Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the often-vilified middleman—someone who buys cheap, sells dear and does nothing to improve the product. Munger explains the economic function of arbitrage using a classic article about how prices emerged in a POW camp during World War II. Munger then applies the analysis to the financial crisis. From http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2008/10/munger_on_middl.html
Mike Munger, of Duke University, talks about why firms exist. If prices and markets work so well (and they do) in steering economic resources, then why does so much economic activity take place within organizations that use command-and-control, top-down, centralized structures called firms? Within a firm, most of the goods and services that the workers use are given away rather than allocated by prices—computer services, legal services and almost everything else is not handed out by competition but by fiat, decided by a boss. A firm, the lynchpin of capitalism, is run like something akin to a centrally planned economy. Munger’s answer, drawing on work of Ronald Coase, is a fascinating look at the often unseen costs of making various types of economic decisions. The result is a set of fascinating insights into why firms exist and why they do what they do.
Michael Munger of Duke University and Russ Roberts talk about the economics of ticket scalping, examining our reactions to free and found goods, gifts, e-Bay, value in use vs. value in exchange, and opportunity costs.
Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about many things. Listeners sent in questions for Mike and Russ to talk about and they chose ten of the most interesting questions with the idea of talking about each for six minutes. The topics are the scarcity of clean water, asset bubbles, the role of Fannie and Freddie in the financial crisis, can a business pass a tax on to its customers (or maybe even its workers), compassionate food, the study of economics, how to choose a college, the nature of cooperation in a modern economy, the humanity of non-profits, and the American Dream.