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Economics Curriculum

Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.

The basic building blocks of the Economics program are the two introductory courses, Introductory Macroeconomics and Introductory Microeconomics. These courses are recommended for all students, regardless of their future interest in studying economics. The analytical tools learned — the economic “techniques of thinking” — will be a valuable resource for students who plan to enter such diverse fields as law, environmental studies, international relations, business and finance, decision sciences, history, political science and public policy.

Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Economics:

Introductory Macroeconomics
Macroeconomics is one of the two broad fields in economics. Macroeconomics analyzes the aggregate performance of the economy – the overall level of output, employment and prices. The primary learning objectives of the course are: 1) to familiarize the student with the measurement and importance of the basic macro performance variables – GDP, unemployment and inflation; 2) to build a model of the economy that incorporates the most important behavioral relationships that influence macro performance; 3) to analyze the potential effects of government fiscal and monetary policy on the performance of the economy; 4) to understand the historical macroeconomic performance of the U.S. economy in light of 2) and 3) above; and 5) to analyze the determinants of international exchange rates and the effects of changes in such on the performance of the economy.

Intermediate Macroeconomics
This upper-level course provides an in-depth study of the determinants of the level of output, growth, prices and employment in the U.S. economy. We begin by first examining how these key performance variables are defined and measured. After reviewing the elementary Keynesian aggregate expenditure model, we develop a more advanced model of the shorter-run determinants of macroeconomic performance, with special attention paid to the role of the foreign sector. The possible use of fiscal and monetary policy to affect the business cycle is examined. Other topics studied include government deficits and debt, the consumption function, and the Phillips Curve. Throughout the course we look at past macroeconomic performance and policy, as well as alternative schools of thought, in order to see what lessons can be learned for today’s economy.

Introductory Microeconomics
The course is designed to introduce the student to the way economists analyze social behavior and evaluate public policies. We examine the principles underlying how a market-oriented economy allocates its scarce resources among competing uses so as to answer the three basic economic questions – what to produce, how to produce it, and who gets it. We also develop an analytical framework to answer the question of whether a market-based allocation of resources is “good” for society. Considerable attention is devoted to understanding the basic market model of supply and demand. We will use that model to examine the pros and cons of selected policies, including rent controls, the minimum wage, and protectionist trade measures. The goal is to develop the student’s ability to undertake relatively sophisticated policy evaluation using the basic tools of economic analysis. We also analyze the appropriate role of the government in affecting the allocation of resources in a market-oriented economy. No prior knowledge of economics is assumed. No math beyond basic arithmetic is needed, although heavy reliance is placed on graphical analysis. The course serves as a basic building block for further study in economics and is a prerequisite for most additional course work in the field.

Intermediate Microeconomics
This is a course on microeconomic analysis. Students will learn the tools that are needed to analyze the behavior of individuals and firms in a world of scarcity as well as the effects of individual decisions on markets. Topics include: the theory of consumer behavior, the theory of the firm, perfectly competitive markets, monopoly, and imperfect competition. If time permits, factor markets (labor and capital), public goods, and general equilibrium analysis will be covered. In addition to theoretical work, we will apply theories and tools to real world applications. A deep understanding of the concepts you learn in this course will be essential in your future coursework in economics. This course is also centrally important to any student who plans to pursue graduate studies in economics.

Developmental Economics
This course is a survey of topics in development economics. The course will be focused on a fundamental question: why are some countries poor while some are rich? It provides a foundation from which students can advance to further studies in economic development and international studies. It examines the meaning and measurement of development and then reviews development theories, issues and policies. Some of the main issues we will examine this semester are: (i) the meaning and measurement of development; (ii) classical and modern development theories; (iii) political economy aspects of development; (iv) trade and development; (v) institutions and development; (vi) finance and development; (vii) the role of the State in development, (viii) environmental issues in development, and (ix) theories of economic growth. Prerequisites: (i) Introduction to Microeconomics; and/or (ii) Introduction to Macroeconomics. However, the ideal student would have completed Econometrics and the intermediate economics sequence. This is not a class for first year students.

The aims of this course are to: (i) provide an introduction to econometric methods that will assist students in understanding empirical research in their field; and (ii) enable students to apply these methods in their own research or thesis. The objectives of the course are: (i) students must demonstrate their understanding of the appropriate econometric methods for analyzing data; and (ii) generate and interpret computer output for the estimation and testing of economic relationships. Several fundamental topics in mathematical statistics would be reviewed. These include mathematical expectations, variance and covariance of random variables. The following topics would be covered: (i) the OLS estimator; (ii) two stage least squares and instrumental variable technique; (iii) the maximum likelihood estimator; (iv) vector autoregressions (VAR); (v) cointegration and error correction models (VECM); (vi) volatility models (ARCH, GARCH and GARCH-M); and finally (vii) univariate time-series models.

