Two elementary facts face the world and every individual in it: limited resources and relatively unlimited wants. The combination of these two facts forces all of us to make choices that will give us the maximum satisfaction. Economics is a social science that uses the scientific method in studying the economic choices that people (as individuals, as businesses, or as government) make and the consequences of those choices. Economics is thus part of everyday life. Every day, media is full of news stories on economic problems. In an introductory course in economics, we learn the economic way of thinking (the language of economists) in dealing with problems facing individuals, communities, businesses, and governments. Often, forces affecting the behaviour of a single household/business are different from the forces affecting the economy as a whole. Economists, therefore, for analytical convenience, divide economics into micro (meaning small) and macro (meaning large) economics. We shall cover 'micro' in the Fall Semester and 'macro' in the Winter Semester. The recent drive towards globalization has interesting implications for both micro and macro issues.
In the micro part of the course this term, we shall attempt to understand how the individual households arrive at their decisions with regard to their demand for goods and services, and supply of resources (such as land, labour, capital and skills that they own), and how businesses make their decisions with regard to what, how and how much to produce in given circumstances. We then study how the market mechanism coordinates these decisions, where it fails, and the role of the government in achieving maximum gains for the society. Issues such as poverty amidst plenty, environmental degradation, a need for provision of some goods and services by the government naturally pop up in this context. The understanding of these 'micro' issues will also help us, next term, to understand the 'macro' issues such as business cycles, inflation, unemployment, money, exchange rate, and the role of government in achieving better economic conditions for all Canadians.
N. Gregory Mankiw, et al, Principles of Microeconomics, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1999.
N. Gregory Mankiw, et al, Study Guide to accompany Principles of Microeconomics, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1999.
(bi-weekly, best five) 30%
Mid term 20%
Weekly News Reports (best ten) 10%
Attendance and Class Participation: 10%
Final exam: 30%
I strongly recommend that you buy the textbook and the Study Guide noted above. Monday and Wednesday classes will normally be held in lecture format. Friday classes will normally be held in discussion format: discussing assignments, problems, current economic events, accessing economic issues on the electronic media, etc. Each Friday, you are expected to submit a write-up of about 100 words (typed) on major economic events during the past week, and discuss them in class. Late assignments and news summaries will not be acceptable, except for a reasonable cause. News summaries must be handed in on Fridays. Though I will not grade the news summaries, a poor quality summary will not receive any mark. Your attendance in class is important for a good grasp of the material. I will check your attendance randomly. The course has been designed in a multimedia format including the use of computers and audio-visual equipment for easy learning and to bring economics alive to the classroom.
Welcome to Introduction to Economics (Micro)!
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