Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last Week's Slides

Here's a link link to pdf of last week's slides.

Just what I Feared.

So, the site I was using to host documents for class has changed its format and won't let me do it anymore. Very frustrating. The whole reason I did not use blackboard was because this happened with them last semester. Ugh.
Anyway, I have posted most of the documents for class at google documents and shared them with you.
You should have gotten a few emails with links to these shared documents. If not email me right away!!!!
If you are having any trouble accessing these items, please let me know. I will check my mail a few more times over the weekend to make sure everything is working well.
I have arranged to meet with one student on Monday at 11 am. Any of you are free to join us, provided you send me an email. We will meet for extra help-office hours on the 3rd floor of Enterprise.
Otherwise, you should be reading Ch. 7 of the Hirshleifer text, The Coase paper "Nature of the Firm" and Alchian, Demsetz, "Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization."
All this, plus you have to get your homework done!!!
You can do it!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Classmate request

One of your classmates makes the following request:

Could you please post the essay and the names of the authors for the essay we are responsible to read after the second midterm. the following 5 authors and titles of their essays.

October 7 Price Controls: Hugh Rockoff, Rent Controls: Walter Block
October 14 Use of Knowledge in Society: F.A. Hayek, Order From Chaos: Thomas Rustici (not publicly available, only in published anthology, no exam questions from this essay)
October 21 Middlemen: Frederic Bastiat (one of my favorites)
October 28 The Nature of the Firm: Ronald Coase
November 4 Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization: Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz (econ gods from UCLA, recently got to hear Demsetz speak in person, awesome!)

Homework assignment

Try this link to get the questions out of the new text edition in pdf.

I just assigned you problems out of the textbook.

From Chapter 5,
For Review: #1,
For Further thought and Discussion: #9, 10

From Chapter 6,
For Review: #1, 14
For Further thought and Discussion: #6

From Chapter 7,
For Review: #5, 8
For Further thought and Discussion: #1,6
Since I have not yet covered Ch 7 in class you may choose 2 of these to complete.

From Chapter 14,
For Review: #5,
For Further thought and Discussion: #13

If you desire some extra credit you may write a short essay (1-2 Pages) on Ronald Coase's "The Nature of the Firm"

Later today I hope to post a pdf of the pages with questions on them from the new edition of the text, since those of you with older editions will have different questions.


My Letter to the Editor Published

This letter to the editor of the Durham News was published on October 28th.

In his October 10th column Primary Turnout Sets “New Low” Jim Wise points out that $175,000 was spent on Durham’s City Council Primary election where only 5,988 individuals voted. The assumption is that $29.23 a vote is too much to spend. This analysis perceives the end of free elections to be the action of voting itself, instead of the results of those elections.
What does voting do? It resolves the question: How will we make collective decisions?
How greatly do we value this resolution? If the election costs $175,000, fine. If that works out to $30 per participating voter, so what? If more voters participated, the average cost would have gone down, but the total cost may have increased, and the total opportunity cost (in terms of voter's time) would absolutely increase.
We can possibly be pleased when voter turnout is low, since it represents a more efficient resolution of the relevant question: How to make collective decisions. If there is little contention between candidates, then there is greater agreement within the community, so we will want to expend fewer resources on elections.

It is easy to say we want more people to vote, but it is not necessarily true. The group most likely to complain about voter turnout is the one whose candidate lost. Otherwise, it does not matter how many vote, only how many are pleased with the outcome.

Nathanael Snow

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Economics for the Citizen (and You!)

A few years ago Walter Williams published a series of 10 essays in his weekly syndicated column. I here link you to a pdf of these 10 essays for you to read. This is not required reading (you won't be tested on it) but many of the examples should be quite familiar to you, and it could be helpful to reflect from these examples.
This is in part because Williams was my professor, and I have stole several of these examples from him. Part of this is because Williams' professor was Armen Alchien, and I have had 3 other professors who also had Alchien as their professor, and many of these stories originated with Alchien. So I've heard them all a few times.
And it won't hurt you to hear some of them again either.
The full document is 10 pages. Should take you no more than half an hour to read through. You might want to read some of Williams' more recent columns, too. They are always very good.

Getting Help

Okay, so some of you did poorly on the first midterm. Don't fret. There's another test coming up and the last one only accounted for 1/4 of your total grade, and I'm willing to whittle that down some if you do well on the next two.
If you need some help, if you want to go over the test material, or other topics from class, I am more than willing to sit down with you and go over your questions.
Here's how this works:
1. You contact me about wanting help. Email me.
2. I will divide 2-3 hours of my time per week among however many students request help. I am somewhat flexible in my schedule, so there are various times we can meet. If nothing else works we can try to meet by phone or instant messenger.
3. You bring questions, specific questions, to me. "Can you teach me the material from chapter 3?" is not a question. You have to show that you have done due diligence to understand the concept on your own. Bring whatever work you have done to our meeting so I can analyze your thinking. I have been an educator for over 10 years, though only recently teaching at the university level, and I am quite skilled at discovering mistakes and anomalies in students' thinking.
4. You work hard and score better on the next tests.
5. You give me a glowing teacher evaluation at the end of the semester. Heh, heh.
Okay, so the email is:
I am waiting to hear from you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

De Gustibus non Desputatum Est, and Diminishing marginal Utility

After you are done grieving or rejoicing over your tests, take a moment to watch this video. I must say I feel the same about lectures most of the time.

Test Solutions

You can download a pdf of the test's solutions here.
There are some notes about the grade distribution there as well.
We will take a few minutes to answer questions about the test in class, but if you take the time to read through the pdf, most of your questions should be explained.
As always, you may email me with questions, or comment here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hicks / Slutsky derivation of demand pdf

Click here for a pdf of the notes I was working off last week in explaining the Marshallian, Hicksian, and Slutsky derived demand curves.