Course: ECO101
Instructor: Alan Blinder
F 2019

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

Introduction to Macroeconomics is a relatively broad economics course discussing the federal government’s policies and how countries’ economies function as a whole. It starts with basic supply and demand similar to microeconomics and covers topics including fiscal and monetary policy, international trade, taxation/subsidies, the housing crisis, and inflation/recession. The goal of this course is to serve as a foundation for future economics courses and to give an overview of the workings of the national economy. There is a strong focus on current events and news articles.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

There are lectures twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday) and one precept. Professor Blinder posts the slides to his lectures before class, so it is helpful to print them out ahead of time and take notes on them. He uses a lot of graphs and oftentimes doesn’t have too many bullet points, so it is important to listen to what he is saying and not just read the slides. A lot of his anecdotes and stories about policy decisions will come up as true/false questions on exams. Lecture covers more theoretical concepts, while precept discusses the practical aspects that help prepare you for the problem sets. Taking good notes in precept will help prepare you for the problem sets and exams as they help clarify important topics and show practical methods that you will be asked to perform.

Learning For and From Assignments

There are six problem sets: three before the midterm and three after. The problem sets have practical application-based questions. The questions are multi-part and usually ask you to do a computation and then explain what the effect was/why it happened. Understanding the “moving parts” of the equations and their significance is important to preparing for the final where you will have more theoretical questions that ask you to explain. When preparing for the final, definitely review old problem sets, the extra current news readings, and the textbook. There are oftentimes explanation-based questions on problem sets or exams that are not discussed extensively in lecture/precept but are in the textbook.

External Resources

For class, the textbook is helpful. Take good notes on that. Blinder makes you use his textbook, so paying attention in lecture to see what he emphasizes helps you get a good idea of what he wants you to focus on in the textbook. He also assigns 1-2 opinion/news articles per week. It’s important to take notes on the thesis and one or two points from each of these articles because there is always 1-2 true/false questions that ask about them with details.

Outside of class materials, McGraw tutoring is really helpful for working through the problem sets at Study Hall. Office Hours are also really helpful and Blinder takes the time to sit down and work through even small misconceptions with you.

When preparing for finals, they typically only give 1-2 previous practice exams. Definitely study first before you take an exam so you can use it as a good barometer of how much you know. The preceptors will usually hold a review session or two, and Blinder had a review session two evenings before the final. GO!!! It was very helpful and went on as long as people were still asking questions.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Helpful to have microeconomics experience (either ECO100 or in high school) for the first unit, but definitely not necessary. The math is very basic (typically just algebra) so no need for calculus experience.

While this is a pre-req for economics majors, it is a great SA for anyone to take who is interested in economic policy and how our economy functions as a whole! Professor Blinder is extremely knowledgeable and draws on his experience working on the Board of Governors of the Fed. The housing crisis and financial recession are very important to this class, so if you’re interested in that, take this! Also, if you would like to learn more about current economic issues, the weekly readings are a great way to get exposed.

Introduction to Macroeconomics

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