Hip-Hop History of Macro


Do you find yourself a little lost trying to keep up with the history of macro posts that Romer (here, here, here), DeLong (here, here), and others have been posting? What did Lucas do, or not do, to change macro? Was it that big of a change? What is this saltwater versus freshwater stuff?

I'm here to help. The history of macro closely parallels the history of hip-hop, even down to the importance of the late 1970's and early 80's. Let me help you keep track of what is going on.

  • Solow and Tobin are Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
  • Milton Friedman is James Brown.
  • Lucas and Sargent are Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. Their 1978 paper is the "La Di Da Di" of macro papers. Everyone samples from it.
  • Ed Prescott is Public Enemy's Chuck D, which makes Finn Kydland Flava-Flav. Their 1982 "Time to Build" is the It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back of macro papers.
  • Robert Mundell (Run?) and Stan Fischer (Daryl?) are Run DMC.
  • Minneapolis is South Central LA.
  • The collection of economists at the Minneapolis Fed and U. of Minn. are N.W.A. (Play at home! Try to link specific economists to Dre, Easy, Ice-Cube, and MC Ren.)
  • New Keynesians are East Coast rap. Mike Woodford is Nas, Larry Summers is the Notorious B.I.G., and Blanchard, Mankiw, and Romer are all in the Wu-Tang Clan.

I spent way too much time thinking about this during a long car drive. But once you start, it's hard to stop. There are so many unanswered questions. Who are the Eric B. and Rakim of real business cycles? What is the academic equivalent of the Tupac/Biggie feud, and who is the Suge Knight of macroeconomists? Is Bob Hall like Michael Jackson (not the weird stuff, the massively talented stuff) relative to hip-hop?

I had to work hard to stop myself from trying to do this with other fields. But in case you were wondering, Paul Romer is Kurt Cobain and Aghion and Howitt are Pearl Jam. I may have also convinced myself that Acemoglu is Beyonce and Raj Chetty is Taylor Swift.

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