Update for 2017 on the “Cost of Going to the Prom”

In both 2014 and 2015 I wrote about the cost of going to the Prom. I found the results surprising. The cost of going to the prom from 1998 to 2015 was going up much slower than the cost of inflation. The findings appeared in outlets like the Washington Post, US News and The Conversation. It is now two years later.

What has happened since 2015 to the cost of attending the prom? Continue reading

What is Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s real crime?

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, is about to go on trial. She is temporarily suspended from office while Brazilian politicians debate whether she broke the country’s laws.

Her crime is she allegedly borrowed about US$11 billion from Brazil’s state banks – about one percent of GDP – to fund long-running social programs for small farmers and the poor while trying to get reelected, which concealed a budget deficit. Continue reading

To Really Beat Box-Office Records, “Star Wars” Will Need To Top These Numbers

This weekend, the newest Star Wars movie will start playing in cinemas throughout the world. Pundits in places like Forbes and the International Business Times are already predicting it will be the “biggest movie of all time.”

The headlines and superlatives about this movie’s box office records will dominate entertainment news during the winter. However, it is important to understand that the hoopla surrounding box office records is nothing new: Hollywood uses special effects for both making movies and discussing how a movie does financially. Hollywood movies consistently break box office (ticket sales) records because the industry does not adjust sales for inflation. Continue reading

Are Turkeys Getting More Expensive Over Time?

It is almost time for Thanksgiving, the holiday when many people in the USA cook and eat turkey.  As I was walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket yesterday, buying food for the holiday, I was wondering what has happened to the price of turkeys over time.

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OMG! Proms are actually getting cheaper compared with the price of everything else

Prom season is now upon us, the key social event of most people’s high school experience. My youngest child is preparing to attend her first senior prom and a steady supply of fancy dresses has begun to appear in our house. As my credit card bills climbed ever higher, I began to wonder, how has the price of the prom changed over time? Continue reading

Does The Federal Reserve Know More Than Other Government Economists?

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a complicated mandate. The legislation governing this agency states the Fed is supposed to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” It does this by controlling or influencing interest rates and controlling the U.S.’s money supply. The Fed has pushed down interest rates close to zero for many years to increase the number of employed people and reduce unemployment. By pushing interest rates down, it has explicitly ignored two of its three mandates. The key question for the Fed is when should it stop focusing on employment and refocus its attention on stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates? Continue reading

What is Really So Amazing About “The Dress” is Not The Color!

This week a huge debate has sprung up over the color of “The Dress.”  The item in question is a two-toned sleeveless dress sold by an English clothing chain called Roman Originals.  Over the last few days many people have had furious debates over whether the dress is gold and white OR black and blue.  Even the Wall Street Journal, a staid conservative publication devoted primarily to business, devoted more than a half-page to the debate over “The Dress’s” color this weekend.  For an economist, however, “The Dress” is really amazing because of its price.

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Is the Prom Getting Cheaper Over Time?

OMG, it’s prom season again!  This weekend was my daughter’s junior prom and before the big event a dozen teenagers and their parents were at my home for “pre-prom” pictures.  After the last couple left I did the natural thing for both parents and economists; I started totaling up the various bills for the event.  A strange thought crossed my mind.  Compared to my older children’s and my own experience, the total price tag for this year’s prom was high, but not as outrageous as in the past.  Could it be that proms are actually getting cheaper over time?

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