The Political Economy of Housing Affordability

Early this April I was invited by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture to give a talk to discuss the politics and economics of housing affordability. In the following talk I discuss my personal experience with housing affordability, talk about factors that impact housing prices on the demand and supply sides, and then talk about some of the political history of housing economics! Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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The Pursuit of Vocation and an Economics Beyond Self-Interest

20190302_132841In 2008, I was a couple years out of college and searching for answers. Up to that point, I had known what it was to be successful: you study hard, get good grades, earn awards and honors, and keep on progressing upward and onward – from high school to college, from college to graduate school. Having now completed my education and gotten my start at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I struggled with how to evaluate my self-worth and measure my success or lack thereof.  Money, a girlfriend, influence, prestige – with any of these as a benchmark I objectively could not be considered successful. But I also had a deep-seated sense that these were not the right benchmarks anyway. I knew success had to be based on something bigger, and therefore different measures of success were needed. Continue reading

Beyond Comfort: Thoughts on Parenthood, Religion, and Economics

20180407_130720Two months ago, Paula and I welcomed our third child into the world. As with the birth of our other two, it never ceases to amaze me how we enter the world at a particular moment in time, blissfully unaware of all that has happened and is happening around us. Before you can talk, walk, or be in any substantial way independent, you spend your first years just observing. Where am I? What is this world, this environment, I am entering into? Given this ignorance, it puts into perspective the awesome responsibility of parents as first educators to explain what it all is, how it works, and the purpose, reason, and meaning behind it all. And in addition to this enormous task, we face too the reality of life in the economic and financial world and the need to provide the material goods – the food, clothing, shelter, etc. – that our children assume as a given. Just as we guide them through the more philosophical questions of life, we teach our children that as they grow in independence they too will be entering this practical world and will be, in due time, responsible for providing for themselves and others Continue reading

The Birth of the Modern Shark Tank Economy

imagePaula and I are both readers. Except in the case of a movie night or some other exceptions the TV doesn’t get a lot of play time in the Golbabai house. One of those exceptions however is our favorite Friday night tradition: putting the kids to bed and watching Shark Tank over a bowl of ice cream. As an economics blogger, I find the show fascinating because in just a few short minutes it is a perfect microcosm of how our modern economy thinks and rewards. Continue reading

Our Repair Economy: Are Low Prices the Enemy of Sustainability?

imageI was preparing for work one morning when disaster struck; my trusty beard trimmer wasn’t trimming. There was plenty of strange whirring but absolutely no movement of the blades. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it but to no avail. At this point, what are my options? It seemed to me that the problem was fixable. I have a two-year-old son who is fascinated with shaving; maybe he got a hold of it and dropped it, knocking something loose. If I couldn’t fix it myself, could a repair shop handle it? What would they charge me? How would that compare with the cost of a brand new beard trimmer? But maybe the biggest question was this: do repair shops for small electronics even exist any more? Continue reading