Thursday, September 25, 2014

The True Losers

Ana Maria Viteri
Mrs. Straub
15 September 2014

The True Losers

Every four years, soccer fans from all over the world hover over their TVs to watch their favorite teams battle against each other for the honorable title of World Cup Champions. This summer, the 20th FIFA World Cup tournament was held in the tropical country of Brazil, making it the fifth country to ever host the tournament twice. However, a lot of new requisites are expected for the World Cup host, and for Brazil, these included the renovation and construction of twelve new stadiums, new subway lines in São Paulo, and the expansion of twelve airports- to name the least (Zimbalist). In order to meet these requisites, Brazil had to invest 13.3 billion dollars to prepare for this special event. However, doing so has resulted in many economic issues, which has evoked Brazilians to doubt the true benefit of hosting this mega-sporting event.  

Although hosting a massive tournament such as the World Cup  may seem like a great opportunity for a country to boost its economy, this is not always the case. Unless the country is able to recoup its investment, the tournament will leave the hosting country with major debt rather than a profit. Not only does that given country need to be able to afford these expenses, but it also needs to have enough resources to comply with the requisites. In the case of Brazil, the massive construction projects for stadiums and subway lines required labor and land. However, Brazil faced issues in this area due to the shortage of qualified construction workers. In fact, at that moment, there was so much construction taking place that most of all the qualified workers were employed. This resulted in a delay of many projects, and due to the severe time pressure to get these stadiums and subway lines done, Brazil was forced to go forward with the construction by using unqualified workers- resulting in a low-quality job.Land was also compromised for the tournament. In fact, the opportunity cost of building so many stadiums is that such given space can no longer be utilized for other more productive uses.

Even though the cost of hosting this tournament is very high, there are reason as to why Brazil decided to undertake this challenge. One of these is the opportunity to attract new tourists. New tourists are likely to spend money on not only World Cup related activities and entertainment, but also on accommodations, meals, and brazilian merchandise. Along with these benefits exist the possibility that Brazil will reaffirm to its tourist that it is a vibrant, rich, and fun country to visit (Zimbalist). Creating that image for their tourists ensures that Brazil will position itself “as an attractive destination to potential investors and tourists now and in the future” (McGuire). However, it seems that for Brazil, the benefits did not outweigh the consequences. With only 3.03 billion dollars in revenue, not the same as profit, the country’s investment does not seem to be worth it. Although the World Cup tournament is a time many people look forward to, it did not end up being as rewarding to Brazil’s economy. In fact a research poll conducted by Pew Research center discovered that 61% of Brazilians respondents had negative feelings in regards to their country hosting the tournament. They expressed their doubts on this topic and many believed that their country was not economically competent to host this event. But, this issue does not mean that the excitement during the World Cup was any lower than that of previous years. The passion and love for the game spectators bring to this event remained the same.

Works Cited:

Heitner, Darren. “2014 Fifa World Cup Expected to Add 3.03 Billion To Brazil’s Economy.”
Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 14 May 2014. Web. 13 Sep. 2014

Macguire, Eoghan. “Who Benefits from World Cup 2014?” CNN. CNN News, 4 Aug. 2014.
Web. 13. Sep. 2014

“Social and Economic Impacts of the 2014 World Cup.” n.p., n.d., Web. 13 Sep. 2014

Zimbalist, Andrew. “Brazil’s Long To-Do List.” Americas. Americas Quarterly., n.p. 13 Sep

