Principles of Macroeconomics

Fall 2020
Summer 2020
Spring 2020
Aselia Urmanbetova
ECON 2105
The core objective of the Principles of Macroeconomics course is to familiarize students with how policy makers at the Federal level are thinking about the national economy, its health, the inevitable booms and busts, and what needs to be done to mediate the volatility of business cycle fluctuations. The exponentially increasing fragility of global environmental and financial/economic systems of the last few decades, in particular the damning evidence of climate change and grim consequences of the Great Recession, demonstrated that we must do better in teaching the foundations of financial/economic literacy and cultivate the ability to evaluate fiscal and monetary policy decisions that directly impact global economic and environmental systems. In this course we learn why economic growth, in general, is a very good idea -- economic growth relieves nations from poverty, it is directly correlated to better health outcomes, and it provides for technological progress. But these gains do not come free of charge and we no longer can ignore the grave environmental and social costs. Along with presenting the basic traditional (i.e. bypassing hidden costs) macroeconomic definitions and macroeconomic accounting methods, I ask my students to challenge these definitions and assumptions. My teaching style is fairly hands-on and is inspired by some of the latest research in cognitive science and pedagogy. I work on engaging you both in class and online using such discussion fora as Piazza and personal response systems, and I ask that you practice your skills of retaining and applying new knowledge as frequently as possible. We also play a number of interactive online games that help students explore and understand how certain types of markets and overall macroeconomic forecasting work. For that purpose, the course is divided into five modules and each module has its own set of learning activities and assessments. These activities include: supplementary video lessons, textbook readings, homework assignments and/or practice questions, online discussions, in-class polls, interactive exercises and games, and, last but not least, quizzes and tests. And while all these activities look like a lot of work, many of them are designed to get you really learn something new while providing a multitude of opportunities to improve. Another important aspect of the course is that it is a perfect time to teach it and for you to learn about macroeconomics and economics, in general! Today’s media discussions are exceptionally lively and center on many economic policy issues. They range from taxation and inequities, costs vs. benefits of environmental protection, trade wars, technology-driven job destruction vs. creation, welfare debates and the list can go on and on. The concepts that we learn in basic economics courses, including Macroeconomics, are directly related to all of these arguments and it is imperative for us to understand the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of such debates and be able to make informed conclusions on various policy agendas. Such knowledge is a must for someone who would like to be an informed, or equipped to get informed and educated, on any policy debate that relates to economics, finance, social welfare, and sustainable growth. As a result of this course students will learn how to interpret economic indicators most widely used in the news media, how and if changes in these indicators warrant policy interventions, what kind of policies have been at the disposal of policy-makers in the past vs. the present, what theories support such policy actions and if these theories are backed by relevant empirical evidence. By the end of the course I expect you to be able to make theoretically-sound and evidence-based arguments for and against various macroeconomic and economic policies.
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