Syllabus

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0767 ECON 2123 Principles of Microeconomics

Spring 2013

MWF 10:10-11:10

Troutt 303

 

Jennifer Long, Ph.D.

Office: Troutt 317

Phone: 574-1217

Email: jlong@usao.edu

Office Hours: MWF 11-12 and 1-2:30; TTh 8:30-9:30; and by appointment and/or luck


Course Description

Economics can be defined in many ways, and textbooks usually mention something relatively boring about the coordination of production and distribution, scarce resources and competing wants, rational choice, and a bunch of graphs and complicated mathematics.

But at its heart, economics is fairly simple, as it’s concerned with a narrow band of human behavior—the provision of the material goods of life. Of course, humans are incredibly complex creatures, so economics turns out to be just as complex. To make our models easier to understand, economists often assume that people are “rational economic maximizers,” taking all information into account before making a decision, and then opting for the choice that will be in their best self-interest. But as anyone who has been a human for a while will tell you, people are often very irrational. In fact, rationality makes demands on our brains that goes against its very wiring.

As Alfred Marshall famously defined it, "economics is the study of people in the ordinary business of life." This is especially true for microeconomics, which zeroes in on the individual decisions that people make every day in their roles as consumers, workers, tax payers, business owners, and citizens. Although microeconomic theory can sometimes reduce these decisions to absurdity (consume until the extra utility received just equals the price paid, for example), people do not stop being complex and irrational creatures  when they enter a grocery store, watch advertisements, or choose employees. Instead, individuals make choices that are constrained not only by human psychology, but also by social, political, religious, economic, and cultural institutions. So we see perplexing contradictions: while the Law of Demand tells us that people will buy more of something the cheaper it gets, we see people scrambling to spend more money on name-brand items than on the exact same product with a generic label; while the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productive predicts that business owners will never hire a worker who reduces overall output, we all know a small business owner who continues to employ the brother-in-law who still can't operate the cash register after 10 years on the job; and while economic theory tells us that use taxes are by far the most efficient of all taxes, people still grumble about toll roads. Trying to understand these contradictions is what makes studying microeconomics so much fun.

But a word of warning: as you begin to notice and understand people's economic interactions and decisions, you will also notice that people's actions and opinions are often inconsistent, and that their choices can often conflict with their own interests and/or the interests of others. That in turn can lead to some really ugly arguments with roommates, significant others, family members, and even total strangers in the check-out lane at Wal-Mart who won't appreciate that you're simply trying to educate them about how to lead more rational and efficient lives. Sorry about that.

Text

Colander, David. Economics, 8th edition. McGraw-Hill, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-07-337588-5

Assignments

Exams

Three exams are scheduled throughout the semester, including the final exam. Each exam is worth 100 points, and will be a mixture of problems, short answers, and essays. See the tentative schedule below for dates.

Problem Sets

Problem sets from the text are due on the dates indicated by the schedule below. The specific problems to be turned in are  indicated on the course webpage. Problem sets are due at the beginning of class on the date listed, and no late assignments will be accepted. These problems will help you not only understand the material presented in class and in the text, but help prepare you for exams. Each problem set is worth 15 points. , for a total of 210 points.

Blog Responses

Students will submit, over the course of the semester, 10 responses to entries on economic blogs (see list below for approved blogs). Responses should communicate, in grammatically correct and academically styled writing, the substance of the blog entry and your analysis of it, using the tools learned in class. Each entry should be at least 2 paragraphs in length, but can be as lengthy as you like. The blogs listed below represent the entire spectrum of political and ideological foundations of economic analysis, and you should try a wide sample of them to get a sense of that spectrum. Each response is worth from 0-15 points. You will submit your responses to  turnitin.com [class id: 5902174;  password: elasticity].