Putin Ukraine in an Awkward Position

Written By: Derek Jacobs

Putin Ukraine in an Awkward Position

For those that do not know, Russia has recently invaded the eastern section of the Ukraine, around the city of Donetsk and the current military conflict between Ukraine and Russia originated as an economic conflict. Russia claimed the Ukrainian government owed them money for unpaid bills and other debts. Heated negotiations have been constant and recently Russia has cut off the natural gas lines that run to the Ukraine and as of last week, launched an invasion. Considering how hard the global recession has hurt the Russian economy, cutting those gas lines is a huge gamble. The Russian gas company and the Russian government must have conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the gained political benefits outweigh the losses in business. This natural gas line is worth millions of dollars of business every year, so it is interesting to see that the Russian government decided that to them, the increased political pressure that cutting the lines would apply is worth more than money they would make from selling the natural gas. By decreasing the amount of natural gas going to Ukraine, the supply within Russia itself has increased and prices have fallen, due to the laws of supply and demand. Also, invasions are extremely expensive. The soldiers, all of the guns and ammunition, the tanks, artillery, and planes. The invasion is most likely an attempt by the Russian goverment to recoup losses by force. Economists in Russia must have also conducted a marginal-cost analysis to determine if the cost of sending each additional soldier and piece of equipment was worth the rewards. In this case, the rewards would be portions of eastern Ukraine including the major city of Donetsk.
In Ukraine, economics haven’t been so kind. Since the Russians have shut off the supply of natural gas, the reservoirs have become increasingly depleted. They will probably only last a couple more months and prices are rising every day. Again, supply and demand. The supply is dwindling and the demand is always going to rise because winter is coming. Also, not surprisingly the government of the Ukraine has also reached the same conclusion that the contested region is worth fighting for. It is also clearly worth more to the Ukranians because even before the Russian invasion, Ukranian soldiers were fighting pro-russian rebels. Now clearly to them, this region must have some major economic value or it wouldn’t be worth fighting for. Pride and nationalism are also probably factors that are influencing the Ukrainian government, but this is an economics class, so pride and nationalism are negligible.

This conflict has also has some major international economic ramifications. Many nations, the U.S. included, have imposed new sanctions on Russia to express their condemnation of the Russian invasion. Tariffs are the most common sanctions being enacted. Considering that Russia has some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, oil, and coal, these sanctions could be quite risky for nations that do not have their own reserves, and these tariffs by nature increase the prices of imports, which can be a burden to citizens. The invasion has also had the negative externality of raising prices in Western Europe because many of the gas lines have either been shut off since the start of the conflict, or due to risk of damage during fighting, been shut down in recent months.

In the end, the economics of the current war in Eastern Europe are extremely complicated with different aspects and consequences from each decision and those consequences have lasting impacts on the global economy.

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

A common “ice breaker” question, the question of whether someone has a cat or a dog, is usually answered by a yes which is followed, most times, by detailed stories of the trouble their pet has gotten up to. With around 63% of US Households owning at least one pet, it is no doubt that our furry friends play an important role in our lives. While many argue that a cat or a dog is far too much work and far too much stress, however those that own pets know that while there is some work involved, it is worth it as pets truly make us happier. In fact a study done by the National Institute of Health found that out of 240 married couples, “those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure...than those without pets”. Not only this but they also found that when these people were with their pets they had calmer, milder responses, and their stress levels went down faster (“Can Pets Keep”). Although people argue that pets are too stressful the facts show that pets actually reduce stress. Another argument is that pets have too many negative externalities on others. While yes dogs poop in other people’s yards and in parks, and cats prevent people who are allergic from being able to see their loved, but by being a responsible pet owner these externalities can be significantly diminished. For example if people pick up their dogs poop it is no longer a negative externality and if cat owners keep a clean house the cat will only bother people with allergies to small extent. Clearly pets have both healthy benefits and, with responsible owners, less negative externalities than people think, but they also have a price tag on them. Pets are a private good, one not everyone can afford and if someone wants to have a pet they need to be aware of the financial impact it could have on them.

