Jay is shocked that Manny won’t eat pickles, so he won’t let him leave the table until he tried one. Gloria thinks Jay is being a hypocrite and forces him to try blood sausage. Then Jay decides Gloria need to try something new too: scratching the dog, Stella’s, belly. While they all seem to hate what they try at the time, we see Gloria petting Stella’s belly voluntarily and Manny surreptitiously eating a pickle at the end of the episode. This highlights the need for full information in order to know your true preferences.
See more: behavioral, full information, preferences, tastes and preferences, utility
Manny puts up a fiber optic Christmas Tree, because it is better for the environment, but Jay thinks it is ugly and does not want it in his house. This clip highlights both positive externalities of the fiber optic tree (environmental benefits) and negative externalities of the tree (Jay’s psychic costs). Jay and Manny have been trying to cut down their own Christmas tree for hours, but it is not budging and keeps ruining their tools. Jay has finally had enough and says Pritchetts know when to give up. All their previous effort is a sunk cost, and it would take too much effort relative to the reward of a half burned tree to keep going.
See more: behavioral, negative externalities, positive externalities, private benefits, private costs, social benefits, sunk cost, technological change
Gloria and Jay have been having some issues with baby Joe’s behavior, so Gloria consults a priest. Gloria thinks the med in her family have been kissed by the devil, but the priest insists it is the families that shape who children become. This is a great clip to introduce the nature versus nurture debate.
See more: causation, correlation, nature vs. nurture
This scene takes place immediately following the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. If we think about the gay marriage market, a law that prevents gay marriage is essentially like a quota of 0, which leads to huge amounts of deadweight loss. As soon as the quota is removed/the law is changed, the lines at the courthouse are long as all of those previously prevented from marrying rush to get married.
See more: demand, efficiency, inefficiency, markets, quotas, role of government, supply, transaction barriers
Luke and Manny’s class is having a yard sale to benefit UNICEF, but Jay hates when people haggle. Someone goes into Jay’s house and tries to buy his toaster, but isn’t willing to commit because it’s a used toaster and he’s unsure of its quality.
See more: asymmetric information, insurance, market for lemons, used goods, willingness to buy, willingness to sell
Luke and Manny’s class is having a yard sale to benefit UNICEF, but Jay hates when people haggle. Even though the ash tray is marked at 50 cents, he is unwilling to accept a lower payment from a man who clearly can afford the full ticket price.
See more: consumer surplus, exchange, prices, producer surplus, reservation price, transactions, willingness to buy, willingness to sell
Claire and Jay are visiting a competitor’s business. The competitor wants to buy Pritchett Closets, but Claire and Jay have a different idea. The new company is focused on creating smart closets that can pick outfits for the person based on the weather and their current size. They have great technology, but they don’t have the manufacturing capabilities to fulfill all their orders. Pritchett Closets, on the other hand, has the manufacturing space, but they haven’t invested much in technology. Claire proposes that they merge instead.
See more: acquisitions, industrial organization, mergers, proprietary technological knowledge, technological change, technological knowledge, technology
Haley is at a staff meeting. She’s worried that she hasn’t had enough good ideas lately. Her fear is that this will lead her boss to believe that she isn’t working hard on behalf of the company. Haley signals that she’s a good worker by suggesting that Gloria sell a family recipe to the company (NERP). Gloria has long held the recipe secret. The recipe is an example of private technological knowledge. The recipe is valuable to Gloria because of the family tradition. The recipe is valuable to NERP because it could give them an edge in the lifestyle industry. Will Gloria sell? (Note: Jay also makes a fantastic joke about the value of a bachelor’s degree that can be used for discussion on human capital)
See more: entrepreneurism, human capital, human capital investments, moral hazard, signaling, signals, technological knowledge
Phil has plans to give Haley the perfect git for her 21st birthday – a new car. He has spent months doing research and planning without actually going in to a dealership. His work has been online and he landed an incredible deal. But Jay is convinced that he can do better. In this scene, Phil is sad because Jay made his deal fall through but Jay has a surprise. Jay did some hard core negotiating and beat that unbeatable deal…. or did he? Buying a car is different from many other markets. The price on the sticker is rarely what people pay. Instead, both buyer and seller go in to the transaction with the understanding that they will negotiate the price and features of the car.
