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  • Alex Latunski 12:33 am on May 9, 2016 Permalink |  


    I find it interesting that as smoothly as the TPP went for lawmakers and corporate interests the TTIP agreement with the EU is decidedly less friendly. Is it that the popular sentiment means more in Europe than it does in the US or is it that the lawmakers are just less corrupt? I feel that in many ways EU countries seen the protest that went on in the US as well as locally and decided to take a deeper look into the agreement negotiated than US politicians did. Though with the rhetoric that is coming out of Germany and France of late one would think that it was a raw deal.

  • Alex Latunski 12:15 am on May 9, 2016 Permalink |  

    Russian land for Free 

    After finding an article on Reddit about Russia trying to increase it’s influence in Siberia by giving away free land (2.5 acres a person). Although this appears like a modern day land grab similar to what the United States did in the 1800’s 90,000 Chinese already live in the area. Are the Russians really that afraid of their Chinese neighbors annexing swathes of Siberia in a similar manner to what t is doing in the china sea?

  • Alex Latunski 12:03 am on May 9, 2016 Permalink |  

    Self- Reflection 

    Looking back on the semester, crazy that it is already over, to me it was one of surprises. Before this course when I thought of economics I would think of the two sides of Communism and Capitalism thinking only in terms of absolutism; ie. one had a Capitalist country or a Communist one. I now understand just how much I don’t understand about the shades of grey that make up the economic systems of the world. I found your look at the present both depressing in that the gap between “rich” and “poor” only seems to be growing, and yet uplifting in that the wage gap between the sexes is slowly shrinking, even if it does not come fast enough.

  • Alex Latunski 11:57 pm on May 8, 2016 Permalink |  


    I enjoyed the format of the class where students were bringing posts to the blog about not only what was going on in the world, but events that were relative to the unit that we were in. I also thought that the relative aspect of the due dates was an interesting shift from the hard deadlines one normally finds in education. I thought the book report was not as helpful as it could have been because essentially everyone was doing their own thing with no interaction between us unlike with the posts everyone was making.

  • Alex Latunski 11:51 pm on May 8, 2016 Permalink |  

    3 Best Posts 

    I would say my 3 best posts are:
    Basic Income: Where I used other articles to support a position that everyone should have a basic income.
    Election Cycle: Where my post sparked a discussion on what it really means to be a service based economy and how government policies affect this.
    Shifting Economies of a Digital age: My thoughts about where patents and copyrighted information is headed with the change in how information is spread.

  • Alex Latunski 10:55 pm on April 25, 2016 Permalink |  

    Shifting Economics of a Digital Age 

    The world today is vastly different from the world of even 50 years ago. We talk as economists about concepts that really only apply to things which hold a physical medium. The coming of the Digital Age forces us as a society to rethink how something is profitable. At the onset of the Digital Era people questioned what it means to “own” something, what does it mean for them to own a copy of a CD if it is not unique? The answer economists provided was that whoever makes a product is entitled to distribute it however they so desire. Now, if what is produced is a physical object, I agree with this for by selling that product the producer is denying themselves the use, but if what is being sold is intangible, than what is sold should not be owned by any one group or person. In the example of CD’s what is being sold is not the physical medium of the CD, but the knowledge contained on said CD.

    The entertainment industry struggles with this as a whole as when they create new ways of saying things people copy the knowledge bypassing the need for a physical medium all together. The entertainment industry business model though is based in a material society instead of a digital one. Instead of forcing everyone to pay before watching, because it is almost impossible to prevent the spread of information, the Entertainment Industry should instead make money based on the amount of people at a given time watching a given piece of knowledge. As Netflix grew it was found that the amount of people “pirating” movies decreased, this is because people were no longer being barred from access, but instead being asked to pay for access to the information. Now that Netflix has gone global the Entertainment Industry is now trying to region lock information once more, and Netflix is going along with it. I expect to see an increase in “piracy” in the coming months because the walls around knowledge will not last.

    • tatef 12:54 am on April 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I agree with you but I wonder about the last line. Not that its inaccurate it just makes me think about schools, our traditional dispensers of knowledge and this last unit which is focused on revaluating our traditional models, paradigms, economic goals and the like.
      What is the purpose of college in the modern day? We all paid for this class but in terms of knowledge it could be replicated by someone familiar with the material, lets call them Jim, posting readings on a facebookish page and all of us chatting about them (Thanks to you all, its nice to see a discussion board with actual discussions). It wouldn’t have to cost money and the knowledge would be out there.
      Even 200 years ago this could have worked through the mail (Still not sure how online classes are different than the correspondence classes of back in the day). So what is it that colleges offer students and is there a cheaper way we could deliver it? Relationships can be formed outside of college, partying can be done outside of college, knowledge can be learned without college classes.
      What they provide is a degree, which shows that you have actually acquired a specific amount of knowledge. We need the degree to get jobs. Why are we paying for job training? Couldnt that be done by employers and supplement knowledge with application? Couldnt we prove a level of knowledge by taking an online test that evaluates what you did or did not learn? I know I have taken classes that I remember almost nothing from but I have a piece of paper saying I know it.
      Obviously colleges arent going anywhere but with the ever increasing college bubble forming what will happen when it pops?

