“Commerce” in the 16th Century

October 15th, 2016 → 5:40 am

“It would make a man mad as a buck to be so bought and sold.” – Comedy of Errors

This line from Comedy of Errors has nothing to do with buying or selling anything.  It’s said by a servant who’s just pissed off at being ill-treated and abused and made to stand out in the cold.  The line struck me as, even in the 16th century, commerce clearly had a negative reputation.  We knew this already from Merchant of Venice, of course, but fascinating to see the same negative connotations pop up in other plays as well.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

“Markets” in the 16th Century

October 7th, 2016 → 5:16 am

“I’ll meet with you upon the mart.” – The Comedy of Errors

I’m currently reading The Comedy of Errors with my online discussion group.  And I came across the above line in the first Act, where “mart” is used in reference to a market.  I looked into it, and it was quite common hundreds of years ago to use the word “mart” instead of “market,” though that isn’t generally done today.  As an economist in my day job, I find that fascinating.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

New US $20, $10, & $5 Bills

April 25th, 2016 → 5:32 am

“If money go before, all ways do lie open.” – Merry Wives of Windsor

The US Treasury has announced remakes of the $20, $10, & $5 notes.  The addition of Harriet Tubman to the $20 has gotten the most press, but Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul to the $10, and Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King to the $5, are pretty big deals as well in my opinion.  Such recognition pushes open further the door to greater equality (and that door has some pretty rusty hinges at this point, it’s taken so long).  If you don’t know who Lucretia Mott, Marian Anderson, or any of those other people named are, you have just proved the point of why they need to be on the new notes.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money


June 29th, 2015 → 5:07 am

    “If you repay me not on such a day
    In such a place, such sum or sums as are
    Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
    Be nominated for an equal pound
    Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
    In what part of your body pleaseth me.” – Merchant of Venice

There’s been increasing talk lately of Greece leaving the Euro.  And some of it seems to be saying that a Grexit wouldn’t be that bad.  In my opinion, it would be awful for Greece if they left, truly catastrophic.  Akin to the pound of flesh Skylock tried to bargain for in Merchant of Venice.  Other countries wouldn’t suffer nearly so bad, but Greece would be left near to dying. Don’t do it Greece!

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

The “Science” Behind Misogyny

March 12th, 2015 → 5:19 am

“Mere prattle without [evidence].” – Othello

Yesterday the New York Times published an article perpetuating the common misogynistic trope that women are innately stupider than men.  It makes me crazy.  That such arguments are still being said – and published in such respected outlets! – so nonchalantly shocks me.  At least, my comment pointing out the ridiculousness of the argument was made a NYT Pick and through most of the day yesterday was the number one Reader’s Pick as well.  At least some (maybe a lot of?) people out there do get it.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Stupid/Evil People

GDP-Indexed Bonds

February 16th, 2015 → 5:31 am

    “I’ll have my bond.  Speak not against my bond.
    I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.” – Merchant of Venice

Warning: This post is a little wonky.  Greece’s new government has suggested a number of reforms to help the country get out from under its punishing austerity measures and recover their economy.  One of the best is an old idea which I have never understood why it hasn’t gotten more traction (but then again, I am not a macroeconomist) – GDP-indexed bonds.  Such bonds pay more when times are well, but also automatically pay less when times are tough, which 1) only makes sense, 2) reduces debt-to-GDP volatility, and 3) prevents pro-cyclical fiscal policy that exacerbates both busts and booms.  Since we know that creditors will have their bonds, why not make them smarter bonds?

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

The Economics Profession

December 1st, 2014 → 6:16 am

    “In men as in a rough-grown grove remain
    Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep.”– The Rape of Lucrece

I know it probably isn’t wise to say this, but it is true.  The economics profession is sexist and discriminatory.  As a PhD economist with a job at a major university, I have experienced it myself.  See this well-written article on the latest research.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Stupid/Evil People

Gas Prices

October 29th, 2014 → 5:48 am

“O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there.” – Hamlet

$2.59/gallon yesterday.  Can you believe it?!?

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

Guest Post – Family Dollar

August 19th, 2014 → 6:00 am

Gonzalo:  “Comes to the entertainer–“

Sebastian:  “A dollar.”

Gonzalo:  “Dolour comes to him, indeed: you have spoken truer than you purposed.”

                                                                                                            – The Tempest

Shakespeare loved to play on the double meaning of words/sounds – here it’s with “dollar” and “dolour.”  A radio announcer (I’m afraid I can’t recall which one) used this quote yesterday in relation to the Family Dollar bidding war.  You get a dollar, but really it leads to dolor.  Ain’t this true of so many mergers?  Ain’t this true of so much in life!

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

100 Year Anniversary of Ferdinand’s Assassination

June 28th, 2014 → 7:05 am

    “More are men’s ends marked than their lives before.
    The setting sun, and music at the close,
    As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last,
    Writ in remembrance more than things long past.” – Richard II

100 years ago today Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated, and the world slid into its first World War.  It is humbling to look back on it now; the horror, the uninevitability of it, the profound waste.  There is a world that existed before June 28, 1914, and a rather diferent world that was borne after it.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Literature/Theatre/Art & Other & Politics/Politicians & Stupid/Evil People