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ECON 101 Economics of Bacterial Trade


The following infographic is from a WSJ article and is provided for your reference as you respond to the prompt below.

You have been hired as a finance manager at a biotechnology startup company that focuses on using bacteria to create alternative energy fuel cells. One of the company CEOs recently read the article ‘Economies of Ail: How Bacteria Flourish’ in The Wall Street Journal (linked below) comparing the trading of metabolic products between bacteria to economics. The CEO wants to use this comparison in a presentation she plans to give to potential investors in the company.

As your CEO’s background is in biochemistry, she has asked you to draft a report explaining the economic principles behind comparative advantage that she can use when planning her presentation. She says she can explain the trading of metabolic products between bacteria but needs your help with economics. Referencing the ideas presented in the Wall Street Journal article, she has asked you to discuss comparative versus absolute advantage, opportunity costs, factors of production, self-sufficiency, and trade.

Items to keep in mind

  • When we read your report, we will serve the role of your CEO who has minimal economics background.
  • Be sure to not include your name on your document as it cannot be removed prior to the peer review process.
  • External references are not required, but if they are used they should be cited using MLA format.
  • Since you are writing to one of the CEOs of your company, you should take care to carefully edit and proofread your report.
  • This should be a report of between 400-500 words.

Associated Article

Craven McGinty, Jo. “Economies of Ail: How Bacteria Flourish.” The Wall Street Journal 12 Dec.

Peer Review Guidelines

  • Print and read over your peer’s report to quickly get an overview of the piece.
  • Read the report more slowly keeping the rubric in mind.
  • Highlight the pieces of texts that let you directly address the rubric prompts in your
    online responses.
  • In your online responses, focus on larger issues (higher order concerns) of content and
    argument rather than lower order concerns like grammar and spelling.
  • Be very specific in your responses, referring to your peer’s actual language, mentioning
    terms and concepts that are either present or missing, and following the directions in
    the rubric.
  • Use respectful language whether you are suggesting improvements to or praising your

Rubric Prompts

  • The report should be understandable to a person with minimal economics knowledge.
    Which parts were difficult to understand, easy to understand? Why?
  • In the discussion of comparative advantage and absolute advantage, what points are
    missing? Do you think the writer has the correct balance between comparative and
    absolute advantage? Why?
  • What opportunity costs are missing in the report?
  • Which elements of the discussion on the factors of production, self-sufficiency, and
    trade are weak or missing? What portions did you find strong? Why?