Its unsurprising that Whats the Difference, a classic from legend of rap Dr Dres The Chronic 2001, has well over 2 million YouTube hits. Rap is big, and Dr Dres is the sort of rap we all expect. But 2.3 million hits for EconStories.tv, with its rap battle between JM Keynes and FA Hayek! No, the biggest economic influences of the 20th century havent come back to life to test themselves against Eminem. The videos were the brainchild of John Papola, a producer and director, and Russ Roberts, an Austrian school professor at George Mason University. The duo have produced two encounters between the mac-daddies, the first, Fear the Boom and Bust, was released in January 2010, and the second, Fight of the Century, only four weeks ago. It has contagiously spread across classrooms, with the duo even having a live battle in front of global Central Bank governors at The Economists Buttonwood gathering.
Despite the videos Hayekian bias, given the creators Austrian views, the videos portray the work of both theorists accurately. Whilst the first looks at their analysis of what causes the boom and bust cycle (Hayek: blame low interest rates; Keynes: Nahhh, its the animal spirits), the second examines their purported philosophical underpinnings in the context of continued global economic sluggishness. A testament to the power of creativity in spreading understanding, it is a shame that the Aadhaar enrolment drive in Punjab, as reported in Indian Express recently, wasnt able to use its creative plans to spread word of the enrolment drive, as EconStories could with economic theory. It is a valuable lesson for us all to learn: capturing imagination is the key to learning and understanding.