Electronic Economics Lessons from YouTube, Netflix, InterLibrary Loan, and the Kindle

The debate over free market v. big government policies since the 2008 crash has created a boom in supplies of electronic lessons.

Sunroom Desk recommends:

YouTube: Fear the Boom and Bust and Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round 2, featuring the famous economists in hilarious rap music videos debating the causes of the Great Depression and Great Recession, and advocating for their preferred cures. The works feature subtle political satire, key quotes from both men, and clear expositions. EconStoriesTV, a collaboration between George Mason University’s economics department and Emergent Order, should get a YouTube Oscar for its innovative and professional work.

Netflix: Inside Job, which clearly explains the causes of the 2008 crash and features beautiful shots of the Manhattan skyline, simple graphics demonstrating how CDOs proliferated, and interviews with international leaders. This got on my Netflix queue after it won this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary. Toward the end of the film, people at the apex of professional achievement stutter, trip over their words, or get mad when they are asked direct questions about the root causes of the crisis and their own culpability.

InterLibrary Loan: The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek’s classic on the dangers of increasing government control over the economy. Hayek warned that totalitarianism was the inevitable result of too much government control or “central planning.” His book was a best-seller in the 1940s and returned to take the #1 place in Amazon sales last year. That’s when I decided to request it (electronically) through the Glendale Public Library’s InterLibrary loan system. I was #12 in the hold queue; I finally reached the top of the list three weeks ago. After reading it, I figured others might be waiting, and I was right: the online hold queue showed ten requests a few days ago.

Kindle: 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. Each “thing” made sense and confirmed the lessons of all works above, but the accompanying expositions were sometimes confusing. The 23rd “thing” is “Good economic policy does not require good economists”! Earlier in the book, author Ha-Joon Chang explains that most “good economists” didn’t anticipate the 2008 crash. He also exposes their lame excuses, including one sent in an official letter to Queen Elizabeth II, and concludes “Over the last three decades, economists played an important role in creating the conditions of the 2008 crisis…Economics, as it has been practiced in the last three decades, has been positively harmful for most people.”