South Park — Fiat Money

 

Stan describes the economy as being both real and not real at the same time. The market works because people believe in the economy and believe that paper money and plastic can count as spending. The concept of fiat money stems from people’s belief that the currency they hold actually has true value. This differs from commodity money in that the currency is not tied to a single asset.

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!

Spongebob — World Domination

 

Plankton wants the secret recipe to the Krabby Patties and hires a hitman to help him. The problem? He tells the hitman that he wants a secret formula that will allow him to gain total world domination. Little does the hitman know that the Plankton believes the secret to world domination is total control over the fast food industry. While these may be correlated, it’s unlikely that total control over the fast food industry will cause Plankton to have total control over the world.

Thanks to Erin Yetter (and her kids) for the clip reference!

CBS TV — Kennedy on the Labor Market & Unemployment

In a 1963 Labor Day interview with Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy discusses his position on handling the labor market of the United States with around 4 million unemployed (about 5.5% at the time). Kennedy notes that the growing labor force in the United States requires that if the US wants to “stand still,” they still need to move very fast. Kennedy’s main policy focus at the time was retraining workers who had been displaced by technology and making sure that significant amount of workers have the necessary education to handle the growing workforce.

Kennedy also speaks to the lost jobs in “hardcore unemployed” industries like coal and steel and how it’s important to make sure those workers are retrained because those workers are no longer needed. He then laments that there’s a different issue with older workers replaced by technology and younger workers who don’t have the education to handle that technology. Kennedy ends this portion of the interview with a very powerful quote about the fear of automation:

Too many people coming into the labor market, too many machines are throwing people out.

You can view the entire interview, courtesy of the Kennedy Presidential Library, on YouTube.

Business Insider — Robotic Kitchen

This Boston restaurant (Spyce) uses robots to cook food for customers and can cook your meal in 3 minutes or less.  Customers order from electronic kiosks at their table and a screen displays which robot station is preparing the diner’s dish. The woks are designed in a way to ensure consistency. The only labor used in the kitchen is the “garden manager” who is responsible for adding toppings and ensuring presentation. The bowls are priced at under $8.

Thanks to Peach for the clip suggestion!

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