February 1, 2022 - Should billionaires exist? How much should workers be paid? And, what’s really causing all these supply chain shortages? Give Christopher Clarke one minute of your time on one of the world’s hottest social media platforms, and the popular professor will provide a cheeky, yet thought-provoking lesson on all-things money.
The University of Houston instructional assistant professor and emerging TikTok star tackles financial subjects that are seemingly complicated, and perhaps boring to some, and makes them digestible for everyone in less than 60 seconds.
“You can understand an economic story in 60 seconds just as easily as you can in a half hour lecture...”
“You can understand an economic story in 60 seconds just as easily as you can in a half hour lecture,” said Clarke, who goes by “EconChrisClarke” on the social app. “There’s never a shortage of economics to talk about.”
Whether its inflation, student loan forgiveness or what coffee you bought that morning, no economic topic or recent trend is off limits. Can you really make the pricing model for different quantities of paint that interesting? Turns out, yes you can. Clarke’s goal for his online public posts, as well as for his students in the classroom, is to make real world economics make sense to the masses.
“Everything has one main idea; one main point,” Clarke explained. “You have to find the most interesting and salient point – one that you want people to walk away with, and then highlight it with a couple anecdotes, graphs and statistical results.”
His daily output of videos generates new questions from fans and new topics for discussion. Yes, fans. He has 20,000 on TikTok with more than 375,000 “likes.”
“Mainly people ask how bad the economy is right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and when it’s going to end,” he said. “They want to know what’s causing inflation – is the Federal Reserve printing too much money, or is it supply shortages?”
Solving the World’s Problems
Clarke grew up in Las Vegas and got hooked on economics in college. It’s a subject that “came easy” to him. In 2008, he recalls learning in real time about the subprime mortgage crisis and the fall of Wall Street investment giant, Lehman Brothers.
“As a student, I wanted to know how this happened. What were the mechanisms? How do we fix it? It was at that moment I wanted to solve the world’s problems,” he shared.
Fast forward to today and Clarke is teaching Principles of Macroeconomics, Intermediate Microeconomics and History of Economic Thought. He approaches the subjects from a slightly more technical manner in his classes. After all, you can’t edit a live lecture. Teaching is his way of giving back to his students the tools and concepts he’s learned over the years.
As for his rising TikTok career, what Clarke is supplying is truly in demand. He projects the TikTok craze will be around for a while and has some advice for anyone who wants to play on the platform.
“You better have something interesting to say if you want to hold the audience for that long on the app.”
And of course, never be boring.