Course description

The course discusses complex economic processes in straightforward terms so that they can be understood without the use of mathematics. The focus is on real-world applications of economics in contrast to academic blackboard economics, which relies excessively on assumptions, theorizing, and abstract models of the economy. We apply the concepts we learn to contemporary controversial topics such as minimum wage legislation, the function of unions, and why the free market overcharges for health care. We explore why Noble Prize winning economists such as Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz are so critical of the current economic situation for its dizzying inequality, its endemic underemployment, humongous trade and government deficits, stagnating wages, and lack of inclusive growth that is unable to provide a decent life for so many millions of its citizens. Mainstream economists do not have the answers to the challenges of globalization and technological unemployment because they are unable to think creatively about new institutional structures that would enable us to transition to a full-employment, high quality-of-life economy. In contrast, this course weaves ideas from psychology, sociology, and political science into a common-sense economic perspective in order to explore these issues. We also discuss the achievements of Nobel Prize winning economists Robert Shiller, Daniel Kahneman, and Richard Thaler in the fields of behavioral economics and behavioral finance. The course includes concepts from both microeconomics and macroeconomics.


  • Visiting Professor of Economics, Duke University and Professor of Economics, Emeritus, University of Munich.
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