See more: bargaining power, economic signals, gift giving, imperfect competition, negotiations, prices
After receiving a nomination to a major closet expo, Jay receives a phone call who expects to be full of congratulatory remarks. He instead finds the dial tone from a fax machine that has misdialed the number the intended. Jay, who isn’t the most technologically savvy member of the family, wonders why anyone might still be using a fax machine.
See more: demand, growth, innovation, technological change
There’s a lot going on in this clip. The main focus is on Claire and Jay. Pritchett Closets (which Jay founded and Claire runs) has been selected to participate in the Expo Internationale du Closet! Both Claire and Jay are over the moon excited. But why? Participating in this event exposes them to an international market. They can expect a big increase in demand for their product. The second focus is on Manny. Manny has moved out but found that there are certain things about living at home that he really misses. This is something that a lot of people discover when they move out. These early lessons in personal finance can be tough!
See more: demand, expectations, international trade, personal finance, trade
Gloria and Jay are looking to sell her family’s sauce to a larger company. They each use a different tactic to make the product more appealing. In doing this, they’re trying to increase the demand for the sauce. Unfortunately, they don’t coordinate their strategies in advance and Jay blows the deal. In fact, there’s a lot of information that Gloria has hidden from Jay. She has long had a surplus of sauce that she has been keeping in storage lockers across town. Gloria has likely paid a lot of money for all of the storage. What do sellers usually do when they have a surplus? Are Gloria’s past actions consistent with traditional economic principles of rationality? Consider sunk cost and marginal costs.
(Note: this scene is an example of adverse selection. Gloria knows that her product is no good but they are trying to signal not only that it’s good but also that it’s special, almost magic.)
See more: adverse selection, advertising, asymmetric information, demand, information economics, marketing, preferences, product differentiation, profit, rationality, sunk cost, supply, tastes and preferences
It’s Halloween. Jay and Gloria usually coordinate their costumes. Use this scenario to setup a payoff matrix for picking costumes. Gloria and Jay are the players. What choices would you like to give Gloria? What choices would you like to give Jay? What are the payoffs for each possible outcome? What’s the most likely outcome given your matrix? There isn’t a single correct answer. Just have fun with it and discuss.
See more: choices, game theory, interdependent utility functions, payoff matrix, preferences, utility
Jay has a great new invention that he believes will revolutionize the closet industry. It’s a sock dispenser. In competitive industries, product differentiation can lead to short term profits – especially for early adopters. Why is Jay concerned that his son, Manny, has a new friend who has seen this idea?
See more: competition, entrepreneurism, innovation, monopolistic competition, trade names
Jay got new glasses that make him look like an old man but they work really well. So well that he realizes that Gloria’s family members in Columbia are wearing his old clothes. Notice that Gloria says that they sometimes send the clothes back. In the US, people frequently donate clothing to people in less developed countries. Many economists argue that this is counterproductive and leads to a surplus of clothing in these countries. That surplus can hurt markets and cost jobs.
See more: charity, donations, efficiency, emerging markets, gift giving, growth, interdependent utility functions, preferences, utility
Mitchell complains to Jay about Cam being too nice, and Jay complains to Mitchell about Gloria not liking his dog butler. Jay notes that they are both with people who are very different and that maybe that makes their relationships better.
See more: assortative mating, gains from trade, gains to marriage, matching, preferences, utility
Jay bought a bog butler in a casino gift shop and thinks that everyone loves it, but Gloria detests it and tries to get rid of it. Every time she comes home, she’s reminded of the dog and it ends up scaring her. While Jay loves it, he’s perhaps not taking into account the cost it has on others in the family.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, preferences, utility
Claire has a creative (and often illegal…) way to dispose of Phil’s possessions that she does not like.
See more: subjective value, tastes and preferences
Claire tried to make friends with the owner of Closets, Closets, Closets, Closets (CCCC) but Jay convinced her that the friendship was just a ruse to steal information about the business. In retaliation, Claire and Jay decide to “poach” CCCC’s most valuable employee, Lazlo. While trying to recruit him to their closet business, they learn that the friendship was genuine. But now, they really can’t trust each other and both businesses will be hurt.
See more: competition, cooperation, duopoly, game theory, labor, oligopoly, preferences, Prisoner’s dilemma, tit-for-tat strategy
Jay takes Joe out to the driving range and discovers that Joe is a natural. Joe’s natural skill is a form of human capital that gives him the potential to earn a large salary in the future. Human capital is often acquired through years of training, education and hard work. But sometimes, luck gives some people an edge over others. If Joe works hard and practices, he could follow the path of other young golfers with natural talent like Tiger Woods and Lexi Thompson. Jay wants to do all he can to make that happen.
