If you want to do well in this course, read this page very carefully and follow the advice given!
This course is designed with two main goals in mind. The primary purpose of the course is to provide a sufficient understanding of the fundamental principles of economics. This includes propositions about individual behavior, costs, output of firms, equilibrium, market structure, and the organization of economic activity. Given this knowledge, a student should be able to handle further courses in economics or at least understand economic issues found in a newspaper. This first goal is standard for every principles course.
However, I have a second "higher" goal. I want to convince you that economics is an interesting field of study, and a systematic way of thinking that is fun and powerful. In short, I don't just want to teach you "about" economics ... I want to convert you into becoming an economist! By the end of this course, I'd like all of your friends to be saying things like "can't we just watch a movie without you analyzing it with economic theory!" I intend to do this by forcing you to use economic ideas to think about a wide variety of "non-economic" applications. Throughout this course we will constantly apply economics to every aspect of your life: from traffic to pregnancy; from investments to school shootings. I hope to surprise you, perhaps offend you*, and ultimately whet your intellectual appetite towards economics. So keep an open mind!!
(* about once a year a student becomes so offended they want to "rip my eyes out". If you do end up feeling this way, please come by my office and let's chat ... that's what a university is for. The source of this is always the confrontation of the economic "religion" against some other strongly held "religious" view. This cannot be avoided, really, and the appropriate question we should always ask is "which world view is the correct one?" (or better, "which is the false one?"))
The core text is Economic Literacy: A Different Approach to Economic Principles, (Pearson Custom Publishing, 2017). You get this book at the bookstore.
You MUST have this book to complete the assignments for this course. The book comes with the online resource MYECONLAB (MEL). MEL contains a summary discussion of the key idea in each chapter, new applications of the ideas, the answers to all of the odd numbered questions, and extremely detailed answers to the most difficult even numbered questions in the book, videos of me and Professor John Fountain discussing economic topics, and dozens of interactive practice questions of technical material. MEL requires a password that only comes with the purchase of the book.I've also assigned the short book Candide, by Voltaire. Read it now for fun, and then you can read it again later in the course for the last assignment. This book is also available in the bookstore, but feel free to buy it anywhere, in any edition. It may also be available for free online.
MY ECON LAB
When you purchase your book, you'll get a student code. You need that to log in. Also, when logging on you'll be asked for a course ID number. Use this: allen81732.
There will be ONE regular midterm exam initially worth 35% of your final mark. The final is worth 45%. The regular midterm is "forgivable", so if you miss it or do poorly, the weight of that exam will transfer to the final; that is, your final will count for 80%. This is a bit of insurance for you, but remember, the final exam is cumulative and usually more difficult.
Problem sets are due periodically throughout the term, and count for 10% of your grade. The problems and due dates are listed below, your TAs will collect the problem sets in tutorial. To keep your TA happy, hand in neatly written or typed homework. It also helps if your graphs are done on graph paper, or with some type of graphing program .
Collusion on the problem sets is strongly recommended (if you do collude, find a partner(s) from within your tutorial, please hand in only one assignment per group). It is also suggested that you start the problems early in the week.I want to encourage you to work together on the problem sets because one of the best ways to learn how to think like an economist is to argue and debate the ideas with others at a similar level of understanding. The optimal size of the group is 2-4 people. Any larger and all you get is free riding. Still, if you think you can manage one group for the entire tutorial ... go ahead. Groups may change size and composition as often as you want.
1. You will very quickly figure out that the way to minimize the work load of assignments is to have people specialize. Joe does question 1, Mary does question 2, Deep does question 3, etc. Then you just combine your answers. What you must understand is that this also minimizes your learning. You'll save time during the week, but perform poorly on the exams if you take this strategy. The exams count for most of your grade, so keep in mind that you're training to write the exams. What you want to do is have each member of the group work on all the problems. Then come together, argue your answers, and come up with what you think the best answer is.2.Please understand that the problem sets represent the MINIMUM number of practice questions you should do. I expect you to do every single question in the textbook that does not have a dagger or double dagger (ie. the very hardest questions), and to work on them throughout the semester. Many of the problems are designed for discussion. Meet with your study group weekly to go over them.
A perennial problem with assignments stems from the fact that you hand
them in on different days of the week. Those with tutorials on Mondays and
Tuesdays feel they miss out on an extra lecture that those with tutorials
on Wednesdays and Thursdays get. In the past an attempt was made to hand
assignments in during lecture, in TA mailboxes, and to my office. All
methods failed, and so we are stuck with the current system. I will
instruct my TA's to be aware of the problem and I will monitor the average
performance of each TA. For those of you with early tutorials, you can
take some comfort in the fact that you get an extra tutorial before a
Also note that every chapter has a set of review questions with the answers supplied in the book. You should do all of these on your own.
The final 10% of you grade comes from your participation in tutorials. Your TA will tell you how this grade is determined.
