Lisa’s “Money” took over the airwaves thanks to TikTok. The song addresses several economic concepts. First, currency is considered a medium of exchange, and cash is perfectly liquid. Understanding the important role that currency plays is critical to market transactions. Second, the sum of currency and checkable deposits are equivalent to the M1, Money Supply. Throughout the song, Lisa assures us that cash and her bank account support her lifestyle. Lisa provides several lines about her purchasing and spending behavior, supporting the definition of the velocity of money. Economists measure the velocity of money to examine how currency travels throughout the economy, measuring the quantity of exchanges.
Thanks to Brad Scott for the clip recommendation and summary!
US currency may say “In God We Trust” but in order for the bills to mean anything, we place our trust in the US government. US currency is a type of fiat currency (as opposed to a commodity money) that has the backing of the US government. In order for something to be considered money, it must serve three general properties: store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange. Each can be seen in the clip above. A lemonade seller won’t accept just anything, they want money (medium of exchange). We know the price of the lemonade because we use dollars as a measure of its worth (unit of account) and we expect those dollars to be worth the same amount over a certain period time (store of value).
In this animated short from the Walt Disney Company, Uncle Scrooge discusses the history or money and the importance of money in the overall economy. There are A LOT of great teaching opportunities in this clip and would make a great summary of a money supply lesson or a required video to be watched before the lesson.
Opening to 7:15 History of Money Huey, Dewie, and Louie visit Scrooge McDuck and request that he help them save the money they had earned. Scrooge goes through the history of money and discusses the role of salt as the original salary that Roman soldiers received. He then goes on to describe money from other societies and why money was important following original barter economies. The characters even discuss the role of money as a medium of exchange!
7:15 to 9:59 Inflation After learning of the importance of money in the economy, the brothers question why central banks don’t just print more money if everyone wants it. Uncle Scrooge discusses the role of fiat money and why it’s important for the money to be backed by something or someone who can promise to pay the notes that are printed.
10:00 to 13:20 Financial Planning and Taxes Uncle Scrooge teaches the brothers about the importance of budgeting. People need to make sure that they allocate a portion of their income toward rent, food, and other necessities. He also teaches them about the role of taxes and how important it is for governments to have a budget and make sure that they collect taxes to pay debt.
13:20 to End Velocity of Money & Investment The boys are curious why Scrooge keeps so much money in his vault if he tells them that it’s important to put money “to work.” He teaches them that the money in his vault is just his petty cash and then goes on to discuss the importance of money circulating through the economy. The ending portion discusses the role of corporations issuing stocks and shareholders collecting dividends. At the end, he signs the boys up to manage their funds, but charges them a fee. The boys aren’t happy, but he laments that “nothing is ever free.”
In this Super Bowl ad, a bar patron tries to pay for a round of drinks with a lawn mower, but this has apparently been an issue before as the bar has a sign that lawn mowers aren’t accepted. This clip is a good, quick introduction to the role of money in an economy and why bartering would be hard to accomplish.
In Lucy and the Great Bank Robbery, Lucy and Viv rent their room people trying to visit the New York World’s Fair. Unbeknown to Lucy, she rents the room to two bank robbers who have decided to rob Mooney’s bank at night. After the heist, the bank robbers discuss whether they should stay in town and actually visit the World’s Fair or if they should leave. One of the robbers dutifully notes that money is only good for two things: stealing and spending. While your economics instructor would probably advise against the first part, we typically focus on the role of money as being only used for spending or saving. The two then go on to discuss how they’ll store their money since they can’t put the stolen money back into the bank. Saving money at home (in mattresses or in the ground) are common ways that money leaks from the money supply.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac, McDonalds is releasing a special coin that allows the holder to purchase a Big Mac in any country around this world. This “food-backed currency” allows the holder to avoid exchange rates between countries and references The Economist’s Big Mac Index as Big Mac’s ability to be essentially identical across the world. Economists may soon be able to teach a whole survey course using tv and movie scenes referencing McDonalds (1, 2, 3).
Jakes owes everyone on the squad a lot of money and he starts by paying back Terry. Initially, Jake tries to buy something from a vending machine by giving it a $2.50 coupon because he believes that’s worth what’s printed on the money. When he tries to borrow money from Terry, the Sergeant decides to cut him off because he’s borrowed too much money. Based on the interactions of the squad and Jake, he has a fairly high leverage ratio. When Jake decides to start pay back Terry, he starts by emptying his bank account since that’s the most liquid of his assets.
In this short scene, Red pays an inmate to smuggle contraband with cigarettes. Cigarettes are used as money a lot in prison and it is shown throughout this film. This scene can be shown to talk about medium of exchange, commodity money, bartering, etc.
Mac and Dennis come up with a plan to create Paddy’s Dollars in order to stimulate their bar’s revenues, but they have the system a bit backward. They decide to give away a bunch of vouchers that could be used to buy beer to local homeless people. Unfortunately, there’s no incentive for those individuals to come back and buy more Paddy’s Dollars later. This would also be a neat example when teaching circular flow diagrams.
While visiting a Dave and Buster’s, Mac and Dennis decide to create Paddy’s Dollars to promote their bar, based on the Dave & Buster’s Power Card. They believe that by giving out Paddy’s Dollars they can get people to come back to their store and spend more money there. They want to require people to buy Paddy’s Dollars using real dollars.