Yesterday, we looked at how cost-cutting measures used by rental car companies to survive the pandemic have now led to supply problems that are affecting travelers across the country. But rental cars aren’t the only items that are in short supply these days. For instance, a garden supply store called Valley View Farms experienced record sales of patio furniture in March as customers began to emerge from the extended stays at home. Soon after this boom, though, the Maryland retailer Continue reading

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June 22, 2021

Last month, we looked at how the global shortage of microchips has severely restricted production of everything from video game consoles to dog washing stations. This video examines the manufacturing process for these precious components and explains why semiconductor production cannot be easily increased. 

Questions:

  1. Why is it difficult for manufacturers to speed up production on microchips and semiconductors?
  2. What are some possible solutions for increasing global microchip production?
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The pandemic led to widespread disruptions across the world’s supply chains, leading to inflation and higher prices for many commodities. In response to these increasing costs, some companies have elected to reduce the size of their packaging rather than raise prices. For instance, Walmart shrank its Great Value paper towel rolls from 168 sheets to 120 sheets while the Tillamook County Creamery Association reduced its family sized ice cream containers from 56 ounces to 48 ounces. 

“Consumers check the Continue reading

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The Swedish company IKEA is famous across the globe for its meatballs and its wide array of furniture that customers must assemble at home. This video looks at how the retailer encourages sales by creating the “IKEA effect” with its winding floor plan that causes customers to snake through a series of product showrooms. 

Questions:

  1. What sort of strategies does IKEA use to keep costs low?
  2. How does the “IKEA effect” encourage customers to purchase furniture and home goods?
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Last week, hackers began a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, a major conduit that supplies nearly half of the East Coast’s oil. The hack completely shut down petroleum transportation as the Colonial Pipeline Company “proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.” Although the company expects to have most of its capabilities returned by the end of the week, the shutdown has resulted in Continue reading

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The widespread disruptions caused by the pandemic resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs last year and subsequently applying for unemployment benefits. In one especially bleak week in spring 2020, new unemployment claims topped out at more than six million as businesses locked down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Although the amount of new claims steadily began to decline after this historic high, hundreds of thousands of Americans have nevertheless applied for unemployment week after week since the Continue reading

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April 6, 2021

Starting in March 2020, new unemployment claims in the U.S. seemed to reach record levels every week as businesses closed all over due to the pandemic. And while that number has gradually been decreasing in recent months, thousands of people continue to file fresh unemployment claims each week. 719,000 workers filed for unemployment last week, an increase from 658,000 initial claims the week before.

Although the U.S. unemployment rate remains high, some experts are optimistic that the economy is on Continue reading

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March 18, 2021

Last week, Congress passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed primarily at easing the financial burdens that many Americans have felt during the pandemic. While previous stimulus bills were directed more towards businesses, this latest package provides $960 billion in aid towards individuals through $1,400 checks, unemployment coverage, and provisions for child care. The bill also includes tax credits as well as programs that seek to make rent, food, and healthcare more affordable.

According to economists, low-to-middle income Americans will Continue reading

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March 11, 2021

One year ago, the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus as a pandemic. Soon after that announcement, life in the U.S. changed utterly as offices, airlines, and professional sports leagues all came to a halt. And while the U.S. economy is beginning to recover as the vaccine rollout gains momentum, the coronavirus pandemic has had a seismic impact upon America and the rest of the world that will be felt for years to come.

More than 118 million cases of Continue reading

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February 23, 2021

In February 2020 during a regular season NBA game, Lebron James performed a two-handed windmill slam dunk that he afterwards said was a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. A clip of James’ dunk placed side-by-side with a nearly identical one of Bryant’s from 2001 quickly went viral and can be easily found from multiple sources on YouTube. Then again, you could also do what social media entrepreneur Jack Settleman did in January: pay $47,500 for a clip of the Continue reading

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