Environmental Economics
This upper-level course applies the tools of economic analysis to issues involving the environment. We begin with a discussion of how the fundamental evaluative criteria of economics – static efficiency, dynamic efficiency, intergenerational equity and intergenerational equity– apply specifically to environmental issues. The remainder of the term is divided into three broad areas: the economics of natural resources, pollution control and sustainable growth. Specific topics covered, among others, include global warming, the sulfur-dioxide emissions permit program, the environmental justice movement, the evaluation of environmental amenities, the economics of fisheries, the population growth issue, and the preservation of endangered species.

Health Economics
This course is an introduction to the economics of health and health care. It explores the health care sector and healthy policy issues from an economic perspective. We will cover issues including the value of health, the demand for health care, health insurance markets, managed care, medical technology, government insurance programs, health care reform, the pharmaceutical industry, and the economics of bad habits. This is a writing-intensive course and part of New College's Seminars in Critical Thinking; it is recommended to students who want to improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

Introduction to International Business
This course examines the different business, cultural, ethical, political, financial and legal challenges firms face when they operate in an international environment. It provides students with an overview of the different business strategies firms use in order to successfully globalize their operations and adapt to local markets. It also explains the managerial implications of international trade and investment and the global monetary system. By the end of this course, students will understand the strategies and structures of international business and how these strategies affect the various other functions of the firm. Students will also have a good idea of the core issues and problems international businesses face.

Law and Economics: Property and Contract Law
This upper-level seminar applies the principles of economic analysis to the basic legal rules underlying property and contract law. Do such rules represent a fair and efficient way of resolving disputes between affected parties? In the area of property law we cover such topics as nuisance law, government takings, and rights to intellectual property. In the area of contract law topics covered include formation defenses, performance defenses, efficient breach, and the determination of damages. The casebook method will be followed, with heavy emphasis on class discussion. The course is recommended for economics concentrators as well as upper-level students with an interest in the law.

Money, Banking and Financial Markets
This course examines the theory and institutional aspects of banking, the interaction of banks with financial markets, and the role banks play in determining financial outcomes. We will examine the issue of central banking and its interrelationship with other financial institutions and markets. Topics that would be covered include: (i) interest rate determination and term structure theories; (ii) the nature of various financial institutions and markets; (iii) central banking and the conduct of monetary policy; (iv) the international financial system and foreign exchange market; (v) the demand for money; (vi) monetary transmission mechanisms; (vii) money and inflation; and (viii) financial derivatives. We would also examine various circumstances surrounding the recent financial crisis and how it could change the nature of banking and finance. The analytical tools for this course would be the IS/LM model and AD/AS framework.

Political Economy
This course is a survey of topics in modern political economy. It is a course which examines the workings of the capitalist economic system. As a matter of fact, we could easily name this course ‘understanding capitalism.” The course will examine several institutional issues like the implications of market power of an oligopolistic market structure for price formation, stability, distribution and income inequality. We will examine some issues that are typically not covered in standard mainstream micro and macroeconomics courses. In particular, the course places political rivalry for economic space at the forefront of discussions. For example, we will look at how the dominant American corporate governance framework has influenced the rights and welfare of workers. The course will also examine the political economy roots of the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 and the continuing stagnation of the US economy. For us to appreciate contemporary political economy, we must first return to the history of economic thought and some history on the evolution of capitalism. Therefore, we will survey the theories of several influential economists – Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith, Thorstein Veblen, F.A. Hayek, Amartya Sen and Milton Friedman – and examine how these ideas are embedded in modern mathematical economic theories and policy debates.

Public Finance: Government Expenditures
This course examines the theory and practice of government expenditures in a market-based economy. The theory part of the course covers the concepts of public goods and externalities, as well as basic cost-benefit analysis. In the second half of the course we will study some of the major policy issues regarding government spending facing the United States today, namely, the Social Security system, health care, and education reform.

Public Finance: Taxation
How the government acquires resources to perform its functions can have profound impacts on the economy. In this course we will analyze the efficiency and equity implications of the major methods that governments employ to acquire resources from the private sector. Taxation is the primary method, and we will examine the major taxes utilized in the United States. Primary attention will be devoted to the federal individual income tax. We will also study the corporate income tax, the estate and gift tax, the sales tax and the property tax. Other methods that governments do or can use to acquire resources, such as the lottery, will be studied. The course will conclude with an examination of the ongoing debate concerning tax justice and reforms to our tax system.

For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog and the Economics Academic Learning Compact.

For a complete list of courses, click here.


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