This idea that pets make us happier has even been picked up by pet product suppliers, see this commercial to see what Purina has to say about it view this video 

Econ Blog.png

Through the years the roles of our pets in our family has evolved. From sleeping outside to sleeping on beds, dogs and cats have truly become family members. Just like any other human family member, people are not afraid to spend about 574 dollars on a dog’s surgery and about 337 for a cat. Not only do people spend a large amount of money on their animals medical care but they also pay around 241 dollars for dog food and 185 dollars for cat food per year. The total cost of a dog per year is 1,571 dollars and for ten years it is 15,710 dollars. For a cat the total cost per year is 919 dollars and for ten years is 9,190 dollars. (“The Economics of”)

Although pets may cost a lot of money for their owners, this money spend on pets gets fueled back into our economy. In 2009 the estimate as to how much the pet industry is worth was said to be around 45.4 billion dollars (“The Economic Impact”). Additionally the pet care industry is one of the fastest growing parts of retail, expanding 6% annually and the veterinary service has grown about 10% annually for the past decade (“The Pet Economy”).

In conclusion pets represent a significant financial cost to their owners. Therefore prospective pet owners must be sure that they can financially handle a pet, however the marginal cost of adding one of these furry family members should not be a reason why people turn their nose up at the idea of a pet. The marginal benefit of having a dog or a cat far outweighs the cost of them. Additionally, while pets may not be the best for an individual's bank account, they are an important part of our economy.

Works Cited

Hughes, Jim. “The Economic Impact Of The Pet Industry”. Kennel Spotlight: n.pag. Web. 19
Sept. 2014.

Brady, Diane, Christopher Palmeri. “The Pet Economy”. Businessweek (2017): n.pag. Web.
19 Sept. 2014

“Can Pets Keep You Healthy?”. NIH News in Health (2009): n.pag. Web. 19 Sept. 2014

McWhinney, James E. “The Economics of Pet Ownership”. Investopedia (2014): n.pag. Web.
19 Sept. 2014.

“Economics of Ramen”

Morgan Aschenbrenner
Economics B3
Sharon Straub

“Economics of Ramen”

As the top percentage of the people who are taking this economics class and are about to read this blog are seniors, we have all been college bombarded and focused. We are being told to begin saving as we will soon be entering the real world where we will have to, if we haven’t already been, providing for ourselves and ensuring that we can feed our own hungry mouths. One of the most important staples that feeds the demand of the average college student would be the famous ramen noodle originally brought over from China to Japan to eventually the American people. This instant food is incredibly cheap and has different flavor packets to satisfy the preferences of any individual. Though they seem fantastical and easily could become breakfast, lunch, and dinner to save money, is their lack of nutrition and effects on your body really worth the cheap economic cost?
The average ramen noodle package takes about four minutes to make taking away little time from one’s day to perform other tasks such as working, doing homework, or hanging out with friends. The opportunity cost of ramen noodles is very low making its demand to the busy stressed college student rise. In addition the cost of the instant noodles is averaging from $0.25 to $0.45 a package. Theoretically letting a poor college student spend a dollar a day to ensure their bare minimum nutrition is met.  
Below is a chart depicting the percentage of how often people on average consume ramen

However, relying on ramen isn’t exactly the best idea far as nutrition goes. Ramen is very high in salt and other things in high quantities which aren’t exactly helping you in any form. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that ramen noodles could actually be leading to shorter lives. Along with other forms of instant noodles it is actually increasing a person’s risk for cardiometabolic syndrome. In addition most instant noodles are packaged in Styrofoam which contains BPA which is a hormone disruptor, and it also contains MSG on top of being high in saturated fat. In fact a viral video was made of what happens when one’s body tries to digest the noodles which showed the stomach working over time.
As we are about to enter a new world of responsibilities as young adults, we need to start making our own life decisions that will follow us for the rest of our lives, especially including our own health and nutrition. So before we automatically decide to save money and think thriftily by buying cheap foods like ramen to ensure our survival, we need to be thinking about the negative externalities that is causes to our health. Just because our savings may have increased by a small marginal benefit, is it really worth it?  

Johnson, Carolyn. "The global power of instant noodles ." The Boston Globe . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <>.

Brickman, Sophie. "The History of Ramen Noodles." The New Yorker. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <>.

