Video for 17th February, 2019

An excellent series that helps you understand business on the ground – it’s perfect momo weather right now, and hence this video – but there are many others as well.

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Tweets for 16th February, 2019

Video for 10th February, 2019

This continues to be one of my favourite videos on economics – recently crossed a million views (which is saying something for a video about economics!), and is, in my opinion, entirely worth your time.

Links for 9th February, 2019

Small change in the posting schedule beginning today: weekends will now comprise of five tweets on Saturday that I found interesting, and just one YouTube video on Sunday (again, that I found interesting).

Here’s today’s set:

 

 

 

Paul Krugman on a Roller Coaster

This made my day. Via MR:

 

 

 

A Tale of Three Movies

We took a look at statistics in the previous posts, and learnt how India has gotten richer over time. Rather slowly, since independence until the mid-1980’s, and then increasingly rapidly since then. Which is all well and good, but every Indian knows that statistics are like skirts.

So let’s try and take a non-data oriented look at India since Independence, shall we? And what better way of taking a look at India than by taking a look at Bollywood?

In the year 1954, Bimal Roy directed a movie called “Naukari”. Starring Kishore Kumar (in a very un-Kishore Kumarian avatar), the movie is about the difficulty that the youth of India face in terms of finding employment in India’s cities. To call it a tear-jerker is an understatement – one calamity after another befalls our protagonist.

My point is not the plot, though, but the theme. If you accept the argument that mainstream Bollywood movies are all about giving the janta what they want, then this movie was a reflection of stuff that people identified with back then. A movie about an idealistic youth who leaves his village to go work in the city is what the 1950’s were about.

Fast forward to 1975, and to one of my all-time favorite movies: Deewar. I love it for the acting, the dialogues and the plot, as does everybody else, but my inner economist is also a big fan of the movie. You see, Kishore Kumar in Naukari was about finding a job. Amitabh, by 1975, had given up on finding one. One way of viewing the movie is to say that fate conspired against him. The other way would be to say that the system failed him – and I’d argue that this is something that quite a few people back then could at least partly empathize with.

Deewar succeeded for multiple reasons, but at least one of those reasons was the fact that it struck a chord with the youth of that time: anger about jobs being hard to come by is a palpable sentiment in most movies of that time.

And then move on to the movie that best represents the zeitgeist of the India that I grew up in: Dil Chahta Hai. DCH wasn’t about aspiring to get a job, it wasn’t about being angry at the prospect of not landing one – it was about not caring a damn about the whole thing. This point is repeatedly driven home in the movie: Aamir Khan’s dialogue just before “Koi Kahe”, or the scene with his parents in which he’s packed off to Sydney come immediately to mind.

And we lapped it up! Couldn’t get enough of it. And it is quite true: the middle-class urban youth of our time wasn’t big on worrying about landing a job. It wanted to drive to Goa in a Merc.

Each movie was appropriate to its time. Audiences in the 1950’s didn’t want to see Dil Chahta Hai, and theatre going audiences in the 2000’s didn’t want to see movies about jobs.

Well, ok, maybe they did.

Five things Udta Punjab teaches you about economics

First things first: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should really go this weekend. Really good performances all round, and Alia Bhatt in particular is in a not-to-be-missed role.

Now, you might think that Udta Punjab is about one thing, and one thing only.

Charlie Sheen Drugs
Source: giphy

But for folks like us, we couldn’t help but take a look at an alternate angle: economics!

Source: giphy
Source: giphy

Here are five ways in which you could try and claim that watching the movie was like learning economics in college.

  1.  If you want to build a business empire, choosing a product that has massively inelastic demand really, really helps
    source: giphy
    Source: giphy

     

  2. A high volume, high margin business necessarily involves a monopoly. Competition will likely be, well, eliminated.
    Source: giphy
    Source: giphy

     

  3. Politicians know. And they’ll want their cut. Money talks.*

    politics
    Source: giphy
  4. Truly effective reform of anything, anywhere can’t happen unless it begins from within. That applies to this movie, to people’s movements, or to countrywide reforms. Top down approaches tend to not work.

    inner peace
    Source: giphy
  5. And finally, you’d think people would have figured this out by now, but if it needs to be said, we’ll say it: suppressing censorship never works.

    obviously
    Source: giphy

*Yeah, ok, you didn’t need to watch this movie to know that.