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What Is Musical Economics?
A Musical Explanation for Economics and the Economy
For almost anyone ever exposed to economics, eyes are likely to glaze over and sleep will soon follow at the mere mention of "economy" or "economics." However, this all changes (for some of us anyway) when music is added to the equation, especially if it is in the form of a musical parody or musical satire that adds the element of humor.
This revelation can be very helpful because much of what we can learn from studying the economy and economics is important to our daily lives. So if you would like to learn more about the practical impact of economics on real estate and business mortgages by watching a few explanations in verse and song, please join me for a brief Musical Economics tour below.
Featured Musical Economics Videos
The three videos listed are musical parodies about economics and financial markets. Each musical satire video is included below in the order listed.
- "And Now, a Word from the Economy Herself"
An "econoparody" about the economy. Econoparody is a useful new word coined to reflect the growing need to inject some humor into the serious problems dumped into our laps by economics.
An "econoparody" about the financial economics and economy resulting from chaos and irregularities in financial markets.
- "Zombie Bank"
A musical parody about a very real problem due to "Zombie Banks" and other "Problem Banks." This banking problem has severely impacted real estate, business financing and commercial mortgages.
Parody and Satire Can Help Teach Important Lessons About the Economy
A Note About the Preceding Video —
Here is one of the best musical explanations for what is currently happening with the economy. As you will see from this superb video, economics lends itself very well to interpretation in music. This does require a great deal of skill on the part of the music artist, and Marcy Shaffer could not possibly have done better than she did in this musical parody of the economy. She also wrote the lyrics for "Bearish" shown below in "Bearish Economics Explained" (just after the Musical Economics Poll).
Some Fine Print about Parody
"Very generally speaking: a parodist can use someone else's original work for the purpose of humor, ridicule, comment or the like, if the parody creates a transformed new work." — As noted by versusplus.com
A Poll - Parody and Satire
Do you usually enjoy a musical satire or parody?
Satire versus Parody
These terms are often used interchangeably but do have subtle differences. Satire generally reflects biting criticism with the intent of suggesting that changes are in order. Parody is commonly an effort to make fun of something without necessarily offering suggestions for improvement (or even emphasizing that change is required). Whether you consider the examples here to be parodies or satires probably depends on whether you think changes are needed in banking, finance and the economy.
Do I need to say more than this is another satire written by Marcy Shaffer?
The background for this musical parody is the ongoing fluctuation in banking and financial markets. Bearish is a business finance term that is usually associated with a negative or downward trend.
Zombie Banks - The (Short) Musical - Musical Economics Satire from Mark Fiore
A great deal of what is currently happening in the economy can be traced back to what banks have been doing in recent years. Banks have created a whole series of new financial problems, one of these involving what are referred to as "Zombie Banks" (really, this is an actual term and phrase describing banks that are theoretically bankrupt because their liabilities are greater than their assets).
It has been said that only a banker could love a bank. But somehow it seems that even a banker should not love a Zombie Bank! Nevertheless, Zombie Banks really exist, and we should be grateful that Mark Fiore created the above musical video explanation of Zombie Banks.
"Economics is the painful elaboration of the obvious." (Anonymous)
One More Thing - Satire Has Always Been a Respected Communication Tool
- Even when musical parodies and satires are compelling and entertaining, it would be a rare occasion for the targets of the satire and parody to agree with what is being said about them. But that does not make the musical satire any less meaningful and productive. For example, I have been writing about the "Zombie Bank" problem for several years and yet I am sure that "Zombie Bank" is a totally new concept for quite a few readers and listeners of "What Is Musical Economics?" It often requires seeing and hearing about something in a new way to make it "click" and stay in your memory bank.
The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.— Thomas Sowell
What's the Most Important Thing to Learn?
Zombie Banks Have My Vote
When I wrote this article, I immediately sensed significant entertainment value from parodies and satire about the economy. The popularity of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert certainly attest to the interest in a combination of humor and some hard facts. However, our ability to have a sense of humor about banking and Zombie Banks is being severely tested by the ongoing problems caused by bankers. Fact can certainly be stranger than fiction when it comes to Zombie Banks. One best-selling (non-fiction) book is called "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One."
Since many people did not know what Zombie Banks were before reading this discussion, I have concluded that an increased awareness of such problem banks is the most important lesson to be learned. Once you realize that there really are Zombie Banks, the next logical step is to pay more attention to a variety of additional serious banking problems that are impacting all of us (and probably will continue to do so for decades to come).
Did the FDIC Drop the Banking Ball?
Not really, although the current banking problems are probably the product of multiple factors that would no doubt include inadequate oversight by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. However, the head of the FDIC before the 2008 banking crisis (Sheila Bair) did an admirable job of warning everyone about reckless banking practices. Unfortunately, politicians, bankers and banking lobbyists got in her way and successfully blocked any meaningful corrective actions. The Federal Reserve has played a major role by allowing (and continuing to allow) banks to obtain huge amounts of capital at zero or near-zero cost, all the while without imposing meaningful restrictions on how these funds are used. This same mistake was made by Congress during the financial bailout of banks in 2008-2009. As one direct result, small business financing by banks decreased to a level that most objective observers classify as non-existent.
Zombie Business Problems
George Bernard Shaw Reflects on Economists
"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."
(This is an abbreviated version of the quote.)
© 2012 Stephen Bush