The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. - F.A. Hayek, 1974 Economics Nobel Laureate
The goal of this course is to introduce you to the economic way of thinking and to demonstrate its power in comprehending the world around us. This class assumes you have no knowledge of economics whatsoever, and I teach it like it is the first, and last, economics class you will ever take. I hope it will not be.
So what is economics? Most people, upon hearing the words “economics” or “economist” imagine some combination of money, business, and those folks on the news who report “the latest numbers” on the economy (which always seem to be different than previous forecasts). These examples certainly might use economics, but economics really is a much broader way of thinking, analyzing, and understanding the world around us. With economics, you will learn to appreciate the role of prices, incentives, and institutions in fostering cooperation and social order to achieve all of the things (material and nonmaterial) that we desire from the human experience.
This course will have been successful if you are able to apply the economic way of thinking to your own passions, future studies, and professional aspirations that involve social, political, and economic issues. Understanding basic economics will also make you a better citizen in our democratic and market-based society. I invite you to diligently grapple with the ideas raised in our readings and discussions, and to do all that you can to try to understand and explore the world around you. More specifically, I aim for you to be able to:
- Effectively understand, articulate, and critique economic arguments verbally and in writing
- Apply economic tools and theories to market conditions, including using appropriate graphical and mathematical tools.
- Obtain basic understanding of economic statistics, as well as know where to collect them and how to effectively present them graphically and numerically.
- Understand current policy debates and formulate informed opinions