The Latest Economics Rap

For reasons that remain unclear, economics and hip hop are not nearly as strange a pair of bedfellows as one might think. This has been seen time and again on this very blog.

The latest example comes from none other than our regular contributor Dan Hamermesh. Here is the rap he performs, while wearing a whoopee cap and riding around the lecture theater on a Razor scooter no less, as he summarizes his introductory microeconomics class every year. Personally, I’m glad to see a nod to positive externalities; the negatives get a lot more press but the positives are usually the better story.

It’s all about the Law of Supply and Demand,

Prices are set by the Invisible Hand.

A floor that’s put on your product’s price

Is something the consumer will find not nice.

If you raise your price when demand’s elastic,

Your revenue will drop and you’ll go ballistic.

Get the same extra utiles for each extra dollar,

The maximum utility is sure to follow.

Produce where price equals marginal cost

If you don’t you’ll find that your profits are lost.

Always think about cost, opportunity,

If not, you’ll find you’re hurting your community.

Think margin, think margin.

Monopolists set MR to marginal cost

The result is that consumer surplus is lost

Make sure your strategies are subgame perfect

Plan your strategic interactions without any defect.

Tax the inelastic, or you’ll be hurtin’

Because you’ve created a large excess burden.

With positive externalities it’s always wise,

To encourage more production — subsidize.

A tariff or a quota helps a few producers,

But consumers will always be the big losers.

Sometimes you gotta choose efficiency or fairness,

Ya need more than econs, ya need political awareness.

Think margin, think margin.

Apparently, there’s a method to Hamermesh’s madness. The University of Texas, where he teaches, just gave him a President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award. Congratulations, Dan.

Marc Brodeur

Wow, that's actually a great summary.


Sums up my four years as an economics student quite nicely.

Steve Smith

In teaching economics I've been more inclined toward the limerick than rap. To wit:

There once was a woman named flo

Who wanted to earn lots of dough

If she listens to me

Equals MR with MC

She'll be a mighty rich person to know


What? No YouTube Video? This blog is so 2007.


that's phat. Too bad the stoned students are only thinking.. "think margin - think margin".. and actually thinking about mom adding it to mac and cheese and thinking.. but why? add the real stuff.

Andreas G.

Almost too good. It can't speak well for economics when a rather short rap summarizes more or less the whole field;)


He should make a YouTube video!


lets face it.... these fat cats bought us to where we are........ now they will get in to the corner office of another industry and screw things up there and cry for BAILOUT....


This was a great performance. One of the best classes of the semester!


This is Freaking awesome, I could hardly stay awake in my economics class, but if I had professors that performed raps during class perhaps I would have majored in economics. All my economics professors practically put me to sleep in class.


Hip-pop is just the economicpop music


I would consider this a "rap" if we were still in the early Reagan era. I appreciate the sentiment here, but I have a feeling the economists aren't bumpin' too much Whoodini and not enough Mos Def.

But, maybe it just needs a video? :)

The Weakonomist

It's the economREMix!

I had good and bad econ profs in college, but none of them went the extra mile to teach in non-traditional manners.


Congratulations, Professor Hamermesh

I thoroughly enjoy your Freakanomics entries as they tend to always be concise and educational.


You know, I've never heard any nerdcore artists rap about economics. Perhaps some of them need to expand., or perhaps Dan Hamermesh should think about putting out an album of more.

(For those who are unfamiliar, nerdcore is rap about things of special interest to nerds- such as computer programming or the large hadron collider.)

T Caldwell

Can we see a serious article about Keynesiasm? Hasn't it been largely disproved??? Isn't monetarist theory and anti-Keynes the "smart" money perspective? I'm sure some "stimulus" spending can be provided toward some small good end, but the waste of Congress, which appears to believe any spending is a good thing, is ridiculous. If that were true, we could create dollars and spend gazillions to make all of America rich. I'm reminded of Keynes comment himself:

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”


"It can’t speak well for economics when a rather short rap summarizes more or less the whole field;)"

Maybe, but it's the downfall of many a beginning economics student who thinks that economics is as succinct and simple as this rap. Perhaps that's why Prof. Hamermesh likes it :)


totally rockin awesome man ha ha

Ben Frank

Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you."

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