Course Information

To listen to the lecture, click here (long file, sorry).

Definitive source of course information is

This lecture: my background; course objectives; grading policy and other administrative issues

My background

Course Objectives

Improve understanding of the economy

Communicating information and analysis

About this Course

Two paradigms of economics:

Traditional economic curriculum stresses optimization/equilibrium

This course stresses system for learning

Academic vs. business/entrepreneur perspective

Using policy issues instead of concepts to organize course

Like teaching chemistry by focusing on batteries

Start with planning a business


Teaching Philosophy

Teach for long term memory

Get to know some students

Student engagement matters (my job interview questions)

Grading Policy

No Tests or Quizzes

50 percent of grade is writing analytical papers on two books, from this list

10 other assignments, each worth 5 points

For more details and due dates, see this list.

key points


lectures vs. discussion groups

office hours

for announcements, see the this page

Why economics has to be learned--overcoming "folk economics"

As hunter-gatherers, we learned economics that no longer applies

Hunter-gatherer SocietyModern SocietyPrimitive Misconceptions
Strangers are threatsWe depend on strangersInternational trade helps them, not us
Goods are taken/sharedGoods are produced/tradedProducers are thieves
One's gain is another's lossGains from trade, growthOnly redistribution affects wealth

Bryan Caplan, comparing economists' beliefs with non-economists beliefs, found 4 non-economic biases: anti-market bias (belief that high prices are caused by greed), anti-foreign bias, pessimistic bias (e.g., middle-class squeeze; doomsday scenarios), and make-work bias

Example: Wal-mart and health insurance