." How Much Do Americans Spend Over Christmas?. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <>.

"2013 Planned Christmas Spending." 2013 Planned Christmas Spending. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <>.

Power of Minimum Wage

By: Amanda Dabney

Work… if we are all honest with ourselves there are at least a hundred different things that we would rather do than be at a job. Unfortunately though, earning money is one of those necessary evils that we all must go through in order to survive and thrive. I myself have two jobs, and I know that at both jobs I desire to be paid just a little bit more, as I am sure many others would concur. However, the amount that I am paid is a direct reflection upon the current level of minimum wage. Across the nation, minimum wage has become a heated topic; advocates argue that the wage must be raised from its current level of $7.25, in order for people to make it in this world.

In terms of economics a marginal worker is paid based on that workers marginal productivity. Basically minimum wage impacts the unskilled worker, which tends to be teenagers and most non-college graduates. Raising the wage will therefore decrease the employment of unskilled workers. Utilizing the law of supply and demand it can then be inferred that the raising of minimum wage will lead to the excess supply of unskilled labor.  This concept is explained further in this video.

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However, what if this widely accepted theory about the raising of minimum wage and its disastrous affects was challenged?
Britain is a country that we need to examine in order to see how raising minimum wage does not necessarily mean bad things. In fact, if the way that the wage is raised is designed in a clever enough matter employment could increase or at least stay constant. The wage in Britain is raised based off of what a Low Pay Commission committee compiles. This committee has been able to increase the pay for the workers steadily each year without having affects on their employment.  In general, this would mean that the employees have taken to getting a higher level of education and working harder.
Now, this sounds so perfect in theory, however there are downfalls to the constant raising of the minimum wage level. Technology is always a changing factor in economics. Usually, technological advances allow for a greater output at a lower cost to be achieved. If the wage level of workers continues to rise, eventually a point is going to have to occur where the price of investing in a labor that is more productive is going to exceed the price of automation.  Although, we all would like to think that robots could not do our jobs, the sad truth is that machines have already replaced many jobs humans once held.  For instance, I’m sure most of us have heard about the new Amazon delivery system. Basically, in the near future Amazon is going to have robot machines that fly packages to houses. These machines are going to eliminate many jobs but in the long run it will leave Amazon more profitable.
Minimum wage is therefore a very tricky concept. Raising it too much will entice companies to just get rid of the human burden, but not raising it all will leave many unskilled workers without a will to work or financial stability. As politicians and people across the nation continue to argue about it, the hope at this point must be that a careful system, like that of Britain, be created. One in which the wage does not skyrocket, yet the new level satisfies the majority of workers.

Works Cited

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Control the Food, Control the World!!!

Control the Food, Control the World
by: Erin Magennis

The power of food is oftentimes not discussed, however if the people of America knew that the world’s largest pesticide producing company also owner of over 90% of our food, do you think it would be a greater topic of discussion? Well I am introducing just that topic; Monsanto is this company.

In America, I think we as citizens like to think we have near to a perfect competition, but with something as important as our food supply I would think we would be aware of this giant monopolistic entity.
The original slogan “no food shall be grown that we don’t own” begs the idea that this company, Monsanto, is striving to become a monopoly, and it has taken very big strides. Monsanto currently has 24,574 patents according to the US Patent Collection through an agency in the Department of Commerce.  Many of these patents include living things, the food we eat, and often times these seeds have been genetically modified. Genetic modification (GM) often times means new pesticides are incorporated into the gene of the plant, so then we eat the pesticides too. Monsanto has claimed that the advances in technology, through genetic modification of the seeds, will increase supply, however when compared with conventional crop growth the supply curve has not budged, but these chemicals are still part of the plant.

This wouldn’t be quite so detrimental of a fact except that Monsanto was also a large producer of DDT pesticide, PCB’s and Agent Orange herbicide. By the way, Agent Orange is the herbicide sprayed over Vietnam and Korea to destroy the forests during the Vietnam War, although many Vietnam Veterans now receive disability compensation for diseases due to exposure.

Don’t get me wrong there is a great future in the biotech companies, such as Monsanto, and in possibly helping the future food supplies of the world, however that safe future is not yet here. There has been only a single study done on the effects of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) on humans, and this study showed these genes, that are not ours, can get transferred into our genes in our gut and live there. We are now turned into a pesticide producing factory. This study was cut short due to participants removal as the results were so negative.  The only reason they are allowed on the market is due to no regulatory agency, like the FDA, insisting that the companies tell the government what they are producing for the public to consume. When this rule was put into place, the FDA policy leader was the former vice president for Monsanto. The separation between corporation and government is clearly not very distinct in this market, and this doesn’t further support the idea of a free market in America.

The only thing that could potentially impact the power a company like this has, is the Law of Demand, which has worked wonders in Europe. After the people of Europe had discovered what they were really eating, or discovered that no one really knows what the impact of what they are eating is, they banned GMOs. In a single week in 1999 virtually all major food companies committed to remove GMOs. These companies include McDonald's, Kraft and Nestle to name a few. So while we are back here in America eating who knows what chemicals in our mac and cheese, Europe is actually eating real, natural food.

Monsanto’s history with chemicals like Agent Orange, Europe’s disapproval of genetically modified organisms which makes up over 70% of our food supply, the lack of legitimate studies on the safety of the crops, and the connections with the supposedly “regulatory” agency, the FDA, leaves many unthought about questions regarding our food. Do we really want a company that boasted “no food shall be grown that we don’t own” to control the world by controlling the food? Could America utilize the law of demand, like Europe did, and demand a change in our food? Is it really that bad if a single company patents and controls over 90% of the seeds in the world? How important is it really?

Great video speaking of government ties with Monsanto:

A documentary with more information:

Works Cited
"Appeals Court Makes Monsanto Promise Not To Sue Organic Farmers." ThinkProgress RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <>.
"Compensation." Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange -. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <>.
"Institute for Responsible Technology." - The World According to Monsanto. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <>.
"Monsanto Patents." N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <>.
"Monsanto Soybean 90%." N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <:>.
"Tipping Scale." N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <>.
"U.S. and Monsanto Dominate Global Market for GM Seeds." U.S. and Monsanto Dominate Global Market for GM Seeds. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <>.
"Who We Are." Monsanto. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <>.

Repeat of Sites in Different Format

Tipping the balance:
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