Y-N, Ken. "The impending instant ramen sticker shock ." What Japan Thinks . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <>.
Greenfield, Beth. "Why Ramen Noodles Could Cut Your Life Short ." Yahoo Health . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <>.
Calvin College openURL resolver

Inequality from Rich to Poor

Ashton Bucheger
Mr. Reuter
Economics -- B2
Inequality From Rich to Poor

We’ve all heard about the great spread of wealth across the U.S. and how the wealth inequality, or distribution of wealth, is large between the rich and poor in America. This inequality between rich and poor has been cause for many reasons the largest of which is the marginal benefit versus marginal cost of the different economic classes. It boils down to the simple fact of the rich have more ‘liquid’ money and with the stock market as it is the more you put into it the more you get out of it or lose in it. “Putting a dollar into the popular S&P 500 index that tracks the largest companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges in March 2009 would leave you with $3 today. That's a nice 200% return, but obviously if you had invested $1 million in the market over the same time period, you would now have $3 million (Long).” The rich just have more to gain by taking the risk the market presents and being able to put more money in than the other economic ‘classes’ as shown below.

Stock market investment by the rich isn’t all bad right? When “Overall, the amount of wealth held by American households increased 14 percent between 2009 and 2011, going from $298,000 to $339,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars, the report said (What).” I mean after all, them getting richer makes the average wealth of America greater that isn’t bad is it? Just because the average wealth of American citizens does get larger as the rich get richer you have to remember where they get their money from and that that margin of inequality keeps getting larger “Yet the study also revealed that only the 13 percent of households with a networth of $500,000 or more saw their wealth increase. Every other income group in the US saw their net worth decline (What).” Even though the average American household’s income has increased only the rich get richer and everyone else gets poorer as the graph below shows.

Yet another source of inequality comes from stocks because if stocks drop in one area and you are diversified your overall status has barely dropped while if you have all your eggs in one basket and the basket tips you stand to lose allot of money. As you get lower and lower down the economic pyramid you are forced to have more and more eggs in one basket because there is no other basket to put them into. A house is one of these forced baskets and is an achilles heel to middle and lower class citizens. “The main difference between the richest Americans and other economic groups, Pew reported, is that the top 7 percent have their wealth diversified in stocks, mutual funds and other financial schemes. For the remainder of the population, household wealth is locked into the value of their homes, the sector that took the greatest hit when the bottom fell out of the US economy in late 2008 (What).” When the house market bubbled and popped the rich had the means to diversify because there wealth wasn’t all sunk into their house and was locked away in other areas of the market. They didn’t lose as much and have recovered faster because they had the ability to expand their wealth on a scale which is simply not usable for most middle and lower class americans, the stock market.

The stock market is not a problem though. The problem is the inequality. If more people were on the same playing field then the game is more equal however only a few have the means to efficiently make use of the better playing field and therefore have an advantage over the rest of the population. The richest of the rich even have an advantage over the rich on this playing field “The greatest demonstration of inequality is most evident in the income generated by not the top one percent, though, but by the sliver of the US population that makes more than 99.9 percent of the country. According to the firm’s research, the top 0.1 percent of Americans earned around $6,373,782 during that same 12-month span — or around 206 times what the average family in the US earned (Inequality).” When the rich are only “reaping in around $1,264,065 in 2012 — or around 41-times as much as the average income for all wage-earners (Inequality).”

In conclusion economic inequality in America is a major issue even if it is not known to be a totally bad or a totally good thing at this time.

"Inequality Gap between Super Rich and Poor Continues to Widen." ­ RT USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 21
Sept. 2014. <­inequality­rich­poor­685/>.

Long, Heather. "Who's Getting Rich off the Stock Market?" CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 18
Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

"What Recovery? US Rich Get Richer, Middleclass Treading Water." ­ RT USA. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013.
Web. 21 Sept. 2014. <­financial­crisis­wealth­occupy­wall­street­307/>.


