Do you sometimes talk to your economist friends and they say something that leaves you scratching your head? Maybe you feel like you’ll never understand the words coming out of those econ nerds’ mouths. Don’t worry, we have the solution! Below we have provided some helpful translations, so you too can throw around confusing jargon with ease:

“Eh, I’m relatively elastic toward the name brands like Papa Johns and Pizza Hut. But, on a good day, I’m inelastic AF to pizza in general.”

Translation: I prefer Papa Johns and Pizza Hut when picking a pizza delivery on average.  But some days, I don’t care where we order the pizza as long as I get to eat pizza.

“Taking out the trash is not my comparative advantage.”

Translation: I’m not going to take out the trash because I don’t like taking out the trash because I am a bratty housemate/significant other.

“Have you thought about the opportunity costs?”

Translation: What were the other options you were considering? Are those options better or worse than the option you are thinking about choosing?

“Well, on the margin…”

Translation: Without taking ANYTHING ELSE into consideration…  Just looking at the baby step forward.


Translation: Machines. Information. Know-how. Ice cream makers. Ipads. Desk chairs.

“That doesn’t fit into my subjective preferences.”

Translation: Well…it’s not what I would have picked. Aka, I hate that idea.

“Well, as long as it’s efficient, there’s not much else we can do.”

Translation: Oh well, at least we tried.

“I bought the truck to help build my social capital in Nebraska. Not only will I fit in but I can help friends with my truck.”

Translation: Listen, the truck was totally worth all that money I paid for it! Quit questioning my judgment!

“Watching my friends get so excited about chess definitely shifted my demand curve.”

Translation: Who knew chess could actually be interesting?

Alternative translation: I just realized my friends are nerds and now I need new friends.

“Eh, it’s no big deal. I’m just trying to maximize given my constraints.”

Translation: Just living my best broke life! (Someone give me money please…)

“You have to think of the incentives.”

Translation: There’s a reason no one actually wants to do thing x.

“It’s a principal-agent problem.”

Translation: My boss is never around, so I just do what I want.

“Don’t worry about that – it’s a sunk cost.”

Translation: Turns out the store has a no return/no exchange policy, so I guess I’m keeping that hideous sweater Grandma got me for Christmas.

Kathryn: Economists often sound like they’re not speaking English. Hopefully, our little cheat sheet will help you navigate the conversation with your overly enthusiastic friend majoring in Economics. Or impress a date whose profile says they like “stimulating conversations that are still fun.” I know my dates get all starry-eyed when I start talking econ to them!

Kenzi: Starry-eyed?…I’m pretty sure that glazed over look on their face isn’t because they’re into you.

Kathryn: Wait…is that why my latest blind date won’t return my texts? My economics lingo made him space out? Oh. Darn. …Maybe our readers shouldn’t use these terms so casually after all!

Kenzi: Hey, just think of that date as a sunk cost. Maybe going on dates just isn’t your comparative advantage!

2 thoughts on “Sh*t Economists Say Part 2

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