Friday, January 30, 2015

Roanoke students participate in a public choice seminar

Three faculty (Michelle Vachris (CNU), Justin Isaacs (HSC), and Alice Kassens (Roanoke College)) received an external grant to host a public choice seminar.

On January 23, five Roanoke College economics majors (Katelyn Nuckoles, William Corso, Nick Flanagan, Ted Ellis, and Jonathan Eary) loaded into a Roanoke College van with Dr. Kassens to begin the journey to Christopher Newport University.

The seminar was a three day affair and included six seminar sessions. Students came into the weekend having read three books: The Calculus of Consent (Buchanan & Tullock), The Myth of the Rational Voter (Caplan), and Bootleggers and Baptists (Smith & Yandle).

RC Economics majors heading out to the seminar

Each of the six sessions was led by faculty who provided questions pertaining to the assigned reading. The students then engaged in a conversation addressing those questions and posing questions of their own.

Ted Ellis making addressing a question

On the final day of the seminar, one of the book authors, Adam Smith (yes, really), led a discussion of his book and joined the group for lunch afterwards.

Adam Smith discussing his book

We had one unexpected surprise towards the end of the trip. Our Roanoke College van decided to quit on us! Luckily we were parked in a parking lot at Christopher Newport University and easily got transportation to the places we needed to go from other seminar participants.

To the rescue, Big Daddy Towing

The weekend provided an excellent educational opportunity for the students from the participating schools. We hope to make this an annual event that rotates between CNU, HSC, and Roanoke College.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Save the penny? Most say "NO"!

Source: The New Yorker 

Last month Dr. Garry Fleming wrote a piece for Roanomics discussing the future of the penny. The New Yorker published an interesting article on the issue in 2008. Below is an excerpt from Fleming's commentary:

Today, pennies are simultaneously ubiquitous and scarce, an interesting paradox.  No one actually carries pennies around anymore, do they?  In fact, most people view them as a nuisance. If change is to be given for a transactions that involves pennies, many sellers will round up to the nearest nickel, so buyers won’t have to deal with those pesky ‘copperheads’.  Penny jars can be found at most checkout counters in nearly every retail establishment, so that change given in pennies can be either donated to a worthy charity or left for the next to customer ‘borrow’ so his change comes out even to five cents.  The penny has been relegated to a status similar to that of a computer’s A-drive!
Recently, the US Mint has been toying with the idea of a stoppage of penny production and the eventual removal of the penny from circulation.  One reason for this is a selfish one; it now costs the US Treasury 1.8 cents to manufacture one penny, so the government actually accrues a loss on its production.  Recall that “seigniorage” is the revenue the government obtains when it issues money that has a face value greater than its production costs.  Seigniorage has served as an important source of government revenue for a long time.  Now it can be argued that the seigniorage of the penny is negative, thus making it unprofitable for the government to mint additional coins.  There are other practical reasons for eliminating the penny, including the facts that they are not accepted in vending machines and a single penny will buy nothing at today’s prices.  

We asked you what you thought (via our very unscientific online poll): "Should the penny be removed from circulation?"

What did you tell us? 60% of respondents said that the penny should be removed from circulation.

Now the follow-up question:
If the penny is removed from circulation, could we find other uses for our pennies?

Leave your ideas in the comment section of this post.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Save the penny?

In the latest issue of Roanomics Dr. Garry Fleming asks the question: "Do you think that the penny should be removed from circulation?" Read his argument here (first page of the issue).

What do you think?

After reading Fleming's short discussion, vote below. This is an unscientific poll, but we will share the percentages of "Yes" responses.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Roanomics Volume 5, Issue 1

Enjoy the latest from the Roanoke College Economics Program.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations Report is out: Things are looking good!

Read the latest Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations Report here.

As you can see from the two graphics below, sentiment remains strong in the Commonwealth and short-term inflation expectations are low.


Table 1. US and VA Consumer Sentiment, pst. two yrs.
US data downloaded from FRED 11/17/2014; blue line is US Consumer Sentiment; 
black line is a two year moving average; orange bars are VA Consumer Sentiment


Table 2. Short- and long-term inflation expectations (VA), pst. two yrs.

The next report will be released in February 2015.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

PHHS AP Economics students visit Roanoke College

Four Roanoke College senior economics majors (Emma Webb, Katelyn Nuckoles, William Corso, and Robert Horn) are enrolled in a service learning project in which they help teach the Patrick Henry High School AP Economics class.

On November 13th, the PHHS students visited Roanoke College. They attended an economics class, took a tour, participated in an information session on applying to college hosted by the Admissions Office, and ate lunch with the Roanoke College economists.

You can read the reflections of the semester by the Roanoke College students here.

We will continue the service learning project in the spring.

RC and PHHS service learning students and faculty

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Public Choice Seminar opportunity available for RC students

Want to spend a weekend on the Virginia coast studying and talking about Public Choice Economics with students and faculty from Roanoke College, Christopher Newport University, and Hampden-Sydney College?

Check out the flyer below for details.

If you are a Roanoke College student and are interested, please contact Dr. Kassens by December 1.