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.

Jimmy Kimmel Live — 2nd Grader Explains Trade Deficits

 

 

With the recent stretch of tariffs being imposed on other countries (and other countries on us), Jimmy Kimmel uses some of his showtime to interview 2nd graders about the trade deficits. The basis of the segment comes from Trump’s misguided tweet regarding trade deficits and why a trade war won’t hurt the US:

Shiloh, our 2nd grader, explains the pros and cons of international trade, including the potential for lost jobs in the US and unsafe working conditions abroad. She also highlights the pros of trade by noting countries are able to buy more things, create jobs in exporting industries, and bring countries together.

Thanks to Abdullah Al-Bahrani for the post!

The Big Short — Risk vs Reward

In this scene from The Big Short, the traders illustrate the concept of risk/reward payoffs using Jenga blocks. When trying to determine which investments to approach, the safest returns (the blocks at the top) are the easiest to invest in, but they don’t offer much of a return because they are so safe. The investments that are a bit risker (the blocks at the bottom) are compensated with higher returns to compensate investors who take the risk.

Trading Places — Orange Juice Trading

It’s time to short sell the orange juice commodities in Trading Places. Billy and Louis wait for the right price to sell and then hear from the Secretary of Agriculture that the market for oranges won’t be as bad as anticipated so then turn around to buy cheap.

Wanda Sykes — Insider Trading

Wanda discusses insider trading in her comedy bit and notes that everyone participates in some form of insider trading. While Martha Stewart may have been sent to jail for insider trading, her cousin who works at Walmart will call her and tell her not to buy certain products because they’ll go on sale next week.

Wolf of Wall Street — Nobody Knows

The efficient market hypothesis states that any available information about a market is already captured in the market price. Matthew McConaughey, in The Wolf of Wall Street, notes that the first rule of the market is that no one knows what is going to happen, especially stock brokers.

Adam Ruins Everything — Student Loans

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.

Adam is back to discuss how student loan providers have turned so evil. When traditional institutions didn’t step in to provide loan services to students, the government tried to rectify the situation, but may have made things worse.

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