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There’s a severe helium shortage brewing in the U.S., thanks to a 1996 law set by Congress to force the government to sell off its helium reserves at bargain-bin prices. As this video explains, the nonrenewable gas is much more important for products other than balloons!

1. What products use helium?
2. What are the prospects for increasing helium supplies? Explain.
3. Why was the Congressional sell-off of the Federal Helium Reserve by the end of 2014 a mistake? Explain.
4. Assume a vendor sold a 200 bundles of balloons for $40 per bundle before the shortage and the gross profit margin was 50% Now, assume that the same bundle sells for $168 with a gross profit margin of 25%. How many bundles would the vendor need to sell to maintain the same amount of gross profit?


NBC News video. Helium Shortage Deflates Balloon Business,, May 30 (Retrievable online at

Plumer, B. (2012). Senators see ballooning national crisis: helium shortage. The Seattle Times, June 4 (Retrievable online at

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