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Assignment # 1
THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM
An article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the intensifying struggle between the U.S. Customs and the
U.S. Commerce department in the post-9/11 environment:
“These bureaucratic arguments reflect a much broader national struggle between business interests and security
advocates. When the federal government limits immigration, for example, it rubs against companies’ desire for
both skilled and unskilled laborers. When the Justice Department issues terrorist alerts for shopping malls, it
knows it may drive down retail sales. Financial institutions complain that new regulations to crack down on
money laundering can slow the legitimate flow of money and create new costs. One new Customs proposal
would require advance notice of what’s going into U.S.-bound shipping containers at least 24 hours before they
are loaded in foreign ports. That plan, the shippers say, will be expensive and cause backups.” (Cummings,
Jeanne and McKinnon, John D., “New Budget Blueprint Mandates Austerity From Agencies Unrelated to
Terror Fight.” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2002)
To the right is a sketch (C-01) a hypothetical
production possibilities frontier that illustrate the
tradeoffs described above. The point “A” represents
the pre-9-11 efficient point.
C01
1
QUESTION
CHART
Question #1:
Examine the marginal
benefit and marginal
cost diagram, C-a to the
right. What is the
relationship between
this diagram and the
production possibilities
diagram above? What is
the pre-9-11 efficient
quantity of security
services? How is this
quantity determined?
2
Question #2:
How did the
catastrophic events of 911 affect the marginal
benefit and marginal
cost diagram? (Hint:
One of the curves
shifted). Compare the
first diagram, C-01, with
the diagram to the right,
C-b. Consider C-b to
represent marginal
benefit and marginal
cost. What is the new
efficient quantity of
security services? How
does this new point
relate to the discussion
in the Wall Street
Journal article about the
costs being imposed on
the public from
enhanced security?
Question #3:
Assuming the economy
produces at the efficient
point, explain how the
change in the marginal
benefit and marginal
cost have effected the
diagram C-c to the right.
3

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