First post due on or before January 18
Second post due on or before January 25
Third post due on or before February 1
Fourth post due on or before February 8
Fifth post due on or before February 15
Sixth post due on or before February 22
Seventh post due on or before March 1
Eighth post due on or before March 8
Ninth post due on or before March 15
Tenth post due on or before March 29

Blog List

Marginal Revolution at www.marginalrevolution.com

Freakonomics at www.freakonomics.com/blog/

Becker-Posner blog at www.becker-posner-blog.com/

Paul Krugman’s New York Times blog at www.krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Greg Mankiw’s blog at http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/

Economist Mom at http://economistmom.com/

The New Yorker’s Balance Sheet blog at www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/jamessurowiecki/

The Financial Times’ Economists’ Forum at http://blogs.ft.com/economistsforum/#axzz1VrvaBHto

The Economist’s Free Exchange blog at www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange

The Economist’s Graphic Detail at http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail

The Economist’s Dear Economist blog at http://timharford.com/articles/deareconomist/

The Guardian's Economics Blog at www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog

Economists Do It with Models at www.economistsdoitwithmodels.com/

The Adam Smith Institute blog at www.adamsmith.org/blog/

John Cassidy’s New Yorker blog at www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy

Econlog from the Library of Economics and Liberty at http://econlog.econlib.org/

Evolving Economics at www.jasoncollins.org/

Grasping Reality wtih Both Invisible Hands, Brad DeLong’s blog at http://delong.typepad.com/

The Big Picture at www.ritholtz.com/blog/

Naked Keynesian at http://nakedkeynesianism.blogspot.com/

Naked Capitalism at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

Any others that you may find, and are approved by me.

 

Grading

 

 

 

First Exam

 

100

Second Exam

 

100

Final Exam

 

100

Problem Sets

14 sets @ 15 points each

210

Blog Responses

10 @ 15 points each

150

TOTAL

 

660

 

Final grades will be calculated as a percentage of the total points possible.

Class Policies

Attendance

It t is your decision whether to attend class or not. You will not be penalized directly for missing class, but no make-up exams or quizzes will be given, and you are responsible for all information disseminated in any classes that you miss.

Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices

Cell phones, laptops, and other beeping, chirping, singing, game-playing, text-messaging and noise-making electronic things must be turned OFF during class and kept out of sight. Because of the potential for distraction (for you and those sitting around you), laptops use is not allowed in class. (Exceptions can be made only in the case of a documented accommodation need. Please inform the instructors if this is the case).

We know you think that you can listen to lecture, check your Facebook, take notes, text your friends about where to meet for lunch, formulate intelligent questions, read your email, participate in class discussion and listen to your iPod all at the same time, but you can't. Lots of good research tells us that multitasking detracts from the learning experience and can actually make you dumber (see, for example, "The Myth of Multi-Tasking" at http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking).

Be fully present in the classroom; treat class as a one hour refuge from all the other electronic demands in your life. You might find that all those pressing demands on your time—all those incoming texts, all the new Facebook statuses, all the waiting messages—really aren’t all that urgent. You might even find that the electronic silence gives you a calm space in which to really think and learn.

That said, if your cell phone or other beeping, chirping, singing, game-playing, text-messaging or noise-making electronic thing goes off in class, you will be asked to leave. If you're texting or emailing or checking your Facebook in class, you'll be asked to leave.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this or any other class on campus. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to: Plagiarism, Fabrication, Cheating, and Forgery and Altering Documents. All instances of dishonesty will be result in penalty without exception. The maximum penalty for the first offense is a grade of "F" for the course  and the incident will be reported to the Academic Vice President for inclusion in the student's permanent university file. A second and all subsequent offenses (in any course across the university) may result in the student's expulsion from the university. A full explantion of the University's Academic Code of Conduct can be found in the Student Handbook, pages 9-11. We're really not kidding about this. Don't cheat. We mean it.

