Stories related to "Economics".


A Bowl of Cashews

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you wish you didn’t have to decide. A quiet revolution in economic thinking instigated by Richard H. Thaler traces its beginnings to a dinner party he hosted in the 1970s. As Thaler explains in his latest book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, the guests while waiting with cocktails for the meal, were devouring the cashews—the entire bowl half-eaten in minutes. So Thaler, worried that his guests would fill up on the salty snacks, whisked the bowl away. He recalled that when he came back, his friends thanked him for it (and found themselves with room to enjoy a big dinner). “But then, since we were economics graduate students,” Thaler recalled, “we immediately started analyzing this. Because that’s what economists do.” Even cashews could hold the key to unlocking insights about our idiosyncratic behaviors. Without the temptation of the nuts, he said, “We realized that a.) we were happy, and b.) we weren’t allowed to be happy, because a first principle of economics is more choices are better than fewer choices.”


The Colombia Conversation

Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo, ’94, heads Medellín-based EPM, the largest public multi-utility company in Colombia. Calle recently discussed the economic prospects for Colombia and Latin America with Santiago Umaschi, ’11, managing partner of a Boston-based strategy consulting firm that specializes in international markets. Umaschi works with a nonprofit arm of EPM that helps small and midsize companies in Medellín find export markets. Umaschi reached out to Calle on a visit earlier this year— the two met for the first time over coffee, and talked about the city’s prospects. They continued the conversation in a summer phone call. Umaschi: I commute from Boston to Medellín from Boston twice a month, and I find the geography to be striking. With the Andes all around you, you’re surrounded by a wall of green. At first I was a little claustrophobic, but then the city grows on you. The people are proud of their city. The metro cannot be cleaner. If you call the car service for a 5 a.m. pickup,


The View From Singapore

It’s been a festive year for Singapore, which this year is celebrating 50 years of independence. The city also is home to a thriving community of nearly 650 Booth alumni who hold top jobs in trade, banking, and real estate. They get together to swap business and personal advice, help with hiring and job referrals, and even advise on start-ups. Many hold regional responsibilities that require travel—and foster connections— throughout the continent. Low Soon Teck, ’04 (AXP-3), CFO at RCMA Group Pte. Ltd., makes a point to attend a monthly dinner with alumni from his Executive MBA cohort. “We talk about managing people and talent at the workplace,” said Low, whose firm dates from colonial times as a marketer of rubber and has since expanded into agricultural commodities. “Competition for talent is intense in Singapore, where the unemployment rate is almost zero.” When Sarita Singh, ’07 (AXP-6), wrestles with a business problem outside her expertise, she seeks out fellow Booth alumni.


Why Is Productivity Stuck in Neutral?

When we talk about the global economy, we tend to turn to automotive metaphors. A recession brings things to a “screeching halt.” Boom times are said to be “in overdrive,” to have “found a higher gear.” And since the recession, one of the major components of the economy has been stuck in neutral. According to the Conference Board, productivity has barely budged since 2007, was flat in 2014 and 2015, and fell last year. We asked professor Chad Syverson, alumnus Matt Tracey, and Executive MBA student Crystal Lam to tell us why it’s stuck and what might kick it into gear. Chad Syverson, J. Baum Harris Professor of Economics, is the author of “Challenges to Mismeasurement Explanations for the US Productivity Slowdown,” published in the spring 2017 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives: Is productivity stuck in neutral? The short answer is yes. It’s been slow for the last decade—truly slow, not mismeasuredly slow or illusorily slow. The mismeasurement hypothesis says that although productivity has been slow since the mid-2000s, that isn’t real. The hypothesis argues that what’s actually going on is that our ability to measure economic growth has gotten worse. New things that people like and use a lot—Google, Facebook, Snapchat—are all free. We calculate GDP by adding up what people spend money on. Those things don’t show up because they’re free, so it looks like output per worker hour isn’t going up much. In my recent paper I asked, if that’s true, what else would it be true of? The patterns I found were consistent with an actual productivity slowdown rather than with mismeasurement.