In the background of the breakfast scene, a local news broadcast discusses the rapidly deteriorating American economy. This episode aired in May 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession. Interestingly, despite one of the worst time periods in American economic history, the White family seems unbothered by the news. The NBER is the agency responsible for classifying whether the economy experienced a recession, but they often don’t make the announcement until well after the recession has concluded. As a result, families often aren’t aware just how bad things will become in the middle of a recession.
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.”