Higher Rock Education - Economics Blog

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Economics in the News – Feb. 5-11, 2024

Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

o   What was your favorite commercial during Super Bowl LVIII? This year, brands paid as much as $7 million for 30 seconds of ad time. Many of this year’s commercials featured multiple celebrity appearances within the same advertisement. Each of the last two years, 40 percent of Super Bowl commercials have featured multiple celebrity appearances, which is a sixfold increase from 2010.

Brands are opting to pack the celebrities within their ads because of pressure to stand out from the others, aiding in a boost of brand appeal. Social media has also driven the motivation for brands to use celebrities in their commercials because of their wide following that many celebrities amass on their social channels. A post or video by a celebrity can significantly amplify their brand messaging. [The Wall Street Journal]

o   The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to reevaluate where they manufacture their products. As a shift, new data shows that Mexico outpaced China for the first time in 20 years as America’s top source for imports. American imports from China dropped significantly last year compared to 2022 to $427.2 billion, while imports from Mexico remained consistent, totaling $475.6 billion. However, the pandemic wasn’t the only cause for companies to move manufacturing to alternative locations.

America’s trade with China has dipped largely due to the tensions between Washington and Beijing. Economists point to the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and maintained by the Biden administration as explanation for the decrease in trade. As a result, businesses are turning to alternative locations such as Mexico, Europe, South Korea, India, Canada and Vietnam for auto parts, shoes, toys and raw materials. [The New York Times]

o   Last year, consumers had 516 scripted television series to choose from for their entertainment. However, that marks a 14 percent decline in television shows produced from 2022, marking only the second drop in the last 15 years. Last year’s strikes by screenwriters and actors played a role in the slowdown of the release of new shows, wiping out the entire fall lineup of TV shows.

More than a decade ago, in 2009, there were 210 scripted shows airing on network and cable television. The rise of streaming platforms and a produce at all costs mentality saw the number of scripted shows peak at 600 in 2022. However, as Wall Street has turned on the idea of the multitude of options on television, studios started to discontinue shows. Industry experts believe that the number of shows will continue to decline. [The New York Times]

o   Everybody has been impacted by the pandemic. While experts have consumed themselves with the impact of a year lost to learning has had on children in school, or the risks for older people with elevated risks of COVID death and disease. Young adults, in their 20s, have not been studied as closely – until now.

A social famine, produced by the pandemic, has been persistent in young people. Being a young adult means the ability to enjoy an open, permissive cultural environment that often aids in the formation of social ties. It’s a time to build personal and professional networks, setting up support systems and friendship groups. Instead, the pandemic caused many young people to become judgmental, depending on the character of those they were around. As a result, America’s young adults’ express low levels of trust in our political system and social institution, extending into their personal lives, creating a distrust that extends into their social groups and make themselves more defensive. [TIME]

o   The price of your favorite chocolate candy is on the rise, as Valentine’s Day nears. The cost of cocoa – the key ingredient in chocolate – reached an all-time high earlier this month. It surpasses the previous record from 1977, the year before Hershey introduced Reese’s Pieces.

The majority of the world’s cacao beans are grown in West Africa, a region that has dealt with harsh growing conditions for cocoa, including pests and diseases. As a result, there is a shortage of cocoa for the third year in a row. For major candy manufacturers, a raise in prices would offset the higher costs from ingredients, not just cocoa. While the price hike may not be felt by shoppers for Valentine’s Day, analysts believe it will be noticeable for shoppers around Easter and Halloween. [NPR]

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