Latest Course Offering: Fall 2009, Term 2
Course Time: Tuesday and Thursdays, 5:45 – 8:00
Location: Krumm, Room 4 Centrum
- Textbook: Economics by David Colander, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill, Irwin: 2006 ISBN: 0-07-340286-9
- Periodicals: The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Des Moines Register, New York Times
- Blogs: See Greg Mankiw, Marginal Revolution, Brad DeLong, EconLog, Economist’s View, Market Design
- Other materials will be distributed via the course website: www.tomschenkjr.net.
All assignments will be scored on a 100 percent scale. The final grade, Y, will be derived using the following formula:
Y = 0.2 * E1 + 0.2 * E2 + 0.3 * F + 0.2 * A + 0.07 * P + 0.03 * C
E1 = Exam #1
E2 = Exam #2
F = Final
A = Average of assignments
P = Participation
C = Company score
Exams: Two exams will be administered throughout the semester. The exams will consist of a multiple choice, argument, and long problems. Multiple choice questions will test basic economic vocabulary and elementary relationships. Argument questions will ask the student to reply to a normative statement using economic reasoning taught in class. I may use quotes from recent periodicals and/or blog posts. Finally, long problems will be multi-part and will test whether the student can work through an economic model. Each exam will implicitly be cumulative insofar as the principles of economics are tightly intertwined, but the emphasis will be on the contemporary lesson.
Final: The final will explicitly be cumulative, although the emphasis will be slightly more on the latter third of the class. The format will be similar to exams: multiple choice, essay, and long problems. The test is worth slightly more and, thus, will be slightly longer than exams.
Assignments: Assignments will be given throughout the semester through the course website. Homework will (usually) be distributed on Tuesday and will be due at the beginning of the following Tuesday. Assignments are not meant to be taxing, but to help the student prepare for exams and the final. Most assignments will involve a question that will resemble an exam’s ‘long problem.’
Participation: Students are expected to regularly participate in classes and, if not in class, in out-of-class communication with the professor. Lack of participation and irregular attendance will be especially noticed if the student is struggling in class. The professor will warmly reward struggling students who seek help through email and questions.
Company Score: Students will be randomly assigned to companies of 3 to 4 individuals, depending on the final class size. Companies will accumulate points throughout the semester based on exams, assignments, participation, and any other metric the professor feels is appropriate. These activities are meant to be fun and introspective, while being educational. At the end of the semester, points will be assigned as the inverse of company rank multiplied by 100, e.g., first place: (1/1)*100 = 100, second: (½)*100 = 50, etc. The company score is especially helpful toward boarderline students.
Final Course Score
A = 90-100%
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
D = 60-69%
F = < 60%
20 Oct: Review of the syllabus and introduction
What is Economics?
***Chp. 1 – Colander
**An Essay on the Nature & Significance of Economic Science. Lionel Robbins, 1945: http://www.mises.org/books/robbinsessay2.pdf
**“Politics versus Economics” in Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. Thomas Sowell, 2004: pp. 1-29.
*(Negative Liberty) “Economic Liberalism—introduction” in Western Liberalism: A History in Documents from Locke to Croce. Eds. E.K. Bramsted and K.J. Melhuish, 1978: pp. 250-258.
*(Socialism) “The Elements of Socialism” in The Strength and Weakness and Socialism. Richard T. Ely, 1899: pp. 9-18.
*(Corporatism) “Economic Fascism” by Thomas J. Dilorenzo in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. Foundation for Economic Education, Vol. 44(6): 1994
***Chp. 3 – Colander
Guns and butter: opportunity cost and the beginnings of an economy
22 Oct: Production possibilities frontier & Trade
***Chp. 2 – Colander
**Chp. 2, Appendix A – Colander
27 Oct: Supply, demand, and equilibrium
***Chp. 4 – Colander
**Chp. 5, Appendix A – Colander, pp. 121 – 123
29 Oct: NO CLASSES
3 Nov: Elasticities: Responsiveness to Price
5 Nov: Economic efficiency, taxation, and price control
10 Nov: Test #1 (Chps. 1 – 7)
12 Nov: [Recorded Lecture] Constructing the supply curve: production costs and output
***Chp. 8 – Colander
*F.A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” American Economic Review. September 1945.
*James A. Kagn and Robert W. Rich, “Tracking Productivity in Real Time.” [PDF] Current Issues in Economics and Finance. Vol. 12(8), November 2006.
17 Nov: Constructing the demand curve: individual choice and budgets
***Chp. 9 – Colander
***Chp. 10 – Colander
19 Nov: Market Failures & Market Structures: Perfect Competition
***Chp. 11 – Colander
***Chp. 19 – Colander
24 Nov: Test #2 (Chps. 5-10) Perfect Competition (Chp. 11 & Chp. 19)
26 Nov: No Classes (Happy Thanksgiving)
1 Dec: Test #2 (Chps. 5-10)
3 Dec: Market Structures: Monopoly & Market Regulation
***Chp. 12 – Colander
***Chp. 12, Appendix A – Colander
***Chp. 15 – Colander
***Chp. 16 – Colander
8 Dec: Market Structures: Monopolistic Competition & Game Theory
***Chp. 13 – Colander
***Chp. 14 – Colander
Market structures: Oligopolies
***Chp. 15 – Colander
10 Dec: Final (Chps. 1 – 15, emphasis on 11-15)
Missed Exams and Assignments
Assignments will be due at the beginning of class every Tuesday and tests will be given on the days denoted below. Late assignments will be penalized 40 percent. Students must notify the professor of an upcoming absence. Students will be allowed to make up exams ONLY when the professor received prior notification for the inability to complete the exams. In extreme cases where prior notification is impossible, the student must provide written documentation—not by the student—explaining the absence. Students who miss a test for an unexcused absence will receive a zero.
Students will be expected to attend every class. Irregular attendance will be reflected in participation and company exercise scores. Those who already anticipate missing two or more classes are encouraged to enroll at another time.
Writing and Critical Thinking
Modern economics is intensely mathematical, but few people possess the training to grasp a mathematical model. As such, economics is typically communicated in written periodicals so it is no coincidence that well-known economists tend to be good writers—e.g., Paul Krugman, Henry James, John Gailbraith, and Milton Friedman. Employers often lament and seek those with sharp writing ability. Writing is particularly valued when one can capture complex ideas and explain them to those unfamiliar with the topics. Although writing ability is hard to notice during an application procedure, employers will often quickly promote those who effectively communicate.
This class will challenge student to reply to assertions during an examination. Students will need to synthesize economic theory and writing to convince the professor the original argument was either fallacious or correct. This experience will be different from writing an essay or research paper. Argument portions of the exam will give the student little room to wonder or “add fluff”.