Professor Edward Morey

Econ 2010

Who should take this course? And, who should be discouraged from taking this course

This is a difficult question to answer, but let me try and provide some thoughts:

Math thoughts: While the course is not a math course, an understanding of basic algebra and graphs will be required. So, if you have an aversion to basic math, you should not take the course. On the other side of the coin, while we won't be using calculus in the course, those who are comfortable with calculus often find the course materials easy to grasp. That said, many people get A's with no knowledge of calculus

Grading thoughts: most students in the class will not get an A, so if you absolutely, positively need an A, either be exceptional or do not take the course.

How you think? Doing well in economics requires that you are able to "think like an economist." In economics the correct answer typically depends on what you are assuming. In explanation, economics is all about building and critiquing theories of how economic agents (individuals, firms, the government, you and your significant other, etc.) make decisions. The predictions of a theory depend on the assumptions that create the theory.

Economics is all about building theories of how resources are allocated (what is produced) and how goods and services are distributed (who gets the goodies). So, you will need to be able to think logically, as in, "what logically follows from assuming A, B, and C?" For example, if one assumes "George is a man" and assumes "all men cry," then it logically follows that George cries. Whether George is, or is not, a man is an important question, but of no importance when one asks whether C logically follows from A and B. If you are going "What is he talking about? or "Who cares" then ....

Note that being able to understand logic does not mean you have to accept it for how you want to live your life.

Everything that I assert in lectures and everything asserted in the book has to be evaluated in context: does it make sense in terms of the assumptions made?

I try, not always successfully, to test your understanding of concepts and theories, not your ability to memorize.

Because of the size of the class, test questions are multiple choice.

This is not a business course, or a course on how to make money, or a course designed to help you get into the business school.

If you are certain about how the economy works--I am not--you don't need to take this course.

While many economists, including me, think that the markets are amazing things, that does not imply that they are the solution to every economic problem. Some economists believe that all allocational and distributional problems should be solved by unregulated markets, but most economists do not believe this.

There are many ways to allocate and distribute resources. Markets are one way doing it, but there are many other ways. For example, resources are not allocated by the market within lfirms (e.g. Google) or within your family. We will consider numerous allocation mechanisms besides markets

Economics is a science, a social science. That means we build and test theories, and then modify our theories based on those tests. Or, at least that is what we say we do.

Economics models can be used to consider questions such as who to marry, whether to divorce, sex or no sex, drug use, and all sorts of other important "non-economic" issues. For example, an economic model might explain why I would be better off in the longrun if I stopped smoking but that, day by day, I should keep smoking--the first one in the morning "feels so good." We will consider the application of economics to many questions, possibly including whether to come to class. Some examples might, possibly, offend some people.

I like to push the envelope, so if you are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable about thinking critically, maybe .....

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