Secret City is an Australian Netflix original series. The political thriller series follows an investigative journalist, Harriet Dunkley, in her quest to uncover state secrets of international relevance.

Clip #1

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  • Concepts: Absolute advantage, comparative advantage
  • Background: The Australian minister of defense must choose between ordering military submarines from Australia or from Japan. Japanese submarines are as efficient but cheaper to purchase. The minister decides to order them from Australia to favor an Australian company, though recognizing the significant cost difference.
  • Question: Use the concepts of absolute and comparative advantages to discuss under which conditions the Australian minister of defense could have made a correct decision.

Clip #2

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  • Concepts: Preferences, product differentiation, imperfect substitutes
  • Background: A newspaper comprises a collection of articles dedicated to informing readers. However, not all articles that journalists work on or wish to work on are published. Harriet discusses her next article with her editor. She wants to write a piece about politics, but he requires her to write a portrait instead.
  • Question: What type of articles do you like to read? Compare your answer with people nearby in the classroom (give a couple of minutes to students to figure out they have different preferences, ask a few students to share the discussions they had, then ask the next question). How do you think editors are affected by the fact that people have different preferences over the articles they like or want to read?

Clip #3

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  • Concepts: Scarcity, budget constraint, fiscal policy
  • Background: The Minister for Justice discusses with advisors the causes of the explosion of a residential house. The cause seems to be a gas leak and no public funds were allocated to fix the problem. In this clip, we understand that gas leaks were a well-known problem.
  • Question: Discuss the reasons why the government did not invest in fixing gas leaks in this area. Can we expect a government to fix every problem of similar importance in a timely fashion? Should the government invest in infrastructure projects during economic downturns?

Clip #4

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  • Concepts: Incentives, opportunity cost
  • Background: Harriet needs a piece of information that requires a government agent’s help. When she asks him directly, he refuses. However, when Sami and Mustafa ask with a physical threat, he accepts.
  • Question: Explain in economic terms why the government agent provided differents answers to Harriet, and Sam and Mustafa.