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ECON501 Economics For Decision Makers

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Questions:

1.Suppose that Jack and Jill draw equal amounts of water from a community well.  Jack’s income is $10,000, of which he is taxed 10%, or $1,000, to support the well.  Jill’s income is $100,000, of which she is taxed 5%, or $5,000, to support the well.   Based on sound economic analysis and using the tools that you have learned in this course—or should have learned—is this scheme fair or unfair?  If unfair, in which direction is that tax policy unfair?  Explain!
 
2.A town was once plagued by an alarming growth in the number of rats, which ate crops and bit people while they slept and generally made life unpleasant.  The town council, in desperation, decided on strong measures to cut down the rat population.  The town would pay a bonus of so many dollars for each dead rat brought in to the town pound.

Assess this policy measure and its likely outcomes.  What, if any, are the broader implications?

3.Two years ago, Jack Quack bought 1000 shares of ZMQ stock at $1,000 per share.  This morning when he checked he found that ZMQ stock was selling for $62.00 per share.  Advise Jack on what he should do—dump his shares, hold, buy more, what???  (Notes:  There have been no stock splits over the past two years.  Also ignore tax considerations.  And, if it matters, Jack is 15 years from retirement.)

4. “Except for the law of diminishing returns we could feed the world from a single flower pot.”  Evaluate/explain the quote—starting with True or False.

5.The work force of Corporation XYZ is fully unionized.  Assume that the union demands and wins a xx% wage increase.  Under what circumstances will the union induced wage increase lead to an increase in the total wage bill?  (Def.:  total wage bill is the total dollars spent on wages)  Note:  I don’t need help with elementary arithmetic.  I am interested in the economics of the issue.

6.  The Corps of Engineers has done a study and Congress is considering a public works (shovel-ready maybe) project.  It is a flood control system.  The dam and flood control system can be constructed in different sizes or stages, offering different levels of costs and benefits.  The following data reflect the best available regarding costs and benefits.
Stage        Total Cost        Total Benefits
1        $ 55,800        $ 60,000
2           66,900          78,000
3           78,000          95,000
4           90,000         107,000
5          101,400         117,000
6          110,600         122,000

Note:  Both costs and benefits are total amounts—in thousands of dollars.  These are merely alternative levels or stages between which to choose.  That is, Stage 2 includes everything in Stage 1, but the total cost of building a Stage 2 dam is $66,900.  The question is whether to build no dam/flood control system at all; only a smaller scale project which, of course, will cost less and will provide only limited flood control benefits, or to go all out and build a much larger (higher stage) structure that will yield even greater flood control benefits, but also provide recreational and other benefits. 

Use your skills of economic analysis to advise Congress.  However, this time we want good economic advice and not necessarily good political advice. 
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