ADA Statement

According to the ADA, each student with a disability is responsible for notifying the University of his/her disability and requesting accommodations. If you think you have a qualified disability and need classroom accommodations, contact the office of Student Services located on the third floor of the Student Center.  Please advise the professor of your disability as soon as possible, to ensure timely implementation of appropriate accommodations. Faculty have an obligation to respond when they receive official notice of a disability from Student Services but are under no obligation to provide retroactive accommodations.  To receive services, you must submit appropriate documentation and complete an intake process during which the existence of a qualified disability is verified and reasonable accommodations are identified.  Call 405-574-1278 for more information.

Tentative Schedule

DATE

TOPIC

READING

ANYTHING DUE?

Friday Jan 4

Introduction *****

 

 

Monday Jan 7

Recap of Supply and Demand

Chapter 4

 

Wednesday Jan 9

Using Supply and Demand

Chapter 5

 

Friday Jan 11

Using Supply and Demand

Chapter 5

 

Monday Jan 14

Elasticities

Chapter 7

Chapter 5 Problem Set

Wednesday Jan 16

Elasticities

Chapter 7

 

Friday Jan 18

Elasticities

Chapter 7

 

Monday Jan 21

Taxation and Government

Chapter 8

Chapter 7 Problem Set

Wednesday Jan 23

Taxation and Government

Chapter 8

 

Friday Jan 25

Taxation and Government

Chapter 8

 

Monday Jan 28

Demand: Utility

Chapter 10

Chapter 8 Problem Set

Wednesday Jan 30

Demand: Utility

Chapter 10

 

Friday Feb 1

Demand: Utility

Chapter 10

 

Monday Feb 4

Game Theory

Chapter 11

Chapter 10 Problem Set

Wednesday Feb 6

Game Theory

Chapter 11

 

Friday Feb 8

FIRST EXAM: CHS. 5-10

 

 

Monday Feb 11

Supply: Costs

Chapter 12

Chapter 11 Problem Set

Wednesday Feb 13

Supply: Costs

Chapter 12

 

Friday Feb 15

Supply: Costs

Chapter 12

 

Monday Feb 18

Supply: More Costs

Chapter 13

Chapter 12 Problem Set

Wednesday Feb 20

Supply: More Costs

Chapter 13

 

Friday Feb 22

Supply: More Costs

Chapter 13

 

Monday Feb 25

Markets: Perfect Competition

Chapter 14

Chapter 13 Problem Set

Wednesday Feb 27

Markets: Perfect Competition

Chapter 14

 

Friday Mar 1

Markets: Perfect Competition

Chapter 14

 

Monday Mar 4

Markets: Monopoly

Chapter 15

Chapter 14 Problem Set

Wednesday Mar 6

Markets: Monopoly

Chapter 15

 

Friday Mar 8

Markets: Monopoly

Chapter 15

 

Monday Mar 11

Markets: Oligopoly

Chapter 16

Chapter 15 Problem Set

Wednesday Mar 13

Markets: Oligopoly

Chapter 16

 

Friday Mar 15

SECOND EXAM: CHS. 11-15

 

 

March 18-22

SPRING BREAK

 

 

Monday Mar 25

Markets: Oligopoly

Chapter 16

 

Wednesday Mar 27

Markets: Regulation

Chapter 18

Chapter 16 Problem Set

Friday Mar 29

Markets: Regulation

Chapter 18

 

Monday Apr 1

Markets: Labor

Chapter 19

Chapter 18 Problem Set

Wednesday Apr 3

Markets: Labor

Chapter 19

 

Friday Apr 5

Markets: Labor

Chapter 19

 

Monday Apr 8

Markets: Income Distribution

Chapter 20

Chapter 19 Problem Set

Wednesday Apr 10

Markets: Income Distribution

Chapter 20

 

Friday Apr 12

Markets: Failures

Chapter 21

Chapter 20 Problem Set

Monday Apr 15

Markets: Failures

Chapter 21

Chapter 21 Problem Set

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Apr 17

FINAL EXAM 10:00-11:30
CHS 16-21

 

 

 

***** If you haven't taken Principles of Macroeconomics, please familiarize yourself with the information in Chapters 1, 3, and 6.