Just for Fun: Taxing the Hamilton Stairs

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One of the major problems that students attending classes in Hamilton face is that they see unusually high traffic on stairways during the few minutes before and after class. This creates a bottleneck situation due to a large number of students competing for a tiny space (two narrow stairways) during specific time periods. Naturally, one solution would be to divert some of the students away from the two stairways by offering them alternative ways of transportation. The only alternative route would be the Hamilton elevator, which is equally congested and incredibly slow and inefficient. Some might argue that the school should increase capacity – building a new stairway. However, the extra capacity will not cause additional students to use the stairs because the total number of students taking classes in Hamilton is fixed. Moreover, this tactic can be rather difficult to implement, as the school is likely unwilling to spend extra money to renovate the building and build an entire new KEEP READING >>

The Future of Marijuana on Campus

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Marijuana legalization has been a divisive issue in the United States for decades, yet it appears to have finally turned the corner.  While marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington - and last week, California, Nevada and Massachusetts - have all legalized the recreational usage of marijuana and the commercial sale of marijuana with a license.   Foreign countries are also easing their stances on marijuana.  Canada is poised to legalize the drug in spring 2017, opening itself up to a $5 billion-dollar industry.   For college students, marijuana legalization may seem like a dream come true.  In 2015, daily marijuana usage on college campuses reached its highest percentage since 1980, even as the consumption of alcohol, narcotics, and amphetamines declined.  Moreover, the rapid growth and diffusion of small dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana has removed barriers to access.  Colorado, for example, has over 900 licensed KEEP READING >>

Is College Worth It?

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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 >>

Tips for Building Credit as a College Student

College students often focus on several key statistics: GPA, standardized test scores, etc. However, one thing that most of college students do not consider is building credit. Having good credit is absolutely essential for life after graduation. For example, taking out a car loan, buying a house, or even purchasing basic necessities such as cell phone plan all require a good credit score. Despite the importance credit, in reality, 25 percent of Americans have credit trouble. To avoid this outcome, starting early is the best action that you, as a college student, can take to be ready for life after graduation. Credit allows a person to make purchases without actually spending money at that moment; but it requires the individual to compensate for the money spent at a pre-specified later date. A bank, or a credit union, usually does not want to just “make it rain” and give out free money with the belief that it will be paid back in full, in a timely manner. Due to the risk involved, KEEP READING >>

America, the ECB, and Charles P. Kindleberger: An Interview with Prof. Perry Mehrling

Professor Perry Mehrling teaches the popular Barnard College course Money and Banking, which has over 120 students registered this fall. His research focuses on the foundations of monetary economics and the history and applications of monetary economics and finance. Professor Mehrling is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Economics Association, and a member of the Economists Forum at the Financial Times. Julie Tauber sat down with Professor Mehrling (not virtually! In person! In his office!) and asked him about the American economy, forward guidance for the European Central Bank and his upcoming book about economist Charles P. Kindleberger. Julie Tauber: I'd like to pick your brain about the current state of the American economy. [Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve] Janet Yellen said a couple of weeks ago “the labor market has yet to recover fully.” Other economists believe the U.S. is in a better state than she lets on. What’s your take? Perry KEEP READING >>