GRADESStudents always ask: "will the grades be based on a curve?" I suppose they mean, "will there be a fixed number of A's, B's, etc." The answer to this second question is "yes and no." This is a large class. I know from experience that there will be a wide range of marks by the time we reach the end of the course. Some students, remarkably, will get in the high 90's. Others, just as remarkably, will get below 20. The rest of the class will fall in between, and the mean will be between 58-62% 95% of the time..
You are welcome to come by my office during office hours, but often students find sending emails better. This is fine with me. You may find that I send out blanket responses to the class, however, if I think the question might be valuable to everyone. I will also send emails out to the class announcing various things during the semester. So ... you should check your sfu email account regularly. When you email me, please use your sfu account, otherwise my filter might not let it through.CHEATING
I'm an easy going guy, but if you cheat in my class ... I will hunt you down and not rest until you are expelled or punished appropriately.It always amazes me that a first year student thinks they can cheat in my class and get away with it. You are, most likely, an amateur cheater. After years of experience, I am a professional at catching cheaters. I have several tricks I use to catch people cheating, and after three decades of teaching, I think I've seen every trick in the book.
HOW CAN I DO WELL IN THIS COURSE?
1. Do the homework ... plus. Your book is full of questions. Do them all. Check your answers. Talk to your study partners. Practice, practice, practice. And start in the first week, don't wait until exam time.
2. Take smart notes. The lecture outlines are on the web. Print those off and bring them to the lecture to follow. I challenge you to bring just a single sheet of additional paper to class. With this, just take the bare minimum of notes. No color pens! At the end of class, your sheet should be just chicken scratch. Just get the critical points. THEN, THAT DAY, write out a nice set of notes from the class, using your memory, outline, and small notes. Elaborate, explain, and use more than one color on the graphs. By the end of the semester you'll have wonderful notes that will help in future classes. You'll also have no need to study for the exam. It takes a little bit of work each day, but in the end the payoffs are enormous. The way most students take notes is a waste of time. I have found that students who use laptops in class have the worst notes. This course is very graph intensive, and you simply cannot graph fast enough with a computer. Please leave your laptop at home.
3. Understand ... don't memorize. Most of you are just out of high school. You've done a lot of coloring and memorizing. Now it's time to start understanding. Understanding means you have to think about a concept. It is a skill that takes practice. You'll know you understand an idea when you can apply it to a context that is different from the one used to learn it. In class I'll tell a lot of stories and use examples from popular culture and the media. If, after you've heard a story you just think "that was interesting, I wonder why he told it." then you are not catching on! Ponder the story and try to figure out why I said it, and how it relates to the lecture material.
4. Come to class. The ideas in 103 are sequential. If you miss lecture 4, you'll have a hard time understanding the rest of the course. The course follows the book, but the lecture is full of material not in the book (and vise versa).
5. Read the book ahead of time. You'll want me to do the work for you, but if you read the relevant chapter before the lecture, and then read it again after, you'll learn a lot more in this course.
I won't lie to you. Economics 103 and 105 are probably the hardest 100 level courses on campus. They take ideas from mathematics, history, and other social sciences, and mix them all up in a model you've never seen before. They're rigorous in that they require you to think INSIDE a box. Over the past several years, SFU has lowered its entrance requirements considerably. We now allow students from high school and college who would never have had a chance at getting in before. However, the standards of excellence in Economics have not changed. The result has been an explosion in the number of students who fail both 103 and 105. In some semesters, the fail rate has been as high as 40%! Many of us who teach these courses are convinced that the major problem is work ethic. If you were a B- student in high school, you must realize that a significant increase in effort is required for you to pass. The good news is you can do it! Also, Economics 103 and 105 are the two most rewarding 100 level courses on campus. I hope this is a great course for you. Good luck in the course!
Week Topic Readings Problems Sets Due
1 & 2
2 Substitution. Chaps. 3
3 Demand & Elasticity Chaps. 4 PS #1 Chap 2: 6, 8, 10, 12 .
4 Exchange Chap. 5 PS #2 Chap 3: 2, 6, 8, 10 Chap. 4: 14, 16, 18, 24.
5 Cost and DMPs Chap. 6
6 Supply Chap. 7 PS #3 Chap 4: 28, 34. Chap. 5: 20, 24 Chap 6: 2, 6, 18.
7 Price Taking Chap. 8& 9 PS#4 Chap. 7: 2, 26, 30, 32 , 34.
8 Applications Chap. 10 PS # 5: Chap. 7: 36, 38, 40, 42
9 MIDTERM EXAM Tuesday March 6
Interest Rates Chap. 11 PS#6: Chap 8: 2, 4, 6, 10, 12, 14, 16.
Chaps. 12 & 13
PS #7: Chap
9: 4, 6, 10, 12, 14. Chap. 10:
2, 6, 10, 12.
Price Searching Markets
Chaps. 13 & 14
PS # 8 Chap
10: 14, 18, 22, 24, 26.
12 Transaction Costs Chap. 15 PS #9 Chap 11: 2, 6, 10, 12, 16, 28, 30.
2. Are economists, who believe in the first principle, Panglossian?