      • Alex Latunski 1:19 am on April 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I would argue that colleges and universities provide more than job training though that does seem to be a big portion of them now days. They also provide access to “research” and knowledge which is kept isolated from the public sphere by virtue of it’s obscurity, and many of the ideas and concepts which are taught in university classes tend to be more informative than what one would learn on the job. People have tried for ages to find the perfect test, because there is no one way by which people display knowledge, all existing ways are flawed. I think with the increased prevalence of sites like Kahn Academy and edX, the “bubble” is already starting to pop.

        • tatef 5:44 pm on April 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Kahn and edX are great examples of knowledge distribution. The issues I was thinking about is that the US owes more in student loans than credit cards, for profit colleges (some that are being sued), the increase in tuition and the fading return on investment as ever more people go to college “because they have to”, and the increase in nontenured adjunct positions for the actual instruction of undergrads.
          I agree research is a huge reason, but what about majors that are less research intensive, like history or business? There are few, if any, undergrad research positions there. Even the obscure knowledge could again be put out there by anyone who had recently graduated with an upper level degree, which I do think the current system is probably best for as it allows closer mentoring with experts in the field.

          • Alex Latunski 1:12 am on April 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            I agree college debt is an issue, but it is a symptom of people getting degrees they are unable to find work for. Debt is a part of the American economic system, but it has only been in the last 40 years that student debt has become so outrageous. I would argue though that this is because there are less apprenticeship and trade jobs now than there was back then. I would also agree with your earlier point that the system needs to change. My aunt (who does hiring for the state) was talking about how she had people with their masters degree applying to be glorified secretaries at minimum wage.
            I think that what is taught in business classes can in most cases be picked up easily on the job, but because of the existing atmosphere of credential-ism that exists in companies even jobs that “anyone” can do require a certificate, if only as a way to “level” the playing field.

    • Branden Garbin 2:40 pm on April 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey alex i really liked your post it was very interesting and i agree with what you are saying. But i believe that this scenario has allot to do with convince or ease of access. For example you talk about Netflix reducing the amount of pirated movies. I believe that this trend was due because Netflix convenience for watching movies outweighed the need to pirate movies. Another example is the pirating of music. no one in our day and age likes to pay for the music it almost seems meaningless especially with programs like Pandora and Spotify out there. But new innovations in the way we deliver music such as Apple Music is making it even more convenient for people to listen to music of their choosing and is gaining steam. I believe in a digital age the name of the game is convince. Another example is blockbuster, it was a great idea for the times of the 90s because it was convent but in todays society why should i half to get in my car and drive to a blockbuster when i can watch the same movie on HBO, Netflix or Hulu?

  • Alex Latunski 10:12 pm on April 15, 2016 Permalink |  

    During the current election cycle both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have talked about how America’s trade agreements have hurt the American people costing us jobs. An Article by the BBC questions the validity of their statements while making concessions to the fact the both the United States and the European Union have ineffective means to re-distribute the wealth accumulated as a result of these trade agreements with other countries and how it affects election year politics in America.

    • Eli Zumberg 3:20 am on April 16, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I find that a really strange point when it’s considered that our economy at the moment is a service based one because of the first worlds generally high labor costs, in addition to various factors like our regulations on the environment bringing costs up further I have to ask how we wouldn’t have a trade deficit? I don’t think this should be a problem though because we still have a significant amount of companies that make money through importing.

      • Alex Latunski 3:06 pm on April 16, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I think it is more that although we have a significant amount of companies that make money through importing; the money they make is not distributed to those who need it. Without the trade agreements then more products would have to be made locally as the associated fees with exporting and importing them would increase (tariffs) would not have been removed. The free trade agreements have helped America shift from a industry based economy to a service based one true, but the cost of this is the unskilled labor force being unemployed and the government being unprepared to support them.

        • Eli Zumberg 2:42 am on April 18, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          in my opinion that seems like it might be more of a short term problem that will start to go away as workers specialize into service based fields, and more unskilled service based jobs are created.

          • tatef 12:08 am on April 21, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Shifting to a service based economy has always been suspect to me. What services? Daycare, auto mechanic, plumbing, food, retail, movie theaters, landscapers, painters etc… While some are decent paying jobs and all good things to have you cant really sell it to someone outside of your city let alone country. I worked both retail and food service in a mall and it makes me think of that. Mall employees spend a decent amount in the same mall. Lunch at Panda Express, work clothes from whoever was having a sale, christmas shopping on your lunch break etc… but without people coming to the mall to shop it goes down hill pretty fast. We can sell each other services but what services do we sell to Germany or China or Mali?
            The only one I can think of is the financial services industry. Its a huge part of our economy and yet look how shaky it can be. And expecting a massive work force who enjoys accounting seems unlikely.

