Economics in the News - Feb. 1-7 How Economics Impacts Our Lives on a Daily Basis

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

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." -- Stephen King, author
What was your favorite commercial from Super Bowl LV? Super Bowl commercials have long been an integral part of the game’s broadcast due to their massive reach with more than 100 million viewers on an annual basis. A 30-second ad in Super Bowl LV cost an average of $5.6 million.

With the United States in the middle of a deadly pandemic and in the aftermath of a presidential election, marketers for Super Bowl ads balanced messaging, funny, comforting and community minded. With many people avoided gathering with others, many big brands decided to remain on the sidelines for this year’s Super Bowl, especially those industries that have suffered during COVID-19. [The Athletic]

Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos announced his intention to step down as CEO from the company he built to change e-commerce and revolutionized the retail industry. Bezos plans to transition into the role of executive chairman in July with Andy Jassy being promoted to CEO.

Bezos plans to spend more of his time on personal projects, such as his space travel company Blue Origin. Bezos’ reign as CEO comes after Amazon exceeded $100 billion in sales during the fourth quarter of 2020 – the first time in the company’s history. [The New York Times]

Have you been charged for a ‘COVID-19 cleaning fee’ by a dentist or a hair salon? Businesses are increasing the fee from a reported $5 disinfection charge to $1,200 in a senior living center. The additional fees come as businesses seek new ways to remain in business and cover the cost of sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the hidden fees could be illegal, violating consumer protection and insurance laws. Several states, including New York, Connecticut, Arizona, Michigan and Massachusetts, have warned residents of potential hidden fees and businesses of potential consequences. [The Washington Post]

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries were first used in 1991. They have come a long way in the three decades since, becoming a staple in cell phones, computers and other electronics. The lithium-ion batteries are getting less expensive and are more advanced than ever. Now, they’re being developed and evolving further for cars. Additional possibilities abound, and lithium-ion batteries will disrupt other industries in the future.

Prices for batteries in cars have fallen dramatically since Tesla developed the Tesla Roadster – the first commercially developed electric car offered -- in 2008. Boston Consulting Group estimated that battery costs per kilowatt-hour were between $1,000 to $1,200 in 2010. Today, batteries are approximately $125 per kilowatt-hour with the costs expected to fall further in the future. [The Wall Street Journal]

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq secured their best weeks since November, as investors are optimistic about the proposed stimulus deal being agreed upon by Congress. The S&P 500 climbed 4.65% for the week, marking its largest one-week gain since the week ending Nov. 6.

Some of the heavily traded stocks by individual investors lost some of their momentum. GameStop fell 80% for the week to $63.77, while AMC Entertainment also fell for the week. [The Wall Street Journal]

Employers added a disappointing 49,000 jobs in January, according to the Department of Labor. State and local governments accounted for the majority of the hiring because students are beginning to return to the classroom for in-person learning.

January’s gain was better than December when payrolls shrunk for the first time since April. The United States still has 9.9 million fewer jobs than last February. The unemployment rate of 6.3% marked its lowest since the COVID-19 pandemic in March, an improvement from 6.7% in December. The jobless rate continues to fall because those who have lost their jobs are no longer seeking employment. [Associated Press]


All photos credited to iStock.