Contemporary Economic Issues

Contemporary Economic Issues

SUNY Brockport — ECN 100 — Fall 2020 - Fall 2024

Contemporary Economic Issues is an economics survey class for non-majors, primarily focused on thinking systematically about current events using microeconomic tools.

Economics is about more than just money, or policy, or unemployment: economics is a way of thinking systematically about choices in terms of tradeoffs, and how choices by different people come to fit together. Because it’s all about how people make choices, and how they react to changes, it gives us a way to analyze and predict unintended consequences.

The better you can apply economics as a way of thinking, the better you’ll be able to see consequences before they happen – while everyone else is taken by surprise!

The class is divided into 1-2 week units:

  1. What’s Economics About? – Scarcity, efficiency, coordination, economic systems
  2. Individual Choice – Opportunity cost, incentives, thinking on the margin
  3. Trade – Comparative advantage, arbitrage
  4. Institutions & Growth – Economic growth, property rights, externalities
  5. Supply & Demand – Three units introducing demand, supply, and then putting them together
  6. Elasticity – Long- vs. short-run, price discrimination, substitutes and complements
  7. Unintended Consequences – Price controls, rent dissipation, the informational role of prices
  8. Profit, Loss, & Interest – Income, entrepreneurship, economic profit, intertemporal choice
  9. Firms – Marginal revenue, transaction costs, make-or-buy decision, collective action problems
  10. Money – Origins, uses, and functions; the real/nominal distinction, inflation