Love in the Time of Recession

Spring has finally arrived, bringing with it the dread of finals as well as, for the happy couples ready to tie the knot, the perfect season to hear wedding bells. Before you are seized by the moment to drop to one knee, however, keep in mind that love is not the only thing that can make or break a marriage. Financial consequences of getting married and the fluctuation of the economy can also play a huge part in most marriages. There is a general sentiment that getting married is financially detrimental. Not only can the cost of the ceremony set you back by a cool $31,000, you and your new partner may be facing a higher tax rate when you get back from your honeymoon. Combining incomes into a single household frequently results in a couple jumping up a tax bracket and therefore paying more taxes than if they filed separately. This marriage penalty is one that is also shouldered by lower income families who, while not necessarily paying more taxes, can end up facing hurdles like having reduced eligibility for Medicaid, the program that can help pay for health insurance. Despite these rather bleak predictions, getting married also brings with it many financial perks that can actually leave you better off in the long run. First of all, the marriage tax penalty normally applies to a couple with similar incomes. If you or your spouse has a much lower income than the other, the bump in combined income can be small enough that you would not jump up a tax bracket, especially KEEP READING >>

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Moore Money, Moore Problems

In the past couple of weeks, a sizable part of the Columbia student body has erupted in anger -- this time over the public art that adorns our campus. After the administration began to install Henry Moore’s “Reclining Figure 1969-70” in front of Butler Library, in the dead center of the “postcard” view of campus, many students responded by writing harsh op-eds in the Spectator and over 1,200 students signed a petition against the statue. These students were upset that the statue was announced only through an obscure school blog, even though the statue is widely seen as a major addition to the main campus lawn, and that the statue is just plain ugly, or at least in harsh contrast to the neoclassical buildings of the surrounding vista. In turn, the student reaction garnered the attention of many major newspapers and national media outlets, from the New York Times to the BBC, and snowballed into a major issue on campus and beyond. Several commentators expressed astonishment for the KEEP READING >>


A Look at Islamic Finance

Sharia law prohibits the imposition of interest on monetary loans. Charging interest is usually considered to be riba, or “usury”. The opposition to interest comes from an understanding of money only as a means of exchange and not as a commodity in itself. As Pakistani Islamic scholar Muhammad Taqi Usmani explains, “Since money has no intrinsic value...the exchange of a unit of money for another unit of the same denomination cannot be effected except as par value.” This prohibition is at odds with common financial practices, as much of the global financial system is built on interest-bearing loans. Sharia also prohibits any investments in other activities or commodities prohibited by sharia, like alcohol, gambling or pornography. Islamic Finance, or more accurately “sharia compliant finance,” offers financial products and services in accordance with such restrictions. Of course, not all Muslim people are devout enough to necessarily use these services, some preferring conventional KEEP READING >>

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Is College Worth It?

With U.S. presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders proposing tuition-free education at public universities, I will examine a series of increasingly relevant education issues through an economic lens. Is it worth paying rising tuition bills at universities? What alternatives might one pursue to four years at an undergraduate institution and why? How much, exactly, is a bachelor’s degree worth? First, a monetary analysis. According to the College Board, in the 2015-16 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees was about $32,000 at private colleges, compared to roughly $9,000 for state residents at public colleges. Out-of-state residents at public colleges fared significantly worse than their counterparts, with a price tag similar to private colleges at $24,000. At Columbia, this year’s sticker price was about $66,000-- more than double of the average private college! With the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates in December and economic instability abroad captured KEEP READING >>

CER Presents: Columbia Students Speak Out on Sanders

In the first edition of our new video series, the Columbia Economics Review is proud to present Columbia students' musings on Bernie Sanders. Speaking directly from Low Steps and the College Walk, our peers weigh in on Sanders' presidential campaign, economic policies, and what it really means to be a democratic socialist. KEEP READING >>

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