Topic outline

  • Welcome!

    SSC589 Economic Principles and Problems

    “There is no royal road to science, and only those do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”         --Karl Marx

    Instructor: Zhongjin Li, Department of Economics, Umass Amherst


    Office Hours: by appointment

    • Economic Approaches, Philosophies and Systems

      Section 1: Economic Approaches, Philosophies and Systems

      “A study of the history of ideas is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of

      the mind.”  ---- J.M. Keynes

      “The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.”  ----  Karl Marx

      Monday, January 28 Introduction

      Thursday, January 30  What is Economics?

      Readings: 1) Riddell, et al, Economics as a Social Science, PDF                 

                         2) G. Friedman, "The Best of All Possible Worlds?", PDF

      Monday, February 3  SNOW, class canceled

      Thursday, February 6  Does history matter in Economics?

      Readings: 1) BER, Ch. 1-2 Capitalism shakes the World

                         2) G. Friedman, " Capitalism, Slavery, and the Economy", PDF

      Monday, February 10  Economics in Conflict?

      Readings: 1) BER, Ch. 3 A Three Dimensions Approach

                         2) SSK, Ch. 1 Political Economy Challenge

      Suggested Video: Greed with John Stossel

      Thursday, February 13  SNOW, class canceled

      Monday, February 17  Adam Smith and Karl Marx

      Readings: 1) SSK, Ch. 2, 3 Smith, Marx

                         2) BER, Ch. 4 Political Economy

      Thursday, February 20 the U.S. Society

      Readings: 1) SSK. Ch. 4 Veblen

                         2) G. Friedman, " If we are so rich, why aren't we happy?", PDF

      Suggested Video: Free Trade Slaves

      Monday, February 24  Fall of Laissez-Faire

      Readings:  SSK, Ch.5 Keynes

      Wednesday, February 26 (make-up class) the Return of Laissez- Faire

                          Cassidy, "the Hayek Century", PDF

      Thursday, February 27 Social Class and Social Balance

      Readings: 1) SSK, Ch.6 & 7

                          2) BER, Ch.5 Surplus

      Monday, March 3  Economic Systems

      Readings: 1) BER, Ch.6-7 U.S. capitalism as a system

                         2) SSK, Ch.9-10 The Middle Way?

    • Microeconomics

      Section 2: Microeconomics

      "Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."

      --- Lionel Robbins, neoclassical economics definition

      "The duty of management is to make money. Our primary objective is not to make steel."

      --- David Roderick, former chairman of the board, U.S. Steel 

      Thursday, March 6 and  Monday, March 10 Supply and Demand

      Readings:  1) BER, Ch.8-9

                           2) Bowles, "What Markets Can-and Cannot-Do", PDF

      Thursday, March 13  snow day

      -----------------------------March 15 - March 30 SPRING BREAK------------------------------

      Monday, March 31  Application of Supply and Demand and market structures

       Readings:  1) G. Friedman, Labor Market and Real Labor Market in Action, PDF

                          2) M. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, Chapter 1-2, PDF, skim

                          3) BER, Ch. 10-11 Profits and Competition

      Thursday, April 3  Market Structures

                                   Work, Technology and Control

      Readings:  1) U.S. Monopoly Capitalism: SSK, Chapter 8

                         2) BER, Ch. 12-13 Work and Workers

                         3) Marglin, What Do Bosses Do?, PDF, the first three sessions, p.19-47, skim

      Suggested video: Frontlines: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

      Monday, April 7

      Market Structure, and what's behind market? [HANDOUT]

      Readings: 1) Tilly, Is Small Beautiful? Is Bigger Better?  PDF on Moodle

                        2) BER, Ch.12-13 Work and Workers (skip the technical details)

                        3) Marglin,  What Do Bossed Do? (the first 3 sessions), PDF on Moodle

      Thursday, April 10

      Is inequality good? and why Okun is wrong? [HANDOUT]

      Readings: 1) BER, Ch.14 Inequality

                        2) Okun, Equality and Efficiency, the Big Tradeoff (skim)

      • Macroeconomics

        Section 3: Macroeconomics

        " The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

        --- John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform

        "If Capitalism can adjust itself to full employment a fundamental reform will have been incorporated in it. If not, it will show itself an outmoded system which must be scrapped."

        --- Michal Kalecki, Political Aspects of Full Employment

        Friday, April 11

        Macroeconomics: Issues and Policy Dilemmas [HANDOUT]

        Readings: 1) BER, Ch. 16 Aggregate Demand, Employment, and Unemployment

        Monday, April 14

        Unemployment and Inflation: tradeoff?

        Readings: 1) BER, Ch. 17 & 18 Inflation

                         2) Kalecki, "Political Aspects of Full Employment", PDF on Moodle

        Thursday, April 17

        Government and Fiscal Policy

        Readings: 1) Stanford, the Conflicting Personalities of Government & fiscal policy, PDF on Moodle

                          2) BER, Ch. 19 Government and the Economy

        Monday, April 21

        Financial Markets and Monetary Policy

        Readings: 1) Basics on Financial Markets, Money, and Monetary Policy, PDF on Moodles

                          2) Pollin, the Relevance of Hyman Minsky, PDF on Moodle

        Thursday, April 24

        Economic Crisis in the past and present

        1) Hobsbawm, The Crisis of Capitalism in Historical Perspective. PDF on Moodle

        2) Wolff, Capitalism Hits the Fan, PDF on Moodle


        David Harvey, Crises of Capitalism  (11min)

        Suggested video: Inside Job

      • This topic

        International Economics

        Section 4: International Economics

        Monday, April 28

        International Trade and Production [HANDOUT]

        Readings: 1) the ABCs of Global Economics, PDF on Moodle

                          2) Palley, The Rise and Fall of Export-led Growth, PDF on Moodle

        Thursday, May 1

        International Finance [HANDOUT]

        Readings: 1)  Crotty & Epstein, In Defense of Capital Control, PDF on Moodle             

                          2) Toporowski, "A Haven of Familiar Monetary Practice’", PDF on Moodle

        Monday, May 5

        Discussions on Globalization, Alternatives, etc.

        Readings: 1) Wade, Is Globalization Reducing Poverty and Inequality? PDF on Moodle

                          2) Rodrik, Sense and nonsense in the globalization debate. PDF on Moodle

                          3) BER, Ch.20

        Suggested Video: The Global Banquet: The Politics of Food