Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Do Bonanza, Charles Dickens And Copyright Laws Have In Common?

In an episode of the TV show from 1963, Dickens came visited Virginia City and discovered his copyrights were being violated. So he protested and complained. Click here to go to the IMDB page for this episode. Click here to watch it on You Tube. Here is the summary from IMDB
"At Ben's invitation, Charles Dickens comes to Virginia City to give a reading from "Oliver Twist" while on a reading / lecture tour in America. While there, he stays at the Ponderosa. He becomes enraged by the townsfolk's casual attitude toward distribution of copies of his stories published without protection of copyright laws. After confronting the local newspaper publisher, the newspaper's office is destroyed. Already having lost the esteem of the townsfolk, Dickens now finds that the townsfolk blame him for the violence."
Here are some links with historical information:

Struggles For Copyright Laws

When Charles Dickens fell out with America (from BBC)

Bootlegging Dickens: Author Looks At 'Bookaneers' (from NPR)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trade Weighted U.S. Dollar Index: Major Currencies (TWEXM)

This is from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Click here to go the site

2013-12-11: 76.248 Index March 1973=100 Last 5 Observations
Weekly, Ending Wednesday, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Updated: 2013-12-16 4:51 PM CST 

Averages of daily figures. A weighted average of the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar against a subset of the broad index currencies that circulate widely outside the country of issue.
Major currency index includes the Euro Area, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, and Sweden. For more information about trade-weighted indexes see

Why Economics Is Really Called 'the Dismal Science'

Click here to read this great article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. The real reason is not the one which has been traditionally taught. Economics was first called the dismal science because it "couldn't find a justification for slavery." Economists considered slaves to be equal to other human beings.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Students March In The Streets, Demanding That Deadweight Loss Be Eliminated!!

I sometimes joke in class that students are marching in the streets and shouting "What do we want? Maximized Social Welfare! When do we want it? Now!"One of my students this semester, Charissa Fenton, made up this fake newspaper because of what I said. I think it is pretty funny.

Social welfare is the sum of consumer surplus and producer surplus. It is the total net gain we get from consuming and producing goods. It is one way to judge different policy outcomes. Deadweight loss is the loss of social welfare when we have monopoly instead of competition (or if we have negative externalities like pollution). There is no deadweight loss when P = MC. Here are some links