12 Economic Tips for New College Graduates (and everyone else)!

By | April 18, 2014



title insurance, New York,New York City,Long Island,Michael HaltmanSpring has arrived which means that days are getting longer, temperatures are rising, baseball is being played, clothes are getting skimpier, potholes are more obvious and kids are getting ready to graduate from college!

And with this graduation comes the eager anticipation of leaving academia for the real world of jobs, commuting, paying bills and many other responsibilities above and beyond those lived over the past four years.

This departure from the enclaves of academia also means a move away from simply learning the theory about how things work in society to actually seeing it and living it in an up-close and personal way.

So, in order to provide these newly minted degree holders a small head start, the following are tips were presented in a 2007 commencement speech that was given by Nobel economist Thomas Sargent to graduates of Cal-Berkeley.

They are instructive, entertaining and most certainly provide some fuel for thought. Here they are:

‘Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts, and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That is why social safety nets don’t always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their choices. That is why it is difficult for well-meaning outsiders to change things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are some promises that you’d like to make but can’t. No one will believe those promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change. This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do (but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders’ information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

(Source)

NBA Chart: Playoff/Regular Season ticket price comparison!
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