See more: human capital, incentives, income inequality, labor, productivity, tournaments, wages, winner take all
Jay and Claire discover that Alex and Luke have started a business selling used shoes online. Jay praises Luke for taking the initiative to build a business from nothing. Claire praises Alex for making the business successful. An argument ensues that makes it clear that this is personal for Jay and Claire. Jay built a closet business but retired a few years ago and let Claire take over. Under Claire’s leadership, the company becomes even more successful and receives international acclaim. They fight over who deserves credit for the success and honors that the business currently has. The reality is that both are responsible. They both demonstrate entrepreneurialism and each played a different and equally important role in building the business. Entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. But can they admit this to each other?
See more: entrepreneurism, human capital, labor, management
Phil is desperate to sell this house. The buyer loves it but is afraid that it is haunted. Phil brings in Gloria to cleanse the house of unfriendly spirits. What they find isn’t spirits – it’s not ghost. It’s only bees! This demonstrates adverse selection and screening. Economics suggests that a market where the buyers know less than the sellers will result in adverse selection. That is, there will be more “bads” (haunted) houses on the market than “goods” (non-haunted). One way the ways that the problem of adverse selection can be reduced is through signaling. Phil (the seller) takes an action (asks Gloria to inspect the home) in order to reveal that this home is a “good” (not haunted) home.
See more: adverse selection, asymmetric information, preferences, signaling
Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? Later in the episode, we find out that there were some unintended consequences of his actions.
See more: competition, extrinsic rewards, incentives, intrinsic rewards, labor, motivation, perverse incentives, unintended consequences
Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? The truth comes out in this clip. It turns out that they’re a family of cheaters and not a family of winners.
See more: cheating, competition, ethics, incentives, moral hazard, motivation, self interest, unintended consequences
Manny is the first member of the family to graduate from high school despite the fact that he has an uncle who “just does orthopedic surgery.” Apparently you only need a degree to do heart and brain surgery.
See more: ability bias, education, human capital, human capital investments, signaling
On their way out the door for their big night, Manny and his father walk through a mist of cologne. Gloria notes that despite the terrible smell, she’s never seen him get a mosquito bite.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, social benefits, social costs
Jay spends some time in the sauna au naturale, but Mitchell doesn’t appreciate the eyefull. Their awkward exchanges have been impacting other guests at the spa as well.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, social costs
In order to get some alone time from their partners, Mitchell and Jay decide to head to the desert, but they didn’t think they’d run into each other at the same spa. In the middle of reading the same book, Mitchell comes across a shocking detail and spoils part of the book for Jay who is sitting across the pool.
See more: asymmetric information, externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, social costs
Phil and Jay operate a parking lot together and hired a talkative woman to operate the booth (thanks to a coin flip!). Her chattiness causes a car behind Jay to drive away, which means the two don’t earn $8 from that one additional car.
See more: marginal analysis, marginal profit, marginal revenue
Phil and Jay must decide which of the two candidates to hire, but they are significantly different workers. Instead of considering the costs and benefits, they flip a coin with their two heads on it.
See more: cost benefit analysis, decision making, either-or-decisions, labor
Mitch gets sick on his honeymoon, but spreads it to everyone else in the family. Each member goes through the pain they endured because Mitch didn’t quarantine himself. Only later in the episode do they find out that Mitch isn’t patient zero.
See more: externalities, gift giving, health care, negative externalities, private benefits, social costs, substitutes
Cam and Mitch go on vacation and bring Jay illness and a cheesy gift. The gift is so bad that Jay considers the illness a better gift.
See more: exchange, externalities, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, negative externalities, subjective value
It’s time for Jay and Gloria to exchange gifts and Jay is anxious about his gift from his wife. He struggles finding the right gift because it always seems like a competition. If the two didn’t exchange gifts then the extra psychic costs wouldn’t exist. It turns out that Gloria actually really loves Jay’s gift, but Jay really wanted that watch.
See more: gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, psychic costs, subjective value
One of the tougher topics to get across to students is why older Americans start to leave the labor force. One explanation for the leave is that they see a decrease in their human capital and that some of their previous training is no longer relevant. This clip does a good job bringing humor to a topic that often sounds derogatory.
See more: human capital depreciation, innovation, labor, life cycle considerations, technological change, technological knowledge