Principles of Economics

EC110 Principles of Economics (Fall 2016)

AN UPDATED VERSION WILL BE DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS

Seminar Leader: Martin Binder
Course Times: Mon 11:00-12:30, Wed 11:00-12:30
Email: m.binder@berlin.bard.edu

Course description
This course is an introduction to the essential ideas of economic analysis. It elaborates the basic model of consumer and firm behaviour, including demand and supply, in the context of an idealized competitive market, and examines several ways in which the real world deviates from this model, including monopoly, minimum wages and other price controls, taxes, and government regulation. The assumptions concerning human behaviour that underlie economics are presented and critiqued. The module is also concerned with the aggregate behaviour of modern economies: growth and measurement of the economy, unemployment, interest rates, inflation, government spending and its impact, and international trade. Part of the module focuses on the government tools used to influence economic growth and individuals’ behaviour.

Learning outcomes

  • Mastery of fundamental concepts of economic analysis
  • Understanding of the economic method and its application to the explanation of human behaviour
  • Basic knowledge and understanding of the overall functioning of modern economies
  • Ability to recognize and understand the ways in which real-world economic activity and behaviour 
deviates from the models and patterns used in the discipline of economics
  • Capacity to analyse and critique the assumptions concerning behaviour that are at the basis of 
economic analysis

Requirements
Textbooks
For this course, we will use the textbook “Economics” by Mankiw/Taylor (3rd rev. ed.) and required readings will mostly be from this book (6th international edition and newer editions of the book “Principles of Economics” by Mankiw might be used as substitutes as well). You will also have to buy access to the Aplia® course platform to access regular graded problem sets and out-of-class exercises (details on access to follow in the first class session).

Attendance
Attendance at ALL classes is expected. More than two absences (that is absences from two sessions of 90 minutes) in a semester will significantly affect the grade for the course. The two absences are meant as insurance policy for you in case of illness or other unforeseen yet important events outside of the classroom.

Assessment
Assessment will be based on attendance, preparation for classes, regular and active participation, quizzes, problems sets, as well as a mid-term (60 minutes) and a final examination (90 minutes). The quiz and problem set with the worst grade will not count towards the grade. Absences on days of quizzes result in failing that quiz (no make-up quizzes; you are protected by the policy that the worst quiz will not count towards your final grade).

Policy on late submission of exercises
Problem sets are due as per instructions in the Aplia® course platform. Late submissions as per student handbook are subject to technical possibility within the course platform and might not apply.

Grade breakdown
Seminar preparation, active participation and professionalism 20%
Problem sets 20%
Mid-term exam 30%
Final examination 30%

Schedule
Classes start on Monday Aug 29 and run until Wednesday Dec 07, with fall break planned for Oct 17–21, 2015. Completion week will take place Dec 12–16.

The schedule provided is provisional in order to allow for flexibility. It is the students’ responsibility to keep themselves informed of any changes to the schedule provided here. An up-to-date schedule will be maintained by the course management in our google classroom system and lecture slides can be downloaded from there as well. Please sign in for the course, using the code provided in the first session of class (classroom.google.com). Problem sets will be distributed and returned via Aplia®.

Week 1 – Introduction/The principles of economics
Aug 29, Aug 31
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 1

Week 2 – How economists think
Sep 05, Sep 07
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 2

Week 3 – How markets work I: Supply and demand
Sep 12, Sep 14
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 3

Week 4 – How markets work II: Elasticity
Sep 19, Sep 21
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 4

Week 5 – How markets work III: Markets and Welfare
Sep 26, Sep 28
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 7 (plus additional readings in google classroom)

Week 6 – How markets work III: Price controls, taxation
Oct 05 (no class on Oct 03)
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 8

Week 7 – How markets work III: continued
Oct 10, Oct 12 (Mid-term exam, 12.10., 11:00-12:30, classroom)
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 8

(Fall break: Oct 17-21)

Week 8 – The economics of the public sector
Oct 24, Oct 26
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Chs. 10-11

Week 9 – The economics of the public sector
Oct 31, Nov 02
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Chs. 10-11

Week 10 – Firm behaviour I: Costs and production; Perfect Competition
Nov 07, Nov 09
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 6

Week 11 – Firm behaviour II: Monopoly
Nov 14, Nov 16
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 14

Week 12 – The gains from trade
Nov 21, Nov 23
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 19

Week 13 – The data of macroeconomics: GDP
Nov 28, Nov 30
Reading: Mankiw/Taylor, Ch. 20

Week 14 – The data of macroeconomics: Beyond GDP; Review
Dec 05, Dec 07
Reading: OECD: “How’s life?”

Week 15 – Completion Week (FINAL EXAM on Monday Dec 12, 11:00-12:30 classroom)

Classes missed due to federal holidays will not be rescheduled.

Professionalism
Being a student is your full-time job and with it come a set of responsibilities and expectations, as with any other job. Maintaining a professional attitude towards your course of studies is something that also prepares you for later work life. A professional attitude towards your studies is shown by coming to class on time, being prepared, being courteous to your teachers and fellow co-students. It is exhibited by writing your essays with care, actively participating in class, avoiding distractions (excessive bathroom breaks, using smartphones to check on irrelevant issues during class etc.), not missing classes except for the most dire of circumstances and in general by adapting to the rules of the course without trying to bargain for personal exceptions.

Ethics/Academic honesty
A core value of the academy is truth and the pursuit thereof. Nothing can shake the foundations of this pursuit as much as academic dishonesty as it undermines trust in this pursuit. This is why I will not condone any instance of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism, cheating during exams, copying homework assignments (or doing individual assignments with a classmate) all constitute violations of academic honesty and of the clause on “academic integrity” that each student has signed in the student handbook. They can lead to failing the course and will be reflected in the student’s record (having a record of academic dishonesty can make getting grants, stays abroad or admission into other programs difficult if not outright impossible).

(version: 05.08.2016)