      • Eli Zumberg 4:10 pm on May 6, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I choose this comment as one of my 3 choices.

  • Alex Latunski 3:38 am on April 6, 2016 Permalink |  

    Social insurance in capitalism I would argue is in many ways just one way by which the capitalist system is kept in check. Economists as a result of the Great Recession are seeing the error of “Trickle down economics”. What social insurance does is allows for a stable marketplace when businesses lay people off. I can understand why business owners and other affluent protest, they have gotten their way for so very long, but without Social programs like food assistance and Medicaid there would be very few people able to buy the products which they are selling. Social insurance allows us to prevent a disastrous spiral of failing institutions.

    • Michael Ruben 3:52 pm on April 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I don’t think its a matter of owners protesting so much as they don’t connect the dots aka big picture. I once knew a president of a multi-million dollar business who laid off 20 workers, because he didn’t do his job and renew the service contract he had with his client. As he nonchalantly told me at a networking event, he didn’t care about renewing it or the welfare of those former employees. Another CEO I once met laid off 500 employees in one day, simply because his golf outing had been cancelled because of the rain. If he wasn’t going to have a good day then nobody else was either. And yet, neither of these two individuals could see the big picture. Who knows, maybe a relative of one of those laid off individuals was a blogger with 100K followers who went to town giving away negative reviews. It’s a shame some people can’t see the big picture.

  • Alex Latunski 5:21 pm on March 25, 2016 Permalink |  

    Remember the Greek debt crisis that started in 2009? In a recent report from the IMF, apparently Greece may be bankrupt again by May. Since the people already protest the pension cuts they had to take with the second bailout, due to the inability of Greece to tax it’s affluent.What new austerity measures can Greece take? Link

    • tatef 3:25 pm on March 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think austerity is kind of counterproductive in that its hard to ask the majority to give things up when the top arent paying in.

    • Michael Ruben 2:49 pm on March 31, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      From what I’ve researched about Greece’s problems the situation goes back to when they first applied for membership into the EU back in 1981. Now apparently those accounting numbers were recently discovered to have been falsified, and if the EU had had the real numbers then Greece would probably never have been admitted:

      1.) In 2002 they switched over their drachma to the Euro, but this meant they could no longer inflate their currency to pay off loans. Then in 2004, Athens hosted the Olympics, but that only increased the budget deficit… international prestige and glory cost Greece $11 billion… which added to a public debt of $184 billion. 2005-08 Greece made reforms at the insistence of the EU, but public protest followed.

      2.) In 2009, amid fears of its ballooning debt defaulting, Greece’s credit rating was downgraded. Despite efforts on Greece’s part, the deteriorating public finances, inaccurate numbers, and consistent under-performance of reforms just painted a bad picture. The financial crisis of 2009 didn’t help, and Greece surpassed its GDP budget deficit criteria from 3% to over 15%, pushing it on the verge of bankruptcy.

      3.) The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and the European Commission issued two bailouts, $264 billion but with strict austerity terms and conditions including deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. Not surprisingly more protests followed including strikes from the trade unions. The second bailout, issued in 2012, required Greece to hike up taxes even higher, further reduction in the size of the bureaucracy, and to step up its efforts against tax evasion; health care spending was 9.8% of its budget, which is double what it spends on education.

      4.) The second bailout was really more of an exchange, a “debt swap” with creditors. Although half of Greece’s debt was wiped away it came with still further austerity measures, signaling more protests and riots. Of course, had the creditors not agreed to the swap then Greece would more than likely have defaulted on its next due payment of $16 billion.

      5.) Queues formed at ATMs, which limited only $66 a day to individuals. Elderly Greeks, who don’t have debit cards were turned away from the banks. There’s a story of a 77-year old man who broke down and cried outside of a bank, because this was the fourth bank that had turned him away. Black markets activities increased like with cigarettes (Greece is one of the world’s top smoking nations), selling at $1.70 a pack, and even tobacco farmers were selling bulk leaves untaxed.

      6.) However, just recently at the end of 2015, Greece reportedly a surplus of 0.2%, but given their history of numbers, grocery shelves empty, and that its maritime fleet was found to be getting preferential tax treatment it seems unlikely that Greece is resurfacing.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ 2011-05-26/greece-cheated-to-join-euro-sanctions-since-were-too-soft-issing-says


      http://www.huffingtonpost.com /2015/07/07/greece -capital-controls_n_7743624.html


  • Alex Latunski 4:33 pm on March 25, 2016 Permalink |  

    Surfing the web I came across an article I think belongs here, it is regarding an upcoming speech by Robert J. Gordon regarding the stagnating of the US economy which started in the 1970’s and continues today. He makes a point to talk about how even though technology has been toted as a great boon to productivity it has no significant impact upon the GDP of highly technological countries.

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