Category Archives: Culture

Economics and music

Ok being a musician I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until tonight to search for something that would combine my two fields of study 🙂

So here is an economic analysis of the music of the classical and romantic era (book review):

http://eh.net/bookreviews/library/0893

and here are some views on the economics of the music industry after the digital revolution, in micro-economics and financial terms:

http://www.bubblegeneration.com/?a=a&resource=musicrisk1

This is from Freakonomics ( http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/more-economics-music/ ); a song that a procrastinating economics student wrote instead of studying for his exam:

Girl, being with you has always been so tough
With each passing minute, your marginal cost goes up
But my love is inelastic and it all belongs to you
I’m the only love producer, and my good is for you to consume

Because girl your marginal benefit far outweighs your marginal cost
Without our equilibrium baby, you know I’d be lost
Trapped inside this market I need you, to buy my love
Girl without your complementing goods, I’m not enough

Now you say that I’m producing, below my ATC
But I’m optimizing quantity baby, why can’t you see?
We could share this surplus, each and every day
If you would just buy my love, I’ll make my fixed costs go away

Baby I want to keep you for the long run, Oh yeah
I think our supply and demand, will become one…

Because girl your marginal benefit far outweighs your marginal cost
Without our equilibrium baby, you know I’d be lost
Long run equilibrium is no place for me
I need the profits of our love, to grow exponentially.

And as a finishing touch to this post, enjoy some songs of two of my favorite bands 🙂

Money, its a crime.
Share it fairly but dont take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.

with some of Britain’s economic history in the 60’s (under the Labour Party government of H. Wilson):

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Friedman and Spaghetti Sauce

At the beginning Steven Levitt’s TED lecture viewed today during class, he references to crack cocaine as author Malcolm Gladwell’s “extra chunky version of tomato sauce.”  In one of my favorite videos, delivered at a TED conference right before Levitt’s lecture, Gladwell tells the story of psychophysicist Howard Moscowitz and his research of spaghetti sauce for Prego.

After finishing the Milton Friedman and Fredrick Hayek reading from week 3, I happened to scroll through my bookmarks and watch this video again.  Friedman and Moscowitz believe that freedom of choice brings the utmost of utility.  Freedom is represented in Friedman’s case as economic and political while in Moscowitz, this is represented as the opportunity to choose from a variety of pasta sauces.  Both are advocating the fight against the application of universal ideas therefore restricting freedom of choice.

Happiness as a result of freedom of choice and the concentration in research (such as economics) to find universals during the 20th century are discussed in the following quote from Gladwell:

And why were we attached to that?  Because we thought that what it took to make people happy was to provide them with the most culturally authentic tomato sauce, A, and B, we thought that if we gave them the culturally authentic tomato sauce, then they would embrace it.  And that’s what would please the maximum number of people.

And the reason we thought that – in other words, people in the cooking world were looking for cooking universals.  They were looking for one way to treat all of us.  And it’s good reason for them to be obsessed with the idea of universals, because all of science, through the 19th century and much of the 20th, was obsessed with universals.  Psychologists, medical scientists, economists were all interested in finding out the rules that govern the way all of us behave. But that changed.

What is the great revolution in science of the last 10, 15 years?  It is the movement from the search for universals to the understanding of variability.  Now in medical science, we don’t want to know how necessarily – just how cancer works, we want to know how your cancer is different from my cancer.  Genetics has opened the door to the study of human variability.  What Howard Moskowitz was doing was saying this same revolution needs to happen in the world of tomato sauce.

Gladwell concludes his talk with this statement:

That is the final, and I think most beautiful, lesson of Howard Moskowitz: that in embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a surer way to true happiness.

Watch it here:                http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

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Just for fun: Economics Rap Song

I found a link to this rap song in one of the blogs I regularly read. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rap sound regarding the principles of economics.

Listen, you may enjoy:

http://www.imeem.com/educationalrap/music/xY4REVq-/rhythm-rhyme-results-demand-supply/

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Just kick it

Wiki tells me that Adbusters is

a not-for-profit, anti-consumerist organization founded in 1989 [that] describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.

This is activism with a solid business model, since its core product, a magazine, holds a price tag of 11$ + plus or minus what the newsstand might take as margin.

The September/October issue is on “Thought Control in Economics”, paired with a campaign to “KickitOver”. An editorial explains:

This book is a battle plan. We attack the massively fortified system of thought control in which the same tenured forces have been entrenched for fifty years. We take on this powerful intellectual army whose generals include Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Gregory Mankiw, Paul Krugman … who have boots on the ground in Summers, Bernanke and Geithner plus the heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank … and whose foot soldiers are the thousands of business and economics professors all over the world. They all have the same mission: to perpetuate growth and consumption at any cost. We cannot stand idly by and allow these old-school practitioners of a failed paradigm to keep calling the policy shots. Ten more years of their brand of economics will send our planet into a tailspin from which we may never recover.

AEA protest?

The theme fits well with Adbusters reserve aesthetics. Adbusters turns advertising culture and the celebration of consumer society into a heroic narrative for anti-consumer society, keeping the signifiers but turning them on their heads. So they do the same for economics, which is seem as advertising for consumption and environmental destruction, not corporate, but academic. The antis is done by using economists of an alternative sort, radical, post-autistic, critics of textbooks and national accounting. Adbusters enlists advertising to fight advertising, and economists to fight economists.

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Filed under 3476, Activism, Culture, Left