South Park — Necessities & Substitutes

 

The economy of South Park has dwindled and Randy has some suggestions on they can survive the economy’s wrath. He recommends substituting many of their everyday items for cheaper alternatives, and returning back to the basics: water, bread, and margaritas. During recessions, income and wealth take a dip and people are unable to afford many of the items they may have once consumed. This shift allows for a discussion of inferior and normal goods.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Spending and Debt

 

Stan gets a no-limit credit card and pays the debts for the citizens of South Park so that they can go out and begin shopping again, and stimulate the economy. The entire episode is themed around the crucifixion as Stan “pays for the debts” of everyone in town. Keynesian economics argues that governments can increase spending during times of recessions in order to help lift the economy out of recessions.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Substituting Inferior Goods

 

Now that the South Park economy has dwindled, citizens are left to wonder why the economy has turned sour. Randy suggests a variety of methods of ways everyone can cut back. Without realizing it, he lists a variety of inferior goods for the citizens, which increase demand from decreases in income, like from a recession.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Failing Economy

 

Stan’s dad discusses why he believes the economy in South Park is failing. Modeled after the Great Recession, Stan’s dad believes that too many people were buying unnecessary items on credit, but then not being able to pay for those items. Since times are tough, dinner isn’t exactly what the family is expecting. Even though his father believes people wasted a lot of money on things they don’t need, he proceeds to make himself a margarita using his newest blender.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Margarita Securities

 

Stan tries to return his dad’s Margarittaville machine so that his family can have a bit more money during the recession. Turns out that his dad bought it on a finance plan, which has been repackaged and sold to investors. Similar to mortgage-backed securities, loans can be issued for assets and then re-packaged to spread out risk among risky investments. If you’re looking for an easy way to teach about the MBS crisis, this scene does a great job condensing the major components.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — It’s Gone!

 

Stan heads to the local bank to put a check from his relative into a bank account, but the South Park Bank is pretty terrible with their investment strategy. Unknowingly, the economy is about to tank and depositors are finding their money is suddenly gone.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

Billy Paul — Let the Dollar Circulate

I reached out to #EconTwitter and asked what songs they like to use to teach different topics in their classes and the results did not disappoint:

Since I’m not a macroeconomist, I have very little content on the macro side from tv and movies, but apparently music covers a lot of macro topics. The first suggestion was this 1975 Billy Paul song, Let the Dollar Circulate which begs for money to start flowing through the economy and wonders why things have slowed down (Is it all because of Watergate?). Paul notes that “Things are gettin’ higher, makes it hard on the buyers”  (inflation is happening) and “Unemployment on the rise.” The song was released at the end of the 1973-1975 recession. I was curious what unemployment and inflation looked like in the 1970s leading up to the recession, so I went and put together a FRED chart for you:

Thanks to Leo for the song suggestion!

Adam Ruins — Rent Seeking & Taxes

 

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

In this segment, Adam reports on the frustrations of taxes and why we don’t see return-free filing in the United States. Because of lobbying efforts by major tax software companies, the tax system is kept just complicated enough that consumers will purchase their products.

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