Jesse · Labor

Shirking

Waiting for Walter to get to the facility, Jesse decides to goof off. When employees aren’t being monitored, there may be an incentive for those employees to shirk (goof off) while still being paid. If firms pay efficiency wages, that may incentivize some workers to avoid shirking, but it’s not always guaranteed.

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Jesse · Labor · Walter

Who Guards the Guards?

When employees have the ability to shirk or steal, firms may invest in monitoring devices to ensure against theft. In the lab, Walter supervises Jesse, but their employer monitors both Walter and Jesse as they work. Hypothetically the guard may be paid a handsome salary to disincentivize him from cheating his employer.

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Jesse · Labor · Mike

Squatters

Mike and Jesse need to get in touch with a dubious individual, who currently lives in a blocked off house. Mike’s plan is to wait until the person comes out of the house on his own. However, Jesse thinks he can speed up the process. After he fails to talk the person out of the house, he starts digging a hole in the front yard. Very soon after, the individual comes out and asks Jesse if he can continue digging instead. This account emphasizes that Jesse has skills that Mike does not, and, therefore, he can contribute to the success of the daily operations.

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Foundations · Labor · Supply and Demand · Walter

Truck for Cash

Walter drives to the desert to hide the cash generated by his methamphetamine enterprise but he runs out of gas. As he rolls one of the money-full barrels, he comes by a house and asks to buy the truck sitting in the driveway. Initially, the truck is not for sale but after he offers the man a large stack of money this changes. Next, we see Walter load the barrel in the back of the recently purchased vehicle. Each person/business has a reservation price at which they’re willing to sell products or services. For this lucky resident, it appears $10,000 was at or above his reservation price. If his reservation price was lower than $10,000 then he would hear producer surplus.

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Behavioral & Game Theory · Labor · Walter

What About the Money?

Ed visits and cares for Walter. As Ed prepares to leave, Walter offers him $10,000 to stick around for two more hours. Ed takes the offer but only for one hour and the two start playing cards. Based on the earlier exchange, Ed’s reservation price for each hour is above $5,000 but below $10,000.

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Labor · Supply and Demand · Walter

Why Crime?

Walter has found a new friend in Gale and is surprised that a well-trained chemist decided to become a drug producer. The two of them aren’t the most obvious criminals. Gale believes his importance in the process is to help people get a clean product. Addicts will buy drugs without knowing what’s in them (asymmetric information), but at least Gale’s product is pure.

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Gus · Labor · Market Structures

Chicken and Drugs

In this ad for Los Pollos Hermanos, the narrator speaks of the importance of quality in the production process. Higher quality inputs imply a higher quality of output, whether it’s rotisserie chicken or crystal meth. Walter uses only the finest ingredients, in a state-of-the-art facility to produce the most popular version of meth on the market. This scene highlights the relationship between inputs and outputs in the production process.

The video clip is also helpful for discussing the principal-agent contract. More specifically, the clip presents Gus Fring as he supervises the packaging and loading of methamphetamine into trucks for distribution purposes. Gus is the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos, the man running the methamphetamine production operation, and therefore the principal. The laborers packaging the methamphetamine and the truck drivers transporting it are the agents. Sometimes agents do not act in the principal’s best interest. This behavior is also known as shirking, and one can prevent or limit it through adequate monitoring activities, which is precisely what Gus does.

This description adaptaed from Duncan, Muchiri, and Paraschiv (Forthcoming)

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Foundations · Labor · Skyler · Walter

Was it Worth It?

Walt weighs the costs and benefits of his decision to start producing meth. The benefits are clear, the money will cover college tuition, tutors, mortgage payments, and all future expenses. The costs have been larger than Walter could imagine, but he believes all the benefits have outweighed the costs of his decisions.

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Foundations · Labor · Skyler

Not Worth Turning Him In

Is it worth Skyler’s trouble to turn Walt in for making meth? She discusses this decision with her lawyer, but can’t seem to convince herself to go through the process. In this scene, Skyler is audibly weighing the costs and benefits of her decision. The lawyer seems to think that the benefits of turning her husband in outweigh the costs, but Skyler decides otherwise

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Jesse · Labor · Macroeconomics · Unemployment

Getting a Job

This clip shows Jesse interviewing for, what he thinks it is, a standard sales position. However, he soon finds out that he is in for a sign-twirler job. Nevertheless, the employer would have considered Jesse for the sales position if he possessed the required skills (i.e., a sales license, two-year and on-the-job sales experience, and a college degree). Even though Jesse has significant (on the street) sales experience, he is not qualified for the standard sales position he thought he applied for. Since Jesse lacks the prerequisite skills, he must continue to be frictionally unemployed (until he can find a suitable position).

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Foundations · Jesse · Labor · Walter

Uprooting Your Life

Tuco is getting worried and suggests that they all move to Mexico so that the government will stop tracking them. Walter and Jesse aren’t keen on this idea because it means they’d have to give up their family, and that’s a cost Walter isn’t willing to make, even for lots of money. The whole reason he started making meth was to support his family, but Tuco doesn’t seem to understand the issue. He suggests that he can just get another family, implying they are substitutable.

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Foundations · Growth · Jesse · Labor · Macroeconomics · Walter

Paying for College

After watching a gruesome beating, Jesse and Walter are officially scared of their new distributor, Tuco. Walter starts to calculate just how much money he needs to earn selling meth in order to take care of his family. Becker’s theory on the rational criminal suggests that criminals take the time to calculate the costs and benefits before committing their crimes. Walter is even careful to consider future inflation changes as he determines the appropriate amount to “invest.”

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