November 21, 2019

Analysts estimate that last year consumers spent more than $50 billion on virtual items in video games like Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft. This lengthy but highly informative video explains why the market for virtual items has grown bigger than global box office returns for the movie industry. 

Questions:

  1. How are in-game economies similar to real-world economic systems?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online marketplaces that sell virtual goods?
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November 15, 2019

This week, Google announced that it’s launching a banking service next year that will offer “smart checking” accounts to mobile-focused customers. Known as Cache, the program is the result of a collaboration between the search giant and two banks: Citigroup and Stanford Credit Union. Although details of the partnership remain limited at this time, Google eventually wants Cache to become an extension of its Google Pay app. The company also claims that customers will “benefit from useful insights and budgeting Continue reading

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November 14, 2019

Earlier this year, McDonald’s spent $300 million acquiring a data analysis and artificial intelligence startup called Dynamic Yield. Along with providing the fast food chain with tons of information about its operations, this new technology will also help the company upgrade its growing fleet of self-ordering kiosks. Customers can place orders on these large touchscreens rather than wait in line, which the company claims improves efficiency and increases sales. As a result, McDonald’s wants to place these machines in as Continue reading

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August 23, 2019

Last Wednesday, the stock market tanked after the yield curve for the bond market became inverted, meaning that interest rates on short-term bonds grew higher than those paid on long-term bonds. The video below takes a look at this complicated concept and explains why the “inverted yield curve” can be a warning sign of a recession. 

Questions:

  1. What is the difference between short-term and long-term bonds? 
  2. Why do investors consider the inverted yield curve to be a potential sign of a recession?
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June 20, 2019

In recent months, officials at the Federal Reserve have debated whether or not the institution should do anything to combat rising inflation. This video explains the basics about inflation and what the Fed could potentially do about it.

Questions:

  1. What are some of the potential causes of inflation?
  2. What is the Federal Reserve’s role in managing inflation?
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April 2, 2019

In 2016 a majority of U.K. voters chose to leave the European Union, a controversial decision that led to years of confusion and infighting among lawmakers. In fact, British officials were supposed to have all the details of “Brexit” hammered out by March 29, 2019. They missed that deadline, of course, and unfortunately aren’t any closer to brokering a deal to leave the European economic community. Now the nation faces the risk of crashing out of the EU with no Continue reading

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March 8, 2019

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 29 percent of Americans said that they don’t use cash for any purchases during a typical week. Instead, they depend on credit and debit cards as well as mobile payment apps like Apple Pay. These increasingly cashless consumers are becoming so common that some companies have stopped accepting paper and coin money for the sake of efficiency. For instance, in 2016 the salad chain Sweetgreen announced it was going cashless in Continue reading

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November 29, 2018

Last year, the price of bitcoin nearly reached $20,000, leading some optimistic analysts to label the cryptocurrency as the future of money. According to them, the value of the decentralized currency could only go up since it was free of manipulation from any single government or institution. Soon after reaching this peak in late 2017, however, bitcoin began a steady drop that continued throughout the year. In fact, on Monday the price of the cryptocurrency fell below $3,650, Continue reading

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April 17, 2018

Earlier this month, the music streaming service Spotify went public on the New York Stock Exchange with a valuation worth approximately $30 billion. And while that is certainly an enormous amount of money, it pales in comparison to the $93 billion that the Japanese telecom giant Softbank privately raised last year to create a technology investment fund. In the past, major IPOs such as Spotify’s tended to be the most dependable way for up-and-coming companies to receive a major infusion Continue reading

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April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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