They lost our bling but now economists hope for a better rap

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am

What do you get when you mix economists with musicians? Some really scary bad rap music.

Economists may think the world of themselves, but their dismal science has never enjoyed much of a reputation among normal people. Since the global financial crisis was, at least partly, caused by false economic assumptions and wrong modelling, even some dismal scientists have been doing some serious navel-gazing.

Perhaps to regain some lost popularity for economists, Triple R, a US-based education website, has put out an album called Flat World Economics ( with eight songs on key economics topics: choice theory, equilibrium, elasticity, monopolies, price control, maximum utility, imperfect competition and regulation. It has lyrics such as: 'If they try to regulate the price of gold/ Or any market where merchandise is sold/ That intervention could take quite a toll/ Through unintended consequences of price control.'

So it's not just dismal science; it's dismal music. Every song comes in four versions: the original, down tempo, a cappella (purely vocal) and instrumental.

I don't know why but everybody raps these days. Executives of Singapore's Media Development Authority broke new ground two years ago when the government branch responsible for censorship and promoting the growth of media - a bit of a contradiction in terms - rapped and hip hopped with lines like: 'Yes, yes y'all/ We don't stop/ Get creative, can do, rock on.'

Last year, when Cern's particle collider in Switzerland was ready to be cranked up, several of its physicists set their equations to music to explain such arcane matters as, well, anti-matter, lead ions and the Higgs boson. Perhaps our scandal-plagued chief executive and his top lieutenants should follow in their footsteps. They have nothing to lose but their dignity, or what's left of it, but it would, at least, be amusing to watch 'Bow Tie the rapper'.