A few weeks ago we talked about supply and demand, and how there is an ideal equilibrium between the two. This equilibrium exists because of competition in the marketplace. According to Investopedia, “Under perfect competition, there are many buyers and sellers, and prices reflect supply and demand. Also, consumers have many substitutes if the good or service they wish to buy becomes too expensive or its quality begins to fall short. New firms can easily enter the market, generating additional competition. Companies earn just enough profit to stay in business and no more, because if they were to earn excess profits, other companies would enter the market and drive profits back down to the bare minimum.”
Perfect competition doesn’t exist in reality, but in most industries companies are affected by other companies’ products and pricing. This is largely because each firm (and each individual) is primarily concerned for its own interests. Adam Smith describes this self-interest as an “invisible hand” in his book Wealth of Nations (available at Andersen Library). The concept of the invisible hand “[assumes] that individuals try to maximize their own good (and become wealthier), and by doing so, through trade and entrepreneurship, society as a whole is better off” (Investopedia).
There are situations that undermine competition and the invisible hand. You may have heard people discuss types of imperfect competition, such as monopolies or oligopolies. Imperfect competition is often regulated by the government because it can be damaging to the economic well-being of a country. One example of such legislation is the Sherman Antitrust Act, passed in 1890 to limit monopolies. Recently, people have been debating whether or not the Comcast/Time Warner deal should be considered a monopoly because they are the two largest companies in their industry. The problem with monopolies is that they give one company significant power over the market, allowing them to inflate prices. Meanwhile, other companies are discouraged from entering the market. This undermines competition and can harm the economy.
If you’re interested in learning more about competition, listen to this podcast from Econ Lowdown.
Also, check out these books available at Andersen Library:
Andersen Library welcomes financial specialist to educate students on money management on Monday, October 20. Denise Kaminski, of UW Credit Union, is slated to present 3:30 – 4:00 pm. Crafting event to follow.
Kaminski aims to educate UW-Whitewater students regarding not only saving money in college, but learning how to use it wisely.
Following the presentation, a craft session will be available to the first 24 students who show up to the event. These students will have the opportunity to decorate their own piggy-bank or cow-bank with supplies provided. After completion of the project, artists will be able to take their masterpieces home!
This event is just another addition to Andersen Library’s “Maker Monday” series. It is first come, first served and will be located over by the big screen TV on the main floor of the Library.
For any questions or accommodations requests please contact Rebecca Jones at SchallerRL22@uww.edu
Time for some Friday Fun! Take these fun, short, and grade-free quizzes from the Pew Research Center that will allow you to see how your opinions and knowledge compare to others’ responses: in News IQ, Millennialism, Science Knowledge, etc.
Did you know that you can print remotely from your laptop to any of the General Access lab printers (including the printers in Andersen Library)?
The process is quick and easy to install the necessary software on your computer. Follow the instructions for Windows and Mac laptops and start printing!
The Passenger Pigeon
by Errol Fuller
QL696 .C6 F8 2015
New Arrivals, 2nd floor
The Passenger Pigeon is one of my favorite species, even though it’s been extinct for exactly 100 years. Sadly, the last bird died in a Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
What is so tragic and fascinating about the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon is that it was likely the most plentiful bird species in the world in its heydey (p. 9). The sheer size of their migrating flocks made the birds’ co-habitation with humans problematic. They migrated in massive flocks, estimated in the 19th Century at 2-3 billion birds, in search of food. You can imagine what they left behind — or didn’t — when they moved on. But they were rarely allowed to move on undisturbed as you will learn from these pages.
The author’s goal is simply to celebrate the existence of the species. Though not an academic treatise, I learned a number of new things about Ectopistes Migratorius from this nicely-crafted volume, which features lovely images documenting the birds’ natural history and interaction with humans. The baby bird photos are particularly endearing.
Last week we talked about opportunity cost, or the cost of choosing to do or buy one thing rather than another. Think back on some of the big decisions you’ve made, such as choosing a college. When you made that decision, whether you were aware of it or not, you probably conducted a cost-benefit analysis. While that may sound incredibly formal, you’re basically just comparing the positives and the negatives of each option. For example, one of the schools you were considering may have had a 90% job placement rate. However, the cost of tuition was $40,000. For some, that cost may outweigh the benefit of a high job placement rate. Comparing benefits and costs helps you make well-informed decisions.
One of the costs you should consider is the opportunity cost of not choosing an alternative. For example, in addition to the cost of tuition, consider the opportunity cost incurred by choosing not to go directly to work after high school. Perhaps you could be making $20,000 right now rather than the small amount you might make as a student worker. That’s a big lost cost and should be factored into your cost-benefit analysis.
The government uses cost-benefit analyses to assist in making decisions regarding policies. At this level, a cost-benefit analysis is not as simple as it is when utilized by you or I. The decision-makers have to consider things such as consumer surplus (the difference between what a consumer would be willing to pay and what they actually pay) and inflation.
For examples of how cost-benefit analysis is used in politics, check out some of these books available at Andersen Library:
For October, the book sale is highlighting sets of books from 2-20 volumes. The cost ranges from $1 for 2-3 volumes to $5 for 7 or more volumes. A variety of topics are included, from botany, history, and literature to general encyclopedias, and more.
Come and peruse! You might just find something that you want for your book shelves.
Do you have questions about Excel, Access, SPSS, or other software? Want to learn the finer points of Photoshop or digital animation?
UW-Whitewater has a subscription to Lynda.com, a clearinghouse of professional video tutorials for all types of software. Lynda.com has a great user interface that lets you easily browse the available courses or search for a short video clip to answer a quick question about a particular piece of software.
Teach yourself something new!