Madison Schaefer
Economics B4
Mr. Jim Reuter
23 September 2014
An evil villain once said, “When everyone’s super, no [can] be” (Incredibles). What he meant is that if everyone has the “super camera” then it no longer because super, but, in fact, standard. It seems as though it has come true about the evolution of photography.
Photography is becoming a booming skill in a culture with a plethora of technology. When Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented the first camera, I doubt they could have imagined what it would become. Scarcity is no longer an issue when it comes to digital cameras. There are so many different ways to to take a digital picture, for example there are phones, laptops, desktops, DSLR cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, and so many more. However, even though the are many different ways for people to get their hands on a camera, there is still a product that dominates the world of photographers. Not everyone can afford a DSLR and the trade off for the purchase for a smartphone is much less significant than the trade off for the purchase of a DSLR.
Looking at the graph, it might help to understand that the first generation iphone came out in 2007, which then boosted the sale of smart phones for the following years. The positive slope of the smartphone data is fairly consistent, which is a notable observation. The DSLR cameras were not necessarily not as fascinating at this time, just more expensive, and advertized less. So, households continued to look for the compact phone cameras as an alternative to DSLR cameras, causing the production possibilities curve to shift to producing more multipurpose phones than cameras. The reason for the shift is not there is a higher demand, but that there is more space and technology to mass produce phones when compared to mass producing cameras.
The use of cameras has changed, thus the necessary equipment to take a photo has changed. No longer is photography regarded as an expensive art, but something that can include a multitude of ugly “selfies” and a way to capture every child’s first and funny moments. It’s understandable, not everyone has a ton of money to spend on a DSLR or even a point-and-shoot camera, and as the prices for these have gone up, the price of smartphones has gone down, from the perspective that a person can get more for their money. Phone cameras are more convenient, and already go with people wherever they go. This private good has become a hit and now camera companies are not doing well. Many people don’t invest their money into a nicer camera because to them the marginal cost does not out-weigh the marginal benefit. The benefit of the convenient smartphone camera is far more important than the quality and special capabilities of a DSLR camera. This changes what classifies as photography. Filters on phone cameras and social media can alter a picture to look better than a raw picture from a DSLR.
With that said, do pictures we see on social media change how we view photography as a whole? You decide.

Work Citied

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sea World

Lauren Powell
Sea World

Sea world, a place most known for its positive and exciting atmosphere filled with animal shows and exhibits, has lost that reputation rather quickly. For those of you that haven’t seen the documentary Black Fish, I highly recommend watching it. It documents the cruel actions taken by Seaworld to capture, contain, and house their whale friends.  Sea world has done wonders for San diego's economy bringing in tourists looking for a fun get away, but since Blackfish, Sea Worlds standings have crumbled.
Blackfish Is a documentary that focuses on the captivity of Tilikum, one of Seaworld's Orcas.   The coverage of Tilikum includes his capture in 1983 off the coast of Iceland, and the stories of the three deaths he’s responsible for. It shows the horrible truths behind Sea World and how traumatic captivity truly is for these poor animals.
Before the Documentary was released in 2013, Seaworld had an average of about 24.4 million guests a year. Since 2013,the count has dropped to 23.4 million customers. It may not seem like a large drop but thats a whole one million customers. If you divide 1,000,000 by 4 (the average family size of America), that’s 250,000 less hotel rooms being booked, cars airplane tickets being bought, and reservations being made in the city of San diego, there for having a negative impact on their economy.
Not only has Seaworld's income dropped but their stocks have as well.  Records show that the day Seaworld announced it’s quarter earnings, following the documentary, their stock dropped 2.66 percent that day.  Following that week, a bill was proposed in California stating that Orca shows should be outlawed at all Seaworld's and zoos. The week following the proposed bill, stocks dropped another 7%.  As of July of 2014, Seaworld's stock has officially dropped 25% from it’s highest point in time.  
Although there is no denying that the recent drops in attendance and cost have come from the documentary and truths revealed, the company has tried to convince America otherwise by blaming it on “bad weather” and other non realistic theories.  This has also presented the company with a decision regarding opportunity cost. Do they spend more money, money they are already losing to convince the public that everything Blackfish has said is lies, or do they just let it go and lose customers. They chose to release statements calling the documentary “shamefully dishonest” and “nothing but lies”.  Seaworld has also made sure, through the use of advertisements and newspaper, to make it clear that everything that has been released are “inaccurate reports” while reiterating their beliefs in their Orca’s well being. Although they have given a clear and hard effort by investing in larger whale tanks and housing conditions, there is no denying the fact that Seaworld is starting to crumble and will for sure be a loss for San diego's economy.
For years Seaworld has been one of the number one tourist attractions in San diego but all that is beginning to change.  All the money that San Diego’s economy benefited off of the tourists buying hotel rooms, and dinner, is all about to turn to dust. Due to declining customers and stock, Seaworld's positive reputation is slowly beginning to fade. If you have not watched Blackfish, take a look and decide for yourself if you think the treatment of the Orcas is fair or not.

." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.

"SeaWorld Stock Drops." Norbert Haupt. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.


Alyssa Meka
Mr. Jim Reuter
16 September 2014

Whether we like it or not, the current generation consists of a flurry of typers, tappers, and swipers who are intrigued with, more than anything, their electronic devices. From smartphones to tablets to wearable fitness devices, the gadgets that entrance us are bending the limits of technology, as well as the barriers of our budgets. But how far will companies stretch to introduce “the new thing”, and just how much is one person willing to pay for it?

It seems the answers to these two questions are exactly the same- limitless. Take the Apple company for example. Since the production of the first iPhone, they have introduced ten different versions of the phone. For each of these new versions, Apple has claimed to have added different assets and/or improved features. As these features have accumulated, the price has too. One source claims that “phones account for more than half of Apple’s total sales” and says that in the past year alone, Apple “has sold more than 163 million of them” (“iNeed?” Time Magazine). With production costs of these phones ranging from about 170 to 220 dollars, the company is definitely profiting from phones that are bought without a contract “rang[ing] in price from $649 to $849” (“Here’s How Much it Costs Apple to Build New iPhones” CNBC). This profit only helps the company to further advance and refine their product and make it cater to our every need, even if we weren’t previously aware of certain needs the producers at Apple are addressing.

This is exactly part of the draw of Apple products and the similar products of other tech companies. It is stated that the advertisement and portrayal of the gadgets “takes products we never wanted and convinces us we can’t live without them” (“iNeed?” Time Magazine). Take this recent ad  for example. It stresses that the iPhone can help us achieve our wildest dreams. Even so, companies like Apple often dance around the idea of a new product when introducing the hottest new commodity. It is apparent that companies like Apple are skilled in the art of refinement, taking what has previously not passed the test of the market and mastering it to make it useable. Could it be only their advertisements making it seem like we need their products? Or is it also the draw of anticipating a new product that keeps so many people loyal to the company? Here is a compilation of most of the products to this date.

Whatever it is, it seems that Apple has literally struck the gold mine (really, they have a gold iPhone) with their products over the past years. Just look at this dotplot of their sales from 1990 to 2011.  

That’s one heck of a steep increase! With the release of their new products soon, the much anticipated iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, these sales can only increase.

Aside from the fact that Apple has had the ability to increase their sales by billions throughout the years, they have also been able to multiply the amount of returning customers they have. By creating products that cater to the needs we have to stay organized and connected, Apple has been able to generate millions who both want and love the products because of the many capabilities they have. Despite the high costs, Apple has been able to create quality products that offer benefits many customers find far outweighing the pains to their bank account. Do you think it’s worth it?


Works Cited
Adhikari, Richard. "Apple's New IPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too." TechNewsWorld: All Tech. N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
"Apple - IPhone 5s - Dreams." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
"Evolution of Apple." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
Goldman, David. "Apple's Financial Empire." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
Grossman, Lev, and Matt Vella/Cupertino. "INeed?" TIME 22 Sept. 2014: 40-47. Print.
Thompson, Cadie. "Here's How Much It Cost Apple to Build New IPhones." CNBC. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.


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